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Detecting laudanum post-mortem

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  • #16
    So a friend of mine is a crime lab tech, and was doing experiments on different kinds of chloroform to catalog brands. And she tells me this, and I say "oh my god you totally need to chloroform me" and she laughs, and I tell her that I'm dead serious, and she knows me and the weird things I do (I use her lab to figure out knife cuts), so she thinks about it, and she was an RN is an earlier career and she tells me that if I get a note from doctor clearing me for it, she'll do it.

    My doctor knows I'm crazy, he tells me not to take my benzos the night before, and don't die. And actually writes me a doctor's note to get chloroformed.

    So I go to my friend, she sends me to a different lab and prepares the rag. She then comes in and tells me that were going to do it properly because "this is for science", and hooks me up to monitors. She also tells me that as the only person who has ever actually performed CPR, she won't be dosing me, and brings in a mutual friend to do the honors.

    Let me just say this was not seamless. When she opens the jar with the rag, she falls over. She has asthma, and totally forgot. So we sealed it up real quick and she left the room. Then my buddy Mike grabs me and slaps the rag over my mouth and nose. First of all, it burned because it was still liquid at that point. It smells terrible, sickly sweet, like rotten meat. A little like Durian if you've ever had that. So I start retching. I had been trying to hold my breath, but once I started retching I was trying to gulp in air. Which made it worse. The smell was making me gag, but the stomach dropping nausea hit before the dizziness, and I'm trying to pry Mike arm off so I can throw up. I didn't even feel dizzy. I just dropped to my knees, and the whole world was just wrong. In a Dali/acid kinda way wrong. Like gravity just yanked, and I couldn't feel anything to catch myself, so I hit pretty hard. If I had fainted, Mike would have caught me. He was prepared for that. But I didn't. I dropped right through his arms. Mike didn't know whether to follow me to the ground or not, so he let go. I took in a huge breath of air and that's what set my stomach over the edge. But about 30 seconds later I was upright again, and within a minute I could get up, walk, all of it.

    And I looked like a dead hooker clown with red marks against my slightly green face where Mikes fingers had been pressing into the skin. But I was nauseous for another two hours, and I had a three day headache. But the experience was nothing like I thought it would be. It's not a gas kind of passing out with the woozy and the sort of dive into blackness. The surface of the world got angry and threw me down in righteous rage. Suffice it to say I suddenly understand the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ether binge scene. I wasn't dizzy. I had no idea which way up, down, in, out, there was a second I thought I was staring into my own skull.

    But it's worth noting that I wasn't quiet until the retching started. And that was not silent either. It works for a woman in an alley, but those movies where they do it within ten feet of some oblivious guy? No chance. The air hunger is scary, and there was definite whimpering. But because the rag was kept sealed in a jar, I had a stronger dose. Less evaporated. And poor mike spent about an hour leaning over a sink waiting to throw up from being so close to it. Pictures were taken. None will be posted, since for about half of them I apparently pulled my shirt over my head to make the earth shouting stop. And apparently I said that, so I was a little altered.

    It's not something I'm willing to repeat. It's not a gentle process for all that it is outwardly gentle. It was nothing like falling asleep. I have never had a perception failure on that scale before, and I may have come out of the experience with stress activated synesthesia. So I did something dumb. And not for a good enough reason. Honestly I did it just to say I had. But it was terrifying. And if I really activated some latent synesthesia I'm going to be really pissed. And one of these days I'm going to get my friends fired.

    Don't try it, is the upshot. I think my doctor signed off on it to teach me a lesson, and I gotta say, good for him. Because that was awful. That there is a photographic record makes it more awful. But I'm on a lot of medication, so my reactions were not 100% normal. But normal enough to say that Mike totally could have killed me. I was powerless to stop him. But Mike wasn't feeling too well either, so that's a bit of a problem.
    The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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    • #17
      I worked with it several times a month for nearly twenty years, and still can't forget that cloying sweet/sickly odor, but I was always careful when handling the stuff.
      We mostly used it to make an O2 seal in some standards, so it went right from the small mouthed reagent bottle/jug, and 10-15 ml was poured into top off a standard filled volume metric flask.
      I would never dream of pouring it into a wide mouthed container/jar, there'd be way too much fume volume emitted upon opening.
      Even so, in just those few seconds it took to top off the standards the odor was overpoweringly nasty.
      Regards,
      MacGuffin
      --------------------
      "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" - Albert Einstein

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by MacGuffin View Post
        I worked with it several times a month for nearly twenty years, and still can't forget that cloying sweet/sickly odor, but I was always careful when handling the stuff.
        We mostly used it to make an O2 seal in some standards, so it went right from the small mouthed reagent bottle/jug, and 10-15 ml was poured into top off a standard filled volume metric flask.
        I would never dream of pouring it into a wide mouthed container/jar, there'd be way too much fume volume emitted upon opening.
        Even so, in just those few seconds it took to top off the standards the odor was overpoweringly nasty.
        It wasn't a jar full of chloroform. She had poured about a teaspoon or so on a a handkerchief, then put the handkerchief in a jar so it would keep until Mike showed up. But because it was in the jar it didn't evaporate. So there was a little cloud brewing when she opened it and she got a face full. I think she just didn't think past preparing it and then keeping it safe until Mike got there. The whole thing was irregular to say the least. And illegal as it happens, which is why I'm keeping her name out of it. But we were all terribly curious having grown up on Agatha Christie etc.

        But thinking about the smell makes my gorge rise.
        The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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        • #19
          Errata, I can totally see you & I on a road trip, a mix between Fear & Loathing and Thelma & Louise, and probably a bit of Blair Witch thrown in for good measure. Thank you for that entertaining account. I'm glad you survived it!

          Back to JtR though: can we surmise, based on all this, that if chloroform was used, given that some victims were discovered only minutes after the murder, we might expect to be found:

          - redness/irritation around the mouth
          - perhaps some aspirated vomit
          - bruises indicating the killer had to grasp the victim tightly through initial struggles

          And back to the original topic-question.. I doubt laudanum, for the time it would take to work. Unless the victims were slipped a mickey in a pub, or from a flask, and he waited for the woozies to kick in, perhaps while leading them to his desired locations.

          Not out of the question, eh.

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          • #20
            There are techniques used in combat that can incapacitate quicker than any drug, within a second or two, and are virtually undetectable later. Since there were no traces of any kind of substance used to knock the women out found by the medical investigators, perhaps it would be wiser to only consider methods that do not leave a trace?

            Cheers
            Michael Richards

            Comment


            • #21
              Hi Michael W Richards,
              Originally posted by Michael W Richards View Post
              There are techniques used in combat that can incapacitate quicker than any drug, within a second or two, and are virtually undetectable later. Since there were no traces of any kind of substance used to knock the women out found by the medical investigators, perhaps it would be wiser to only consider methods that do not leave a trace?

              Cheers
              There appears to be some confusion here, as the original post of this thread was inquiring about possible substance use and detection (specifically laudanum), not in theorizing the Whitechapel murders, but as a plot device for fictional work.

              Regards,
              MacGuffin
              Regards,
              MacGuffin
              --------------------
              "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" - Albert Einstein

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by MacGuffin View Post
                Hi Michael W Richards,


                There appears to be some confusion here, as the original post of this thread was inquiring about possible substance use and detection (specifically laudanum), not in theorizing the Whitechapel murders, but as a plot device for fictional work.

                Regards,
                MacGuffin
                The thread title prompted the response, since its been batted about before here, sorry for the interruption.

                Cheers
                Michael Richards

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Michael W Richards View Post
                  There are techniques used in combat that can incapacitate quicker than any drug, within a second or two, and are virtually undetectable later. Since there were no traces of any kind of substance used to knock the women out found by the medical investigators, perhaps it would be wiser to only consider methods that do not leave a trace?

                  Cheers
                  Victorian era tox screens were foolproof, apparently.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Ausgirl View Post
                    Victorian era tox screens were foolproof, apparently.
                    Well not foolproof, but we are talking about opium here, which is not a subtle drug. Frankly if you dump out stomach contents into a jar and take a whiff you can smell opium. So while there were scientific tests, there's sort of an equal chance of being detected by some dude with a decent sense of smell.
                    The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Dr. Saunders tested stomach contents for poison or drugs in the case of Eddowes.

                      Saunders said: I received the stomach of the deceased from Dr. Gordon Brown, carefully sealed, and I made an analysis of the contents, which had not been interfered with in any way. I looked more particularly for poisons of the narcotic class, but with negative results, there being not the faintest trace of any of those or any other poisons.
                      Bona fide canonical and then some.

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                      • #26
                        Hi Michael,
                        Originally posted by Michael W Richards View Post
                        The thread title prompted the response, since its been batted about before here, sorry for the interruption.

                        Cheers
                        No apologies needed whatsoever, just clarifying that some of the discussion includes potential fictitious scenarios.
                        I agree with you that the Whitechapel killer(s) most probably did not use anything more than lethal force to subdue the victims.


                        Regards,
                        MacGuffin
                        Regards,
                        MacGuffin
                        --------------------
                        "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" - Albert Einstein

                        Comment

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