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5 years ago
 Thinking Face Okay everyone I need a little help in my Pathology of Death Investigations class. The assigment is dealing with ASPHYXIA, DROWNING & ELECTRICAL DEATHS. I am supposed to Review some pictures and then post my best guess of what may have happened. Here is the descriptions of the pictures.

1. A woman hanging from a telephone wire of what looks like may have been her apartment building.

2. Second pic shows Anterior abdomen with horizontal patterend impression of telephone cable centered, more or less, across the umbilicus and postmortem abrasion of left upper abdominal quadrant. Note missing livor mortis.

3. The 3rd pic shows Posterior trunk with dorsal livor mortis and pressure blanching of scapular (shoulder blades) areas, extending inferiorly (especially right side), and buttocks, and lower back abrasions. Note the wrinkled appearance of livor mortis in the infrascupular areas(between shoulder blades).

4. 4th pic shows minimal lividity on the cheeks and forehead of the women from the telephone cable. Blood has drained cephalad from a postmortem laceration of the left side of the forehead.

Any suggestions as to what may have happened to the woman?
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Valued Member
5 years ago
Lena, do you have the pictures? I'm not getting this Thinking Face
5 years ago
I actually viewed the pics of power point Lewis, but this is what I came up with

I have come to the conclusion that this woman more than likely died before she was hung. One reason I say this is because picture two noted that the body was missing livor mortis. Livor mortis is the earliest visible postmortem change. When the circulatory system stops, active blood flow through capillary beds ceases, and gravity acts upon the stagnant blood to draw it to the most dependent locations of the body. Erythrocytes are the most affected components of blood and account for the appearance of the bluish red or reddish purple coloration of livor mortis. The distribution and location of livor mortis depend on the position of the body after death. For example, in a body hanging vertically, livor mortis will be most marked in the feet and lower legs. So the fact that there was livor mortis missing made me automatically start thinking that the victim more than likely died before she was hung.
According to Asphyxia and drowning: an atlas By Jay Dix, Michael A. Graham, Randy Hanzlick, Livor mortis in someone who has been suspended for hours should be most prominent in the lower half of the body, notably in the distal portions of the extremities. As the blood vessels distend with blood during the formation and intensification of livor, some of the blood vessels will break causing small areas of apparent bleeding in the skin. These postmortem areas of extravasation are known as Tardieu spots.
Victims of hanging often have protrusion of the tongue. The protruding segment of the tongue is often red, red black, or black. The protrusion is due to the noose pushing the larynx upward as the body sags under the influence of gravity. The relative upward movement of the larynx forces the tongue, to which it is ultimately connected, out the mouth. The discoloration of the protruding segment of the tongue is due to atmospheric drying of the normally moist tongue surface.
Injuries to the internal neck structures in nonjudicial hangings are typically minimal or absent, reflecting the relatively gentle sustained localized nature of the pressure involved in hanging. Minimal hemorrhage within the soft tissues of the neck is occasionally found; however, in most cases, there is no hemorrhage in the soft tissues of the neck. An exception to this is occasionally seen in hanging, involving a drop prior to suspension such as may occur if someone jumps from the balcony with a noose around the neck.
A petechial hemorrhage is a tiny pinpoint red mark that is an important sign of asphyxia caused by some external means of obstructing the airways. They are sometimes called petechiae. Their presence often indicates a death by manual strangulation, hanging, or smothering. The hemorrhages occur when blood leaks from the tiny capillaries in the eyes, which can rupture due to increased pressure on the veins in the head when the airways are obstructed. If petechial hemorrhages and facial congestion are present, it is a strong indication of asphyxia by strangulation as the cause of death. The forensic pathologist usually needs a very good light source and maybe even a magnifying glass to detect petechial hemorrhages. They range in size of a speck of dust to around two millimeters and may occur in distinct groups. Often they are seen in the conjunctiva of the eyes and also on the eyelids, especially after hanging. They may also be found elsewhere on the skin of the head and face, such as in the mucous membrane inside the lips and around or behind the ears. When found in a case of suspect hanging, the presence of petechial hemorrhages strongly suggests the victim was hung when alive. This helps distinguish hangings staged to make a murder look like a suicidal act.
In these pictures I did not notice any protrusion of the tongue. This was yet another sign that the victim died prior to being hung. The victims tongue was still in her mouth.  I also saw no signs of petechial hemorrhages around the eyes, lips, or ears.
According to eNotes, World of Forensic Science (2011) Movement of a body in the first few hours after death can be evident by patches of lividity on different areas of the body. In the 3rd picture it appears to me that the body was moved in the first few hours of death, because of the patches of lividity on the different areas of the body like the shoulder blade areas.
I noticed a mark on the side of her forehead that may have came from being struck by some sort of a firm object, possibly a gun. Resulting in blunt force trauma to the head which is what actually causes her death.
If I had to take a guess as to how she died I would say it may have been a robbery gone bad.  The woman could have been awaken by a noise, walked in her living room and caught the perpetrator in the act. She grabbed his shirt as he was stealing her belongings, he hit the woman in the head with a gun, causing her to fall to the ground where she actually died from blunt force trauma to the head, the perpetrator then drags the victim across the floor out to the balcony where he then throws the woman off  the balcony, the victim getting caught in the telephone wire as she falls. This is just a guess since the pictures are not all that clear. It will be interesting to find out the real cause of death
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