Monday, July 20, 2009

Forensics: Name That Strangulation

Our server has been ringing off the hook from Blande-o-phile emails since we wrote our blog on strangulation biology. Okay okay. Calm down out there. Here’s the blog we promised you on strangulation forensics. We hope it matches all the hype. We once again recommend that you read Strack and McClane’s famous strangulation forensics article from 1999, available at this link. You may want to read the article before taking our “Name That Strangulation” quiz below.

Let’s imagine you’re a coroner in a potential homicide case. I know – if you’re even half as Crazy 4 Crazies as we are, it’s too exciting to even imagine. But let’s just say that you are for a moment. They wheel the corpse in on a stretcher and it’s all up to you to decide what happened. Luckily you will have taken our “Name That Strangulation” quiz. The first 10 people who email correct answers to this quiz plus our “Name That Weapon” quiz will win a Hillside Strangler Mug-Shot-Mug with their choice of cousins – Buono or Bianchi.

Name That Strangulation #1: The victim’s neck has a dark red circumferential mark shaped like a teardrop, darkest in the front. The mark is high up, has an extra wide bruise just behind the left ear, and is lined by a series of fingernail scratches along the upper border. The “whites” of the eyes have small red peppered appearance. There is no internal fracturing of the hyoid bone or thyroid cartilage. Is this a manual strangulation, a ligature strangulation, or a hanging?

Name That Strangulation #2: There are numerous claw marks of different sizes and directions along the neck. Two round bruises, each a centimeter in width, lie over the area of the Adam’s apple. Pockets of air crackle under the skin when pressure is applied. There are blood patches filling the “whites” of the left eye, and numerous red dots along the neck and face. Internal examination reveals that the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage are both fractured. Is this a manual strangulation, a ligature strangulation, or a hanging? Bonus question: was the assailant in front of or behind the victim?

Name That Strangulation #3: There is a dark horizontal mark around the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Numerous scratches and gouges are visible in the front of the neck and along the chin. There are many red dots along the “whites” of the eyes and just above the horizontal neck mark. On internal examination, the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage are both broken. Is this a manual strangulation, a ligature strangulation, or a hanging?

Name That Strangulation #4: This victim had a known strangulation event three weeks before death. There were never any external markings, including during your postmortem examination. All of the neck anatomy appears normal on internal examination. The lungs are heavy with accumulated fluid, and there is pneumonia in a pattern suggesting eroding gastric acid as the cause. Can this death be due to strangulation?

Blood red eyes. Claw marks. Broken neck bones. Gastric acid eroding lungs. Don’t you just love a good bedtime story? Of course you do, because you’re Crazy 4 Crazies.


This is post #53 in The Satin Strangler Blogs (TSSB).

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