1st Edition

Water-Related Death Investigation
Practical Methods and Forensic Applications

ISBN 9781439816363
Published October 25, 2010 by CRC Press
388 Pages 222 B/W Illustrations

USD $140.00

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Book Description

All too often, police called to the scene of a water-related death may consider it an accidental drowning before they even arrive. But the investigation of these types of deaths requires the same careful and thorough documentation as in other potentially non-natural deaths and these efforts must be carried through all stages of investigation. Water-Related Death Investigation: Practical Methods and Forensic Applications merges the essentials of field investigation with the best practices involved in evidence collection, autopsy performance, and laboratory testing on the deceased involved in a water-related death.

Tracking the case process from the scene to the autopsy to the courtroom, this volume examines:

  • The physiology of drowning
  • Investigative duties of those called to the scene, including securing the scene, searching for evidence, evidence recovery, and body assessment
  • Investigative characteristics of various selected scenes, including submerged vehicles, scuba fatalities, pool drowning, erotic drowning, and boating accidents
  • Obtaining decedent, witness, suspect, and first responder information
  • Pre-trial preparation for the field investigator, including exhibits, testimony, and video and audio recording
  • The medicolegal autopsy
  • The forensic pathological and toxicological aspects of deaths due to drowning and bodies recovered from fluid environments.

Water-related death investigation involves a continuum of activities performed by a number of trained professionals. This volume demonstrates how the best collective efforts of all individuals involved in the investigation of a water-related death may help to illuminate the truth of the circumstances and unearth any criminality.

Table of Contents

Introduction; E. J. Armstrong, MD
Drowning: A Diagnosis of Exclusion
Drowning Statistics
The Drowning Process
Importance of a Good Scene Investigation
The Role of the Coroner/Medical Examiner in Medicolegal Death Investigation
Investigative Duties on Scene; K. L. Erskine
Securing the Scene
Determining Scene Boundaries
Documenting the Scene
Search for Evidence
Significance of the Absence or Presence of Clothing or Other Coverings on the Body
Investigative Characteristics of Selected Scenes
On-Scene Body Assessment; K. L. Erskine and E. J. Armstrong, MD
Postmortem Wandering
General Body Assessment
Ocular Changes
Foam Column/Foam Cone
Rigor Mortis (Rigidity)
Livor Mortis (Lividity)
Lividity vs. Bruising (Contusion)
Algor Mortis
Physical Wounding of the Body
Fingerprinting the Deceased in Water-Related Deaths
Case Investigation: Obtaining Decedent, Witness, Suspect, and First Responder Information; K. L. Erskine
Decedent Information
Determining Accuracy of Statements Obtained at Scene
Nonverbal Communication
Why People Lie and How They Attempt to Conceal It
Child Witnesses
Interviews of Rescue and Recovery Personnel
Pretrial Preparation for the Field Investigator; K. L. Erskine
Incident Report
Chain of Evidence and Exhibits
Pretrial Interviews
Eyewitness Testimony vs. Circumstantial Evidence
Child Witnesses
Expert Witnesses
Video and Audio Recordings
Testifying in Court: Credibility, Appearance, and Demeanor
Criminal vs. Civil Proceedings
Case Studies
Medicolegal Investigation of Deaths: Initial Processing; E. J. Armstrong, MD
The Medicolegal Autopsy; E. J. Armstrong, MD
External Examination: General Information
Internal Examination
Application of Medicine and Pathology to Law: The Forensic Pathologist as an Expert Witness
Asphyxia; E. J. Armstrong, MD
The Forensic Pathological Aspects of Deaths Due to Drowning and Bodies Recovered from Fluid Environments; E. J. Armstrong, MD
Water-Related Deaths: Initial Processing
The Autopsy and the Diagnosis of Drowning and Other Water-Related Injury
The Forensic Toxicological Aspects of Deaths Due to Drowning and Bodies Recovered from Fluid Environments; E. J. Armstrong, MD
Psychiatric Medications
Illicit Drugs and Medications
Carbon Monoxide
Water-Related Deaths by Manner; E. J. Armstrong, MD
Homicidal Water-Related Deaths
Suicidal Water-Related Deaths
Accidental Water-Related Deaths
Natural Water-Related Deaths
Undetermined Water-Related Deaths
Appendix A
Appendix B: Body Drop Rate Chart
Appendix C: Body Recovery Checklist and Automobile
Appendix D: Sample Autopsy Report
Appendix E: You Make the Call

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Erica J. Armstrong, MD, is a Forensic Pathologist for the Office of the Cuyahoga County Coroner in Cleveland, Ohio. Kevin L. Erskine is a Master Criminal Investigator for the Cleveland Lakefront State Park Police.