Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ken Taylor and the Death of Jordan Shelton

Too Late to Save Jordan

Immediately, the paramedics knew this was going to be a hard save. Taylor helped them carry Jordan downstairs where there was more light and the EMTs went to work. When they realized they couldn't resuscitate him in the home, they moved him to the ambulance and drove to the local hospital. Paramedics briefly raised a pulse out of the young man, but never revived him and soon transferred him by helicopter to a better hospital -- the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Critical Care doctor Paul Branca examined the "neurologically devastated" Jordan and pronounced him brain-dead although not heart-and-lungs dead. In the late morning of November 24, Jordan Shelton was taken off a ventilator and allowed to die. A silver lining to Jordan's death was that because there was no injury to the teen's organs, they could be harvested for transplant. His mother reported that Jordan donated his heart to a 16 year-old boy; his lungs to a 49 year-old woman; his liver to a 10 year-old boy; his right kidney to a 37 year-old man; and his left kidney to a 63 year-old man.

Jordan Shelton died on Nov. 24, 2007.
Jordan Shelton died on Nov. 24, 2007.
The Autopsy Shows Something Unexpected

Knox County Medical Examiner Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan performed the autopsy on Jordan Shelton. The face of the young corpse looked like one big bruise -- totally discolored above a distinct demarcation line where Taylor's arm had applied pressure. Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan found petechiae (i.e., tiny burst blood vessels, common in asphyxiations) all over the face and scalp and even inside Jordan's mouth. She declared it the worst petechiae she had ever seen in her many years as a forensic pathologist. The blood pressure was so intense throughout the head that blood seeped into the Jordan's conjunctiva (i.e., the lining covering the whites of the eyes).

Her conclusion was that Jordan Shelton had been held in a stranglehold for 3-5 minutes in which time blood was flowing through the arteries up into the head, but the veins that would bring the blood back down to the heart were pinched shut. As the blood backed up, no new oxygen could get to Jordan's brain until he eventually blacked out. The cause and manner of death was determined to be homicidal strangulation.

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