Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Valentine’s Day.

Many of our loyal readers lately have been asking about strangulation.  I suppose TV coverage isn’t providing enough for you.  Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.  Here’s something to satisfy your appetites for gore – a few excerpts from one of my favorite pieces of bedtime reading, “Death by Strangulation,” by Dr. Dean Hawley.

Strangulation sometimes causes no external evidence.  In other cases scratches and bruises occur on the neck.  These are often from the fingers of the assailant, or even the fingers of the victim from attempts to pry free.  Ligatures, such as the satin stockings used by Destiny Blande, can cause distinct abrasion patterns as well.

“Ligature abrasions follow a predictable pattern of horizontal circumscription about the neck; distinguishable from the marks left by suicidal hanging, where a suspension point causes the ligature furrow to rise toward one ear.”

All of these marks can become more prominent after death as the skin dries out.  Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall as the coroner sits there eating his lunch while strangulation marks appear on the neck of the corpse?

But remember, not all of the evidence lies in the neck.

“. . . In addition to the blunt force injuries of the neck, strangulation produces evidence of asphyxiation, recognized as pinpoint hemorrhages (petechiae) in the skin, conjunctiva of the eyes, and deep internal organs.  Petechiae are non-specific findings that can develop from any cause of asphyxia including strangulation, hanging, drowning, sudden infant death syndrome, aspiration of gastric contents, profound depressant drug intoxication, and some natural diseases.  The presence of petechiae does not prove strangulation, and the absence of petechiae does not disprove strangulation.  In addition to petechiae, one may also (rarely) find interstitial free air in the lung or mediastinum.”

The exact findings at autopsy vary, and may be related to the different ways that strangulation can cause death.  We each probably have our favorite ways that this can happen.  Pressure on the carotid arteries can cut off blood flow to the brain, and blocking the jugular veins can stop the blood returning from the brain, either of which leads to unconsciousness and eventually death.  Pressure on the larynx can prevent air flow to the lungs, causing suffocation.  Then, of course, there’s my favorite, the possibility of causing an abnormal rhythm from carotid artery reflex signals to the heart.

Okay you wild asphyxiaphilics – we know this information will take your breath away because you’re Crazy 4 Crazies.


This is post #28 in The Satin Strangler Blogs (TSSB).

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