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  #111  
Old 09-19-2010, 12:25 PM
joelhall joelhall is offline
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Hello agin,
Errata, I share the humour in your anecdote, some pathologists survive their detachment through humour. The question of medical research ethics is not one I wish to debate, but suffice to say that my introduction you quoted was necessary to provide context to what followed.

The questions you pose are both provoking and insightful. Tissue resilience has important forensic implications and assailing mesenteric attachments can be a nightmare in the obese that is both time consuming and obstructive in feeling and discriminating organs. So much so that it can well go on the list of skill demand in respect to Chapman.

Briefly for those unfamiliar with skin histology. The outer layer of skin (the epidermis) is composed of layers of dead horn-like cells that are resistant to insults from the environment. Below the epidermis are collagenous fibres over a subcutaneous layer of fat cells. This subcutaneous structure is like a shock absorber that deforms under pressure, returning to its original condition once the pressure is released.
With moderate force focused at a knife point the epidermis will resist puncture by absorbing the force into the elastic fibres and the fat cushion. With increasing force the knife point can break through the epidermis meeting little resistance from tissues underneath.

With an incising knife edge, the force is spread over a wider area requiring greater force to cut the epidermis. If the knife is drawn across the epidermis the leading edge of the knife will pucker up small rolls of deformed skin. As force is increased these rolls will give way producing an irregular edge to the incision. The blunter the knife, the greater force required and the more jagged the incision becomes.

The thickness of epidermis and subcutaneous structure varies in different parts of the body. The skin of the neck is quite thin whereas the abdomen, particularly in the female, can have a deep subcutaneous fat layer. While the skin may be thin on the neck it is also loose and an incising knife can well drag skin forward ahead of the edge thus producing an irregular jagged incision. To overcome both loose skin and subcutaneous deformation it is usual to tighten the skin with the hand at the point of entry of the knife, thus allowing reduced force on the knife.

Mr Ripper was unlikely to be able to do this with any certitude, but stretching the neck by a throttle or jaw hold, or in the case of Stride, her scarf, could have facilitated the incision.
Iíll leave the fatty abdomen to the imagination but the visual removal of organs in such a case would probably be of little help in organ discrimination. It could have been a hopeless task in a tight time frame to feel the kidney in an obese victim.
I haven't much time at present to make a response to recent posts but will get back when I can. DG
I'll add to this as well, especially as regards the question about the heart.

Cleavage lines (also called Langer's lines), were named after Karl Langer, an anatomist whose work involved attacking dead bodies with an ice-pick!

Anyway, these cleavage lines are the result of the direction of the collagen bundles in the skin. Collagen fibres are what give skin its strength and toughness, and on the abdomen these tend to run transversely - i.e. in a horizontal fashion.

Doctors making incisions tend to make them along these lines when possible as they heal with less scarring. Of course cutting across them with a knife which isn't particularly sharp will cause a jagged tear, as skin tends to open in the same direction as the cleavage lines. It's a lot like cutting across and down paper, following the fibre direction. Going with them will produce a straight line, whilst going at right angles to them will produce a jagged line or one which changes course.

The skin of the neck has cleavage lines which run at an oblique angle - sideways but going downwards towards the mid-line. Langer's observations showed him that stabs made a slit-like cut in the skin, which followed the direction of the collagen fibres.

The skin itself, as anyone who has had a paper cut can testify to, is not paticularly hard to slice into, especially with smaller cuts. However there are other tissues lying beneath which must be cut as well. Subcutaneous fat, ligament, and the deep fascia. None of these pose much of a problem with a sharp enough knife of course. And of course the skin has its elastic qualities, thanks to the elastin (although larger incisions have to be made on an embalmed cadaver).

Other tissues can present a problem however, and this depends on the tissue type. Beneath the skin is of course skeletal muscle, the oragsna re surrounded by peritoneum in the abdomen, blood vessels have walls of varying toughness and strength based on type (for instance the arteries have to resist the pressure of the blood), organ walls are made of smooth muscle, and so on.

The trachea itself is fairly hard to cut through being reinforced by cartilage.

For this reason we can tell that MJK's killer for example used a fairly blunt knife to cut the throat.

I might add here about the direction of the cuts. The cuts on Nichols abdomen were made downwards wheree they were vertical, and left to right when done horizontally. The other victims as far as we can tell had their abdomens opened in an upwards motion.

As regards the heart - this is a tricky one:

Blood is prevented from flowing the wrong way due to valves and the pumping action of the heart. When life is extinct, the heart can no longer contract as nerve function ceases and the hearts own blood supply stops, and so the blood inside will not leave the heart.

In the case of having ones throat cut, blood pressure drops, it becomes inpossible to brath properly, and the blood supply to the brain stops. The nervous system stops stimulating the heart to make proper contractions, whilst the lack of oxygen prevents the heart obtaining its energy to contract.

Bleeding will stop in its own time, depending on the size and type of blood vessels. For instance everyone is no doubt familiar with the problems shown in Dr. Kelly's suicide, from cutting one of his radial arteries. Smaller arteries will eventually stop bleeding.

This is an important point as the way in which the heart valves work is due to pressure difference. During a normal contraction for example, the systolic pressure in the left ventricle rises above that of the aorta. This opens the aortic valve, allowing blood to leave the heart. We could work the same action in reverse by dropping the pressure inside the aorta below that of the left ventricle. However there is a limit here as there must be enough difference in pressure to open the valve.

The heart may empty itself (known somewhat clearly as the empty heart sign) if it continues to contract after blood stops reaching it, although I have only found reference to this with head trauma i.e. lethal CNS trauma. Certainly contraction would have ceased relatively quickly in this case however, preventing more blood escaping into the aorta, due to loss of nerve function and lack of oxygen to the heart. The pressure dropping in the ateries themselves would of course cause them to stop bleeding. As far as major blood loss by itself, I have no idea whether this would cause the heart to empty out.
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  #112  
Old 09-19-2010, 12:44 PM
joelhall joelhall is offline
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It could have been a hopeless task in a tight time frame to feel the kidney in an obese victim.
To be fair, the two victims who did have kidneys removed - Eddowes and Kelly, were anything but obese as their photographs show testiment to. In Eddowes mortuary photograph, the clavicals are clear, the arms and shoulders and neck all narrow, and the breasts small. Some 'shrinking' of muscle tissue would of course take place post-mortem and no doubt if blood loss was significant this would add to it. However these areas of the body are all places one would find adipose tissue building up in the obese, as well as to the hips (which are relatively narrow) and to the abdomen (besides the loose skin where organs have been removed, there is a clear lack of fatty deposits.

The side view shows us that the deltoids, trapezius, neck, and face are all devoid of any signs of obesity, and the full body image shows us the same thing.

The Kelly scene photograph shows us much the same thing from what remains, particularly the arms and neck.
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  #113  
Old 09-19-2010, 06:15 PM
Errata Errata is offline
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I sort of wonder if he meant to take the kidney. The right one is easier to get to once the intestines are out. The left one is still covered by the stomach and other bits. If he meant to take a kidney, the right one was easier. So why the left? Maybe he didn't care what he took. Maybe he just reached in an grabbed something. Maybe he thought it was the heart. Reaches up blindly on the left side, towards where he thinks the heart is, grabs the kidney. He wouldnt know until it was out of the body that it wasn't the heart.

Now I have to ask a sordid question, and I apologize for any offense. The Victorians are somewhat vague on the subject of genitals, defining them as quite possibly everything below the waist and above the knees. Clearly these poor women were subjected pubic mutilations. As in, around the pubis. But is there any evidence that their external genitals were mutilated? Any cuts on the labia, clitoris or inner thighs? I don't know that the Victorians would necessarily specify, but if they did it would be helpful towards winnowing through possible motives.
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  #114  
Old 09-19-2010, 10:18 PM
protohistorian protohistorian is offline
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Default a third interpretation of visible skills

...and please forgive me medicos for my ignorance, but is not the most parsimonious explanation for us discussing the issue at this late date is that singular or few elements on some corpses were interpreted in this fashion by medical personnel. I fully acknowledge medical personnel have much more knowledge than the average Tom, Dick, and Harry (ladies also), but they are human and the human cognitive package is famous for misconceptions, bad interpretations, and most notably, the amplification of evidentiary phenomena in support of clearly unrelated observations.

What if what we are seeing in our historical study is something akin to the modern equivalent of the intelligent design argument. 1 inch of renal artery could be a function of skill but just as easily be a function of 1 hands location as mapped in the mind of the doer providing feedback for the manipulation of the other hand in a blind situation. A person with no visual cues to operate on still has the basic level of feedback of where one hand is in relation to another. It a finger on hand 1 was grasping at the attachment point, and hand two moves close enough in a blind situation for a knife blade to touch it, a blind sweep of the knife would be near one inch in length. To a medico the distance of remaining trunk is evidence of skill, when in fact it is evidence of methodology. Dave
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  #115  
Old 09-20-2010, 01:41 AM
Errata Errata is offline
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Actually the only way of cutting the arteries from the outside by slicing is also the cut the trachea. If you feel for your carotid pulse, you will push your fingers into the neck by the side of the trachea. To cut this while leaving the trachea unmakred during a slicing action is impossible.

A shochet will make a wide cut. The blade is always longer than the neck is wide. Shechita involves completely severing the trachea, carotid arteries and jugular veins in one movement to drain the blood.
Good point. What I meant was the long ear to ear cut is unnecessary. Ear to trachea is enough. Some of the "hesitation" marks look like an attempt at slicing 50% of the circumference of the neck, which would be both awkward and quite a bit more than needed.

Shochets will in fact make a wide cut. But they know it isn't necessary to kill the animal. It is necessary to make the animal kosher, to ensure the animal died so quickly it would feel no pain. Having seen kosher slaughtering at work (worst field trip EVER), had a shochet cut a human throat, the cut would be ear to ear, but so deep that the head would be almost severed. A shochet blade is perfectly capable of decapitating a human. And the amount of force required to cut a cow's throat from ear to ear and about four inches deep is extraordinary. Shochets also have incredible blade control, since they cannot so much as scrape against the spine.

Most of the throat cuts are not long enough for shechita, most are far to deep, an at least one hit bone. I think it unlikely that a guy who slits throats for a living in the heat of the moment would change his technique. It's certainly possible, but that would speak to a level of disassociation that is phenomenal, and quite possibly renders any motive moot.
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  #116  
Old 09-20-2010, 04:59 AM
protohistorian protohistorian is offline
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Default M2. Annie Chapman

description, "The small intestines and other portions were lying on the right side of the body on the ground above the right shoulder, but attached."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_intestine

Dave
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  #117  
Old 09-20-2010, 06:02 AM
protohistorian protohistorian is offline
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Default bladder and uterus

All I can say about looking for images suitable in demonstrative value for Annie's wounds is that if you do not have a bladder control problem when you start looking, you will believe you do by the end of the search. Now, a diagram showing the spatial relationship of the bits. Dave
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  #118  
Old 09-20-2010, 07:55 AM
protohistorian protohistorian is offline
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Default one for the experts

Here is Annie's neck diagram. If I have done this correctly, it severs the hypoglossal nerve. This may make this statement completely inaccurate.

Dr. Phillips says,"He thought it was highly probable that a person could call out,..."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoglossal_nerve

Dave
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  #119  
Old 09-20-2010, 08:26 AM
protohistorian protohistorian is offline
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Default The plundering of Annie Chapman (M2)

It is time to say it again. If you see an error tell me, these diagrams don't fix theselves (stoopid,lazy diagrams). The red lines represent wound tracks. Dave

Description by Dr. Phillips, " No trace of these parts could be found and the incisions were cleanly cut, avoiding the rectum, and dividing the vagina low enough to avoid injury to the cervix uteri. Obviously the work was that of an expert- of one, at least, who had such knowledge of anatomical or pathological examinations as to be enabled to secure the pelvic organs with one sweep of the knife..."
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  #120  
Old 09-20-2010, 12:32 PM
protohistorian protohistorian is offline
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I realize I am a provincial hick, but if I wanted to kill someone with a neck injury, this would be my target. Dave

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve
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