Volume 44, Issue 4 (July 1999)
Homicide or Accident Off the Coast of Florida: Trauma Analysis of Multilated Human Remains
In the many years Dr. William R. Maples served as a forensic anthropologist, he saw diverse sources of trauma presented in the victims of violent crime, accident and suicide in the state of Florida. In 1996 the District 18 Medical Examiner's Office of Florida requested the assistance of Dr. Maples in the analysis of human remains recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The deceased was in an advanced state of decomposition characterized by skin slippage and discoloration. The torso bore multiple lacerations, including nearly parallel lacerations in the skin of the back. Specimens were carefully macerated and the fractures reconstructed. The skeletal trauma was caused by a device capable of delivering robust cuts and blunt trauma in linear paths, as is consistent with propeller trauma. Unusual in this case were blows to the ventral and dorsal surfaces of the body. Based on the anthropological analysis and interviews with the family of the deceased, the F.B.I. proceeded with the case as a homicide investigation.