Friday, April 25, 2008

Coroner Shipping Violation, again

Don’t tell the national package shipping company we use, but we have violated their rules again. We sent more human remains to the Center for Human Identification in Texas.

This case began for this office in December of 1991. Most of a human skull was found in an wooded ravine area of a “Nature Preserve” in the Lake Forest area of our County. No other bones were found in a search of the surrounding area. Some other stuff was found in the area, but the feeling at the time was that those things did not seem to have much, if anything, to do with the skull. Certainly nothing found seemed to shed any light on who this skull had belonged to, how that individual had died, or how their skull ended up in the area it was found. The partial skull was examined by forensic dentists and ultimately 2 anthropologists (who came up with very different opinions on the skull’s owner). Nothing was resolved.

Most likely, based on the opinions at the time, the skull belonged to a female, Black (most likely) or Native American or a mix, 40-60 years of age at death (although the range was considerable). It was felt that the skull had lain outdoors “10 or so” years after death. The results of her dental exam were entered into the NCIC database to aid in hoped for identification; there were no “hits”. Missing persons reports were searched without match.

We began looking at the case recently, as we have several other past unresolved cases. In this case that relook has taken 2 tracts. First, we had a psychic do a reading on the partial skull (why not, he has been successful in several other cases). We came up with the following impressions: Black female in her early 40s, employed as a domestic or cleaning lady (likely with an agency, since no missing persons report was filed), she abused alcohol or had a mental illness and was likely in an abusive relationship in her home life, her death seemed to have occurred near 1975 or 1976, death seemed to have been the result of strangulation or hanging and was most probably suicide, and, lastly, there seemed to be a “J” connected, likely her name.

Now she is off to Texas to see what they can come up with to help with identification. They will have their anthropologists look at her, more skilled and capable that the previous examiners, among other experts. She does have a tooth remaining; will they be able to extract DNA? If they can extract DNA will there be a match in one of the databases? We will see if they can give us any new information to go with for identification.

We will see.


Anonymous said...

I don't think shipping rules should be broken, and I don't think tax dollars should be spent on psychics.

Dr. Richard Keller said...

First, there is no other way to get the help of the Center for Identification of Human Remains without sending them the remains.

Second, the psychic does not charge for these sorts of services.

Ellyn said...

When it comes to tax dollars, I think it would be quite a boondoggle if you had to drive the remains to Texas. (though with the weather in Lake County today that might not be such a bad thing.)

I work in a church and learned the hard way (awaiting cremains for a funeral on a postal holiday) that only the USPS will carry cremains. I would imagine 'solid' remains would make for even trickier shipping.

Thanks for your blog. It's educational and entertaining. Gotta go now...time to watch "Bones." :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Keller,

The psychics price may have been zero, but that is not what it cost.

The cost is measured by the money spent by police investigators and others wasting time & resources on, at best, useless information and at worst, information that hinders solving the crime.

It also costs you in reputation showing that even highly educated scientific professionals fall easy prey nonsense and fraud.

I encourage you to visit Mr. Randi and his organization have exposed hundreds of physchic frauds and their methods. He offers a bona fide $1,000,000 prize to any physchic who can prove that their 'impressions' are better than mere chance.

Please go there and read up on it.

Dr. Richard Keller said...

It may seem to you a small distinction, but James Randi’s (remember he used to be “The Amazing Randi”) offer is $1 million “to anyone that can demonstrate paranormal abilities under laboratory conditions”. If you have never had a paranormal experience in the real world, you need to get out more.

There has been no money spent, nor time by police investigators, and this information has not hindered solving “the crime” (so no fraud).

There are a growing number of examples of psychics being very useful in a variety of cases. Take a bit and check it out, beyond the Amazing Randi’s site.

When a case goes “cold” and I am looking for identity and “closure”, I will use any method available—anthropology, psychic, whatever.

In closing, as Willy Wonka said: “A little nonsense now and then is prized by the wisest men”.

CivilizeMe said...

I have been on the alert for a single case in which a psychic provided credible, actionable evidence in the investigation of a crime. That includes a regular and careful review of the popular media and law enforcement journals. I'd be grateful if you could point me to sources for your claim of a "growning number." It seems I may have been looking in all the wrong places!

Dr. Richard Keller said...

In response to some unposted comments: Chicago Tribune article

Anonymous said...

Dr Keller,
Personally, I read everything I can find on psychics and have not found
"a growing number of examples of psychics being very useful in a variety of cases".

Unfortunately, I find quite the opposite, no matter how hard I look. And I look alot, it is one of my passions.

Please point to one instance I can read about. It would be very helpful.


Dr. Richard Keller said...

"One" example from one of my previous blog posts: Psychic Investigator