Arms in rigor: Warning! Autopsy photos!

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by koldkase, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Poster JimmyWells at's JBR forum brought up the issue of JB's arms above her head. JimmyWells is asking about the child's arms not being wrapped with the blanket and if that might be because they were already in rigor.

    As you may know, these crime scene photos, captured in screen shots from Schiller's 2006 documentary aired on TV, have confused me for some time in relation to the hands being "above" the head in rigor. We have seen a drawing, as well as the TV movie representation, picturing the arms raised high above the head, extended. But these photos don't show that, and the arms are said to have been well into rigor when the photos were taken.

    Also, I can't shake the impression that JB is on her side and not her back or front. We know her face was turned to the right and it was in rigor, so it would seem she should be on her stomach in this first photo, for us to see that side of her face. But looking at her shoulders and back, she seems to be on her side with her hand (in a paper bag) in front. It confuses me. What am I missing?

    It's another mystery for me, but it makes me think that the dramatic representations were simply misleading, intentionally or not. So I'm posting these again if anyone wants to see them and has an idea they'd like to share.


    Here's another edited shot we can barely see, but her hand is not way above her head, but level with it:


    Lord, why can't I just let this case go?
  2. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    Rigor played a part in pulling JB's arms into that position. BUT- IF her arms were ever up over her head the way JR said they were he had to have seen them that way right after she died, right after she was placed in the WC and we know that JR bought her up already in full rigor. The photos you posted were taken by the coroner the night of the 26th, and taken as she lay on the living room carpet. That is the coroner's metal ruler in the photos. By that time she was dead approx. 20 hours, and in full rigor. Rigor doesn't just "stiffen" the body, but the prevention of the muscles from relaxing cause them to ratchet tighter and tighter, as they can only contract, not relax. So her arms may not have been bent AS much when she was first brought up, but it is unlikely anyone could have actually SEEN her arms straight up over her head unless they saw her within a few hours of her death. And no one had admitted that.
    As to why she seems like she is on her side- that is easy. The coroner PUT her on her side for that photo, and I am sure he turned her on her other side as well to photograph that angle also. Standard procedure. Remember we have seen only 7-8 photos out of dozens that were taken.
    It is interesting that it is well-known that FW followed right behind JR as he entered the WC, and therefore knows EXACTLY the position of the body, the blanket, her arms, whether JR did CPR on her as he said he did (no forensic evidence of this was found- I think he was just trying to cover himself in case any prints, fibers, DNA, etc was found on her) and whether her legs were bound as JR said (I don't believe this either- her legs would have been frozen that way in rigor, which is why we know her wrists were not tightly bound as JR said they were). Plus there were no marks on her wrists or legs to indicate they were bound.
    Yet FW has never made any comments refuting or corroborating what JR said.

    According to Det. Arndt, she was placed (by Arndt herself) on her back on the living room carpet, after JT had placed her on her back in the foyer. The paper bags on the hands are standard forensic procedure and at least Mayer or the police did THAT right. So these photos are pretty standard and hopefully you are no longer confused. By the time these photos were taken, nearly everyone had left the house. Poor JB lay there, in full rigor, under her own Christmas tree, surrounded by toys she would never play with. Dreadful, isn't it?
  3. Moab

    Moab Admin Staff Member

    There is no indication these were taken at the house on the "night" of the 26th. It is possible they were taken by the crime lab folks who were in the home earlier in the day, who also would have known to bag her hands, but Meyer was only there for about 10 minutes wasn't he? He didn't even bother to take the liver temperature. I think he pronounced her and left. Anything else that happened was earlier in the day, or at the morgue the following day.
  4. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    I think you can see the pattern of the R living room carpet in the photos, so those are the ones I meant. I agree that they could have been taken by crime lab people earlier; I guess they'd use the same metal ruler. The ones taken at the morgue would show the metal table or blue surgical sheet.
    Yes, his report indicated he was there less than 20 minutes and he didn't bother with the liver stab or the vitreous eye fluid test. We'll never know why, but I think it was because he had been told what happened and when it happened, so he knew when she died, though he was too (cowardly? intimidated? Lazy? ) to state what he had to know based on her condition was the approx. TOD.
  5. JoeJame

    JoeJame member

    I remember when this case was first on t.v. I sat in a pizza parlor and I remember John Walsh saying she was found suspended by her arms. I am not trying to cause argument here. Just what I remember. One mistake, okay...but years later..not sure when, he said the same thing. She was found in the basement hanging. Why would he say that? I believe the family is hiding. But that is something that lurks in the back of my head. I respect John Walsh....,
    KK, I can't let it go either. I tell myself it is one of those like Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper or the Linburgh baby....just not meant to be solved. That is what helps me get through. But it still bothers me and always will. Not obsessively but none the less. I just wish I knew. So many unanswered questions.
  6. RiverRat

    RiverRat FFJ Sr. Member Extraordinaire (Pictured at Lef

    Why Not...

    Because you need to experience the Feeling of what JUSTICE is like...and your Heart is Larger than the Case...and because you Fight such a Good Fight for JonBenet and deserve That Feeling that I can tell you is worth the Wait, Sweetie...:bowdown:
  7. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    John Walsh's statement has been a long debated issue, JoeJame. All I can say is that the autopsy photos do not indicate any "hanging," which has a specific pattern on a neck--commonly, the angle of the bruising is not evenly distributed and level across the neck, but appears at a severe slant, as the weight of the body and pull of the noose causes the head to fall to one side and the noose to pull up to one side under the ear. It's not that hard to determine, and since we have ample photographic evidence of the bruising on JB's neck, I believe the autopsy is proven to be accurate in its description of the strangulation and bruising left by it.

    Yes...unanswered questions, but I believe I recently came to realize more fully why that is--something that many of us know little about because we don't work in the corporate/gov't./legal world. I'd now bet money Lockheed Martin and Haddon's law firm have many "special counsels" known as "fixers". That's what I think happened in this case--someone hired to do damage control in the case of executives who have "a little legal problem" got an early morning call, went to work, and voila: here we are 14 years later, cover up successful, justice--epic fail.

    I've always suspected this, and now I believe it more than ever.
  8. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Thanks, Rat. I know you understand.
  9. Elle

    Elle Member

    KK Hypothetically, the way I'm taking this post of JoeJame's is that JJ may have been thinking of the hanging with the rope between the wrists hanging over something like strong hooks on a wall, not from the neck (?). The loops around the wrist were loose according to my memory but her hands being bigger than her wrists would have prevented the loops from slipping off. if the rope was hanging over two strong hooks.
  10. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    But there is no bruising around the hands or wrists or arms to support this theory, Elle. Even if the hands were "hanging loosely," livor mortis would have set in and it would have been aparent the body had been moved and was not actually lying on its back in the cellar room for 12 hrs, give or take, before it was found.

    Or maybe I'm misunderstanding again. I just don't see any evidence the body was hanged or hanging in any manner from the autopy or crime scene photos. Of course, the photos are always cropped just enough that we can't see the whole story, and the autopsy report is lacking in various ways, as well, so...I can only speculate. Also, I'm not an expert, so there's that, too.
  11. Elle

    Elle Member

    There's a lot I don't understand either, KK. DeeDee seems very knowledgeable when it comes to medical information, she might be able to answer this one for me (?). If a person was already dead, would the wrists still bruise from being tied and hung over two strong construction type hooks or whatever (?).

    Another thing troubles me too. Why hasn't John Walsh said anything more about his statement about JonBenét being cut down? I remember reading this at the time it first came out, don't you?
  12. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Oh, sure, we debated why Walsh said that. I actually had done a lot of research long before Walsh said that, based on Dr. Wecht's belief this was an erotic asphyxiation "game" gone wrong, so it interested me a lot when Walsh said this.

    But the bottom line is that the flaw in Dr. Wecht's theory is there is only one other bruise line on the neck from the ligature, very faint at the bottom of the neck where the ligature was first tightened when pulled. With the abrasions, petechial hemorrhages above and below the final location on the neck, and the necklace rolled into the ligature, it's clearly a case of the ligature moving up the neck and causing the faint bruise-line where it tightened before rolling further up to just under the head where the neck meets it.

    So to me, that's not an indication of repeated tightening and loosening, but of the common path of a ligature being tightened on a victim's neck, as autopsy photos of other strangulation victims illustrate which we've seen online at medical instruction/autopsy sites. The dark bruise on the left side of the throat also is an element of this strangulation/compression on the neck tissues as the ligature rolls up the neck, as well, I believe, which we have also seen in photos online.

    Another issue I have with Dr. Wetch's theory is that he believes it was a "game gone wrong," but I can't imagine JonBenet wouldn't have fought like mad once the ligature was tightened and she couldn't breath. Yet there's no evidence she fought at all: no defensive bruising anywhere on her body; no injuries from thrashing about; little congestion--usually found in strangulation victims--was present in the face; her tongue was not protruding nor bitten hard; nothing defensive usually found in victims of strangulation who are aware of the attack and fighting for their lives.

    Finally, why would anyone ever think he/she could "play" a game like that with JonBenet and not be found out if sufficient padding wasn't used on the neck, under the ligature, to prevent bruising, or at least in an attempt to do so? If this had been done, there would be a much different result when the "accident" happened, wouldn't there? The padding would still be under the ligature, or the ligature would have to have been removed to take the padding off and then all retied, etc., with post mortem bruising instead of the fresh perimortem bruising we see in the autopsy photos. So that was not the case. Why? This child was paraded in front of audiences as a weekly routine, so it's not like no one would have noticed bruises on her neck from being strangled, even if it hadn't resulted in death and was only meant to be an "erotic game."

    Of course, Dr. Wecht is an expert and howdy, so maybe I'm all wrong on this. I'd like to see these questions answered, though, before I can jump on the "sex game" bandwagon. I have the feeling Dr. Wecht thinks Burke was the one playing, and maybe that's why there was no padding used, because he wouldn't have been old enough to think it through. Dr. Wecht never has stated this, but if his theory were right, it would have to have been John or Burke, unless Patsy had a worse case of nutjob than even Brother Moon thinks. :winko: And John surely would have used padding under the ligature, so that would leave Burke making that mistake.

    But like many others, while I admit Burke was certainly physically able to commit some elements of the injuries to JonBenet, I have trouble imagining him being devious enough to do so. But that's an argument I can't make because I have no personal knowledge of him or his family, so it would be tantamount to saying the same thing about the parents--they couldn't do it because it's just too twisted. IMO not only could they have done it, technically, but one or more did, according to the evidence I've seen.

    As to the bruises you mentioned, Elle, DeeDee certainly can speak to this better than I, but yes, a body can be bruised after death. The coloration is different, though; after death the process of blood leaking into the tissue changes because the heart is no longer pumping, among other things. A medical examiner well knows the difference between bruising that happened at the time of death--perimortem--and after death--post mortem. A med. examiner can even tell how old a bruise is, from its colors, that happened well before death, as in days or weeks.

    Or something. Anyhow, that's the best I can figure, and it's not much, I admit.

    BTW: apparently, I misspelled "apparently" in my last post. Really it was a typo, but I can't correct it now, as I can't correct a typo of "autopsy" in that post, as well. And I won't read this post until later, as I have to run, so please forgive typos, ignorance, and just plain dumminess. Ciao!
  13. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    John said JonBenet was wrapped in the blanket "like a papoose." Fleet White never disputed that. If JonBenet were found hanging, either by her neck or her wrists, the blanket would have fallen off, or at the very least, been hanging loosely on her - not wrapped "like a papoose" which means bundled tightly.

    John Walsh may have been misinformed when he made the statement. Goodness knows there's been enough false and misleading information released by many people through the years.
  14. Elle

    Elle Member

    The older I become KK the more I forget.[​IMG] I do remember you disagreed with Delmar's theory about the garrote not being tied with the correct knots to allow for tightening, and I guess with his expertise on knots when he worked on the family farm, I did support his theory. However, I still like to read other poster's thoughts and read something I've never thought about before. We are all still assuming what happened KK. Hopefully some day we'll find out more.

    Thanks for the information about the bruising after death. I'm a bit rusty when it comes to the medical side of things. I don't think Burke was capable of a sex game, plus he didn't have the energy and strength to place JonBenét where she ended up.

    I never noticed your typos. I'm too busy making my own.

    So far there has been no interview with Burke. [​IMG] He's too well guarded !
  15. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    That is correct. A body will "bruise" after death, but it is not the same kind of bruising as in life. The postmortem bruising is caused by decomposition, as the blood vessels disintegrate and "bleed out". There is no swelling per se postmortem either, but bloating from gas buildup occurs, also from bacterial action related to decomposition. A coroner or any medical examiner can tell the difference.
    NOTHING indicates she was suspended. John Walsh is a good man, but he wasn't there to see JB in situ in the WC. She was "found" approx 12 hours after she died. By that time, livor mortis patterns are well formed and fixed, and had she been suspended, the livor patterns indicating that would still be visible.
    Instead, the livor patterns indicate she was placed on her back within 15 minutes or so of dying (during the period that livor was UNfixed or blanching), and left on her back in the WC, and not moved from that position till she was brought up.
  16. JoeJame

    JoeJame member

    I agree. I did work for the state at one point and dishonesty and cover up played a big role. It does everywhere, I guess...but as a child all the people I was taught to trust have let me down as I have gotten older. I have seen things that make me want to cry.
  17. Elle

    Elle Member

    Thank you DeeDee for this excellent account. It's such a distressing report to read knowing it's just a little six year old girl. I'll print this and take my time going over it. I tend to rush over parts like this too quickly because it does upset me.
  18. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Good point, Chero. While we haven't heard White speak publicly about this case, and while we have jams' "edited" version of his sealed sworn testimony in the Wolf lawsuit which makes no mention of any big discrepancy in what he saw in the basement when John "found" JB and what John told LE, we do have Thomas' book as an excellent source. Thomas certainly doesn't imply that there was any "hanging" or that White's story was significantly different from JR's, either, as I remember it.

    I think Walsh either misspoke or was misinformed, as well. Yes, there were plenty enough Team Ramsey spinners out there in TV Land to confuse the issues in this case, and Walsh is a busy man who actually does chase true criminals and predators, so he hardly has time to discern the truth from the well circulated Ramsey BS put out. That's why I give him a pass on this case.
  19. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I always respected Delmar's committment to this case, Elle, and his work on it, as well. Sadly, he did get angry at me for asking questions about his theories, and I really am sorry that happened. I am a questioning kind of person, though, and always have been. I guess I would have had an easier life if I'd just let people tell me things and accepted them, but I always want to know the why, how, when, where, and who, and that's why I'm still here, I reckon. But I do get on people's nerves that way. :square:

    I know he was a good friend of yours, and my deepest condolences for his recent passing.

    Yes, Burke is well guarded and I don't believe there is one person in that family who really wants this case investigated or solved now. I can only imagine the toll it took on the extended family, as well, so I won't judge. People are different, and I imagine if finding the "killer" would only cause them more pain, I can understand their reluctance if they really don't believe there was an intruder.

    On the other hand, if they think there was an intruder, I can't imagine they wouldn't carry that fear and sorrow with them every day. I'd be terrified for my own children, as well. They don't seem to be worried about that, though. Looking at their Facebook pages and pictures, they're all living quite well and happily, as Patsy said herself on the CBN interview within a few years of the murder.

    So be it. It's not my cross to bear. I'm just a citizen who felt the statement "there's someone out there" bore serious consideration once it was clear the Boulder justice system was never going to get this predator off the streets.

    Believing as I do that this predator is on a short list of suspects of my own, I've done all I can as a citizen in a Democracy which declares "We, the People" are this government and responsible for upholding the laws.

    Yet I will always think about this innocent child who was murdered and wonder how the monstrous atrocities acted on JonBenet that night and before that night, I believe, were never answered for by the molester and killer. It's a terrible indictment of us all.
  20. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Thanks, DeeDee. You always explain things so well.
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