1. adamcroft
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    adamcroft New Member

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    Pathology and dead bodies

    Discussion in 'Research' started by adamcroft, Apr 4, 2011.

    Hi all,

    I've written myself into a bit of a dead end in my latest book. Basically, I need to know what circumstances would need to exist for a pathologist to mistakenly believe a 35~ year old woman's body was actually that of a 17-18 year old girl. I know things like skull lines and pelvic shapes would be dead giveaways... what would need to be missing or bludgeoned beyond belief for it to be realistic?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    body or bones ?
     
  3. adamcroft
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    adamcroft New Member

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    Body. It'll only be a couple of days old.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    That would be harder to pull off - would be easier if the body has some kind of deformity. Could the body have been burned maybe. How long does the mistake need to be in place for ? If the body has been severely deformed, maybe even skinned, chopped up or burned then something identifying the body as the 17-18 year old might work (like her handbag, shoes etc) if she is the same height. The police could make the assumption until the pathologist does a proper post mortem or could have the body stolen from the mortuary.
     
  5. adamcroft
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    adamcroft New Member

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    All very thought provoking, thanks! Will PM you with details if you don't mind, as don't want to spoil the book for any readers :)
     
  6. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sorry, but I think that even if the body was badly damaged they can get a relative age from bone density (like the growth rings of a tree)or even teeth. I may have just read it or saw it on SVU/CSI, but they do have ways to determine age and sex with little remains. A mistake that big would mean some kind of abnormality or something.:rolleyes:
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    where and when is this taking place?... and how good is the pathologist who'd be doing the determining?
     
  8. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    These are very important questions. If the pathologist is drunk or easily bribed or just not on the job, I guess this could happen. There might be some external influences that make the pathologist jump to conclusions, for example if the body was dressed in a very teenage type of clothing.

    If any pathologist really studies the body carefully, they will discover the age with ease. Age and gender are about the two most obvious things you can determine from a dead body. The teeth alone will probably give everything away.

    However, I can ask my wife about this if you like. She's a pathologist, albeit not one for humans.
     
  9. Preacher
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    Preacher Member

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  10. nzric
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    nzric Active Member

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    malnutrition affecting bone density/growth (anorexia?) and major head trauma (teeth missing)?
     
  11. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this. It sounds as if the victim would have to be suffering from some kind of medical condition to make her appear older. There is a similar condition, but I can't think of the name of it. A child could be eight years old yet, physically she looks like a grandma.
     
  12. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    It's called Progeria and most kids who suffer from it don't live beyond the age of 13.
     
  13. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    That got me thinking that a very heavy use of drugs would also make a 17/18 year old girl look like a 34-year old woman (heavy smoking, LSD, ecstasy, heroin etc.). Of course, this is purely external.

    Pathologists have a habit of opening up the stuff they get delivered and looking inside, where they would quickly find out about everything that would deceive at first glance.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bones usually tell the tale... fixing approximate age from bones is fairly reliable...
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Like tree trunks - count the rings? ;)
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bones do tell the tale but it is specialised - a suggestion would be remove head and then burn the body at a very high temperature basically so the bones become dust when lifted- you can then leave something metallic that identifies the body as the daughter.

    Then the identification becomes expensive and difficult or sometimes impossible.
     

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