1 4, Issue 4 Crypt News September/December 2003 Crypt News An Official News Letter of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office Overview Advanced education to law enforcement agencies, physicians and health care workers is provided. Four, full time board-certified pathologists are on staff to conduct autopsies and determine cause of death. Forensic Death Scene Investigators are available all hours of the day. Inside this issue: M. E. Office Overview 1/8 Philosophy Mission Statement Executive Staff Meet Our Employee Meet Our Employee Calendar Forensic Death Investigation In The News 4 Monthly Statistics 5 Current Trends in Forensic Sciences 2 3 6/7 The Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office is a tax-supported public agency serving nearly 50 law enforcement agencies and three District Attorneys offices. The facility has over 36,000 sq. ft. providing space for autopsy, scientific forensic laboratories and administrative offices. The office is equipped with a Local Area Network (LAN) and Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) interfaced with Tarrant County mainframe computer system. Advanced education to law enforcement agencies, physicians and health care workers is provided. Four, full time board-certified pathologists are on staff to conduct autopsies and determine cause of death. Forensic Death Scene Investigators are available all hours of the day. Over 7,000 inquests are performed annually, including 1,800 autopsies. Autopsy services and scientific testing is provided at the request of Justices of the Peace to assist in criminal investigations. The Morgue maintains utmost privacy for the transfer of cases. Two holding areas assure incoming cases are separated from cases released to funeral homes. Well-trained technicians are available to assist pathologists and other scientific personnel in autopsy, photography, fingerprinting and collection of biological and trace evidence. Radiology service is available for quick identification of unidentified remains, bodies from mass disaster, or for detection of metallic residues on the bodies such as bullets. Our evidence custodians maintain chain of custody of all evidence. An amphitheater style classroom is available for practical and academic training. There is a closed circuit video system for remote viewing and identification. The Chemistry Laboratory is equipped to detect drugs of abuse (Cocaine, THC, methamphetamine, etc.) in specimens submitted by Law Enforcement Agencies. Other services are available to analyze prescription medications, conduct analytical testing of gunshot residue, and chemical identification of unknown substances using highly sophisticated instrumentation. The Toxicology Laboratory is equipped for the analysis of biological specimens for various drugs of abuse to determine the cause of death. Using state-of-the-art equipment such as, the Gas and Liquid Chromatography, and Mass Spectrometry, etc. There are methods available to identify Date-rape drugs and Drugs used in Rave Parties. In addition to alcohol and drug identification in DUI. The Histology Laboratory is a full service laboratory where the processing, embedding, cutting, and staining tissues is conducted. Special stains are used to identify diseasecausing micro-organisms, fungus, and pigments. Tarrant County Court House The Intoxilyzer Program can determine breath alcohol level in DWI cases. Extrapolation of breath alcohol concentration can be compared to original blood alcohol content to
2 Page 2 Crypt News Philosophy Whenever we are called upon to assist, even if it is outside the defined jurisdiction, out of scope of our duties, or otherwise removed from our responsibility under the law, it is our general policy to help the individual reach the appropriate person, agency or organization who can assist. Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office Serving Tarrant Parker and Denton Counties Accredited by: National Association of Medical Examiners Association of Crime Lab Directors Accreditation Board Executive Staff Nizam Peerwani, MD Chief Medical Examiner Marc Krouse, MD Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Gary Sisler, DO Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani Mission Statement The primary purpose of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner is to assist the public and Law Enforcement Agencies to determine the cause of death due to unnatural causes, medically unattended, or death due to violence, using state of the art laboratory and forensic science facilities. Novella Young Records Clerk Meet Our Employee Ms. Young has been the records custodian for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office for the past eight years. She was born and raised in Lamont Arkansas. She is the middle child from a family of twelve. She has a son and two daughters and three grandchildren. Ms. Young moved to Fort Worth from Arkansas twentythree years ago. Some of her previous experience includes 5 Years records experience as a records custodian for the Fort Worth State School. Ms. Young s role at the Medical Examiner s Office is extremely important to the overall operation of the office. She is responsible for the proper filing and cataloging of thousands of reports and documents each year. She interacts with numerous individuals, family members, hospitals, attorneys, law enforcement agencies, funeral homes, and many others. Daniel Konzelmann, MD Deputy Medical Examiner Nanepaga Zachariah,PhD Technical Administrative Director Darrell Thompson, BS Chief Forensic Death Investigator Ron Singer, MS Crime Lab Supervisor Angela Springfield, PhD Chief Toxicologist Rodney Crow, DDS Director of Human Identification Laboratory Linda Anderson Executive Secretary Larry Anderson Director Morgue /Evidence Tarrant County Denton County Parker County How to Contact Us Medical Examiner s Office 200 Feliks Gwozdz Place Fort Worth, TX Phone: FAX: Denton County Office 306 North Loop 288 Suite 140 Denton TX, Metro: Parker County Office 1810 Bethel Rd. Weatherford, TX FAX:
3 4, Issue 4 Crypt News Page 3 Calendar Student Rotations: Christina Burt Baylor Southwestern Medical School Autopsy Classes: November 5 Baylor University Child Fatality: October 31 Information Technologies: Meetings to review and enhance the Medical Examiner s Office software program CRYPT continue. Phase one and two have been completed, upgrading the system in several areas. Phase three is in the planning stages and should be implemented in the coming weeks. Sectional Meetings Mortality Review Executive Investigations Crime Lab Toxicology Lab Clerical Morgue/Evidence Human Identification Daily 8:30 am Library Second Tuesday/ monthly Last Friday / monthly Second Friday / monthly First Wednesday / monthly Fourth Wednesday / monthly Third Wednesday / monthly First Thursday / monthly Local, National, International: Current Trends in Forensic Sciences, fourth annual conference December 3-5, 2003 Harris Methodist Hospital Armstrong Auditorium Scientific Sessions Continuing Education Credits TCLEOSE CME, CNE MCLE News Media Conference A day in the Medical Examiner s Office September 8, 2003 Annex Building Conference Room American Academy of Forensic Sciences Adams Mark Hotel Dallas February 16-21, 2004 Forensic Death Scene Investigation The investigations staff of the Medical Examiner s Office plays a vital role in the function of the office. Deaths that may fall under the jurisdiction of the office are reported to the Investigation Section. Deaths that come to the attention of the office of the medical examiner generally fall into the following categories: violent deaths (accidents, suicides, and homicides), suspicious deaths, sudden and unexpected deaths, deaths without a physician in attendance, and deaths in certain institutions. The most important functions of the medical examiner's office are the determination of the cause and manner of death, and proper identification. The cause of death is any injury or disease that results in the death of the individual. The manner of death explains how the cause of death came about. Manners of death can generally be categorized as natural, homicide, suicide, accident, or undetermined. Identifications are accomplished through various means from visual identification to specialized scientific testing. Forensic Death Investigators must be skilled in multiple investigative disciplines and be able to conduct a thorough investigation into each. Their skills must include abilities in areas such as crime scene investigation, accident investigation (auto, aircraft, industrial, and home) homicide investigation, fire death investigation, and many others. These skills go far beyond information gathering. In all cases the Forensic Death Investigator must document all findings at the scene regarding the body. They must obtain a detailed history of the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the death. They must collect and preserve any physical and trace evidence on, or associated with the body. Upon completion of the investigation a detailed report is prepared for the medical examiner. The investigator's report is used to assist the medical examiner in deciding what to do with the case, whether to perform an autopsy, as well as determining what types of tests might be indicated. The Forensic Death Investigator s report and skills are vital to this determination. Performing autopsies on every case coming into a medical examiner's office is a waste of resources
4 Page 4 Crypt News In The News Ronald Singer Tommy Swan John Briggs Connie Patton Patricia Eddings Attended the 3rd Triennial meeting of the European Academy of Forensic Sciences in Istanbul, Turkey. Mr. Singer also recently attended the ASCLD (American Society of Crime Lab Directors) meeting. Mr. Swan was promoted from Forensic Death Investigator II, to the position of Supervisory Investigator in the Forensic Death Investigation Section of the Medical Examiner s Office. Mr. Briggs was promoted from Forensic Death Investigator I, to Forensic Death Investigator II. Recently attended the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) in Washington, D.C. Gave a recent lecture to the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Carolyn Van Winkle Attended a program for forensic uses of DNA in Scottsdale Arizona. Angela Springfield Attended a recent conference of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists in Portland, Organ Michelle O Neal Along with other volunteers from the Chemistry Section hosted a meeting of SWAFS (Southwest Association of Forensic Scientist). Medical Examiner s Office Accredited for Forensic Pathology Residency The ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) accredited the Forensic Pathology Residency program offered by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office. The Twelve month fellowship includes rotation in the Medical Examiner s Forensic Laboratory System, Death Investigation, and working closely with law enforcement agencies and media with regards to the matters of criminal justice. Medical Examiner s and Coroner s Alert Project (MECAP) Reported Deaths Two males, 37 and 24, were found dead inside a tent at a camp-ground. The men were still in their sleeping bags, and a small charcoal grill with used charcoal was found inside the tent. The cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning from the charcoal grill, which was apparently being used to heat the tent. Concord, NC Examiner, Cabarrus County,
5 4, Issue 4 Crypt News Page 5 STATISTICS Case Distribution Case Distribution Case August Year to 2003 Date Reported cases Tarrant Denton Parker Total Tarrant Denton Parker Total Natural Accidental Suicide Homicide Undetermined Unclassified Pending Non-Human Remains Total ME cases Total Records Current Month Forensic Laboratories Year-to-Date Lab Tests Services Tests Services Toxicology Chemistry Intoxilyzer *Crime Lab Histology Radiology * Trace, DNA, Firearms, Fingerprint, Lab Tests Current Month Investigations Year-to-Date M.E. Cases Non-Jurisdictional Cases Case Completion Time M.E. Cases Non-Jurisdictional Cases Case Completion Time Hours. 5 Minutes Hours 10 Minutes Current Month John and Jane Doe Identification Year-to-Date Tarrant Denton Parker Total Tarrant Denton Parker Total
6 Page 6 Current Trends In Forensic Sciences Information for the 21 st Century 4 th Annual Conference Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office In conjunction with Texas Wesleyan University Law School December 3-5, 2003 Conference Location: Robb Rutledge Education Center, Armstrong Auditorium Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital 1301 Pennsylvania Ave Fort Worth, Texas This symposium is designed to meet the educational needs of Law Enforcement Agents, District and Defense Attorneys, Justices of the Peace, Medical Professionals, and anyone in the Medicolegal Investigation System. Tarrant County Medical Examiner s Office is accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners and the American Society of Crime Lab Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board. Continuing Education Credits: TCLEOSE 16 hours CME 15.5 hours CNE 19 hours MCLE 10.5 hours (applied for) The educational methods include lectures and participant discussions. Texas Health Resources, the accrediting sponsor, is jointly sponsoring this program with the Tarrant County Medical Examiners Office. Objectives: The goal of the seminar is to provide attorneys, physicians and law enforcement agencies an understanding of the operation of the Medical Examiner s Office including formulation, investigation and interpretation of death scene, autopsy, investigation and laboratory results. This is accomplished by using appropriate presentations and student participation. This program has been approved for 19 nurse continuing education (CNE) hours. The Tarrant County Hospital District is approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the Texas Nurses Association, which is accredited as an approver of continuing education in nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center s Commission on Accreditation. This approval meets Type I criteria for mandatory continuing education requirements towards relicensure as established by the Board of Nurse Examiners for the stat of Texas. NOTE: 50 minutes = 1.0 CNE hour Tel: (817) ext 155 Fax (817) Look for details and updates at the Medical Examiner s website:
7 Page 7 December 3, 2003 Nizam Peerwani, M.D. Welcome December 4, 2003 Breakout Session Thirteen trauma cases reviewed from differing perspectives. Nizam Peerwani, M.D. Pathophysiology of Trauma Nizam Peerwani, M.D. Firearm Injury Michael Bennett, Ph.D. Genetic Disposition in SIDS Mayor Mike Moncrief Opening Remarks David Smith, M.D. Tissue Procurement in a Medical Examiner Setting Rodney Crow, D.D.S. Human Identification The Cadet Murder Case-Adrianne Jones The body of a young white female, approximately 20 years of age, was discovered inside the barbed wire fence of a home. The decedent suffered traumatic head injury. The following are presentations from various sections in the Tarrant County Medical Examiner and Forensic Laboratory System. Marc A. Krouse, M.D. The Forensic Autopsy Alan Patton Darrell Thompson, B.S. The Investigation Kelly Belcher, M.S. Patricia Eddings, B.S. Trace Bill Bailey Fingerprints Ronald Singer, M.S. Firearms Constance Patton, B.S. DNA Christy Jack, J.D. Mike Parrish, J.D. The Prosecution Moderator: Lisa Callahan, J.D. Dana Austin, Ph.D. Tamara Connell, R.N. Jay Lampham, J.D. Allynn Lovins Basic Skills 3 cases Trauma Staff Moderator: Ed Laseter, J.D. Moderator Maxine Harrington, J.D. Forensic Investigation Medical Examiner 5 cases Nizam Peerwani, M.D. Susan Walker, R.N. Detective Richard Zomper Legal Aspects 3 cases Child Protective Services District Attorney Anthropologist - 1 case Poster Session Suicides in Tarrant County Laura Lee Harris, MPA Forensic Education in Universities Susan Wallace, Ph.D. Organ Procurement in a Medical Examiner s Setting Ron Ehrle, R.N. Histological Examination of Forensic Specimens Michael Smith, B.S. Methamphatamines-Crystal Mass-Increased Abuse John Harris, M.S. Evaluation of Trauma Cases Kris Blackburn, R.N. December 5, 2003 MOCK TRIAL SESSION December 5th, 9:00-12:30 p.m. Texas Wesleyan School of Law Presiding Judge: Judge George Gallagher, J.D. Prosecuting Attorney: Michelle Hartman, J.D. Defense Attorney: John Nation J.D. Evidence: Toxicology, Fingerprint, Pathology In April of 1988, the body of a 34-year-old white female, later identified as Shirley Knot, was discovered in her bed at her residence at 1213 Hitchcock Lane. There was no obvious cause of death and no medical history to support a sudden death episode. Investigators at the scene learned that the decedent had a practice of taking a dose of NyQuil before bedtime every night. A bottle of NyQuil was recovered from the bedside table and seized as evidence. Autopsy results indicated that the cause of death was strychnine intoxication; the manner of death was undetermined. Toxicological examination of the contents of the NyQuil bottle from the bedside table identified the presence of strychnine. In addition, a single unidentified fingerprint was lifted from the NyQuil bottle by the Fort Worth Police Department in In 2002, this fingerprint was run through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and an identification was made. You are now invited to witness first-hand the trial of I.M. Enocent.
8 Tarrant County Medical Examiner s District 200 Feliks Gwozdz Place Fort Worth, TX Phone: Fax: W E RE ON THE WEB T ARRANTCOUNTY. COM S ELECT DEPARTMENTS THEN MEDICAL EXAMINER RADIOLOGIC IDENTIFICATION OF HUMAN REMAINS continued Continued from page 1 determine the severity of intoxication. Expanded cooperative efforts with Texas Department of Transportation and Safety has included smaller jurisdictions in this program. We conduct certification and training of breath test operators that includes instrument maintenance, Quality Control and Quality Assurance. The Trace Evidence Laboratory conducts analysis of gunshot residue, hair, glass, paint, fiber or ignitable liquid residue identification and comparison using state-of-theart equipment. Scanning Electron Microscopy can magnify objects up to 300,000 times. Data obtained is matched with other supportive scientific evidence. The Trace Evidence Laboratory conducts analysis gunshot residue, hair, glass, paint, fiber or ignitable liquid residue identification and comparison using state-of-the-art equipment. The Scanning Electron Microscopy can magnify objects up to 300,000 times. Data obtained is matched with other supportive scientific evidence The Firearms and Tool marks Section conducts examination and analysis of firearms, projectiles, ballistics and markings imparted by any tool. We can determine range of fire from the muzzle of a weapon. The Latent Fingerprint and Questioned Documents Laboratory is equipped with the latest scientific technology to lift fingerprints from various substrates using powder and/or chemicals, or the use of laser technology, Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (E.S.D.A.). The lab is connected to the A.F.I.S. (Automated Fingerprint Identification System), which conducts automated searches of known fingerprint data bases for matches. The Anthropology Laboratory is equipped to determine the sex, age, race, stature and individual traits from skeletal remains. Determination and evaluation of trauma from decomposed skeletal remains is an additional function of this lab. The Human Identification Laboratory can make tentative identification based on information retrieved through the TCIC / NCIC database. Bite mark evidence can be identified and evaluated. Identifications can be confirmed through dental comparison and other supportive scientific evidence such as DNA, latent prints, anthropology and X- rays. The Photography Laboratory Provides photographic services for criminalists, investigators, pathologists and police agencies. Ultra-violet and Infrared services. Digital imaging and enhancing capabilities output to 35mm film, color Xerox and digital media.