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DavidZahir
12-24-2009, 07:51 PM
The scenario is that a man is murdered by a serial killer, who hides the body somewhere. Years later, it is discovered -- and it turns out the man's son works at the morgue where the body is brought.

This happening somewhere in a major city in Northern California (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, etc.). I mention that for climate.

He's been missing for at least twelve, maybe as many as fifteen years. But there needs to be enough left of him to make identification possible, even without a wallet (dental records, presumably). What would be best would be if the son visually recognizes the corpse of his father. The two ways that come to my mind are: (1) His clothes are sufficiently preserved--trousers, coat, tie, shirt, etc.--that the son recognizes the suit from the last time he saw his father. And/Or (2) The wedding ring on the corpse is a match for the young man's mother's.

Under what specific circumstances will enough of the body remain after fifteen years?

Under what circumstances is the above scenario about the clothes viable?

Thanks in advance!

Kathie Freeman
12-24-2009, 09:05 PM
It's unlikely that the son would recognize the suit - too generic, maybe the tie if it was really unique. The wedding ring might work if it was custom made. A body hidden in a wall would probably have well-preserved clothes.

Canotila
12-24-2009, 09:51 PM
It's unlikely that the son would recognize the suit - too generic, maybe the tie if it was really unique. The wedding ring might work if it was custom made. A body hidden in a wall would probably have well-preserved clothes.

I agree that a suit wouldn't be too unique. The tie maybe, maybe it's a tie he and siblings pitched in to buy/make dad for father's day or something? Because after that much time has elapsed I would have a hard time believing he'd recognize clothing. I can't remember a single individual tie that my dad wears and it's only been a week since I've seen him in one.

stephenf
12-24-2009, 09:52 PM
He could have a number of small clues or even big ones that add together.Distinctive classes,missing fingers,toes, hand ,arm,or leg.One leg shorter then the other ,he could be wearing a built up shoe.A replacement hip,knee or a plate in his scull.

GeorgeK
12-24-2009, 11:19 PM
A gaudy piece of jewelry that the son gave him like a ring, tie clip, belt buckle, and you'd be looking for some place that is dry and would mummify. Even the moisture in our bodies is enough to feed the gut bacteria to do their thing and that would destroy the flesh and the clothes. Like was said before hip replacements and other implanted metal parts have serial numbers on them and can be used to identify a skeleton. If it's a lush area that is not in the desert it could be a chest freezer that has the frost free option. Although who would not open or not notice a body in the freezer for 12 years? Of course our freezer just died and I finally dug to the bottom and remembered that sheep's head and fleece and hooves that I'd planned on learning some taxiderrmy on 10 years ago and then never had the time and then got sick and was too ill for years to dig to the bottom of the thing.

CACTUSWENDY
12-25-2009, 12:04 AM
How about the tie clip? Maybe cuff links...ones the son gave his dad.

Might start with a strange way the socks are worn. Maybe dad rolled the top one inch down on his socks.

If dad wore glasses...maybe something real different about them.

If something in the pockets, a special ink pen, a note pad, the stub of a ticket that the father and son both attended.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
12-25-2009, 12:39 AM
I concur with other folks saying he needs a good pair of cufflinks or a belt buckle or something.

FYI-- When Ira Einhorn killed Holly Maddux back in 1977, he put her in a trunk with a lot of newspaper and styrofoam packing material, and she mummified.

Granted, that was in Philadelphia, not the Bay Area, but maybe check into it. Here's a link: http://cmm.lefora.com/2009/01/21/holly-maddux-crime-scene-discovery-crime-scene-pho/

RJK
12-30-2009, 05:27 PM
No one's mentioned that, unless the body was mummified, there'd be nothing left but bones. In 12 to 15 years, all the soft tissue would have been reclaimed by the bacteria and bugs. Jewelry, watch, belt buckle, tie clip, eye glasses, would be the first things your character might see. Later, dental comparison would provide verification. He may even do a DNA comparison.

DavidZahir
12-30-2009, 07:51 PM
It might work better if the body is skeletized and he makes the identification from the hard objects found with and on the remains. Thanks...

BillPatt
12-30-2009, 08:09 PM
You have to define what you mean by "recognized". Immediately? That would be unlikely, even on a mummy. Most people have a hard time getting past the scare face to see the features.

Here's some more probable ways...
"The way that little finger bends sideways...just like my Dad's...."
"Huh. Monogrammed shirt cuff. Those are Dad's initials."
"Hmmm. Dad was bald, too."
"That cigarette lighter/tie clip/wallet/class ring is the same as my dad's"
"Dad double-knotted his shoelaces too..."
"Dad used to raid my mom's lingerie drawer..."

None of these apply to my Dad, though. Just sayin...

DeleyanLee
12-30-2009, 08:16 PM
First thing that came to mind is that Dad wore sock suspenders and the little clips were still with the bones. That would be something different enough to call attention to it.

As far as dental records go something genetic would work. For instance, in my mother's family it's not uncommon that one wisdom tooth will grow out of the back of the jaw (the part of the mandible that connects with the skull) instead of the bottom. It's genetic. My grandmother's brother had it, one uncle has it, I have, 2 cousins have it, a nephew has is and it's possible one of my great-nieces may have it. It happens every generation, but not to every individual. Very distinctive and identifiable within the effected family--but the son would know about such a thing.

Just a thought.

BillPatt
12-31-2009, 12:54 AM
Dental Records. I've always wondered about that.

I don't think Dentists have to send in X-rays to some central repository. And they wouldn't have the time to copy them anyway. So, just where are these mythical dental records?

So, if you've got a body, just exactly HOW do you identify it through dental records? I'm pretty sure if we suspect it's uncle Ned's jaw, we go to Uncle Ned's dentist....but what if it's totally unknown? How many dentists are there in the US?

Inquiring minds, etc.

Kathie Freeman
01-01-2010, 09:27 PM
In order to identify through dental records you have to have an idea who the person was, and who his dentist might have been. Otherwise, no way.

gothicangel
01-01-2010, 09:48 PM
Try contacting Tennesse University they have a department dedicated to the stages of decomposition and the effects of certain conditions.

I only found this out while my sister was researching US Universities and showed me some gruesome photos in Stephen Fry's book 'America'

By the sound of it they are happy to help anything to disrupt the CSI effect!

Nivarion
01-01-2010, 11:38 PM
I remember reading somewhere about a medieval town moving a mass grave years after the battle, and finding many bodies in the middle that were still intact and recognizable.

So if the killer stored the body somewhere where no oxygen could get in or out, and what did get in was used by something else before the bacteria could grow then maybe the body might have survived.

However, these are some pretty extreme and rare cases. It might just be better to have him identified by hard objects as was said up thread.

I'll try and find that account again.

BillPatt
01-03-2010, 11:14 AM
Try contacting Tennesse University they have a department dedicated to the stages of decomposition and the effects of certain conditions.

I only found this out while my sister was researching US Universities and showed me some gruesome photos in Stephen Fry's book 'America'

By the sound of it they are happy to help anything to disrupt the CSI effect!

Funny, Steven Fry was on Craig Ferguson last night - and he mentioned his trip to TU, and the "body farm" they had there. Small world.

Nivarion
01-05-2010, 10:59 AM
I couldn't find that accounting again. However I remembered something that might work.

Imagine if the killer was a real sick guy. And placed the bodies of his dead inside kegs of booze. When poped open the body inside would still be quite well preserved. Enough to recognize it.