Saturday, October 10, 2009

Satin Strangler Victim's Autopsy

How close do you want to get to a serial killer victim? How about right inside the autopsy room? Well, we can’t quite give you that, but today’s blog is the next best thing for you – a coroner’s report from a Satin Strangler victim, Grant Leighton. If you’re really Crazy 4 Crazies, you’ll devour this.


The autopsy is started at 8:30 A.M. on March 5, 2008. The body is received in a black travelling trunk covered with dry flecks of seaweed. Upon removal from the trunk, an odor of bleach was detected, suggesting attempts to remove DNA evidence. Areas of the body were swabbed and submitted for detection of hypochlorite.

The victim was fully clothed. The body is that of a normally developed white male measuring 70 inches and weighing 183 pounds, and appearing generally consistent with the stated age of twenty-six years. The body is cold and unembalmed. Lividity is fixed in the distal portions of the limbs. Petechial hemorrhaging is present in the conjunctival surfaces of the eyes. The irises are blue. The pupils measure 0.3 cm. The hair is dark blonde, wavy, and approximately 8 inches in length at the longest point. A healed left ear piercing scar is present.

Abrasions and adhesive residue extend laterally from each commissure of the lips, suggesting that the victim had been gagged, possibly with duct tape. Samples were collected for testing.

A ligature mark (known throughout this report as Ligature A) was observed on the victim’s neck. The mark is dark red and encircles the neck, crossing the anterior midline of the neck just below the laryngeal prominence. The width of the Ligature A is 0.6 cm consistently around the circumference, and is horizontal in orientation. The skin of the anterior neck above and below Ligature A shows petechial hemorrhaging. Abrasions are also present. The consistent width of Ligature A and the presence of abrasions suggest the use of a firm ligature such as a cord. No trace evidence was recovered from Ligature A that might assist in identification of the ligature used.

Additional dark red ligature marks 5 cm in width are present on the left wrist, right wrist, left ankle, and right ankle (known throughout this report as Ligatures B, C, D, and E, respectively). Evidence of adhesive residue at all four Ligatures B-E suggests the use of duct tape. Samples were collected for testing.

Both small fingers have been amputated at the proximal interphalangeal level, with the bone exposed. Jagged surface edges suggest the use of a dull cutting instrument. Both forearms are edemic and hemorrhagic, indicative of pre-mortem trauma. The fingernails are medium length and fingernail beds are blue.

The genitalia are that of an adult male and there is no evidence of injury or recent sexual activity. Limbs are symmetrically developed. There are no other scars, markings or tattoos on the body.


Head: Subsequent autopsy shows a broken hyoid bone. Hemorrhaging from Ligature A penetrates the skin and subdermal tissues of the neck. The brain weighs 1,257 grams, with no anatomic abnormalities noted.

Skeletal System: The hyoid bone is fractured. The left and right radius and ulna are fractured. The small fingers have been amputated as noted previously.

Respiratory System: Petechial hemorrhaging is present in the mucosa of the lips and the interior of the mouth. The hyoid bone, the thyroid, and the cricoid cartilages are fractured. The lungs are unremarkable. Weight: right, 380 grams; left 392 grams.

Cardiovascular System: Heart, 270 grams. No anatomic abnormalities noted.

Gastrointestinal System: Approximately 125 ml of partially digested semisolid food is found in the stomach. No anatomic abnormalities noted.

Urinary System: Left kidney, 120 grams; right kidney, 124 grams. No anatomic abnormalities noted.

Male Genital System: There is no evidence of recent sexual activity. No anatomic abnormalities noted.


Toxicologic analysis from samples of right pleural blood and bile: negative.

Cerebrospinal fluid culture and sensitivity: unremarkable gram stain, no growth

Cerebrospinal fluid bacterial antigens: routine testing all negative

Drug Screen Results:

Urine screen {Immunoassay} was negative.
Ethanol: 0.25 gm/dl, Blood (heart)
Ethanol: 0.25 gm/dl, Vitreous


One (1) white long-sleeve shirt.
One (1) pair gray pants.
One (1) pair black socks.
One (1) pair black shoes.
Samples of Blood (type O+), Bile, and Tissue (heart, lung, brain, kidney, liver, spleen).
Twelve (12) swabs from various body locations, to be tested for presence of hypochlorite.
Seventeen (17) autopsy photographs.
One postmortem CT scan.
One postmortem MRI.


Time of Death: Body temperature, rigor and livor mortis, and stomach contents approximate the time of death between 3AM and 6AM on March 2, 2008.

Immediate Cause of Death: Asphyxia due to ligature strangulation (Ligature A).

Manner of Death: Homicide

Remarks: Local homicide detectives were immediately notified of these findings.


This is post #61 in The Satin Strangler Blogs (TSSB).

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