Sunday, July 31, 2005

34347/31/05 WARNING: Just a little GRAPHIC/DISTURBING

7:38 a.m. I don't particularly care for spiders. And that is why, as I lay in bed looking at my ceiling I give a start when I notice one, about 2 inches across, slowly crawl out of the air vent above my bed. Aaack! I watch it...knowing that if I move it will scream (yes, I said scream...leave me alone) and dive onto my which point it will bite me until I die because it is probably a brown recleuse.

I slowly scoot off the bed and move into the other corner of the room. I CANNOT sleep with a spider above my bed. What if it crawls into my mouth? What if it crawls into the bathroom and makes a nest in the toilet where it will kill me by biting my butt?

I grab a phone book and move slowly back onto the bed. It takes me 20 minutes to maneuver myself. The spider is wary and it jumps with my movements. I am sweating. I finally close my eyes, aim (I know...wrong order), and slam the book into the ceiling while similtaneously jumping off the bed and scampering into the other room. I shake out my hair and brush off my shoulders just in case it landed on me.

Long story short, I missed. I look on the floor and the book and find no withered body as my prize. Instead, I am more paranoid than ever. Oh no! I pissed it off. Now it's really going to get me.

It's after midnight now. I've moved furniture and checked behind things, but still no luck. I finally move the bed into the middle of the room and remove all the sheets and pillow cases so that it can't sneak up on me. After an hour or so, I finally fall asleep.

Yes. I am aware I have issues.

Back when I was a kid, my parents had a dirt cellar in the basement under the stairs. They kept potatoes and onions and apples from our garden down there. You had to walk through to the back of a closet and then crawl through a port hole-type door (about the size of a car window) to get inside. There was one bare lightbulb wired into the four-foot ceiling. The walls were cinder block. The whole place smelled of earth and rotting wood, which made sense since the damp dirt floor was covered with wooden planks.

The room would have freaked me out even without the grubs, centipedes, and nests of spiders that crowded the doorway and the ceiling.

Every other day my mother would call me around dinner time and send me to fetch some potatoes or some onions. I would reluctantly take a bucket down into the basement and open the door. Webs would be crossing the entryway so that I was certain a big, fat spider would fall in my hair and crawl down my shirt and bite my bare flesh if I tried to pass through.

I would sit there and watch them. Black, beady eyes. Huge pincer fangs. Some were big and furry and still. Others were black and stout and the slightest breeze would cause them to jerk and jump. Ten minutes would pass and Mom would call down to me to hurry. I would look up toward where the voice was originating and huff. I was certain this constituted some form of child abuse.

I would take a deep breath and close my eyes as I passed under the webs. There I would the middle of a room overtaken with arachnids. I would crouch down and huddle close to the floor, again examining the room to see where all of them were. Up above me. Over in the corners. Crawling in amongst the potatoes and onions. Watching me.

An old, tattered web would brush against my skin and I would jump and yelp. Then I'd hear Mom's voice again calling for me. I would hastily fill my bucket and hesitate at the doorway again. Finally, I would jump out, slam the door behind me, and run upstairs as fast as my little legs would take me.

So, you can imagine how I feel when several years later I am at the ME's office and a body is brought in that has been decomposing in the forest for a week. The woman went missing from a local WalMart parking lot several days ago. It turned out her step-son and his friends murdered her because she wouldn't let them borrow her car.

What was left of the body was teaming with insects. There were bugs as big as my hand making their way out of pockets and shirt sleeves. Interestingly, there were also roaches...which are urban insects and indicate that she was moved there from another location. Turns out they stashed her in a basement for a few days before dumping her in the forest.

The Chief ME is there watching me as I double glove my hands and prepare to reach into the pockets and remove any valuables or identification. Just as I reach for a pocket, a three-inch-long centipede slithers its way out and plops down onto the tray, where it disappears under the body. I pull my hand back and scream. I close my eyes and curse myself. Oh, no I did NOT just scream. But I did. I glance up at the Cheif sheepishly and she narrows her eyes. "Well, go ahead!" she says. Ugh.

I thrust my hand into the pocket, ignoring the little bodies I feel scrambling to get out of my way. The pants are wet with broken down, liquefied fat...called adipocere. No valuables in that pocket. Come on, Polly. Hold it together. I move on to the next and methodically go through each pocket, trying very hard to control the urge to wrinkle my nose and say, "Ew, ew ew!". After I am finished, the ME leaves and I do the heebie jeebie dance for about 10 minutes before pushing the tray into the cooler.

My lighthouse this morning out on Lake Michigan. Posted by Picasa

Sun rising over Lake Michigan this AM. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005



7:36 a.m. I got home from Atlanta yesterday. It was a fun trip and I hope to go back soon. On the plane I sat between a man who kept nodding off and snoring on my shoulder (no drool, thank goodness) and a lady named Nervina in her mid-40's who had never flown before.

Nervina is chatty and she is currently wringing the neck of the pillow the flight attendant gave her. I don't think she knows she's even doing it. We are preparing for take-off. Nervina tells me all about her grown kids and informs me she's got a sinus infection. I move a little closer to Snoring Guy.

As we start taxiing down the runway, I watch with amusement as Nervina presses her head against the seat back, clutches the armrests, and mutters, "Lordy. Oh, Lordy." I am glad Nervina's got the window seat so she can see the action. I am hoping she doesn't need the barf bag.

Once we're up in the air she calms down a bit. I tell her that the turbulence won't be so bad once we're out of the clouds. As we break through and rise up to cruising altitude, Nervina smiles. I do, too. It's a good show today. The clouds below look like fluffy cotton balls and are trimmed in gold and pink. "It's beautiful!" she says. I watch her face, which is child-like and full of wonder.

Everything is going fine until we are about to land. Nervina starts wringing her pillow again as the landing gear goes down. "We're going so fast! Oh, Lordy! We're gonna hit that bridge!" I cover my mouth to hide my smile. Seconds before we hit the ground I warn Nervina that we're coming in a little fast so it's going to be a bit of a bumpy landing. Her eyes get as big as dinner plates. I suddenly realize that maybe wasn't the best thing to say. Poor Nervina. We land and the captain reverses the engine. Nervina is holding her heart.

I wake up Snoring Guy, who managed to sleep through the entire flight. He is bleary-eyed and disoriented. I tell him the plane landed and he says, "Oh. Yeah. Okay." He doesn't even thank me for letting him use my shoulder as a pillow for two hours.

I say goodbye to Nervina, who it looks like is going to make it, and I head home. When I walk in to my house I note the sink full of dishes. The garbage I forgot to take out. The dead house plants. I sigh. It is really impractical for me to have a home considering how often I'm actually here.

Speaking of travel, Stinky Jimmy called me yesterday and asked me if I want to go back to Puerto Rico in October. Hot dog! This time I'm going to make sure I get more time to goof off and eat gross things. And this time I'll devote more time brushing up on my Spanish...or better yet, I'll find myself a spicy Latin interpreter to bring along.

Today I am in a packed inner city neighborhood. I had a very hard time finding a place to park along the street that still afforded me a clear view of Subject's house. I am getting very hot, but I don't want to turn on the car engine and draw too much attention to myself. Not many people are out yet as it's just 8am on a Saturday.

After I work this case today and tomorrow, I am headed straight up to the Twin Cities again. I have to finish the case I was working there a couple of weeks back.

And after that I'm going to northern Minnesota. Way up by the Canadian border. I must say that I was dreading making that trip because, what is there up that far north besides polar bears? Well, it turns out PERI, one of the bloglit, is not too far from where I'll be! Our plans are still sketchy, but they involve Friday night, wreaking havoc on some poor small town, and a mechanical bull.

I can't wait.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


9:16 a.m. So, I'm working in Atlanta for the next couple of days. Atlanta is hot. Very hot. And they have interesting billboards that say things like "Call 888-MYCOLON". Which I obediently call. A lady answers. I say, "Hello, is this my colon I'm speaking to?" I giggle and hang up.

But Atlanta has more to offer then amusing billboards. Oh, yes. Outside of the local KFC they have a giant chicken replete with moving beak and googly rolling eyes. I must get a picture of that...

Last night I went to dinner with two of the bloglit that live here, Tamara and ATLGA. ATLGA and I kept trying to find Tamara a date but whenever I would grab her arm and present her to an eligible bachelor, saying, "This is my friend, Tamara. She needs a man immediately and we think you might be him," she would turn all sorts of colors and walk away. I don't know how she expects me to hook her up if she doesn't cooperate...

Anyway, on to another topic...

I probably shouldn't admit this, (not that that has ever stopped me before) but I learned a couple of interesting forensics techniques from watching the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel.

For example, we had a case called into the ME's office. A man had passed away in his house. It was summer. Very dry inside because the air conditioner was on. Sadly, this guy wasn't missed by anybody for three months after he'd died. He had no family or friends in the area and when his mail started overflowing a neighbor realized he hadn't seen "Joe" out for a long time. He called the cops and we got the case a short time later.

There is very little furniture in the house. Just a couple of chairs, a television, a bed. The victim is face down on the floor next to one of the chairs. Sadly, he had a momma chihuahua who had a litter of puppies not long before their master died. The man and his pets are all perfectly mummified. I am there with Det. Blue. (I always seem to end up with him as the lead on my cases.) "Look at all the little Chalupa dogs all over the place! Yo quiro Taco Bell!" I ignore him because I love dogs and that just sucks. They could have eaten their master, but they didn't. Instead, they starved to death.

I get some scene photographs and Dwight loads the body into his truck. We meet back at the MEO and I am checking the decedent in. The process entails making a toe tag, fingerprinting, removing valuables and checking them into evidence, filling out lots of paperwork and placing the body in the cooler to await autopsy.

Fingerprints are very important in a case like this. We need a positive ID. I could try to get dental x-rays, but that could take several days. Obviously, a visual identification is out of the question. I look at the fingers. They resemble wrinkled up raisins. But then I remember something. I was just watching on television last night about a way to get prints off a mummy. I go in the autopsy suite and grab two white towels. I drench them in water and bring them back out. I wrap each hand in a towel. Several hours later, I remove the towels. I go back in the autopsy suite and grab a syringe. I fill it with dish soap. I return to the body and inject the dish soap (which is viscous, so won't flow back out the puncture mark) under the pads of the fingers. Sure enough, they plump up nicely and I am able to roll perfect prints. Wadda ya know.

There is another way to get prints off a decomposing body that is not dry. It's a method called "gloving". I have a strong stomach, but this one was always tough for me.

In these cases, the body is mooshy after several days of decomposing. The skin is slipping on the fingertips and the tissue underneath is practically liquefied. It is virtually impossible to pull a print. So, what you do is cut around the bottom of the first knuckle. The skin will then slip off from the flesh below very easily since everything underneath is mush. At that point, you place your gloved finger inside the dead guy's finger it's a glove. You take a print from that. Gag. It works, but it is just so nasty.

Look who I caught peeking in my window yesterday!... It's Tamara! Posted by Picasa

That cop is coming over to ask Tamara and I to put our clothes back on. (I thought this was a clothing optional embarrassing...) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


4:58 a.m.
An Essay by, Polly PI

I finished up my casework for the day yesterday and was heading home. I was really in need of a bathroom, however, and so I stopped at a gas station before I hit the interstate.

This area is definitely a 10 on the Scary Neighborhood Scale (SNS). It's late in the afternoon and there seem to be a lot of people hanging around. I park and lock up the truck. As I walk toward the gas station entrance I notice there is a black man, 6'2", 35 years, 175 lbs sitting on the curb by the door. He is watching me intently and smiling. There is a huge gap where his bottom two front teeth used to be. Just your friendly neighborhood Crazy Guy. Hi, Crazy Guy!

I pass Crazy Guy and give him a cursory smile and nod. He stands up, steps in front of me, and says, "Oh, no, no, no! You can't be touchin' that door handle. It's not clean! A beautiful, pure thing like you shouldn't be touching anything that ain't clean."

He pulls the door open for me and gestures for me to go inside. Yikes. I cross the threshold and thank him. Inside I look for the bathroom. Sigh. Of course. It's one of those places where they hand you a key and send you outside to the back of the building. I wait in line for five or six minutes, glancing outside occasionally to see if Crazy Guy is still there. Yep. He waves at me through the glass door.

I consider my options. I can forgo the bathroom and just leave. But that won't solve the Crazy Guy problem. I can walk out and pretend he's not there, but I'm pretty sure that won't work either because Crazy Guy doesn't seem like the type to take a hint. In the end, I get the key, which is attached with a wire to the end of a fly swatter, and head out the gas station door. I open it and Crazy Guy tells me that I shouldn't have done that...that I'm too perfect and pure and so he would open doors for me from now on. He sees that I have the bathroom key and says he'll escort me to the ladies room. He puts his hand on the small of my back and guides me around the building.

Again, I'm weighing my options. I can tell Crazy Guy to get his hands off of me, but then he might get mad and I'm not sure I want to find out what Crazy Guy is like when he's mad. Meanwhile, he is telling me how God told him I would come today. He says "Praise Jesus!" a lot. "Amen!" I say back. He seems to like that and I get the vague impression that maybe I shouldn't be encouraging him.

We get to the bathroom and Crazy Guy takes the fly swatter/key from me. Damn! I was going to beat him to death with that if I needed a weapon! He stands behind me and reaches around to open the door. For the first time I feel a slight nudge of fear. He is pressed up against my back and I am thinking seriously about stomping on his foot, elbowing him in the chest, and running when he pulls the door open and backs away. "There you are. For the beautiful princess."

I take the key from him and stand at the threshold of the bathroom, which, I note with resignation, has just as much fecal matter smeared on the walls and sink as it does in the broken toilet. I hesitate for just as second. Hmmm.... Crazy Guy or disgusting filth. I step in and the door slams shut behind me.

And there is no light.

I stand there in the dark and assess my situation for yet a third time. Well, Polly, let's see... It's dark. It smells. You probably shouldn't touch anything or you will smell, too. You have to pee. There's a crazy man outside waiting for you. I hear flies buzzing around and note that at least I have a fly swatter. I smile to myself. If I live, this could be kind of funny.

There is a thin line of daylight filtering through the bottom of the door and my eyes finally start to adjust. I make my way to the commode and execute an act of sheer grace and beauty using the bathroom without touching anything. I debate washing my hands but decide against it when I notice feces smeared on the sink handles.

I take a deep breath. Time to go. I walk back out into the sunlight and find my not-so-secret admirer waiting for me. I return the key and walk toward my car while Crazy Guy asks me if I am married. I bury my left hand in my pocket. "Yes. Very happily and I have lots of kids." He shakes his head sadly, but then recovers quickly and asks me out on a date. I remind him that we just discussed how married I am. His face falls.

I am at my truck and open the door. Crazy Guy grabs my hand. He kisses it. "Until tomorrow then, my sweet." I get in the truck and drive away. I look in the rear view mirror and see Crazy Guy smiling and waving at me.

You know, I don't care what you people say...there is something to be said for ice cream buckets.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


4:23 a.m. I found my first gray hair yesterday... shimmering there on the top of my head in the roots that so desperately needed touching up. I wasn't sure at first. Is this a trick of the light? But then I pulled it out and took a closer look. Sure enough. Well, wadda ya know. It was silvery white and thicker than the rest. I was pleased. None of that dull yellow gray for me, boy. I don't know why people dislike gray hair. It's such a lovely color. When I go gray I will have shimmery hair to match my sparkly pants.

Of course, that doesn't prevent me from running to my hair dresser in a panic. I walk into the salon and say, "Fix me! I need it to look good NOW!" She laughs. My hair is a disaster. Stringy and knotted up. I have been entirely negligent over the past few months. As she tries to comb her way through my rats nest, I feel like I owe her an explanation. "I don't have to have much human contact, you see..." She says nothing. I feel like I'm being scolded, so I sulk quietly while she does her magic.

The hair dresser finally gets me looking half-human again and then I have an idea. This is a full-service salon/spa. Why not try that spray paint fake tan thingy? A little color might do me some good...

As usual, I don't think very far ahead before embarking on this latest journey. I follow the cute, 20-something young woman to a room off of the main salon. The room is furnished sparcely with a full-length mirror, a floor mat, and a cabinet filled with the stuff that I suppose she will use to paint me.

The woman turns to me and says, " know...take your clothes off and I'll be back in in a couple of minutes." I looked at her. "I... you mean I have to get naked?" I say. She looks at me impatiently. "I've done this, like, maybe 200 times. Don't worry about it."

She walks out of the room and I stand there for a minute. I reason with myself. Oh, stop being a prude, Polly...women get bikini waxes from total strangers. This can't possibly be as bad as that. So I take off my clothes and I'm scanning the room looking for, you know, a towel...a napkin...something to cover up with. There is a chair and I consider sitting in it, but then I think of the 200 other people that were in this room before me and I quickly abandon that idea.

The girl walks back in and I reflexively cross one leg over the other and use my hands to cover the important parts. She glances at me and rolls her eyes toward the ceiling. Then she turns to the cabinet and begins pulling out bottles and tubes and things.

She loads the air brush sprayer and tells me to stand in front of the mirror and put my arms out in front of me. I watch in the mirror as she starts spraying me with this cold clear liquid. "This is so that the color will catch better," she tells me conversationally. I look at her. "You mean you're priming me? I'm being primed?" I start to reconsider the wisdom of being air brushed, but it's too late. I'm already on the roller coaster, as it were, so I might as well throw my arms up in the air and enjoy the ride, right?

The girl is know...EVERYTHING. I am tempted to ask her how the weather is down there, but I refrain. Finally, after about 20 minutes, she tells me I'm done. "Stand right there, now." She puts a fan on me and tells me that I'll be feeling a little tacky until everything dries. She leaves the room and I examine the results in the mirror. Hmmm...not bad. I decide that being spray painted was okay after all.

Maybe next time I'll try the bikini wax.

Monday, July 25, 2005


7:29 a.m. Yesterday afternoon I got a call from Cuz's husband, Dirk. He was out on surveillance in a rural part of Idaho and he had a couple of questions seeing as this was only his second case. (Yeah. I got him a job with my company. Nepotism is alive and well in my world.)

Anyway, he was being visited by several of his Subject's neighbors who dropped by with friendly inquiries into why he was hanging around their little corner of the universe. Fortunately, Dirk was prepared for this after reading my many posts on rural surveillance. He took it in stride and managed to secure a very good surveillance location on the property of a guy that didn't particularly care of the Subject.

Anyway, Dirk and I chat for a while and say our goodbyes. Later that afternoon he calls me again. He says he put his 12 hours in and is heading home. "Well, that's good," I say. "How'd things go?" He's quiet for a moment. "Well...that's why I'm calling. I'm being tailed." I raise an eyebrow. "Yeah," he says, "It's the Subject's wife. She's been following me for the past 50 miles. Do you think maybe she's on to me?" Oh, dear.

I advise Dirk to call the cops and tell them what's up. (After all, he saw Subject's wife load a gun into her truck earlier that day.) "People with guns and trucks in rural Idaho are not to be triffled with," I tell him. Before Dirk hangs up he says that in case he gets his ass capped, he loves me and I've been a great cousin-in-law. Aack! Now I am worried. I am pretty sure Cuz would be mad if I manage to get her husband killed or maimed or otherwise injured.

I get another call about 45 minutes later. It's Dirk again. He's alive. Phew! But he's been pulled over by the cops. Apparently, Subject's wife called complaining that some strange man has been hanging around her house for two days and now she's following him on the interstate.

Now Dirk's got some 'splainin' to do. He tells the cops what he was up to, but they are still suspicious. They question him. Dirk ends up having to show them part of the video he took to reassure them he isn't some perv taking pictures of middle-aged farmers in their underwear.

In the end, the cops believe him, but tell him that he needs to be less obvious. He tells me he is tempted to come back with, "No s#@t, Sherlock," but thinks better of it seeing as he just narrowly avoided getting his butt hauled into the clink.

I know Dirk is upset he got picked up, so I tell him about the first time it happened to me. It was my first travel case, way up in northern Wisconsin on (you guessed it) a rural farm. Believe me, those cases are the hardest. I'd rather work in the inner city any day. The problem is that when there is only one house on miles of dirt country road, it's virtually impossible to find a place to set up that isn't obvious and yet still allows you to get decent video. The best that you can hope for is a tree to hide behind which is, as you can imagine, not very good cover.

I set up down the road a bit from the residence. I am only there for an hour or two when I see Subject come out of the house and head toward my truck. I take a short video of him, hop in the front and drive off slowly, reasoning that he might just be taking a walk and isn't necessarily coming to talk to me. I call Joe, my then supervisor, and tell him what happened. He says I should break off for the day and set up tomorrow in the parking lot of a doctor's office that is on the corner of the nearest intersection.

So, the next morning I drive by the residence and note no activity. I set up in the parking lot, just like Joe told me and am reviewing my video from the previous day. I am so engrossed in watching the video footage that I don't notice when Subject's car drives slowly into the parking lot. I only realize he's there when he parks up so close to my driver's side door that I can't get out. This is probably not a very good thing.

I watch as a very large man resembling a lumberjack exits the opposite side of the car. Nope, nope. Definitely not a good thing. He walks around the front of my truck and I can see he is seething. He narrows his eyes and raises his arm to perform a "come hither" gesture with his forefinger. So, let me get this straight, I think to myself, you want me to leave my car so that there is nothing between me and your 300 lb, flannel-clad self but air? I have a better idea. I back out of the parking spot I'm in and get the hell out of there.

He watches me as I turn out of the lot and head toward the highway. I call Joe and tell him what happened. "So, what are you going to say in your report?" Joe asks. "Well," I say, "I'm going to say that I became concerned the Subject might be suspicious of my intentions so I broke off surveillance so as to preserve the integrity of the investigation." Joe laughs, "That's my girl."

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Brunhilda and I were working alone on a Saturday afternoon when we were called out to a suicide in the suburbs. As you can imagine, I was eager to get out of there since I had spent several very uncomfortable and silent hours in the same room with the barracuda.

It is December and a bit chilly outside so we put on our standard navy blue windbreakers that say "Medical Examiner" across the back. I grab the camera and some film. Brunhilda gathers some gloves and the cell phone. After we load up the Explorer we drive about 20 miles to a middle income neighborhood on the north side. There are cop cars all over the place in front of the house.

Brunhilda goes off to talk to the detectives while I examine the scene. The vic is a white male, 44 years, 6'1" tall, 240 lbs. The garage door is open and there is a red sedan inside. As I approach I notice one end of a garden hose stuck in the tailpipe. The other end is threaded through a crack in the passenger side window. Carbon monoxide poisoning. I have not seen it before, but I read about what to expect. Cherry colored skin. Accelerated decomposition...

I walk up to the driver's side door and peer inside. The victim is hunched over toward the center console of the car. His skin, far from cherry-colored, is black. "Are you sure this is a white guy?" I ask Det. Blue as he walks up to join me. He chuckles and gets an amused glint in his eye. "Never saw one of these before, huh?" I don't answer, but instead put on a pair of latex gloves.

The smell of decomposition is strong and my eyes start to water as soon as I open the door. The body has been here for less than 12 hours and I am surpised to see skin slippage already apparent on his forearms and thighs. Skin slippage begins with big, fluid-filled blisters that errupt just under the epidermis. Over time, these blisters spread and then burst so that the outer layer of skin is loose and appears to be "slipping" off the body.

Det. Blue makes an unpleasant sound and backs up when the smell hits him. He steps out of the garage and into fresher air. My instincts tell me to breath out of my mouth, but I know from experience that this is not advisable. The smell of decomposition is so powerful you can actually taste it if you breath through your mouth.

I lean my head in the car and notice that the keys are in the ignition. "Did one of you guys turn off the car?" I call to Det. Blue. He tells me that when patrol came out on the scene they reached in and turned it off. He assures me they used gloves and no prints will be disturbed.

The victim's head is leaning into the passenger seat. His nose and mouth are purging decomp fluid, which, to the untrained eye looks like blood. I can't tell you how many times people have happened upon bodies with bloody discharge coming from the nose and mouth and immediately suspected foul play. Even green patrol officers make that mistake from time to time. I note that a puddle of discharge has formed on the cloth interior of the seat. I look away.

With some difficulty, I attempt to lift the victim's right arm to test for rigor mortis. It is stiff and unwilling to move. As I'd suspected, rigor is full. Given the accelerated rate of decomposition, I am estimating his time since death between 6 and 9 hours. It'll be fun trying to extract him from the car with his legs and arms stiff and uncooperative. And getting him into the body bag will be an even better trick. For the umpteenth time I think how much I would hate to have Dwight's job.

I am holding the arm up with some difficulty. The underside, the part that was in contact with the middle console, is blanched white and mottled with lividity. Lividity looks like angry red bruising. It is the result of blood settling to the lowest point after it stops flowing. I note that the faux-leather pattern from the console is deeply engraved in his damp skin. My grip loosens and his wet arm slips from my fingers. It slaps back down to its previous position with an angry thud.

I hear a familiar voice. Dwight just pulled in. I walk out of the garage and wave. He greets me cheerfully, as usual. After a few minutes of chatting I say, "You'll need a vinyl body bag for this one, Dwight." "Oh," he laughs, "a stinker!" He shuffles off to his van and starts digging around.

Meanwhile, Brunhilda approaches me with a big smile on her face. She hands me the suicide note. Apparently, the guy was upset because his "girlfriend" just left him a few days ago. But not before said girlfriend drained his bank accounts and put him $20k in debt. Nice. Seems that when the gravy train ran dry, she moved on. Poor guy.

Brunhilda waits until I'm done reading and says, "He threw the Christmas tree out the back door. Lights and all. Someone didn't have the Christmas Spirit." I smile despite myself. I walk in the house and look out the back door. Sure enough, the tree is lying on its side four or five feet from the house. A line of plugs and ornaments lead from the door like a trail of bread crumbs. "Bah, humbug," I say under my breath.

As Brunhilda and I walk back into the garage we notice a patrol officer speaking to an elderly lady. It's the victim's mother. I take a deep breath. The mother was the one that called the police this morning to have them check on her son. She knew he was depressed and when she couldn't raise him on the phone, she became concerned. She'd driven all the way from Daytona to get here.

The mother was pale but seemed pretty put together. Brunhilda and I approached her and told her what we knew. She blinked a few times but did not, as many family members do, question that her son had killed himself. Instead, she said she wanted to see him. "He's right there, isn't he? In the car?" Oh, no. I glance over at Brunhilda, who looks as distressed as I feel.

Brunhilda tells her that he is not viewable. The mother asks why. I get this technical, emotionless tone in my voice as I explain the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. I hope that detaching like that will somehow make it less difficult for the mom to hear. Or maybe it makes it less difficult for me to say.

In any case, dispite all our efforts, the mother is moving toward the garage. Brunhilda and I are backing up in front of her, shielding her and trying to reason with her, each of us imploring her to stop. "You don't want to remember him like that." Brunhilda says with tears pricking her eyes.

The mother starts yelling that it is her son and she has a right to see him. She darts around us and heads into the garage. I hear her scream. Brunhilda and I look at each other and for an instant we are friends, united in our grief for this woman who will now have to live with that awful image of her dead son for the rest of her life.

We turn into the garage. Dwight has already pulled the body out of the car and the vic is lying on the black vinyl bag, his legs and arms rising above his torso in the same position as they were in the car, skin black and bloated and oozing. The mother is on her knees weeping a few feet away and two detectives are flanking her on either side. They pick her up and bring her into the house. The door shuts behind them amid her pitiful cries.

I rub my eyes. It is silent for a good minute. Finally, Brunhilda tells Dwight to hurry up so we can get out of here.


7:32 a.m. I read a blog post yesterday by Susan McBride, one of the very talented Book Tarts you can find if you go to their blog called, The Lipstick Chronicles.

Susan's latest post was on the competetiveness in the writing world. Here is an exerpt:

"For so many, it is a game…a battle of one-upmanship. It’s establishing a pecking order, hanging with the right clique at the conventions, and being the BMOC.
Basically, it’s like junior high, all over again. There are a lot of Peter Pans out there; plenty of people who never grow up and who never stop competing. It’s all about winning, accumulating, and besting."

I finish reading and consider this. Throughout my life I have been confronted with those competetive types. I worked with one while I was a forensic investigator. This woman, we'll call her Brunhilda, was ten years older than me. She was smart, funny, ambitious. I really admired her. Which was why I found it so baffling that she hated me.

Okay, maybe not so baffling. See, the problem with me is that I am maybe a 2 on the ambition scale. You could even call me lazy if I wasn't such a hard worker. So you can imagine how infuriating it was for Brunhilda when a couple of months after I started working at the medical examiner's office I, through no apparent skill or talent of my own, cracked two unidentified cases and received a measure of media attention and praise from the Powers That Be. From that point, Brunhilda began to see me as a threat. And in her mind, any threat needed to be dispatched with impunity. (Finally....I get to use the phrase "dispatched with impunity"... I've waited SO long!)

Brunhilda is one of those people that plays life like a chess game. It is not a ladder you climb. It is not a journey you take. It is a competition. And you can't play unless there is an opponent.

Brunhilda was really quite skilled at her chess game, I'll give her that. She plotted and wreaked havok in ways that I would never have imagined. For example, my boss pulled me into his office one afternoon and said, "Polly, it has come to my attention that you and I have been having an affair." I stared at him for a moment, nonplussed. When I found my voice I said, "Well...I hope I was good."

Friday, July 22, 2005


7:42 a.m. I don't imagine I'll be here long today. I think my Subject skipped town. I talked to a neighbor this morning and she saw him and his family pack up late in the night several weeks ago "real secret-ish, ya know?" and she hasn't seen them since. She said they put sheets up over the windows that day so that nobody could see inside. Wow. Wonder what's in the house? A body? A meth lab? (I know, I've got a fascination with meth labs.)

I am going to do some digging and find the landlord. I want to know whose name is on the lease and if the rent is current.

Also, later today I'm going to write about a carbon monoxide poisoning death investigation case I had.

More later....

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Okay. My day's not so boring anymore. A TREE just fell on this car! It missed my truck by about 10 ft!  Posted by Picasa


9:12 a.m. I am set up along a dead end street in front of some rundown brick duplexes that were built back in the '50s. This is a 7 on the "scary neighborhood" scale. Along the opposite side of the street is a bike/running path. And beyond the path are a series of old buildings. They look like deserted warehouses.

When I arrive neither of the vehicles registered to my Subject are here. All of the shades are drawn on the house and there are no exterior lights on. This doesn't look so good. I run the license plates of all the cars parked in front of the residence. No luck.

I am about to grab the Gideons Bible that I stole from my last hotel stay and knock on the door under pretext that I'm a missionary. But I can't. The client in this case has make it clear that no physical or phone contact is permitted. I pout. My past two cases have been so BORING. I need a little excitement. I sigh. Well, I guess I can read Harry Potter or play with my online friends.

Maybe I'll go take a walk around the building and see what I can see. That's not physical contact, right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


2:43 p.m. I am home. I've been spending much of the afternoon teaching myself to play and sing a new song on the guitar. Not quite performance ready, but getting there. (Note: Performance ready means that I can play it through once without messing up.)

I am going to tell a very short story about when I was a kid. This isn't forensics. It's not so exciting, but it's part a of my life that I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I was five-years-old and it was summer. I had been sitting on the porch for a while being bored, waiting for my sister to come out. Finally, I had a brilliant idea. I grabbed a stick on the side of the driveway.

WHACK!! Got it! WHACK! Ha! It was judgement day for ants.

“Gross!” My sister, Tina, wrinkled her pretty little nose at me. Tina was eight-years-old and most definitely the boss of me. She had long straight blonde hair and my father’s striking green eyes.

I ignored her and instead watched in fascination when, a few minutes after the carnage, the living ants swarmed back in, hefted their squished comrades off the pavement, and dragged them away. There was no question in my mind that they would eat their dead. Cool.

A few minutes later Tina and I met a couple of other neighborhood kids...Chris and Nathan...along the street and we walked over to Jack's house. Jack was just three-years-old and I liked him mainly because I could boss him around.

We knocked on the front door. The woman who answered was a stranger. "Can Jack play?", my sister asked. The stranger asked us to wait and within a few minutes Jack slipped out the door to join us.

We shuffled quietly down the street. Nobody spoke. We just caste wary glances toward Jack from time to time as if we feared at any moment he might boil over like a pot on a stove.

The air was heavy with moisture and it was oppressively hot outside. I could hear cicadas buzzing lazily in the distance. We were right near the pond and every few minutes there would be a random plop as a frog or box turtle launched itself into the water. I wished I could join them. The heat made me think of how nice it would be to go for a swim. Sometimes we kids would take off our shoes and socks and step off the embankment into that murky pond water. It wasn’t very deep, perhaps four feet, at the most; quite sufficient to drown a kindergartner, though. Of course, I later realized that sewer from several nearby homes fed into that pond. I shudder to think what comprised the mooshy silt bottom that would squish so silkily between my toes.

We stopped and stepped off the pavement near a thicket of tall grass to pick wildflowers for Clair, Jack’s mom. As we picked I decided to make conversation. “So, your dad died, huh?”

My sister Tina, who was a far more tactful and sensitive child then myself, smacked me in the arm and shushed me angrily. “Be quiet, you dummy!”

What? It was true, wasn’t it? I rubbed my arm and weighed the pros and cons of hitting her back as Jack stated, quite matter-of-factly, “God took my daddy’s beard away.”

Jack’s father had been riding his bike along the road yesterday and was hit and killed by a drunk driver.

As we picked flowers, I watched little Jack wade through the shoulder-high grass, scattering field bugs and moths in his wake. The mid-morning sun was casting light off of his white-blond hair like a reflecting mirror. He looked as shiny as an angel standing there with droopy daisies and purple thistles grasped in his little hands.

Flush with flowers, we walked back to Jack’s house a few minutes later. The sudden blast of cool, dry air as we crossed the threshold made my skin prick with goosebumps. I climbed up the stairs and into a living room full of grim-faced people who spoke quietly in small clusters around the room. Within seconds, the stranger who'd answered the door gathered our hapless bouquets and bore them into the kitchen.

Clair, Jack's mother, sat alone. It struck me that activity buzzed all around, but Clair might as well have been the very chair she sat in; still and silent and soulless. Her half-lidded eyes stared blankly ahead, her face ashen with shock and grief. An island slumped in a wing-backed chair. Her sleeping baby daughter, born just two weeks earlier, lay bundled peacefully in her arms.


5:15 a.m. I am stuck in traffic on the Tristate Expressway heading down to my second day in the hood. I am listening to "Headstrong" by (I think) Trapt. "Back off! I'll take you on. Headstrong, I'll take on anyone. I know that you are wrong and this is not were you belong!" I am pounding the steering wheel and feeling like I could kick some serious ass. Good thing Bones isn't around or he'd be sorry! I look over at the car next to me. A little kid, maybe 3 years old, is watching me. I stop dancing in my seat and smile at him. I wave. The little kid looks up at the back of his mother's head kind of uncertainly and then starts to cry. Oh. Gee. I didn't mean to scare him. I wasn't going to KILL the steering wheel.

I make a funny face to see if I can make the kid stop crying. He just gets more upset and his mother gives me a dirty look. Huh. I'm usually so good with kids. I shrug.

I feel bad now and so I turn off my teen angst music and move on to something a little more calm. Ahhhh. This is better. "Sometimes....all I need is the air that I breath, and to love you. All I need is the air that I breeeeaaaath!..." Is this Roy Orbison? I can't remember.

Anyway, I pull in to the O'hare Oasis and go inside the gas station to use the little damas room. When I walk in the bathroom I look in the mirror. I stifle a scream. Oh, for the love of Pete and all that is holy! No wonder that kid was crying. I went to bed with a wet head last night. My hair is standing up approximately 9 inches off the left side of my head, the right side being as flat as a pancake. I try to force it down with water but it is no use. I open my mouth. There is a giant green piece of jalapeno pepper stuck between my front teeth from my ranchero breakfast wrap. (yummy) I am tempted to give myself a swirly in the toilet and start over.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

And for those of you who need your memories refreshed.... Sumo Polly. Posted by Picasa


"Cute, so you have nothing better to do! P.S. if you have nothing assigned tommorrow for yourself, take the day off and join weight watchers"

"Where did you get my senior picture?"

"Polly, I was at the beach all day and that's the best looking thing I've set my eyes on today. But, to tell the truth, it does look like the camera added more than the usual 10 pounds. lol"

"Oh No! Hell, I went to a clothing-optional campground last week to conduct an unannounced visit. The guy dropped his pants to show me his tattoos and piercings. Curiously, I didn’t feel uncomfortable."

"Nice butt."

"Your butt makes everything else look small, haha!"

"You look great! Did you get that picture taken while down in Puerto Rico? I noticed you went topless and I know that is how they sun bathe down there....."


1:56 p.m. Well, I told Stinky Jimmy that Bones stood us up this weekend and I was too busy washing my hair to notice. Turns out Stinky Jimmy was completely unconcerned. "Is that it? THAT'S your bad news?" I sit there for a second. "Well...yeah." Stinky Jimmy tells me that happens at least once a week with his other supervisors. Oh. I say, "In that case, Jimmy, I think I should get a raise." Jimmy laughs and tells me not to hold my breath.

Just for that I'm going to send him the picture of my head PhotoShopped on a Sumo wrestler's body...


10:14 a.m. I just got an email from Bones. Here it is for your reading enjoyment...


My Cell phone broke on Friday and I didn't have your number written down it was in my cell phone. I am resigning my position with the company. I received a much better job and pay.
Please send me my paycheck from the cases I did work.

Sorry for the trouble,


Any suggestions on a nice reply to send to my former investigator?


8:52 a.m. Hell can't get any hotter than this. My truck is like a greenhouse and even with the engine running, the AC can't keep up. I wish I'd worn shorts.

I am irritable and worried. My new investigator...the one that I thought was so great (we'll call him Bones because he reminds me of an osteology professor I used to have) was supposed to work two cases this weekend and I just discovered that he didn't. I should have been keeping better track of him, but he was so good and competent that I gave him too much autonomy too soon. Now I can't seem to raise him on the phone to find out what happened. He'd better be dead or near it, for his sake.

I have been scrambling all morning and think I got another investigator to take the cases Bones blew off. I'm still going to catch hell for it, though.

I am staring at traffic out the window and wishing for a slurpi (slurpy? slurp...whatever) from 7-Eleven when I witness a car accident not 10 feet from my truck. I jump as I hear a crash and similtaneously watch a pick-up truck smash into the back of a black sedan. The sedan tries to pull away and the entire rear bumper tears off. It looks like somebody out there is having a worse day than me.


4:48 a.m. Since we rolled over the 9000 hits mark yesterday I figured it was about time. Incidentally, 9000 hits is not bad considering I started keeping track two months ago. I put a lot of my heart and soul into what I write here (umm...except when I write about sparkly pants and non-traditional uses for ice cream buckets) and I just want to thank all of you for your patronage. Thank you for sharing my crazy life with me. I'm finding crazy is okay as long as you have good friends to share it with. Or at least gawking onlookers.

And last, if you think of somebody you know that might like this blog, please pass on the link.

Now I have to get to work. I'm in the hood today. I managed to keep from getting iced in the farmlands of middle America, let's see if I can do the same in the inner city of Chicago.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The town of Blip's meth lab. Posted by Picasa


8:53 a.m. Old man #2 shows up on an ATV. He is wearing a ball cap and sunglasses. He wants to know if I need help with anything because, "...we saw you jus' sittin' out here." I tell him I am fine. He asks if I'm sure. I say I am.

The vultures are circling. It won't be long now...


7:07 a.m. I leave my hotel at 5:30 this morning after a nice, hot shower. I still have to write my update from my surveillance yesterday. Which won't take long because my Subject didn't so much as peek his head out the door. I tried to set up in the same location that I did last time since I was able to get some really great footage of him doing yard work there. But, things have changed around here since early spring. The vegetation has made it impossible to see his shed and driveway. And with the corn high and growing higher everyday I must say it gets pretty caustrophobic driving these narrow country roads. I feel like a rat in a maze.

Anyway, after sitting for 8 hours in a church parking lot with zero activity, I headed north to Champaigne/Urbana to find a hotel. I was exhausted. I had driven all day Saturday, stopped at my house for a three hour nap and then got up at 2:30 a.m. to get down here on time for a 6 a.m. surveillance Sunday morning.

I checked in to my hotel and didn't even bother getting my bags before crashing on the bed. I managed to take a two hour nap before my phone rang. Hummmer. Jerk. I don't even remember what he was chattering on about I was so out of it. He could have been hauled in by the cops for all I know. I finally got off the phone but couldn't get back to sleep. I curse Hummer, his wife, and any little Hummers that might be out there.

Since I couldn't get back to sleep I decided to get some food. Pizza Hut it is. After I picked up the pizza I walked over to an outlet mall that has this amazing chocolate shop I found last time I was here. I somehow ended up spending $25 on chocolate. I should feel guilty about this.

After I stuffed my face sufficiently, I slept for an impressive 8 hours.

Oh, lookie. A local. Hold on...

An older gentleman with silver hair walks up to my truck. Great. Here we go again. I continue to write and decide to ignore him until he knocks. (It's important to let them know that I'm in control of the situation.)

He knocks on my window and I look up to see a withered old face and a big frown. I smile and roll down the window. "Hello," I say in my most pleasant hick-town voice. He is hostile. What is it about this town? Are they hiding something? Are they a bunch of secret marijuana farmers that don't want strangers sniffing around? Maybe that big grainery is really a meth lab...

"Can I ask what you're doing here?", he asks. No hello back? I give him the old routine answer that I'm a PI working a surveillance case and if he has any questions he should call the sheriff's office. He says, "We've had a few break-ins lately and I noticed you around here yesterday." I nod. "Yeah," I say. "It's a small town. I'm not surprised." He tells me he's got my license plate number and I again encourage him to call the sheriff's office if he's got any questions. He appears to want to make me nervous. "We take care of our own around here." I smile at that. I'd love to have him as my neighbor. He'd have my back, I'm sure.

"Can I ask you what you're investigating?" he asks. "That's not a good idea," I answer back. He turns and walks away. Great. With an evasive answer like that I'm pretty sure that if they ARE running a meth lab in the grainery I'm going to get my ass capped today.

Old Man Smithers returns to his house and his wife who is waiting on the doorstep for an update. I am sure that within an hour the entire town will know I'm here. Within two hours they will be circling my truck with pitchforks.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Image of the emergency escape route on my hotel door. I am apparently outside. In the Dairy Queen parking lot, from the looks of things. Posted by Picasa

Okay, this is the last one from the Aquatennial. I swear. Olga, Polly and the Mighty Thor showing off the cool glowy bracelets that Ross's friend Russ gave us. Great pic of the city in the background. Posted by Picasa

I just had to post this.... Olga you are so pretty! Posted by Picasa

So you thought we were done with pictures?? Think again. Austin, Polly and P Dog. Posted by Picasa

The Mighty Thor. Posted by Picasa

Olga and Air Force Pilot Man. Posted by Picasa

Gorgeous Nordic Goddesses Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005


2:05 p.m. I am driving down to Blip today, the small town I wrote about in one of my first posts. I am sad to leave home. It was a great visit. As I drive over the St. Croix River I put in the new Coldplay CD. I am enjoying it until "Twisted Logic". I have to pull over somewhere near River Falls.

Damn. I always think I'm in control and then something scratches one of those old wounds. I sit on the side of the road and listen as tears prick my eyes.

Hold my hand, inside your hands. I need someone, who understands. I need someone, someone who heals. For you I've waited all these years.

In your tears, and in your blood. In your fire, and in your flood. I hear you laugh. I heard you sing. I wouldn't change a single thing.

The wheels just keep on turning. The drummers begin to drum. I don't know which way I'm going. I don't know what I've become.

For you I'd wait, till Kingdom come. Until my days, my days are done. Say you'll come, to set me free. Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

I lean my head back on the headrest and sigh. Okay. Time to get back on the road.


9:12 a.m. I'm drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper and leaning back on Olga's couch. I take a swig and wince. "Do you have any Mylanta?" I yell into the other room. Olga grunts. "I don't have Mylanta, but I've got Honey Nut Cheerios." I raise an eyebrow. I'm not sure if Honey Nut Cheerios are going to do the trick.

Last night Olga and I left the house and went to Target so that I can buy a decent digital camera. (No more crapcam, my friends!) There is a strapping young man named, Dustin, who helps us choose a camera and set it up. He even lets us take a picture of him! I tried to get him to let me go behind the counter but he got all worried about getting fired or something...

Anyway, we leave Target and wait to take the light rail downtown. Olga and I strike up a conversation with a police officer who is manning the platform. He is reluctant to let us take his picture, though. What is with all these nervous Nellies worried about getting fired? We get on the train and start the 40 minute ride downtown. Olga and I are having fun with the new camera. We are posing and asking the opinions of fellow patrons of public transportation regarding which pix to keep and which to toss. They are laughing at us. It will not be the last time tonight.

We are going to meet Thor, a bloglit from a southern suburb of Minneapolis, around 8:30 at Kieran's. Kieran's is a very popular downtown restaurant. It's packed when we arrive. Olga and I are seated out on the patio by the street. We debate getting an appetizer because Olga hasn't eaten all day. In the end we decide to wait for Thor. As we sit there talking, a handsome young man walks up to us from a large table. He says that his name is Ross. He's 25-years-old. He says that he's here with a bunch of coworkers and they dared him to come up and ask us for a kiss. Ross tells us that he's gay, so it's not like he's hitting on us or anything. Well, in that case...

After "the kiss", we chat with Ross for a while and are occasionally interrupted by camera flashes from his table. "Don't mind them," Ross says. "They're just idiots." Ross gives Olga his phone number and they make a date to go shopping for shoes sometime in the near future.

As we chat, people from Ross's table filter over. And then Thor arrives. Thor is a lovely blond...actually, I'm getting sick of saying that. We are in Minnesota, so how about you just assume everybody I talk about is blond unless I indicate otherwise... Anyway, Thor is a newlywed. She just got married in June. She is 21-years-old, smart, fun. She tells me that she really likes my blog and stayed up all night reading through the May archives after she started reading it.

We leave Ross and his posse and head to the Howie Day concert. We didn't have time to eat anything since we were too busy gabbing, so we share some fried cheese curds. Mmmm...cheese curds. While we are stuffing our faces, another member of the bloglit, B Dubbs, joins us for a few minutes. She is with her boyfriend and can't stay, but just wanted to say hi. B Dubbs is blond and... Yeah. We discuss the horror of panty hose and underwire bras for a few minutes and as B Dubbs and her boyfriend are leaving, "Collide" starts playing. The three of us look at each other. We must get closer to the stage.

So, our little train starts weaving through the crowd. "Excuse me. Pardon me. Excuse me." Some guy who is holding a cup of beer over his head is waving his arms back and forth. He sloshes out a good portion of it ON MY HEAD. It's cold and I suck in a surprised breath as it trickles down my forehead and neck. I stop and wipe it out of my eyes. Well, I hear beer is good for your hair, anyway.

After the concert was over, we tried to get backstage to see Howie Day, but the security was too tight. Olga tells the police officer manning the line that her uncle was a homicide detective. The cop is not impressed with her connections, however, and we end up leaving to meet another of the bloglit, Austin.

We walk up the street to the Cities 97 stage and I start yelling across the mostly deserted parking lot. "AUUUUUSSSTTTIIIIIN!!!" A young man walks up to me and gives me a hug. "Austin!" I say. He says, "No. I'm not Austin." Oh. This is maybe awkward. "Austin will be here in a few minutes. I'm his friend, P Dog. I read your blog, too." Oh! Cool.

So a few minutes later Austin shows up and we all decide to go get some food so Olga doesn't die of starvation. Along the way Olga is entertaining us by stopping and telling every cop we see that her uncle was a homicide detective. I mean EVERY cop. And there were lots of them. I think she likes men in uniform.

We have some really good pizza at some restaurant whose name I can't remember. My neurons aren't firing so well this late at night. Before we know it, the last train is pulling up to the station and it's time to go home. It's around 1:30 a.m. Thor, Olga and I say goodbye to Austin and P Dog and start the long ride home. We are tired. We are too old for this crap. On the train we meet an Air Force pilot. He is stationed at Fort Bragg. I don't even ask why he's in Minnesota. I think it's for some kind of training. Olga tells him that her uncle was a homicide detective. He is impressed.

Sparkly pants! Sparkly pants! Who's the girl with the sparkly pants? Posted by Picasa

B-dubbs and her S.O. before the Howie Day concert. Posted by Picasa

Austin and P-Dog... Waddup,G! Posted by Picasa

The Green Goddess mugging for the camera. Posted by Picasa

Meet our new best friend, Ross...who is totally gay, btw, so don't be jealous. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 15, 2005

Polly and Olga ready for a night out on the town... er... by the PS2 display at Target.  Posted by Picasa

Polly and Dustin at Target. Dustin helped me buy my new digital camera. Thanks, Dustin! Posted by Picasa


4:53 p.m. I am at Olga's house. We are getting ready to go to the Aquatennial in downtown Minneapolis. Olga is wearing a green nighty top... Okay okay. It's not a nighty top it's a "camisole". I am wearing my black tube top thingy and my sparkly pants. Yes, that's right. Sparkly pants. I even have a mantra that goes with them... Sparkly pants! Sparkly pants! Who's the girl with the sparkly pants?

Olga and I will be meeting several of the bloglit downtown. Should be fun. I love meeting people from the blog.

There will be many, many pictures posted tomorrow...


6:47 a.m. I sang, "It's Rainin' Men" and "Crazy Love" at a karaoke joint last night. I haven't done this since approximately 1992, but Judy really likes karaoke...enters competitions and this is what she wanted to do tonight.

Right now I am sitting at a table watching a group of three drunken women in their 50's sing, "Someday We'll Be Together", by the Supremes. They call themselves the Starbucks B#*CHES. They have great hair. Nice highlights. Fashionable cuts. Classy and pretty even though they are three sheets to the wind in a trashy karaoke bar in White Bear Lake, MN. I imagine them to be professional women, maybe coworkers, taking a night out to play together. I watch as the one in the jeans shorts throws her arm carelessly around the lead singer's shoulder and leans in to provide an unfortunate harmony. I am loving this. They finish and I cheer. Me and the five other people here.

A few minutes later, I watch Judy get up there. Judy has not changed at all in the past few years since I last saw her. She is wearing a strapless blue tropical print dress that she bought on her honeymoon in Aruba. The padded bra underneath has slipped a bit and her chest is starting to travel down toward her navel. I can see the lumpy indents from her too tight control-top pantyhose beneath the skirt as she sways back and forth with her eyes closed. She is singing a Selena song and is doing a pretty good job of it until she attempts to dance during the instrumental part. I giggle. White girl can't dance. Her lack of coordination has only been enhanced by the two glasses of wine she had at dinner. I turn my head away so that Judy won't see me giggling and notice that the Starbucks B#*tches are laughing and pointing at Judy. My eyes narrow. I feel like a protective older sibling. I can laugh at Judy, but nobody else better.

I formulate a plan. A plan for world domination.. Oh wait, not world domination. (I have been playing too much Risk lately.) No, I formulate a plan to bring the masses together in mutual understanding and love. Like those hippie-freak Coke commericials in the 70's. I find the perfect song and put in a request to the DJ. "Midnight Train To Georgia".

When the song is called I invite the B#*ches to come up and join Judy and I. We end up having a lovely time and there is riotous applause when we are done. (Nevermind that WE are the only ones applauding since the place has cleared out.) I find out that the B#*ches own a successful catering company. They were a group of women who lived in the same neighborhood when they met. Initially, they would rotate hosting weekly gourmet dinners at each other's houses. It began to get out of hand as they tried to outdo each other. Eventually, they decided they should pool their resources and so their company was born. Tonight they are celebrating their fifth year in business. The one in the jeans shorts has five children. I am amazed. FIVE children! She's got great skin. I comment on it and she demures. "It's genetic." Lucky. I imagine by the time I am her age I will have so much loose skin that I'll resemble a Sharpei.

So, we leave the B#*ches and begin walking the two blocks to my car. We cross the street in front of a car full of guys. "Hey! You ladies want to go to a party?", one yells out the window. Oh, for crying out loud. Judy waves and yells back that maybe she would. "No. You wouldn't," I say. I pull her across the street. Judy is flattered that a car full of young drunk men propositioned us. I don't have the heart to tell her that those guys probably would have hit on us if we had been cross-dressing football players in skirts.

I get into the car amid Judy's endless chatter. She tells me that I am prissy and always say the right thing with people. I agree. She says that I have a big butt. I agree. She says it's okay to have a big butt as long as your boobs are big too. I tell her that's logical. She tells me she's got a small butt, but she goes to the gym to give it shape. I tell ther that's great. Judy falls silent for a while. After a few minutes she tells me she is happy and says we should do this again sometime. I glance over at her. She has the seat back in my truck and is smiling to herself. I smile back and agree that we should definitely do this again sometime.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Like a rhino on the savanna. And like those before me I will blame the guy with the gun,
  • JD Rhoades
  • , our resident lawyer/crime-fiction writer. It appears that I've been chosen to participate in the blogging version of a chain letter...something called an Internet meme. (Which, let's face it..sounds much nicer than blogger chain letter.) So here we go:

    1 - Imagine it’s 2015. You are visiting the library at a major research university. You go over to a computer terminal (or whatever it is they use in 2015) that gives you immediate access to any book or journal article on any topic you want. What do you look up? In other words, what do you hope somebody will have written in the meantime?

    I would look up the Journal of Forensic Science and see what new and interesting methods of forensic detection have come into practice in the past ten years. I would also look up the names of all my writer friends and see which of them made it big so I can go crash at their pad for a few weeks...months...

    2 - What is the strangest thing you’ve ever heard or seen at a conference? No names, please. Refer to “Professor X” or “Ms. Y” if you must. Double credit if you were directly affected. Triple if you then said or did something equally weird.

    Haha. I went to a forensic facial reconstruction conference so that I could learn to rebuild a face on a skull using clay. I guess something I heard that would sound weird taken out of context was, "You all had the same skull but when you put flesh on them your guys look like cousins." I DO remember asking the prof if I could have a REAL skull and not a dumb caste of a skull. I suppose that's equally weird.

    3 - Name a writer, scholar, or otherwise worthy person you admire so much that meeting him or her would probably reduce you to awestruck silence.

    Dave Barry. Who I met, but was reduced to awestruck stupidity, if not silence. I DID have the courage to ask him to sign my horse radio-ulnar bone, though...

    4 - What are two or three blogs or other Web sites you often read that don’t seem to be on many people’s radar?


  • This is hilarious. Rolph introduced me to Darth Vader's blog yesterday.

    Now, who to pass this on to....

    Nancy French from
  • Nancy's Niche

  • Joan Reeves from
  • Sling Words

  • and
    Slyeyes from
  • Slyeyes' Ramblings

  •'re up, ladies!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005


    8:32 p.m. So I am sitting with my mother talking about what I should wear to my lunch date with Rolph this afternoon. "I don't have anything decent to wear," I complain. "I never unpacked from when I was in Puerto Rico." Mom sighs and says, "Well...wear something indecent then." I laugh. Of course! Only a mom could give such sage advice.

    So, I decide to wear a pair of capri pants and a black tube top thingy. I get the thumbs up from Mom, so it must be okay. I walk downstairs and ask Daddy how I look and he says, "Hmph." I smile. "I choose to take that as a good 'hmph' and not a bad 'hmph', Dad." Dad looks up from the project he's currently undertaking in his workshop, says "Hmph" again, and gets back to work. I trudge back upstairs. I obviously won't be getting any validation down here.

    As I'm driving along I think about Rolph, my high school sweetheart. Rolph was blonde and tall and had the very bluest eyes I've ever seen. And with his German heritage he would have been a perfect Hitler Youth. (He looked a lot like Rolph from, The Sound of Music.) Oh, I was crazy about him to the point of obsession. I used to sleep with his dirty t-shirts so I could smell him when we were apart. I built a shrine to him on my nightstand. Pictures, candles, dried corsages from dances... It was truly frightening. I just knew we were going to get married someday and have lots of babies.

    Well, to make a long story short, I moved. And Rolph got this crazy idea that we should date other people seeing as we'd been dating since we were in junior high. I was crushed. For months I couldn't sleep. I stopped eating any more than I needed to survive. I would see a guy wearing suspenders or a cardigan sweater (okay..his fashion sense was questionable) and I would break into a cold sweat. I remember I heard "our song" on the radio once about four months after the break-up and I had to pull over because I thought I was going to throw up. [Insert: The End of the World, by Nina Gordon, here]

    But, as we all know, time softens the sharp edges of a broken heart. And eventually Rolph and I became dear friends. We would meet up every few years for dinner or lunch and tell each other about our lives, gossip about mutual acquaintances, reminisce about the old days. This has gone on for nearly 20 years.

    I get to the restaurant and Rolph hasn't shown up yet. The hostess seats me and I sit down and start reading the menu. Fifteen minutes later I hear Rolph's voice. "There you are!" I look up and take him in. He's filled out since high school. No longer the scrawny boy I once knew, but a man.

    I stand up and we hug. He kisses me on the cheek and asks me how I'm doing. "Fine! Good!" We sit down and start chatting. I tell him about all of the interesting twists and turns my life has taken over the past few years. He tells me about his work and his wife and his new son. I demand pictures and he shows me a snapshot of a chubby little 6 month old with very familiar bright blue eyes. He and his wife are both very blond and he jokes that their son is so fair that he'll burst into flames if put in direct sunlight. I laugh. Then he tells me that he ran into one of the teachers from school, Mr. Chen, the other day. Mr. Chen told him that of all the couples he'd seen over his 30 years teaching he'd hoped that we would make it. We both smile at that. [Insert Billy Joel's song, Italian Restaurant, here.]

    Before I know it, two hours have passed and it's time to go. As we walk out to our cars we talk about what our lives might be like next time we meet for lunch. He will likely have a few more pups and a minivan. And maybe I'll start my own PI firm or join a band or something.

    I give him a last hug and wish him all the joy and happiness that life can offer. "Drive safe!" I yell after his car. I sigh as he drives away. There goes my first love. [Insert, Young Love, by....whoever]


    11:37 a.m. I'm on my way to lunch with my high school sweetheart. He called me yesterday afternoon after hearing through the grapevine that I was in town. I haven't seen him in years. This should be fun.

    More later...

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005


    I've seen a lot of suicides. Men, women, transgender. As young as ten and as old as 92. It is debatable whether one who commits suicide is a "victim" or not. But for the sake of clarity, that is how I will refer to them in this post.

    The first suicide I went on was a young man, probably 20-years-old. He was found by his roommate when the roommate returned from a late night of partying. Roommate said he walked in and went straight to bed. In the morning, he noticed that the victim's bedroom door was wide open. He looked in and saw the man lying back on his bed, a shotgun on the comforter next to his left arm and blood everywhere.

    Now, there has been some professional debate in the past as to whether it's even possible to shoot yourself with a shotgun, the barrel being so long. Believe me, it is possible. I've seen it several times.

    This scene was my first experience with a gunshot wound. Mind you, I'd worked doing GSW analysis with skeletal remains many, many times before. But "in the flesh" was quite a different thing. There was no removing yourself from seeing what a gun can really do to a person.

    I walk into the bedroom and note the blood and brain spatter, as well as pockmarks from bird shot, spreading about 3 feet square across the back wall. At least it was't buck shot or he probably wouldn't even have a head anymore.

    I look down at the victim. He's on his back. His left arm is still loosely clutching the shotgun. His right arm is splayed out at his side. Both arms and hands are covered in splashback. This is important in determining suicides from homicides made to look like suicides. No splashback means the body has been staged.

    He shot himself through the mouth. I stare in morbid fascination at his tongue, which has bloomed like a flower in his gaping jaw. His eyes are wide open in a permanent expression of shock. I look around. For anything. Something to focus on other than the body. The lead detective, Det. Grizzly, is standing next to me. "Are you okay?" he asks. He knows I'm green. He's a big, cozy, teddy bear kind of guy and I appreciate his concern. I give him a bit of a forced smile and say, "I didn't realize his face would be so messed up." Det. Grizzly nods. He tells me that he used to really feel sorry for the people that committed suicide. He said that ended real quick, though, when he saw how their actions destroyed the lives of those around them. He showed me the young man's suicide note. It was written to his mother. He told her he was sorry and that he loved her. That poor woman. I imagine giving birth to a child. Cradling him in my arms and looking down on him...wishing for him all the joy and promise that life can give. How completely devastating it must be to know that this child you loved and nurtured would be so unhappy and hopeless that they would choose to take their own life.

    I turn my attention back to the body because otherwise I will cry. Focus on the puzzle. Don't think about the rest. I am afraid to roll the body, knowing that shot spreads as it travels and the back of his head is likely not going to be there.

    Dwight comes in and we carefully roll the young man onto his side. Blood pours from his mouth and I have to look away. As I'd feared, the back of his skull has collapsed. The bone and brain have blown out in pieces no bigger than a dime. Skin does not behave in the same manner, however. It merely tears. So I see a deformed drapery of skin and hair covering the gaping hole where the victim's brain..the back of his head...used to be.

    The mother drives up on the scene and is prevented from entering the apartment. She is not crying. She is not screaming. She is just staring off in front of her as an officer escorts her to a bench. My heart is breaking.

    I have her son's personal effects and I have to give them to her. If I don't do it now she will have to come to the morgue later and that could be even more traumatic.

    I look at the bag. A wallet. A ring. A gold chain with an Irish knot on it. The necklace is covered in blood. I put some gloves back on and remove the necklace and ring. I grab a cloth from the Explorer and clean them up as much as I can. Then I replace them and the suicide note in the bag. I hate giving her the note knowing the pain it will inflict. But it is hers. It is her son's last message to her. "I'm sorry, Mom." "I love you."


    5:55 a.m. Well, I had no luck yesterday. After my Subject's wife finished digging in the trash, she got in the Navigator and drove off. The rest of the morning there was zero movement at the house. I even set up along a side street so I could observe the backyard. Nothing. I call several marinas down on the St. Croix River because there have been rumors he's working on the docks. But nobody has heard of him. I finally end up having to break off at 11am because I can't confirm Subject's presence at the residence. I come back every couple of hours until 6pm to check on things, but still nothing. I'm afraid they've gone on vacation.

    I get back to my parents' house and grab a Diet Coke from the fridge before going out to sit on the porch swing with mom. Dad is out mowing. We chat for a bit before I reluctantly acknowledge I need to get on the computer and work on some reports. I fish my laptop out of the truck and sit on the porch steps. I have found this to be the best place to get reception out here in the Minnesota farm fields. Frustratingly, my signal is weak and gets dropped frequently. Then I have an idea. Hell, if it works for TV antenna, why not wireless internet cards? I go into the kitchen and grab the tin foil. I wrap my tiny little antenna...making an ungainly tower about 3 inches long. I try to connect. It works! Haha. I AM McGuyver! I try to make the reciever more powerful by adding soda cans and more foil. With just a piece of gum, a tin foil helmet and several empty Diet Coke cans, our unlikely hero saves the day! I finish work and spend the rest of the evening playing music and singing with mom and dad. I think of what it's like when all of my sisters and brothers are here. We're like a demented Partridge Family. Only less cute and hopefully better dressed.

    Well, a bit later today I am going to talk about suicide. It's a tough topic, but something I saw a lot of in my time working as a forensic death investigator. People are usually shocked to find out that probably 1/3 of the cases at the MEO were suicides. It's such a taboo subject that family, friends, and even the media stay clear of it unless it involves young people. I found that the average age for suicide, however, was between 40 and 50 years. I plan on talking about the whys an the hows and using a lot of examples from my experience. It should be an interesting discussion. If not a bit sad.

    Monday, July 11, 2005


    7:46 a.m. I got in yesterday afternoon at 4pm. It was good to be home. Well, until my dad and my brother-in-law threw me in the pool. At least they were civilized about it...they let me take my watch and sunglasses off first. And I have to admit the cold water felt good after driving all day.

    I am set up at an intersection this morning. The house I'm on is a corner lot. I actually know this area pretty well because I grew up here. This is a golf course neighborhood. You of those neighborhoods where the houses are enormous but they are only 3 inches apart. One of those neighborhoods that was clearcut 10 years ago so the biggest trees around only have a trunk circumference about the size of my left bicep.

    I am taking video of the Subject's wife. She opened the garage door a few minutes ago and is bending over digging in the trash. I think that maybe she lost something..threw something away that she didn't intend to. I wonder what she would think if she knew that somebody was videotaping her rear end right now?

    Sunday, July 10, 2005


    8:22 a.m. I met my new Investigator yesterday. He was younger than I thought he'd be considering he was a 14 year veteran cop. Really sharp, too. I hardly had to make any corrections on his first report. And he got good video of the Subject. He also said he wants to work full-time. This is good news. Polly might actually be able to work human hours for once.

    I drive up and note he's got a beige pick-up truck. No tint. We are chatting. He's friendly enough. As we talk a cop rolls up on us. Of course, he'd been called about a suspicious vehicle in the area. I tell him we are PIs and he asks that we call in our location next time we're in the area so they don't blow our cover. I thank him and he leaves. "Yeah. Call the cops before you start your surveillance, Tony." He says he thought about it but he didn't have his credentials from the company yet and was afraid they'd as for it. Makes sense. I'll get on Corporate about getting his ID to him.

    After I spend an hour or so answering questions, I leave Tony to his work. I drive home and decide to take a run. I haven't gone jogging in way too long. The path along the lake goes on for miles and miles. The water is so blue today that it takes my breath away. After 20 minutes I decide I'm done running and I climb down the rocks to the beach, take off my shoes and jump into the water. Yeah. I know. I'm not in a swimsuit. I don't care. It's HOT!

    I am dripping wet when I walk into the house. And I hit the deck when I see several giant wasps buzzing around. How'd they get in here?! I run over to the other side of the room and open the screen door on the balcony. Then I hide in my bedroom until they all fly out. I peek out the door. They're gone. I check the vents. Maybe they built a nest in here while I was in Puerto Rico. I turn on the AC and when a swarm of wasps don't fly out I forget about it for a while.

    I go take a shower. I wrap myself in a towel and step back into my bedroom. I look at the mountain of laundry on the floor and I gingerly step over it, deciding to pretend it's not there. I need a housekeeper. I look at my messy case files spread on the bed and computer desk. I also need a secretary. Or maybe a nanny. Do they have nannies for adults?

    I get dressed in relatively clean clothes and go to the store to pick up a few things. After a few minutes of browsing, I notice that an old man is following me. I turn into the feminine hygiene aisle because I figure no man is brave enough to venture down that way. But he does. I study the rows of boxes in front of me. Hmmm. Wings or no wings? The old man stops right next to me and just looks at me. He is about 5'9" and 140 lbs. Bald. Gnarled like an old tree branch. I look over at him. "Just lovely," he says. And then he walks away. I smile. I think he's talking about the tampons.

    I finally get home and sigh. Back to work. I spend the rest of the evening assigning cases, finishing reports, correcting investigator reports, fielding questions... I have to get it all done now because I leave Sunday for Minnesota.

    I have two cases in Minnesota that I need to take care of. And since that is where I grew up, I'll be meeting up with a couple of friends from high school in the later part of the week. Should be fun. One, Judy, I haven't seen since the 10 year reunion. Judy was always plain, a bit awkward, loud, angry, and rude. She also has a lazy eye that gets "lazier" when she's upset or tired. Many a time I would have an argument with her and her eye would take off...swirling around the room on its own accord. I think that it could have been fixed when she was a girl but her parents didn't care enough to pursue it. Judy is one of those people that says exactly what she's thinking. It's like the filter (commonly known as tact) that most of the rest of us possess is just not there. For this reason I find her highly amusing...and sometimes hurtful. I think that the "differentness" about her is what has kept me in contact with her all of these years.

    But you shouldn't underestimate Judy. In addition to the above, she is one of the most gifted pianists I've ever heard. It was incredible to see how someone so...not graceful...could play with such amazing skill and feeling. After high school she got full-ride scholarships based on her musical talent. And though Judy gives you the impression she's flighty and simple, she is quite the opposite. I don't know many people that are so spot-on when it comes to reading others. Her intuition is great. And she's a meticulous business woman. And if she decides to do something, she will. While I was training for my first marathon, Judy decided that she would join me. And she kicked my butt. She gained probably 100 lbs on her 5'4" frame when she was pregnant with her oldest son. But she lost it all and then some and has been able to keep it off for almost 10 years. Judy works harder than anybody I know to achieve her goals and I am so proud of her for it. She has morphed since high school into something nobody would have imagined. She's even gotten better at keeping her mouth shut when she needs to. Sometimes.

    Anyway, I will talk about Olga, my Swedish friend, later. She was my best friend in high school and we still get into trouble from time to time. I need to get on the road if I want to get to Minnesota before dark...doncha know.

    Saturday, July 09, 2005


    7:46 a.m. I got this drink called "Green Goodness" from the grocery store last night. I thought maybe I would start to try and eat better. You can only have brownies and Diet Coke for breakfast for so long before it catches up with you. At least that's what I'm told.

    I open the cap and peer in the bottle. It looks like soupy green sludge. I make a face. I read the ingredients. Hmmmm. Wheat grass (gag), spirulina, spinich, barley grass, garlic, broccoli, blue green algae, Jerusalem artichokes, open cell Chlorella. Ack! I must have been crazy last night! I'm not sure what open cell Chlorella is, but it sounds dangerous. I take a sniff. Smells okay. Like apple juice.

    I finally work up the courage to take a sip. Mmmm. Tart. Sweet. Not bad. I can't taste any of the nasty stuff. This might turn out okay after all. I take a few more sips and then wash it down with a bite of brownie.

    What? Don't look at me like that. Baby steps.

    Friday, July 08, 2005


    Part III: Stabbing...

    I arrive on scene a half hour later. As I pull up I can see flood lights set up outside and several Evidence Technicians (ET's) are scouring the exterior of the building and parking lot for evidence. I grab the camera, my clipboard, and some latex gloves.

    Detective Blue is the lead on this case. He's well-built and handsome and he knows it. He was a tight end in college football and has a short fuse. He also likes to play pranks. I walk to the door and an ET hands me a pair of paper slippers to put over my shoes. I slip them on and find three detectives in front of the television watching porn. They knew I was coming and I can see on their faces that this little scene was set up for my benefit. I glance at the screen and then back at the detectives. I deadpan. "Was that on when you got here?" Det. Blue seems deflated. I was supposed to look away in disgust or react with shock and surprise, I guess. He grabs the remote, turns it off and grumbles, "No." He tells the other officers to leave and proceeds to give me the details of the case as I take scene photographs.

    The walls and ceiling are covered in blood spatter. The floor has drip patterns. I see a steak knife with the blade broken off lying on the floor near the closet. It had been discarded in favor of a pair of scissors, which are also near the closet. Over against the wall by the bathroom I see a full length mirror. Up about 6 feet on that wall is a bloody hand print. I examine it. Detective Blue says, "Yeah. I'm hoping that was made by the perp and not our guy in the closet." Don't count on it, I think.

    Reconstructing a scene is like putting a puzzle together. In my mind, I go over what happened based on the placement of furniture, the location of wounds, the pattern of blood spatter. It started on the bed. The strongest arcs of blood are coming off in that area. The most evidence of struggle are near there...broken lamps, moved furniture... I anticipate a lot of defensive wounds on the victim's hands.

    The struggle moves to the center of the room. Looks like one of the blankets must have fallen, or been thrown, on the floor soon after the attack began because there is a conspicuously bloodless area. If I were the victim I would have tried to throw the blanket over the killer's head to allow me an opportunity to escape.

    The struggle moved toward the bathroom after that. Not much fight left in him. I go toward the handprint on the wall again. I imagine him facing the wall, hands splayed up above him. He was being stabbed in the back. I look down at a small table against the wall. It holds a crockpot full of chili...and blood. It is still on. My stomach turns and I look away.

    He fell here by the mirror. I see patterns of blood and creases from clothes on the floor. I imagine it was about this time that the knife broke and the killer moved on to the scissors. I look around and try to imagine where the scissors might have been. There is no obvious reason scissors would be out and accessible. More likely, the victim was already dying and so the killer got up and fished them out of a suitcase or a drawer.

    I look in the bathroom. The handles on the faucets are covered in blood. The killer washed his hands at some point after it was over.

    Finally, I follow drag marks toward the closet. I open the door wide and see a bloody hand extended from under the blankets. I open the palm and find it slashed repeatedly. Ugly, deep defensive wounds crisscross in every direction on his palm and along the forearms. I look at the pattern and surmise that in the beginning, he was holding his arms up to deflect the knife from hitting his body.

    I consider the blankets and pillows and the body being stuffed in a closet. I try to imagine why the killer would do such a thing. Maybe he was panicking after the murder and didn't want to see what he'd done. Cover it up. Make it so it doesn't exist. But then a more sinister idea occurred to me. Maybe the victim was still alive and he wanted to quiet his moaning. I will know for sure once the blankets are removed. If there is evidence of significant blood loss on the floor around the body then he was likely still alive. I hope not.

    I have the ET's bring in several evidence bags and then carefully remove the pillows and blankets, placing them each in a bag and sealing them with evidence tape. I finally get the bottom of the pile.

    The victim is naked. It does not appear he was undressed by the killer since I examined all the clothes piled on the body and none were bloody or bore tears from the stabbing. I consider if the perp might have undressed the victim and taken the clothes with him, but just as quickly dismiss that idea. There is no pattern on the body indicating blood had been wiped or brushed by clothing.

    The body has been contorted in order to make it fit in the 3x3 closet. The victim is lying on his back. His head and neck crowded and bent against the side wall. His legs pulled up to his torso. He's a mess. There are stab wounds on his face and neck. More on his chest. The ET's and I take several photographs before moving the body. I call Dwight in from the parking lot and have him lay a piece of plastic down before moving him.

    After the body is on the tarp I am able to get a better idea of what happened. The drying, gelatinous blood obscures many of the wounds, but an initial count puts it at 44 clear points of entry. Most are concentrated around the heart and neck. I imagine the steak knife broke on one of the ribs in that area. I look closer. The punctures made by the scissors were more blunt. Only a few of those. Overkill. This was a crime of passion. Not premeditated. The killer and the victim knew each other. And the force of the injuries indicate that the killer was a man.

    I have Dwight roll the body and I examine his back. Seventeen more wounds there, concentrated on the left side of the torso. I imagine that the victim was lying on the bed, naked and on his stomach when he was first stabbed. It was a surprise attack. The killer got two or three good blows in before the victim rolled and the fight moved to the middle of the room.

    The body is ghostly pale. Exsanguination. That will be what the ME will put on the death certificate as the cause of death. Bled to death due to multiple stab wounds. Manner: Homicide.

    Later the next day I find out that there was an arrest in the case. The killer was the victim's lover. The two men had been meeting at the hotel on a regular basis for sex. Apparently, the victim told the killer he found somebody else shortly before the attack.