Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kevin Neal, Convicted of Murder by Forensic Entomology

More Forensic Clues

One other clue led Lehman to believe that the children had been dead for some time when their bodies were found.

"One thing that was interesting ... from the point of view of a forensic pathologist is that where the bodies are lying the grass is dead," Lehman said. "It's like if you leave something on your lawn ... for a long time, the grass disappears. The same thing has happened where these two bodies were lying."

Much later in the criminal justice process, another expert would dispute this assumption, pointing out that decaying fatty tissue will kill vegetation much quicker than Lehman estimated. 

Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio
Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio

In the end, Lehman, based on his 14 years as a pathologist, was convinced the children had been dead "an extended period of time." 

"You have a skeletonized — completely skeletonized — head, very decomposed body," he told Assistant Attorney General R. Daniel Reif. "Everything points to someone who had been dead for an extended period of time."

How extended, asked Reif, who was on loan from the state Attorney General's Capital Crimes section to assist Champaign County Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio with the case.

"It's consistent with two months," Lehman said. "Anything less than that is less probable or less likely."

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