Hello, all! So happy you are joining me for my “limited series,” Forensic Fridays. I hope you’ll continue join me over the next few weeks as I share info about forensic and law enforcement procedures that have made their way into my books.
My medical examiner in Cover Your Eyes, Be Afraid and I’ll Never Let You Go is Dr. Miriam Heller. While I don’t usually go into vivid detail about the autopsies she performs, there’s no denying the importance of this fact finding research.
Despite what many may think from portrayals on television and in films (a.k.a. the CSI effect), toxicology reports and DNA tests are not obtained instantly but can take weeks and months to get back from overburdened laboratories. And that oh-so-sophisticated technology that we all find so fascinating is just too expensive– more often than not out of the reach of the average police department and medical examiner’s office.
Here’s Dr. Heller at work in Be Afraid. (Warning: Gruesome Details)
“Detective Bishop nodded. “Dr. Heller, How goes it? Looking lovely as always.”
An amused brow arched as she removed rubber gloves from her white physician’s jacket and moved to a wall of refrigerated body-storage cabinets. She donned the gloves and opened the second from the left. Inside lay a draped figure. A sheet covered the body’s shriveled flesh and sinew eaten by the fire. She pulled back the sheet and revealed a blackened skull attached to a torso, singed black. Hands and feet had been burned away as had the arms to the elbow and the legs to the knees.
“Your victim was a female. I was able to take X-rays and as luck would have it, she had a hip implant that had a serial number on it. I’ve sent off a request to the manufacturer for a name of the doctor who implanted it.”
“She was older?”
“No. Mid-thirties. My guess is the implant came after an accident.”
“Good work,” Rick said.
“Your victim also didn’t die as a result of the fire. She was shot in the head. Judging by the hole made by the bullet in her right temple, I’d say she was shot at close range.” Dr. Heller reached for an evidence bag, which contained a single slug. “She would’ve died instantly.”
Rick took the bag and held it up. He guessed the gun had been a .45 caliber. “The fire was set to hide the forensic evidence?”
Bishop shrugged. “Or because the killer liked fires.”