“Fun…and full of smart science. Fans of CSI—the real kind—will want to read it” (The Washington Post): A young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner, and the hair-raising cases that shaped her as a physician and human being. Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation—performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587. An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners—complete with grisly anecdotes, chilling crime scenes, and a welcome dose of gallows humor—Working Stiff offers a glimpse into the daily life of one of America’s most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies—and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on television to reveal the secret story of the real morgue. “Haunting and illuminating...the stories from her average workdays…transfix the reader with their demonstration that medical science can diagnose and console long after the heartbeat stops” (The New York Times).
A New York City forensic pathologist and her Harvard-educated husband describe her experiences as a student and doctor throughout the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack and the disastrous crash of Flight 587.
'Far from the magic we see on TV, Working Stiff describes forensic pathology in the real world. The book is a compelling and absorbing read.' Kathy Reichs, New York Times bestselling author 'engrossing . . . pulls back the sheet to show readers just what goes on after someone dies . . . Armchair detectives and would-be forensic pathologists will find Melinek's well- written account to be inspiring and engaging.' Publishers Weekly Dr Judy Melinek has made a career out of working with dead bodies. As a forensic pathologist, she has probed and prodded corpses for clues that may reveal murder, suicide, a medical accident or a rare genetic WC disease This fearless memoir tells the gripping story of the young doctor's 'rookie season' as a forensic pathologist, and the cases-hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex- that shaped her as both a physician and a mother. Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, and counselling grieving relatives. Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of the modern world's most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. Dr Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorised depictions of autopsy work on shows like CSI and Law & Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue and what really goes on behind the police tape. 'Melinek's enthusiasm for her calling is always apparent, and her writing is unselfconsciously bouncy, absorbed and mordant (though not caustic) . . . A transfixing account of death, from the mundane to the oddly hair-raising.' Kirkus Reviews 'Working Stiff is the grossest book you'll ever love. But it is also so much more than that: Seamlessly fusing memoir, science journalism, riveting whodunit mysteries, and light humour about a dark topic . . . a relentlessly fascinating and informative book from the first page to the last.' Scott Stossel, author of the New York Times Bestseller My Age of Anxiety
The former chief medical examiner for Rockland County provides a firsthand look inside eleven of his most notorious cases, following the scientific investigative process and the work of the pathologist from the crime scene to the world of high-tech criminal detection.
See the author's Web site Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office chronicles the exploits of a diverse team of investigators at a coroner's office in Pittsburgh. Ed Strimlan is a doctor who never got to practice medicine. Instead he discovers how people died. Mike Chichwak is a stolid ex-paramedic, respected around the office for his compassion and doggedness. Tiffani Hunt is twenty-one, a single mother who questions whether she wants to spend her nights around dead bodies. All three deputy coroners share one trait: a compulsive curiosity. A good thing too, because any observation at a death scene can prove meaningful. A bag of groceries standing on a kitchen counter, the milk turning sour. A broken lamp lying on the carpet of an otherwise tidy living room. When they approach a corpse, the investigators consider everything. Is the victim face-up or down? How stiff are the limbs? Are the hands dirty or clean? By the time they bag the body and load it into the coroner's wagon, Tiffani, Ed, and Mike have often unearthed intimate details that are unknown even to the victim's family and friends. The intrigues of investigating death help make up for the bad parts of the job. There are plenty of burdens-grief-stricken families, decomposed bodies, tangled local politics, and gore. And maybe worst of all is the ever-present reminder of mortality and human frailness. Deadhouse also chronicles the evolution of forensic medicine, from early rituals performed over corpses found dead to the controver-sial advent of modern forensic pathology. It explains how pathologists "read" bullet wounds and lacerations, how someone dies from a drug overdose or a motorcycle crash or a drowning, and how investigators uncover the clues that lead to the truth. John Temple, Morgantown, West Virginia, is assistant professor of journalism for the P. I. Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University. He is the co-editor of Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss, and Hope. He was a staff writer at both the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Tampa Tribune, and his work has been published in American Journalism Review.
In the vein of Dr. Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff, an account of the hair-raising and heartbreaking cases handled by the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job—from high-profile deaths to serial killers, to Golden Gate Bridge suicides. Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the country. Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health, yet it is far above the norm in drug overdoses and alcoholism, and comprises a large percentage of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge. Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County Coroner’s Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. As he grew into the job—which is different from what is depicted on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, preparing testimony for court to notifying families of a death with sensitivity and compassion. He also learned about different kinds of firearms, all types of drugs—prescription and illegal—and about certain unexpected and potentially fatal phenomena such as autoeroticism. Complete with poignant anecdotes, The Education of a Coroner provides a firsthand and fascinating glimpse into the daily life of a public servant whose work is dark and mysterious yet necessary for society to function.
Have you ever been locked in a cooler with piles of decomposing humans for so long that you had to shave all the hair off your body in order to get rid of the smell? Joseph Scott Morgan did. Have you ever lit a Marlboro from the ignited gas of a bloated dead man's belly? Joseph Scott Morgan has. Have you ever wept over a dead dog while not giving a shit about the dead owner laying next him? Morgan did. Were you named after a murder victim? Joseph Scott Morgan was. This isn't Hollywood fantasy—it's the true story of a boy born into the deprivations of a white trash trailer park who as an adult gets further involved in the desperate backdoor sagas of the "new South." No hot blondes here, just maggots, grief, and the truth about forensics and death investigation. Joseph Scott Morgan became a death investigator with the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office in suburban New Orleans in 1987, the youngest medicolegal death investigator in the country. During the day, Morgan worked in the morgue, and at night investigated for the coroner. In 1992 Morgan became senior investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office in Atlanta. Morgan is now a college professor at North Georgia College and State University, where he teaches a death investigation course based on the national standards which he helped develop. He and his family reside in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia.
A city with eight million people has eight million ways to die For fifteen years, Shiya Ribowsky worked as a medicolegal investigator in New York City’s medical examiner’s office—the largest, most sophisticated organization of its kind in the world. Utilizing his background in medicine, he led the investigations of more than eight thousand individual deaths, becoming a key figure in some of New York’s most bizarre death cases and eventually taking charge of the largest forensic investigation ever attempted: identifying the dead in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedies. Now, in this mesmerizing book, Ribowsky pulls back the curtain on the New York City’s medical examiner’s office, giving an enthralling, never-before-seen glimpse into death and the city. Born and raised in New York City’s orthodox Jewish community, Ribowsky seems an unlikely candidate for this macabre profession. Nevertheless he has forsaken a promising career of medical work with the living, descending instead into the realm of the dead, enticed by the challenge of confronting death on a daily basis. Taking you through the vermin-infested Bowery flophouses and posh Upper East Side apartments of the city’s dead, Ribowsky explores in gruesome detail the skeletons that hang in the Big Apple’s closets. Combing through the autopsy room, he also exposes the grim secrets that only a scalpel and a dead body can tell and explains how forensic investigation does not merely solve crimes—it saves lives. But it is in the aftermath of September 11 that the ME’s office is handed its biggest challenge: to identify as many of the fallen as possible. With poignant descriptions, Ribowsky provides a dramatic account of the office’s diligent and unflappable work with the families of the victims, helping them emerge from the ashes of this tragedy while displaying the strength, grit, intelligence, and compassion that Americans expect from true New Yorkers. At once compelling and heartbreaking, Dead Center is a story of New York unlike any other, blending the haunting with the sublime, while painting a striking portrait of death (and life) in the city that never sleeps.
A behind-the-scenes study of the work of New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner looks at some of the most important and unusual cases the OCME has handled since its inception in 1918, ranging from political intrigue and high-profile murder cases to vicious gang wars and the September 11th terrorist attacks. Original.
Michelle Williams is young and attractive, with close family ties, a busy social life . . . and an unusual occupation. When she impulsively applies to be a mortuary technician and is offered the position, she has no idea that her decision to accept will be one of the most momentous of her life. “What I didnt realize then, she writes, “was that I was about to start one of the most amazing jobs you can do. To Williams, life in the mortuary is neither grim nor frightening. She introduces readers to a host of unique characters: pathologists (many eccentric, some utterly crazy), undertakers, and the man from the coroners office who sings to her every morning. No two days are alike, and while Williamss sensitivity to the dead never wavers, her tales from the crypt range from mischievous to downright shocking. Readers wont forget the fitness fanatic run over while doing nighttime push-ups on the road, the man so large he had to be carted in via refrigerated truck, or the guide dog who led his owner onto railway tracks—and left him there. The indomitable Williams never bats an eye, even as she is confronted—daily—with situations that would leave the rest of us speechless.
Veteran medical examiner Cohle takes readers into the world of forensic pathology in this collection that includes cases ranging from exotic murder mysteries to everyday casualties of heart attacks and car accidents. Illustrations.
Can the medical examiner really glean all the information from a dead body that’s portrayed on forensic television shows? In this book, Dr. Cumberland gives the reader a look into the life of a real working medical examiner and the types of death cases that routinely come through his morgue. The author uses actual cases from the hundreds of autopsies he has performed in Mobile, AL, and Pensacola, FL, to explain basic principles and procedures used in death investigation in a way that is both entertaining and educational. Cumberland’s gift for storytelling and his ability to explain complex issues in everyday language make this book not only readable but enjoyable for both teenagers and adults.
A brutally frank memoir about doctors and patients in a health care system that puts the poor at risk. In medical charts, the term “N.A.D.” (No Apparent Distress) is used for patients who appear stable. The phrase also aptly describes America’s medical system when it comes to treating the underprivileged. Medical students learn on the bodies of the poor—and the poor suffer from their mistakes. Rachel Pearson confronted these harsh realities when she started medical school in Galveston, Texas. Pearson, herself from a working-class background, remains haunted by the suicide of a close friend, experiences firsthand the heartbreak of her own errors in a patient’s care, and witnesses the ruinous effects of a hurricane on a Texas town’s medical system. In a free clinic where the motto is “All Are Welcome Here,” she learns how to practice medicine with love and tenacity amidst the raging injustices of a system that favors the rich and the white. No Apparent Distress is at once an indictment of American health care and a deeply moving tale of one doctor’s coming-of-age.
“Morbid and illuminating” (Entertainment Weekly)—a young mortician goes behind the scenes of her curious profession. Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures. Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like? Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).
There is no scientist in the world like Dr. Bill Bass. A pioneer in forensic anthropology, Bass created the world's first laboratory dedicated to the study of human decomposition—three acres of land on a hillside in Tennessee where human bodies are left to the elements. His research at "the Body Farm" has revolutionized forensic science, helping police crack cold cases and pinpoint time of death. But during a forensics career that spans half a century, Bass and his work have ranged far beyond the gates of the Body Farm. In this riveting book, the bone sleuth explores the rise of modern forensic science, using fascinating cases from his career to take readers into the real world of C.S.I. Some of Bill Bass's cases rely on the simplest of tools and techniques, such as reassembling—from battered torsos and a stack of severed limbs—eleven people hurled skyward by an explosion at an illegal fireworks factory. Other cases hinge on sophisticated techniques Bass could not have imagined when he began his career: harnessing scanning electron microscopy to detect trace elements in knife wounds; and extracting DNA from a long-buried corpse, only to find that the female murder victim may have been mistakenly identified a quarter-century before. In Beyond the Body Farm, readers will follow Bass as he explores the depths of an East Tennessee lake with a twenty-first-century sonar system, in a quest for an airplane that disappeared with two people on board thirty-five years ago; see Bass exhume fifties pop star "the Big Bopper" to determine what injuries he suffered in the plane crash that killed three rock and roll legends on "the day the music died"; and join Bass as he works to decipher an ancient Persian death scene nearly three thousand years old. Witty and engaging, Bass dissects the methods used by homicide investigators every day, leading readers on an extraordinary journey into the high-tech science that it takes to crack a case.
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
In this clear-eyed, gritty, and enthralling narrative, Dr. Vincent DiMaio and veteran crime writer Ron Franscell guide us behind the morgue doors to tell a fascinating life story through the cases that have made DiMaio famous-from the exhumation of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to the complex issues in the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Beginning with his street-smart Italian origins in Brooklyn, the book spans 40 years of work and more than 9,000 autopsies, and DiMaio's eventual rise into the pantheon of forensic scientists. One of the country's most methodical and intuitive criminal pathologists will dissect himself, maintaining a nearly continuous flow of suspenseful stories, revealing anecdotes, and enough macabre insider details to rivet the most fervent crime fans.
Crime novelist and former police officer Nigel McCrery provides an account of all the major areas of forensic science from around the world over the past two centuries. The book weaves dramatic narrative and scientific principles together in a way that allows readers to figure out crimes along with the experts. Readers are introduced to such fascinating figures as Dr. Edmond Locard, the "French Sherlock Holmes"; Edward Heinrich, "Wizard of Berkeley," who is credited with having solved more than 2,000 crimes; and Alphonse Bertillon, the French scientist whose guiding principle, "no two individuals share the same characteristics," became the core of criminal identification. Landmark crime investigations examined in depth include a notorious murder involving blood evidence and defended by F. Lee Bailey, the seminal 1936 murder that demonstrated the usefulness of the microscope in examining trace evidence, the 1849 murder of a wealthy Boston businessman that demonstrated how difficult it is to successfully dispose of a corpse, and many others.
Dr Geoffrey Garrett was for over 30 years a Home Office pathologist. This is his personal memoir, in conjunction with crime journalist Andrew Nott, of many infamous, unusual and heartbreaking cases and a fascinating history of his professional life, giving a unique insight into a pathologist's work. Beginning with a no-holds-barred account of the basic methodology of a post-mortem examination, the book chronicles many memorable cases, including: The discovery of a preserved body on the Yorkshire moors later identified as the first victim of the Moors Murderers The murders of three policemen plus the apprehension of a murderer who turned out to be a policeman's son An examination of sex crimes The Moss: a seminal piece on Manchester's 'Bronx' - Dr Garrett reveals life in the ghetto, the drug gangs and how they operate How a man's face, burned beyond recognition, was reconstructed to help solve a murder Plus examples of many other baffling crimes which were resolved on the pathologist's table.