Trail of Bones: More Cases from the Files of a Forensic Anthropologist

Trail of Bones: More Cases from the Files of a Forensic Anthropologist

Mary H. Manhein

Language: English

Pages: 144

ISBN: 0807131040

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and an expert on the human skeleton, Mary H. Manhein assists law enforcement officials across the country in identifying bodies and solving criminal cases. In Trail of Bones, Manhein reveals the everyday realities of forensic anthropology. Going beyond the stereotypes portrayed on television, this real-life crime scene investigator unveils a gritty, exhausting, exacting, alternately rewarding and frustrating world where teamwork supersedes individual heroics and some cases unfortunately remain unsolved. A natural storyteller, Manhein provides gripping accounts of dozens of cases from her twenty-four-year career. Some of them are famous. She describes her involvement in the hunt for two serial killers who simultaneously terrorized the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, region for years; her efforts to recover the remains of the seven astronauts killed in the Columbia space shuttle crash in 2003; and her ongoing struggle to identify the beheaded toddler dubbed Precious Doe. Korean War soldier buried for more than forty years and the mystery of Mardi Gras Man, who was wearing a string of plastic beads when his body was discovered. Possessing both compassion and tenacity, Mary Manhein has an extraordinary gift for telling a life story through bones. Trail of Bones takes readers on an entertaining and educating walk in the shoes of this remarkable scientist who has dedicated her life to providing justice for those no longer able to speak for themselves.

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tissue. Good bone preservation was our goal. Lloyd and the volunteers worked for several minutes to loosen the bolts beneath the vault that held the top securely in place. Sweating profusely in the summer heat, they were finally able to do so. Excitedly, we watched as the vault cover was removed and the casket was revealed—all shiny and bronze, glistening in the sun. Lynda had remembered correctly. The casket looked new, its decorative florals, handles, escutcheons (screw covers), and other trim

odor coming from it. Our preliminary idea that the odor might have been related to the glue used to seal the casket seemed accurate. By closing the casket, we greatly reduced the intensity of the smell. We knew that the odor was not coming from the powder that still clung to all of the bones. Starting with the cranium, we carefully measured it and entered all measurements into our laptop computer, equipped with the software program FORDISC. That program, designed and developed at the University

I L OF B O N E S the injuries to the ribs and suggested that some type of blunt-force trauma had also occurred on the right-hand side of Jeremy's upper chest region. Clearly, those were not bullet injuries. The young man had been shot and also had been beaten. I called the sheriff's office, and they informed me that two suspects had been arrested and one was talking. The details of his story would make even a hardened criminal cringe at what the two suspects had done to their "friend." It seems

participants are surely candidates for the Darwin Awards (given, the awards' Web site says, to "salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally kill themselves in really stupid ways"). A hunter had called the sheriff's office the day before and relayed his tale. He was walking in the deep woods, he told the detective, and had headed toward a little creek bed he knew very well to see if any deer tracks could point him toward the prize buck that he always thought was

lot about our lab and the work that we do. She was especially interested in our research on three-dimensional facial reconstruction and our studies on tissue depth thicknesses in living persons. I explained that research project to her, how we had gathered considerable tissue depth data using noninvasive ultrasound on both sexes, various races, and a wide range of ages. Sue wanted to hear more about our work with children, and I told her that we had scanned more than eight hundred volunteers

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