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Skeletal Trauma Analysis: Case Studies in Context

Skeletal Trauma Analysis: Case Studies in Context

Nicholas V. Passalacqua (Editor), Christopher W. Rainwater (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-38421-3

May 2015, Wiley-Blackwell

304 pages


In the post-Daubert era, forensic science disciplines are increasingly informed by robust, statistically-sound experimental research. The educational value of the well-documented case study, however, remains as important as ever. Emphasizing known contextual information, this volume serves as a case-driven guide to skeletal trauma analysis through the unique perspective of each chapter’s authors. Both forensic anthropologists and pathologists contribute skeletal trauma cases covering a range of topics including child abuse, blunt force trauma, descents from height, plane crashes, sharp force trauma and dismemberment, gunshot wounds, blast trauma, and burned body interpretation. Several chapters also include a discussion of potentially confounding taphonomic influences such as animal scavenging, water immersion, burning, and extended postmortem intervals. Detailed descriptions with multiple supporting images allow the practitioner’s skeletal trauma interpretation to be compared to the “answer” as it pertains to the known circumstances surrounding the traumatic events of each case.

List of contributors xi

1 Introduction 1
Nicholas V. Passalacqua and Christopher W. Rainwater

Skeletal trauma analysis: case studies in context 2

References 6

2 Atypical gunshot and blunt force injuries: wounds along the biomechanical continuum 7
Brian F. Spatola

Introduction 7

Background 8

Gunshot trauma 10

Blunt force trauma 11

Biomechanical continuum 12

Case 1: depressed fracture of inner table from historic gunshot contusion 14

Case 2: depressed fracture from .32 caliber, short, Smith & Wesson projectile 15

Case 3: penetrating depressed fracture from detached umbrella tip 17

Case 4: depressed fracture from perforating blunt impact from edged metal foreign object 19

Discussion 19

Conclusion 23

Acknowledgments 24

Disclaimer 24

References 24

3 Over-interpretation of bone injuries and implications for cause and manner of death 27
João Pinheiro, Eugénia Cunha, and Steven Symes

Introduction 27

The cases 29

Scene context 33

Autopsy and police investigation 35

Discussion and conclusions 38

Acknowledgments 40

References 40

4 Skeletal injuries in cases of child abuse: two case studies from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences 42
Jason M. Wiersema and Jennifer C. Love

Introduction 42

Case 1 43

Case 2 50

Conclusions 55

References 55

5 Blunt force trauma patterns in the human skull and thorax: a case study from northern California 56
Eric J. Bartelink

Introduction 56

Case background 58

Biological profile 58

Antemortem trauma 59

Perimortem trauma 61

Trauma interpretation 66

Case resolution 68

Conclusions 69

Acknowledgments 70

References 70

6 Patterns of skeletal trauma inflicted during the Spanish Civil War 74
Nicholas V. Passalacqua, Ciarán Brewster, Marina Martínez de Pinillos González, and José Miguel Carretero Díaz

Introduction 74

The Spanish Civil War 74

Materials 76

Examples of trauma from Monte Costaján 77

Patterns of skeletal trauma 85

Conclusions 88

References 89

7 Shot and beaten to death? Suspected projectile and blunt force trauma in a case involving an extended period of postmortem water immersion 90
Hugo F.V. Cardoso, Katerina S. Puentes, and Luís F.N. Coelho

Introduction 90

Case description 92

Trauma analysis 94

Discussion and conclusions 102

Acknowledgments 106

References 106

8 Man’s best friend: a case study of ballistics trauma and animal scavenging 108
Gina Hart

Introduction 108

Bone biomechanics 108

Case study 110

References 116

9 Skeletal evidence of violent sexual assault in remains with excessive evidence of scavenging 118
Hugh E. Berryman and Tiffany B. Saul

Introduction 118

Case history 118

Analysis 119

An additional finding 124

Discussion 126

Conclusions 128

References 129

10 Neurocranial fractures 130
Jennifer C. Love

Introduction 130

Case 1 130

Case 2 131

Understanding neurocranial fracture patterns 136

Experimental studies 139

Computer modeling 141

Case studies 144

Conclusions 145

References 145

11 Blunt force trauma associated with a fall from heights 147
MariaTeresa A. Tersigni-Tarrant

Introduction 147

Trauma analysis 149

Summary 154

Case outcome 154

References 155

12 Low-velocity impact trauma: an illustrative selection of cases from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command – Central Identification Laboratory 156
Paul Emanovsky

Introduction 156

Case 1 158

Case 2 161

Case 3 163

Conclusions/takeaways 164

References 166

13 Blast trauma 167
Angi M. Christensen and Victoria A. Smith

Introduction 167

Blast traumas 167

Experimental studies on skeletal blast trauma 169

Differentiating blast trauma from other types of trauma 174

Disclaimer 175

References 175

14 Case studies in skeletal blast trauma 177
Nikki A. Willits, Joseph T. Hefner, and MariaTeresa Tersigni-Tarrant

Introduction 177

Case background 177

Case reports 179

Discussion 184

Conclusions 187

Disclaimer 187

Acknowledgments 188

References 188

15 Burned human remains in a double homicide: a forensic case in Cyprus 189
Popi Th. Chrysostomou

Introduction 189

Case study overview 190

Initial anthropological analysis 191

Pattern analysis and injury mechanism 192

Taking the next step: in search for the torso 199

Discussion 201

Acknowledgments 202

References 202

16 The utility of spatial analysis in the recognition of normal and abnormal patterns in burned human remains 204
Christina L. Fojas, Luis L. Cabo, Nicholas V. Passalacqua, Christopher W. Rainwater, Katerina S. Puentes, and Steven A. Symes

Introduction 204

Classifying the severity of fire modification 206

Recognizing process signatures 207

Methods 209

Results 212

Discussion 212

Conclusions 218

Acknowledgments 219

References 219

17 Three modes of dismemberment: disarticulation around the joints, transecting of bone via chopping, and transection of bone via sawing, 222
Christopher W. Rainwater

Introduction, 222

Modes of dismemberment, 224

Case 1: Disarticulation around the joints, 225

Case 2: transection via chopping, 231

Case 3: transection via sawing, 239

Conclusions, 244

References, 244

18 Kreischer Mansion homicide, 246
Lauren Regucci and Bradley Adams

Introduction, 246

Case background/investigation, 246

Homicide details, 248

Search and recovery efforts – I, 250

Search and recovery efforts – II, 252

Initial findings/interpretation, 255

Search and recovery efforts – III, 257

Findings/interpretations, 259

Trial and conviction, 263

Disclaimer, 264

References, 265

19 Postmortem trauma and the “CSI Effect:” is television making smarter criminals? 266
Elizabeth A. Murray and Anthony E. Dwyer

Introduction 266

The “CSI Effect” 266

Criminal behavior and forensic anthropology 268

The case 269

Conclusions 285

References 286

Index 289