Morgue by Vincent DiMaio Read Online (FREE)
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Death is not an individual but a social event. When, with a barely noticeable sigh, the last gasp of air is exhaled, the blood stops pulsating through arteries and veins, and neurons cease activating the brain, the life of a human organism has ended. Death is not official, however, until the community takes notice.
Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths
Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
‹ FOREWORD ›
It’s All About the Puzzle
By Dr. Jan Garavaglia
People are fascinated by forensic pathology. Yes, some are primarily interested in the forensic details, but it is the stories of how and why the dead people ended up in the morgue that intrigue most.
TV shows, movies, and novels with fictional portrayals of forensic pathologists are phenomenally popular, not because they are accurate about the art and science of forensic pathology, but because they piece together a puzzle. But every day, real-life forensic pathologists pull back the curtain to shine the light of truth on what really happened, and explore the true, hidden dramas of the human condition, too.
Many think the forensic pathologist’s time is spent on murder and crime, but in fact murders take up less than 20 percent of a medical examiner’s caseload. We care just as much about the mystery of a decomposing unidentified corpse found in a pond as we do about why an infant died suddenly in his mother’s arms. Our autopsies and scene investigations might have public health or safety implications, such as identifying an emerging epidemic of drugs or disease. We might determine a woman died prematurely from a genetic abnormality, which could have profound implications for future generations of a family. We scientifically identify the burned, injured, and decomposed beyond recognition, if for no other reason than giving dignity to the dead.
Then comes murder. We determine whether a death was caused by the actions of another human, which has huge implications if you are a suspect. Even when the cause of death is obvious, the body is meticulously examined for trace evidence, subtle injuries, angles and trajectory of wounds, even natural disease … anything that might shed light on what happened.
Alas, in spite of the crucial need for more forensic pathologists, it remains the medical specialty with the fewest new doctors. That’s partly the perceived negatives of the job. On a daily basis, we deal with gruesome injuries, decomposing flesh, hideous smells, horrific violence, feces and gastric contents that must be meticulously examined (or at least handled). Then we must confront grieving families and (occasionally) obnoxious lawyers.
Despite these unpleasantries, those of us in the field consider it a calling. We love the challenge of piecing together the puzzles to find the truth. We can’t imagine doing anything else.
That describes Dr. Vincent Di Maio, my mentor and friend. I worked under him for ten years in San Antonio and never tired of his keen insight, his wealth of knowledge, and his seemingly limitless collection of great stories. Now in this fascinating and well-written book, readers and forensic buffs, too, are privileged to hear one of the most respected forensic pathologists in America share some of his most intriguing and provocative forensic cases of a long career.