Forensic Pathology came under the category of Legal Medicine. It was the only class Michael Waxman and the other third-year medical students never skipped. All case presentations were of patients who died in accidents, in bizarre circumstances or by suspected criminal acts. The tall, middle-age Boston City Hospital Medical Examiner entered the amphitheatre wearing his Texas-style hat and handed off the 35mm color slide carousel to the projectionist. Dr. Jonathan Kingsley was not from Texas. He just liked the hat. He also liked the response to his nude dead bodies presented in “living” color as he always said.
“First slide please.” Dr. Kingsley spoke with a smile as the huge screen showed a naked shapely 28-year-old brunette lying on the metal autopsy table with her eyes closed in permanent sleep.
The female students retracted in their seats. The male students were riveted to the screen.
“What is wrong with this patient?” Kingsley’s voice boomed up the steep amphitheatre. He pointed to a gaping bespectacled student in the front row.
“She looks okay to me. I can’t see any pathology.” There was laughter in the room.
“Are things so bad that a dead woman looks good to you?” Kingsley lived for these moments. “How ‘bout we turn the young lady over.”
The next slide showed the woman’s posterior profile. Kingsley pointed to the same front row student. “If you take your eyes off her buttocks and look at the back of her head, you should see something abnormal.”
Gasps pervaded the room as all eyes were glued to the missing piece of skull which was replaced with a dark red amorphous mass of unidentifiable tissue.
Kingsley grinned. “The history accompanying this patient to the morgue was very illuminating. Her boyfriend stuck a pistol in her mouth and pulled the trigger.” He waited for their murmurs to stop. “Some cases are not so easy. What might be the cause of death in this man?”
The huge screen showed a slightly bald man whose external injuries defied identifiable age. His face was swollen and football-shaped. The blackened eyes were closed and purple currant jelly clots were bulging from his nostrils. Kingsley adjusted his hat which he was never seen without–even on the television evening news. “At first glance you might say his head trauma, probably from an auto accident, was the death causality here.” He paused for their consideration and then boomed. “And you would be wrong.” He showed the next slide of the patient without clothes. “The bruises over the rest of his body along with the deformed broken leg bones are signature wounds inflicted by unfriendly humans.” Kingsley waited for the snickers to stop. “And no, the cause of death was not directly related to the trauma caused by the baseball bat recovered at the scene.” He flashed an x-ray of the patient’s skull. “The small, bright white radio-opaque projectile resting just above his right interior orbit is a .25 caliber bullet.”
A fellow student whispered into Waxman’s ear, “Michael, this is better than television or the movies.”
“Quiet. He’ll single us out.” Waxman shrunk down in his seat.
“Some patterns of homicidal life-termination are predictable and become a signature of the killer. You all know of the ongoing Boston Stocking Killer cases. The media calls him The Boston Strangler. The pictures you see in this room were not released to the press and anyone caught with a camera today will be immediately autopsied.” He signaled for the next slide.
“This woman like all the others to follow was a young nurse - about your age.” Kinglsey used a long bamboo pole as a pointer. “Each victim was positioned with her legs in a birthing mode and a soda bottle or similar object protruding from the vagina.”
Gasps and sounds of shifting seat positions were audible as Kingsley continued. “All were without clothes and this first victim, like the others, was asphyxiated by one leg of a pair of pantyhose knotted around the neck. Victim numbers two through six were similar.” He went rapidly through the slides. “Here is the most recent victim–number seven. I’ll point to the common elements.”
“The unfortunate young nurse apparently let the killer in. As with the others, apartment entry was not forced.” Kingsley continued to outline what was known about the murderer lurking in the Boston domain. He flashed a close-up of the nurse’s face.
“Oh, my God. No.” Waxman stood up. “No. It can’t be.”
“What’s the matter up there?” Kingsley resented interruptions.
“I know her. Oh, My God. When did this happen?”
“I regret the shock of this scene, young man.” He signaled to shut the projector off. “It happened two-days ago.”
Waxman ran up the stairs and left the amphitheatre. He had to meet with the others.
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