Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kevin Neal, Convicted of Murder by Forensic Entomology

Not Much to Work With

Having determined the manner of death, Lehman and his team turned toward gathering evidence to assist in finding out the cause of their deaths, and hopefully, the identity of their killer. The team had not been left much to work with. In fact, Lehman had to call in a forensic anthropologist from a nearby college to assist in determining the genders of the bodies. Confirmation of the children's identities was made through dental records.

View of skulls at the scene.
View of skulls at the scene.

Their skulls had been completely stripped of flesh — skeletonized is the term pathologists use. The skin on India's chest, abdomen and legs was still present, but exposure to the sun and wind had caused it to dry out and become leather-like in a process known as mummification. During mummification, nature "embalms" and preserves the corpse in a manner resembling the human ritual that creates a mummy. In fact, it is impossible from visual inspection to determine the post-mortem interval of a mummified body — absent any other clues, India could have been dead as long as King Tut.

But there were other clues present. The little girl's body was infested with insects, which Lehman and his colleagues collected and preserved. The medical team carefully sifted through the material in the body bag, separating India from the dirt, flora and fauna that had accompanied her into the morgue. Some of her neck bones were missing, while others indicated animal activity — canine teeth marks and such.

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