Morgue

Morgue

A Life in Death

eBook - 2016
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"...Dr. Vincent Di Maio and veteran crime writer Ron Franscell guide us behind the morgue doors to tell a fascinating life story through the cases that have made Di Maio famous--from the exhumation of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to the complex issues in the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Beginning with his street-smart Italian origins in Brooklyn, the book spans 40 years of work and more than 9,000 autopsies, and Di Maio's eventual rise into the pantheon of forensic scientists."--Book jacket.
Publisher: New York :, St. Martin's Press,, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781466875067
1466875062
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xv, 268 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates) : illustrations.
Contents: A death in black and white
The "why" incision
An empty nursery
Bombed beyond recognition
Digging up Lee Harvey Oswald
Monsters among us
Secrets and puzzles
Detail, justice, and celebrity
The ghosts of West Memphis
The curious death of Vincent Van Gogh.
Summary: "...Dr. Vincent Di Maio and veteran crime writer Ron Franscell guide us behind the morgue doors to tell a fascinating life story through the cases that have made Di Maio famous--from the exhumation of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to the complex issues in the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Beginning with his street-smart Italian origins in Brooklyn, the book spans 40 years of work and more than 9,000 autopsies, and Di Maio's eventual rise into the pantheon of forensic scientists."--Book jacket.

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j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

Death is not an individual but a social event. When, with a barely noticeable sigh, the last gasp of air is exhaled, the blood stops pulsating through arteries and veins, and neurons cease activating the brain, the life of a human organism has ended. Death is not official, however, until the community takes notice. —STEFAN TIMMERMANS
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Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. —ERNEST HEMINGWAY
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TV shows, movies, and novels with fictional portrayals of forensic pathologists are phenomenally popular, not because they are accurate about the art and science of forensic pathology, but because they piece together a puzzle.
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Most gunshot wounds to the heart are not instantaneously fatal. In fact, no matter what you see on TV or in the movies, only gunshot wounds of the brain are likely to be instantaneously fatal … and even then, not always.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

They were brainwashing us, teaching us to think like doctors. Not lawyers, not accountants, not stockbrokers. Doctors think differently. We were beginning to adopt a certain emotional distance, learning not to get so close to patients that we couldn’t do our work or so far from them that we couldn’t hear what they had to say about their pain and fear.
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... barbiturate withdrawal is a killer. It’s worse than heroin withdrawal. An addict suffers convulsion and delirium, and his heart literally collapses.
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... death is proof that we have souls. I see humans as an ear of corn, with an outer, disposable husk and an inner core of kernels—the seeds of life itself. When I see a dead body, it is just a husk. The soul is gone.
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One of the pleasures of childhood is that you feel something more than you understand it.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

To become a forensic pathologist requires four years of college, four years of medical school, and as many as five years of extra training after medical school. One must train first as an anatomical pathologist, at a minimum, before becoming a forensic pathologist.
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The whole tragedy ... boiled down to a single legal question: Who was the aggressor at the moment the trigger was pulled?
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“There are no perfect crimes. There are only untrained and blundering investigators, slipshod medical examiners.”
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Most significant, maybe, is that when a woman pulls a gun on you, never say, “You wouldn’t dare shoot.”
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Non-physicians often jump from A to D, but a good doctor goes from A to B to C to D. One must attempt to accumulate all the facts.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

There was an adage to consider: “Internists know everything but do nothing; surgeons know nothing but do everything; psychiatrists know nothing and do nothing; and pathologists know everything and do everything, but it is too late.”
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A baby dies without dreams or memories. That’s why the death of a child is so tragic. We wish for them to know what we know about life, about us. They haven’t yet wondered why there are stars, sung a song, or truly laughed.
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The math is grotesque but simple. Over twenty-three years, at least seven children died and at least five others suffered dangerous breathing spells in Martha’s care. They all had different parents, lived in different places, had different histories, but their deaths were eerily similar. And one person was always there: Martha Woods.
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In the old days, when ordinary people were more familiar with death, unidentified bodies would be propped up in the morgue’s street-side window in hopes a passerby might recognize them.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

[That's about 100 bombs going off each day!!!]
In the fourteen months before the Bel Air explosion, more than 4,300 bombs had been set off by militant groups like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground, and another 1,000 were disarmed, failed, or went off prematurely. Thousands of bomb threats every day closed government buildings, oil companies’ offices, big factories, draft offices, and skyscrapers across a skittish America.
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Today he is in his seventies, incarcerated in the ADX Florence Supermax federal prison on the plains of Colorado with terrorists, cartel kingpins, mob hit men, and serial killers such as al Qaeda’s Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols.
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The world is a messy place. And we’re all part of it, sometimes doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Or the wrong things for the right reasons.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

Well, no death is ordinary if you’re the one who’s dying. And I’ve found that most “ordinary” people have a few extraordinary stories somewhere in the book of their lives.
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People haven’t changed in five thousand years. They are still driven by money, sex, and power. Some are purely and inexplicably evil, some are purely and inexplicably good. The rest float along like leaves on the stream, bumping into good and evil all the way to the sea.
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America’s first forensic dentist was Paul Revere. Yes, the quintessential patriot was not only a master silversmith but also an amateur dentist who crafted special working dentures from animal teeth, then wired them into the toothless mouths of fellow Bostonians.
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“Most young colored boys and girls are militant now. They’re just not swallowing what the old folks swallowed.”

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

Death offers us a lot of puzzles, too, but I think death’s mystery is in what we can see, not what is hidden. The clues are always there for us to find whatever answers we seek. It’s not unnatural to look and wonder … it’s unnatural to walk away.
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Three decades had passed since she went to prison for murdering Chelsea McClellan. Her mug shot no longer pictures a cold-eyed thirtysomething but a dour, sagging frump, more lunch lady than serial killer.
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Two villains emerged in this tragedy. One was Genene Jones, a psychopathic serial killer whose true death toll might never be known. The other was a political hospital culture that covered its own ass rather than face the truth.
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During Jones’s time in the hospital’s pediatric ward, forty-two babies died. Thirty-four of them—four out of every five of the hospital’s dead babies—died while Jones was on duty. Other nurses began calling Jones’s three-to-eleven tour the “death shift.”

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

Anti-American terrorism didn’t start on September 11, 2001, not by a long shot. We’ve been in revolutionaries’ and anarchists’ cross hairs for at least a century, and our military provides the easiest target.
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Forty-two percent of Americans die from natural causes, and 38 percent in accidents. Nine percent are suicides, and 6 percent are homicides (not always murder, but always deaths caused by other humans). That leaves 5 percent of deaths that we simply can’t explain. So in America today, almost one of every five Americans dies in a suspicious way.
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The truth isn’t always satisfying. SAN ANTONIO. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 1984. Something wasn’t right. A cold wind blew out of the north, plunging the normally balmy South Texas temperatures well below freezing. A low, sepulchral sky made this morning feel like death.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

“How does a homicide become a suicide?” ... “You write a big, fat check. If you can’t change the science, you buy the scientist.”
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But civilization is an extremely thin veneer. There’s no difference between us and the people two thousand or four thousand years ago. We just make more laws, have keener tools, and conceal our violence with more class and finesse.
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At those times when I think forensic science might not yet be perfect, I am always reminded that neither is justice.
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When you fire a gun, it’s not just a bullet that comes out of the barrel. There’s a flame that burns up to 1,500 degrees, followed by hot gases, soot, burning gunpowder, and the bullet, of course.

j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

In the end, we simply cannot determine the facts “beyond a reasonable doubt” if we don’t let capable, skilled professionals use their special knowledge to explain difficult, technical issues to juries. Juries can embrace it or ignore it, but they must hear it.
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If the expert always testifies for one side or the other, he or she is labeled a whore for that side. Some try to blunt this criticism by testifying for both sides, but that merely causes them to be labeled a whore for anybody who’ll pay. It’s a no-win situation.
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Expert witnesses aren’t liars. They are telling the truth as they see it, and we all know that the truth can be interpreted many ways.
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An expert not only must possess the requisite knowledge on the subject, he must be able to explain it. Denzel Washington’s lawyer character in the film Philadelphia comes to mind. “Explain this to me like I’m a six-year-old” is a very potent line.

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j
jimg2000
Sep 07, 2016

Authors presented some big cases he was intimate with in layman's terms. Interesting insider information on the evidence details, professional commentaries and relevant statistics on those cases.

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