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  • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

    No I accept that Phillips opinion was that 2 hours or more was likeliest but accepted that due to the unusual condition of the body that it could have been later than 4.30.
    On a linked but separate point: do you agree that this location was the oddest of all? I can't see how it would be anything other than a bad choice, notwithstanding that it (hindsight) wasn't? I've long felt Hanbury Street could somehow provide the best lead, as a location.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

      I tell you what Jeff………I’m beginning to get the impression that Rigor Mortis (and Algor Mortis for that matter) aren’t exactly reliable methods of estimating ToD.
      A bit like the witness testimony

      Comment


      • Originally posted by JeffHamm View Post
        Since we're back on the topic of things like Rigor Mortis, I thought I would put together a few bits of information from actual research into rigor mortis. I will list the sources and the bits that seem relevant to various discussions we've been having, and after that I will put some of my own comments in italics, and start and end them with *** so they don't get confused with the source information.

        Estimation of Time since Death
        Ranald Munro BVMS, MSc, DVM, Dip Forensic Medicine, DipECVP, MRCVS, Helen M.C. Munro BVMS, MRCVS, in Animal Abuse and Unlawful Killing, 2008

        Rigor mortis
        Fully developed rigor mortis is an easily identifiable and reliable indicator that death has occurred. The time of onset is variable but it is usually considered to appear between 1 and 6 hours (average 2–4 hours) after death. Depending on the circumstances, rigor mortis may last for a few hours to several days.

        ***
        Ok, here we see that rigor onset is considered to appear between 1 and 6 hours post mortem, however, we also see the "average" of 2-4" hours that often gets mentioned. When dealing with a specific case, you have to consider the full range whenever possible. A death at 5:25-5:30, combined with the time at which Dr. Phillips actually tested for rigor mortis, would mean that detection of rigor mortis at the crime scene would fall in that 1-6 hour range. It's on the short side, but that has never been disputed, the argument has been that 1 hour is too short. It is not.
        ***


        Forensic Taphonomy
        Amy E. Rattenbury, in Forensic Ecogenomics, 2018


        Since rigor mortis occurs in a somewhat predictable pattern, it has been suggested that it can be used to estimate the PMI in combination with body temperature. Knight and Saukko (2004) presented a timeline allowing for bodies categorized as stiff/flaccid and warm/cold to be dated as dead for less than 3 h, 3–8 h, 8–36 h, and more than 36 h. However, due to the variations in both algor and rigor mortis this method is best not used for anything more than a primary indication.

        ***
        Note the crudeness of the ranges that are associated with estimating ToD based upon rigor mortis descriptions (things like "<3 hours", which means anywhere in that 3 hour period, or 3-8 hours (so anywhere in there), and so forth. Rigor mortis is not used to provide a "pin point" type of estimation for the ToD, rather it suggests ranges - that span hours. Moreover, even when combined with body temperature readings (following modern standards obviously), it is best not to be used as anything other than a primary (meaning initial) indication.

        That's a clear warning to us.
        ***


        Supravital Reactions in the Estimation of the Time Since Death (TSD)
        Jarvis Hayman, Marc Oxenham, in Human Body Decomposition, 2016

        Rigor Mortis
        ….
        At very low temperature (6C), development was very slow at 48–60 hours and resolution very prolonged to 168 hours. This contrasted with a temperature of 37C when development occurred at 3 hours and resolved at 6 hours. In a mortuary where corpses were kept refrigerated at 4C, rigor was found to completely persist for 10 days in all corpses, became partial by 17 days, and resolved after 28 days (Varetto and Curto, 2005).

        ***
        Ok, this I thought of interest. Rigor mortis, when the body was at 6C (which is admittedly 4C cooler than I believe it was in Annie's case, but all the same), showed a very slow development (48 hours or more!), presumably until full rigor mortis was reached. Unless we've crossed a threshold that exists between 10 and 6 C (which is entirely possible), then this would suggest that whether or not Annie was killed at 5:25-5:30 or even at 2:00 am (almost immediately after leaving the doss hours), then we wouldn't expect Dr. Phillips to even detect rigor mortis, which questions whether or not the stiffness he did note was indeed rigor mortis!

        However, I believe that when he later goes to the mortuary to perform his proper examination he does mention rigor mortis was well established (or am I thinking of another case?) and I also have this memory of someone noting that the mortuary was at 10C, so the existing of some critical temperature threshold necessary to impart this large slowing of rigor mortis seems the most likely explanation to me. Still, this could be an interesting aspect to follow up to clarify if, given the temperature, that rigor should not have been detectable at any of the times under consideration.
        ***


        … (from the same source)
        Objective measurement of the force required to break the rigidity of rigor mortis was attempted for many years, the first attempt being made in 1919 by Oppenheim and Wacker, but the difficulty in measuring this force is that the strength of the force varies with the stage of development and resolution of the rigor mortis (Krompecher, 2002). The forces involved are initially small, rising rapidly to a maximum, and then reducing gradually over time until resolution occurs. One measurement at one period of time in the duration of the rigor will not reveal any useful information concerning the estimation of the TSD.

        ***
        I just wanted to include this to highlight how there still isn't really an objective measure for rigor mortis. There have been attempts, as indicated above, but they have not been widely accepted or utilised. Obviously, since establishing an objective measure was only first attempted in 1919, Dr. Phillips cannot even be suggested as perhaps utilising such at thing, and so this confirms that his measurements of rigor mortis are entirely subjective.

        Also, I want to point out, that the "one measurement at one period of time" bit, where this reveals no useful information concerning the estimation of the ToD (TSD; time since death) is referring, of course, to the objective measurements. But, given the subjective measurement is simply a more crude method of measuring force, the same would apply.
        ***


        Because of the subjective nature of the assessment of rigor mortis and the number of variable factors determining its onset, duration, and resolution, it should only be used in conjunction with other methods when estimating TSD (Henssge and Madea, 2002).

        ***
        Again, pointing to the subjective aspects of rigor mortis "measurements", and how they have to be used in conjunction with other methods, when estimating TSD, but as we saw earlier, even then it is best to use these as a first ball park estimate, not as a definitive final call.
        ***


        POSTMORTEM CHANGES
        M. Tsokos, in Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2005


        Muscle relaxation immediately after death with opening of the eyes and the mouth and subsequent fixation in rigor mortis often occurs after death, giving the face the appearance of grimacing. However, despite common belief, the face of a deceased does not reflect whether the individual's last moments were of fear or fright.

        ***

        Ok, this isn't about rigor mortis so much, but I recall reading some discussions about Nichol's eyes being open when she was found? Apparently, upon death, eyes will tend to open (as will the mouth), so I thought I would include this for those who might have been involved in that discussion.


        ***

        Anyway, I hope it is becoming clear that estimating ToD (or TSD) is simply not an exact science. I know we've all been inundated with shows like CSI, and movies, where based upon some tiny medical observation the exact time of the crime gets revealed and the suspect is apprehended as a result. Sadly, the real world doesn't have such clever script writers, and the stories it tells are a lot messier, and the camera is out of focus.

        - Jeff

        And no two bodies will react in the exact same way after death so all this posting of quotes from various sources is irrelevant.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post

          A bit like the witness testimony

          www.trevormarriott.co.uk
          Courts alll over the world still use witnesses.
          None that I know of still use the Victorian method of estimating ToD.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by A P Tomlinson View Post

            Courts alll over the world still use witnesses.
            None that I know of still use the Victorian method of estimating ToD.
            They do you are right, but courts are able to identify flaws in witness testimony and then treat that testimony as unsafe to rely on

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post

              They do you are right, but courts are able to identify flaws in witness testimony and then treat that testimony as unsafe to rely on

              www.trevormarriott.co.uk
              And rely on them when they consider them sound... a bit like the Chapman inquiry.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                No I accept that Phillips opinion was that 2 hours or more was likeliest but accepted that due to the unusual condition of the body that it could have been later than 4.30.
                That is a very balanced, reasonable opinion.........all right buddy, what have you done with Herlock?
                They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
                Out of a misty dream
                Our path emerges for a while, then closes
                Within a dream.
                Ernest Dowson - Vitae Summa Brevis​

                ​Disagreeing doesn't have to be disagreeable - Jeff Hamm

                Comment


                • I'm mindful of not wanting to divert this fascinating (and for me) illustrative thread.

                  But I think there's an important point about Witness Statements, from working-class locals, in a very intimidating environment full of professional people - doctors, lawyers, coroners - from the bossy middle-class who effortlessly assert ownership of everything.

                  I'm not discussing the rights/wrongs of this class issue, just acknowledging it as very relevant.

                  In short: many of these witnesses will have been both intimidated but also wanting to show this was their turf, and to highlight their role. I think this explains how statements got enlarged and more elaborate. It's natural to enjoy the attention, especially in a hard-life which was often dull and repetitive.

                  Also, they would have wanted to show they were as smart and capable of detail. Especially since their word would have to carry weight - no CCTV/Phones etc. I'm not saying these people were inherently unreliable or dishonest. Just that they weren't simply motivated by zeal for the process and what was 'right'. The attention to some (not all) would have been fabulous - and the chance to then sell a story. I don't blame them in the least.

                  And this class issue will also apply to the policemen on the beat, and above, up to fairly senior levels.

                  Sorry if this is all old-hat and has been stated before!

                  But the thing about trimming boots - as someone above says, it could just be (pardon the pun) a load of cobblers!
                  Last edited by Paul Sutton; 10-17-2023, 10:40 AM.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by A P Tomlinson View Post

                    And rely on them when they consider them sound... a bit like the Chapman inquiry.
                    You have to be joking Long Cadosh and Richardson statements are all unsafe to rely on to prove conclusively a later TOD

                    www.trevormarriott.co.uk
                    Last edited by Trevor Marriott; 10-17-2023, 10:50 AM.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Paul Sutton View Post
                      But the thing about trimming boots - as someone above says, it could just be (pardon the pun) a load of cobblers!
                      The abbreviation is CGSM - a Consignment of Geriatric Shoe Manufacturers - a load of old cobblers. (Yes Minister).
                      They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
                      Out of a misty dream
                      Our path emerges for a while, then closes
                      Within a dream.
                      Ernest Dowson - Vitae Summa Brevis​

                      ​Disagreeing doesn't have to be disagreeable - Jeff Hamm

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post

                        You have to be joking Long Cadosh and Richardson statements are all unsafe to rely on to prove conclusively a later TOD

                        www.trevormarriott.co.uk
                        But considerably more reliable than Philips' ToD.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post

                          And no two bodies will react in the exact same way after death so all this posting of quotes from various sources is irrelevant.

                          www.trevormarriott.co.uk
                          Trevor, you do realise that research, other than case studies of course, examines multiple bodies in studies of things like rigor mortis progression? These are talking about the ranges of rigor mortis onset, and so forth, after looking at many bodies. They describe how much variation there is case to case. And if you've noticed, one of my soap boxes is -- that's right, margins of error, which is just another term for the ranges in variation from case to case. You can dismiss it as irrelevant if you want, but it means you will be making decisions wilfully ignorant of that which you are deciding about.

                          Ironically, though, the first part of your comment that no two bodies will react the exact same way would tend to make one think you would be disdainful of estimating ToD based upon rigor mortis (which is what the articles basically are saying), but then you change hats, and call the articles that actually show your guess was right this time irrelevant. I'm going to hazard a guess you didn't even read that post before commenting.

                          - Jeff
                          Last edited by JeffHamm; 10-17-2023, 11:18 AM.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by GBinOz View Post

                            The abbreviation is CGSM - a Consignment of Geriatric Shoe Manufacturers - a load of old cobblers. (Yes Minister).
                            Perfect!

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by GBinOz View Post
                              Hi Jon,

                              Your post #5851
                              Swanson writes, (Richardson)..."as his clothes were examined, the house searched and his statement taken in which there was not a shred of evidence, suspicion could not rest upon him, although police specially directed their attention to him".

                              And that was before the inquest, then the coroner required his presence, so it seems the authorities had a very different view of Richardson.


                              I am unsure about why you think this took place before the inquest. My impression is the above took place because of his testimony at the inquest​. I think that his brief statement to Chandler was his only contact with the police on the day of the murder, and his only other statement before the inquest was the one required for the inquest. I think the knife and the boot cutting story took Chandler, Phillips and the Coroner by surprise.

                              Cheers, George
                              Thankyou George, for laying that out in detail.

                              I don't agree, that's not to say you're wrong, I just see it differently.
                              My view of the whole table-knife episode is it was little more than a distraction. Once the knife was seen, that it could not possibly be the murder weapon, the court returned to its duty.

                              We all should know what a table-knife, or butter-knife is, too rounded and blunt to be the weapon identified by Phillips.
                              While it is not difficult to take any table-knife and spit on a stone, rub the blade back & forth, you can certainly put an edge on it sufficient to cut something thick like leather, there's no way you could cut flesh with it.
                              Phillips would have known that the instant he saw it.

                              Chandler spoke with Richardson in the passage of the house, at some point he gave a statement to police. This is when, I think, they interrogated him, nothing to do with the knife, but everything to do with the fact he was there when Dr Phillips said the body was there. I see no mention of Abberline, except in court. It was his duty to interview witnesses, I'm surprised we have nothing written to establish that. It's possible Chandler took a statement from Richardson at the house, I doubt it, as it should have been Abberline. And, if what Swanson records is correct, Richardson would be at the police station to be interrogated to the degree Swanson suggests, not in a house busy with people coming back & forth. They checked his clothes for blood spots likely, and perhaps his home at John St., but found nothing to incriminate him.

                              Richardson was at the inquest one week after the murder, why would they be checking his clothes after two weeks if it was the knife that prompted the interrogation?
                              No, they interrogated him the same day of the murder, before the inquest.

                              Did Richardson mention the knife in his police statement?, maybe he was too frightened to put the wrong idea in the heads of police. I can perfectly imagine him avoiding mention of the knife on the morning of the murder, he might think it's an innocent looking knife but can he trust the police to think the same?
                              Once he is in court, being sworn to tell the truth, he perhaps reluctantly mentions the knife.
                              Last edited by Wickerman; 10-17-2023, 12:15 PM.
                              Regards, Jon S.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by GBinOz View Post

                                Hi Herlock,

                                The Daily Telegraph reported that Richardson spoke to Chandler at 6:45, but most of the other news reports say a little before seven. That said, I was sure that I read that Richardson spoke to Chandler after Phillips had left, but I can't for the life of me relocate it.

                                Cheers, George
                                Apologies for the late response George. I don’t recall reading that but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t said of course. It would be interesting to know what time Phillips left though, if there was enough evidence that it wasn’t a journalists misinterpretation. The time that the body was removed wasn’t specifically mentioned as far as I can recall either but around 7.00 is a reasonable estimate I’d say…give or take a bit. Mann said that he received it at the mortuary at 7.00 and Chandler got to the mortuary just after 7.00 and the body was there.

                                Comment

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