Hello, all! Today is the start of my “limited series,” Forensic Fridays. I hope you’ll join me for the next seven weeks as I share info about forensic and law enforcement procedures that have made their way into my books. Welcome to week one!
Several years ago Sisters in Crime held a weekend long Forensics University which I attended. One of my favorite sessions was led by an anthropologist who worked with the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s office. Her specialties included identifying bones. I was fascinated and went on to read extensively about bones. I even drove to D.C. to visit the Smithsonian’s Written in Bone exhibit. And I ended up with two sets of bones in Dying Scream.
Facts that found their way into that book include–
- The skull can tell you the deceased’s sex, race and approximate age.
- Teeth give clues to nutrition and general health.
- You can estimate height from a femur bone.
- Bone size can hint at the departed’s profession–work requiring repetitive motions builds strong muscles and leaves a pattern on the bone.
Dying Scream’s bones came from a family graveyard dating back a century and those of two people who’d died in recent years.
There is also a delicate ridge of bones above the eye sockets suggesting the victim was female. Males generally have a thicker ridge. A narrow nasal cavity suggests Caucasian. Brittle bones point to malnutrition. And an indentation in their small victim’s skull suggests death by blunt force trauma.