MINI EPISODE 5.5 Autopsy Report

Dr. Hornstein: Alright, welcome class! Uhh, go ahead and take your seats, let’s get started. Thank you so much for joining us today for this special lecture. You’re lucky we’re in a teaching hospital… usually it’s hard to observe an actual autopsy like this in action. Let’s get started!

Today we’ll be examining a body that was recently found in a lake. So at first glance, the victim appears to be male between the ages of 19 and, uhhhhh, 25. Looking at the notes here, the body was found in Faraday Lake on October 21st, 2018 at approximately 3:45 in the afternoon. The subject is about six two. There’s a tattoo here on the victim’s right shoulder, it looks like a…a pinecone? That could be helpful for the identification.

Be sure you’re taking this stuff down – this is the most important part of any autopsy - you want to make sure to observe the physical attributes of the body before we move on to the internal portion. That’s the philosophy of any autopsy - OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE!

Alright, moving on, the body displays signs of moderate decay. You can see it in the swelling here in the area of the abdomen, as well as in the limbs, you can see it here, and here. This is all consistent with the body having been submerged in the lake for somewhere around three to five days or so.

The body hasn’t yet begun to release any noxious gases, thank god, so it’s unlikely to have been in the lake longer than that. Do you all follow where I’m going with this? The point here is to establish time of death within the autopsy, as well as giving a discussion of what the body physically looks like.

STUDENT: Those marks on the side of his head. What are those?

Dr. Hornstein: Thank you, David. Yeah, we’re getting there. It’s important to notice any marks, abrasions, anything that hints at trauma. What does this help to establish?

STUDENT: Cause of death?

Dr. Hornstein: Yeah, exactly -- cause of death -- although we won’t really know until we open him up, but it’s still important to be thorough with these things. And what, class? Yes! Yes! OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE.

Okay, continuing on! See here, there are abrasions and significant bruising on the corpse. The, the blood loss -- right here -- suggests that the trauma was antemortem. This large bruise here, on the back of the subject’s neck, it’s also consistent with blunt force trauma. Considering the extent to which it is bruised, this is likely to have occurred prior to the death as well.

Moving on to the head, see here, this one large gash on the back of the head, it’s also antemortem. We can’t say for sure yet, of course, but the extent of the blood loss and the severity of the wound point to this as the likely cause of death.

Let’s take some samples from around the wound to send in to the lab. Despite it having been submerged, there is still a good chance that some particulates may have survived, especially in the nooks and crannies of the corpse.

 We can get enough here for a DNA sample as well, that way we can figure out the identity of this mystery body. See, like, like this. Alright, we’re ready to move on to the internal portion of the autopsy. David, could you, uh, bring over the sterilized tools. Now, let’s cut into the body… we’ll start by making an incision on the abdomen, like this…

[Thud]

Dr. Hornstein: Ah, looks like we’ve got a fainter! There’s always someone with a weak stomach! You’d think you’d know you were squeamish before you signed up for the class, but, uh, I guess not.Well, don’t just stand there… help him to his feet. I should probably take a look at him, I guess, he hit the ground pretty hard. It looks like he may be bleeding a little bit. Can one of you get something to wipe that up?

STUDENT: Hey professor, we’re still going to finish the class, right?

Dr. Hornstein: Well, he needs to get to a doctor, but let’s keep going. David, would you mind running these samples up to the lab on the 3rd floor? I’d like to at least get some information to the investigators in the next couple of days. Let’s get back to the internal examination.

Theme music

Dr. Hornstein: Alright, class dismissed. Don’t forget, we’re taking a week off for the holidays. We’ll be back on January 2nd with another episode. Thanks for listening to Husk. If you like what you heard, help keep us on the air. Rate and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud – wherever you get your podcasts.