Friday, August 19, 2005

8/19/05 WARNING: GRAPHIC/DISTURBING

6:36 a.m. I sat up on my balcony last night watching the lightening and rain pummeling the water. Waves crashed, sending up white spray that could be seen even in the darkness. The sound of the television drifted through the screen door warning of severe weather and a tornado warning in the area.

I am terrified of tornados. Ever since I was a little girl I've had nightmares about them from time to time when my life gets very hectic. I think it has something to do with their chaotic nature. I don't like not having control of my destiny.

Anyway, here is the rest of the story I promised.

I arrive on scene. The house is a large brick manor-type with large live oak trees dotting the acre or so of property. There is a television news crew standing at the police line talking to the lead detective, we'll call him Det. Sajak because he is as pretty and polished as a game show host.

I drive my vehicle to the police line that is threaded across the driveway and a uniform allows me through after inspecting my badge and credentials.

I enter through the front door. Cops are buzzing around like flies. Evidence technicians are already at work taking photographs and measurements and a group of detectives are chatting in a circle by the kitchen.

The decedent's body is lying on the couch, but I will get to her later. I greet the detectives and they tell me the story. Apparently, this woman was mentally ill. She had severe agoraphobia, to the point that she couldn't go outside without having a debilitating panic attack. She was also depressed and withdrawn, according to her psychiatrist. He'd given her several prescriptions for anti-depressants and muscle relaxants. The psychiatrist said that she hadn't been to see him in several months because her symptoms were becoming worse and she refused to leave the house.

The detectives told me that her husband was usually very kind and understanding of her condition, but this morning he was feeling stressed. He'd been running late for work and his mother was ill. He snapped at her before he walked out the door and it sent her into a tailspin. She wrote about 20 suicide notes to several different people. Envelopes were neatly piled on the kitchen table with names written on them. A notebook was also there. Sort of a diary of despair that she'd been keeping. It appeared that she was considering this for a while.

After she wrote her goodbyes, she went into the bathroom and tried slitting her wrists. Apparently, she didn't have the stomach for that, so she took several Valium. After that she went into the garage and pulled out a string of Christmas lights. Three hours later her husband returned from work to find her hanging from a tree in the backyard.

I walk in the bathroom and note blood droplets on the floor. Four knives are neatly lined up on the bath mat. The blades are all facing west. I inspect them and note that one has blood running along the serated edge. The empty bottle of Valium is by the sink, along with a half-empty glass of what appears to be water. I pour some in a sample jar and screw the lid on tight. I will have the lab analyze it to be sure.

I walk into the kitchen and my eyes fall on all of her goodbye notes. The side door is open and a string of Christmas lights is snaked out the door and into the side yard. I walk out. There is a bar stool under the tree and a kitchen knife that her husband had used to cut her down.

I go back through the kitchen to look at the body. She was very beautiful. Her button-down blouse is open, exposing her breasts and abdomen. Breast implants. She's thin. She's got make-up on. Her hair is blond and shoulder length, with darker roots. She was a high-maintanence girl.

White patches with small metalic buttons are affixed to her skin in two different locations. This indicates to me that the EMTs have come and gone. They checked her vitals and pronounced her dead at the scene. Her wrists have hesitation marks, indicating that she'd tried to slit her wrists before she hung herself. I inspect her clothing and skin for blood. I find none except for big fat droplets that have dried on the tops of her feet. The wrists are clean and have been rubbed with an ointment of some sort. I wonder why she didn't clean her feet?

I check lividity, the red, bruise-like pattern that is left by blood settling to the lowest point after circulation stops. It is shifting gradually. And her core temp is still elevated, though her extremities are cold. She must not have been hanging for more than a few hours. If she was there longer the lividity would have set as the blood cooled and congealed. I put on some latex gloves and open each eye. I note pricks of blood in the whites. This is known as petechial hemorrhaging and is indicative of forced and severe oxygen deprivation.

I close the woman's blouse and there are several groans from the other side of the room. "Aw, Polly! We were still investigating that!" Yeah. I bet you were. Jackass. I think back last week to when I walked down into the autopsy suite to pull some prints. There was a dead woman with an absolutely gorgeous body lying on a tray next to the wall. But her face was covered with a sheet. You see, she was older and had an unattractive face, so the guys had covered her head. I was disgusted.

I take a length of the Christmas lights so that the ME can do an impression comparison. Before I leave, I copy down the suicide note she wrote to her husband for my report. In it she said that she didn't want to burden him with her illness anymore. She said she was going to the loving arms of God where she would find comfort and have no more fears. She told her husband she would love him forever and would be waiting for him.

I listened to Full of Grace, by Sarah McLachlan on the way home from work that night and thought of the woman who'd killed herself. And I thought of how her poor husband must be suffering. To this day I can't hear that song without both of them coming to mind.


The winter here’s cold, and bitter
It’s chilled us to the bone
Haven’t seen the sun for weeks
To long too far from home

I feel just like I’m sinking
And I claw for solid ground
I’m pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
Oh darkness I feel like letting go

If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace
Full of grace
My love

So it’s better this way, I said
Having seen this place before
Where everything we said and did
Hurts us all the more

Its just that we stayed, too long
In the same old sickly skin
I’m pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
Oh darkness I feel like letting go

If all of the strength
And all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace
Full of grace
My love

9 comments:

Eleanor said...

I really don't know what to say, but I wanted to say something....

Life is very sad sometimes...

Polly P.I. said...

Yes. I think that's sort of the point of this blog. Death is not always a neat package. Sometimes the stories are so bleak. But that is reality.

anon said...

Polly,

lyrics that speak of death, and then the return of hope and life...

Gloomy Sunday

Sunday is gloomy, the hours are slumber less
Dearest of shadows I live with are numberless
little white flowers will never awaken you
not where the dark coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be prayers and candles are lit, I know
Let them not weep, let them know, that I'm glad to go

Death is a dream, for in death I’m caressing you
With the last breath of my soul, I’ll be blessing you

Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming
I was only dreaming
I awake and I find you asleep and deep in my arms
Dear...
Darling, I hope that my dream hasn’t haunted you
My heart is telling you how much I wanted you

Gloomy Sunday
its absolutely gloomy Sunday

Slyeyes said...

I'm most disturbed by the attitude of the guys and the body of a beautiful dead woman.

About the tornado part; I have a phobia of them. I've had it since childhood when we drove under a funnel cloud and when I saw the aftermath of one. Every spring, I have "tornado dreams". I used to work at a radio station that had a call-in show, and one day the guest was a dream analyst. Someone called about tornado dreams and the analyst said it's because a person's life is in turmoil, a whirlwind, etc.

I was sitting there thinking to myself, "Or, you are deathly afraid of tornadoes." She never said that.

Olga said...

Has anyone seen the news today? Stoughton WI, just outside of Madison, was hit by a devasting tornado last night. I used to call Stoughton home. Many of my friends are homeless or have been evacuated due to gas leaks. Some of them I haven't even heard from yet. This happened a day after a 120 year-old church in the town burned to the ground.
If you're religious, please pray for the people of Stoughton and Viola (another town that was hard hit). If not, please send good thoughts their way.

Slyeyes said...

{{Olga}} I've sent my prayers

Polly P.I. said...

Olga, sweetie. Give me a call. Your friends will be in my prayers.

Blogchik said...

I've never been afraid of tornados, but I live so far east we rarely if ever get them.

Sad story.

Olga, sorry to hear. Said a prayer.

Mike Weasel said...

I don't think you can have a phobia of tornadoes. A phobia is an irrational fear of something, such as hair, or the number 13. I think it's perfectly rational to be afraid of a tornado.