Autopsy questions

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by rashomon, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    There would be a difference with the struggling strangulation victim for another reason as well. In those cases, the victim was strangled to death, and there was no other factor in the death. In JBR's case, there was another cause of death; one coming so close to the strangulation that the coroner was not able to separate them from a biological aspect.
    IF she was strangled first, why bash her head at all? It was not apparent by looking at her. If you needed to make sure she was dead, why not just keep twisting the cord? How much longer would it have taken? There was no rush- they, after all, took their time wiping and redressing the body, looking for the blanket, unwrapping presents to find just the right pair of new panties, writing the ransom novella, wiping the flashlight, etc.
  2. Ginja

    Ginja Member

    What am I missing here? Maybe this will get straigtened out later in the thread. I think we're mixing apples with oranges. Maybe not. Complete oxygen deprivation produces the flattening of the gyri....and death. Partial deprivation also shows flattening of the gyri, but at least you have a chance, albeit in a coma. But this particular "swelling" is the result of oxygen deprivation, not the blow to the head. As a matter of fact, it sounds more like this 'swelling' is the direct result of the strangulation, as well as the petechiae, which also are a result of oxygen deprivation.

    There are other factors to consider for brain swelling as a result of a head injury. Suffice it to say that it's different for everyone, depending on the attack. JBR had blunt force trauma that covered the entire side of her head. A large piece of bone hung precariously over the large wound on a bed of blood that covered the side of her head. Large contusions on both sides of her brain from the force of the blow. It knocked her unconcious and close to death. In an unconcious state she was brought down into the basement and put on the floor. Green carpet fibers on the body indicate she was laid out in the doorway to her tomb. Temperature was lower down there while the killer sorted through her paint supplies and fabricated a garrotte. And whose to say this was immediate? Was there help? Did the person go practice a ransom note leaving the body on the floor? What I'm driving at is that all her vitals were almost nil, blood pressure, heartbeat, breathing, whose to say she even had brain activity? Although not noticeable, her skull was cracked so there was some room for swelling, although with vitals so low, major swelling would take some time, time she never had, because soon thereafter, she was strangled to death. (jmho)
  3. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Okay, then, Ginja! Thanks for weighing in!

    See, this is what we're trying to figure out, and you have given us a plausible argument for the head blow, then strangulation, as far as the timeline goes.

    Uh...did you say how long between the head blow and strangulation? Any "estiimate"?
  4. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    And that pretty much says it all.
  5. Voyager

    Voyager Active Member

    Also Discussed Here...

    Also discussed here was the manual strangulation of Jon Benet with someone's hands with "gentle strangulation" when she was already near death as a mercy killing after the terrible damage of the head blow made it apparent that Jon Benet would never again be a normal child. After which the ropes were applied for staging to look as if there had been a phedofile involvement in the murder using a garrot.

    I do not believe that manual stragulation has ever been totally ruled out vs. the swelling overlapping the tightened garrot which many of us believe was used for staging.

  6. rashomon

    rashomon Member

    But wouldn't manual strangulation (just like ligature strangulation with the intent to kill) have produced injuries to the inner neck region? The coroner did not find anything - no bleeding, no bruising, nothing.
  7. Jayelles

    Jayelles Alert Viewer in Scotland

    Suffocation is a form of asphyxia which can leave little or no evidence.
  8. rashomon

    rashomon Member

    Could you give an example of suffocation? An object put over the face (e.g. a cushion) maybe?
  9. rashomon

    rashomon Member

    From the autpsy report
    Inference: the neck cord was put on an unresisting body, which indicates
    JonBenet was unconscious, probably nearing death when this happened.

    The word "semifluid" in the following passage of the autopsy report might be pivotal in terms of establishing a time line:

    If I recall a medical discussion at another JBR forum correctly, "semifluid" means the blood could not even fully coagulate (?) because she died very shortly after the infliction of the acute genital wound. While the wound itself was in no way fatal, it looks like JonBenet was already in the process of dying when the sexual assault scene was staged.
  10. Jayelles

    Jayelles Alert Viewer in Scotland

    Yes a pillow or a plastic bag or even a hand held over the nose and mouth. I have all my daughter's forensic science books here from university and it seems that death by suffocation can sometimes be hard to diagnose because it doesn't always leave signs. In a deliberate suffocation, the victim might fight and scratch the attacker but if the victim's movements are restricted in some way then that wouldn't be the case. The books also say that sometimes cardiac arrest occurs quickly in asphxiation and if this happens, there might not be many tell tale signs such as petechial haemorrhaging.

    The book I am citing here is called Simpson's Forensic Medicine.
  11. Voyager

    Voyager Active Member

    Just A Question Rashomen and Jayelles...

    By definition, can suffocation occur when air-intake is cut off by slow pressure to the chest and trachea? Is the definition of suffocation only the blocking of breathing by covering the mouth and nose?

    I thought that I had read that sometimes humans can suffocate by ingesting their own vomitous, so why would slow pressure to the chest and trachea be any different by definition?

    In the case of this type of slow pressure rather than violent choking would their be petecia or the type of damage to the muscle that they were looking for in the autopsy?

    What does your Forensic book say Jayelles?

  12. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    There were petechia found at autopsy in the expected places (in a strangulation). They were found in the eyelids, the neck and scattered petechiae in the lungs. The coroner would have seen evidence of a manual strangulation if that had happened, I think. But the pressure from the garrote could have compressed the vagus nerve in the neck and caused loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest, even if the pressure was not enough to cause death by strangulation by itself.
    I believe that the head blow rendered her unconscious instantly and that is why she didn't struggle during the strangulation.
  13. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I agree, DeeDee. Use of hands rather than the garrote cord to strangle a child with a small, delicate neck, would have been obvious to the medical examiner.
  14. rashomon

    rashomon Member

    Good questions, Voyager. I myself don't have the medical knowdedge to answer them, but am interested in having them cleared up, and also in a differentiation of the terms 'choking' and 'suffocating'.
  15. Jayelles

    Jayelles Alert Viewer in Scotland

    I wasn't suggesting that the definition of suffocation was only blocking of the breathing by covering the nose and mouth. I only suggested this as one of several examples as requested by Rashomon.

    I'm not a medical expert but there is a good chapter on asphyxiation in this book.

    It goes on to explain that in a forensic context, asphyxia is usually:-

    But it is explained that:-

    Other conditions in which the body cannot gain sufficient oxygen may occur without any obstruction to the air passages.

    Examples of asphyxiation are listed as:-


    Cafe Coronary (choking on food)
    Pressure on the neck
    'Vagal inhibition' or reflex cardiac arrest
    Manual strangulation

    Ligature strangulation
    The sexual asphyxia
    Traumatic asphyxia

    The book continues to give a description of each of the above. It's quite a clinical book with rather lurid photographs. I have a pile of forensic books here - a mix of forensic science and forensic medicine. I'd be happy to look anything up.
  16. AMES

    AMES Member

    I agree! I believe that the Ramsey's thought that she was already dead (because she was unconcious, and likely had a faint, undetectable heartbeat), and that is when they fashioned the garrotte and strangled her. It was referred to as a "soft" strangulation.
  17. Elle

    Elle Member

    Had Patsy Ramsey done the right thing and dialled 911 there would be no Forums for justice anywhere on the net for JonBenét Ramsey, but the outcome of a 911 call would have revealed Patsy's true inner self, and maybe even more sordid details of what really was happening to young JonBenét (?), the Ramsey's walls would have tumbled down upon their heads. As a result, the whole world knows the Ramsey history. May it continue to haunt John Ramsey as long as he lives.
  18. rashomon

    rashomon Member

    I just found this informative page: (bolding mine):

    Interesting that neither congestion of the face nor edema nor cyanosis were found in JonBenet.
    Only petechiae were found, and these are often unspecific findings:
    Also interesting that only few petechiae were found JonBenet's eyes. A conscious victim struggling against an attacker who was going to strangle her would probably have gotten far more petechaie in the eyes.
  19. AMES

    AMES Member

    Exactly! There was no way that she could let anybody know that SHE was the cause of JB's accident...and I truly believe that it WAS an accident. I do not believe that she intended to cause JB to die. I think that she just lost control.
  20. Texan

    Texan FFJ Senior Member

    no underlying damage

    If JBR was near death already from the head blow there may not be much evidence of underlying neck damage. As already discussed, the hyoid bone won't neccesarily be broken with some form of ligature use on a child. Inhibiting the air intake either manually or by use of a ligature causes more damage than if the death occurs from vagal response. The vagus reaction causes a slowing of heart rate and a drop of blood pressure and can happen very quickly. If this is the case I believe it was accidental vagus nerve stimulation and not due to any skill on the part of the perp.

    Bruising does not always show up right away during autopsy. I remember a case I read about, Ed Post murdered his wife, and if I remember correctly, the first autopsy didn't show much bruising which was crucial to the prosecution's case. They repeated the autopsy later and found significant bruising. I need to look this up but I believe this is accurate (subject to an old woman's memory )
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