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November 24, 2013


Hank Phillippi Ryan

wow. Fascinating! Thank you! And the curler story is fascinating..might I timidly ask--do you think a man would have thought of that?

Thank you so much for this insightful and incredibly generous info!

Karen in Ohio

I was thinking the same thing, Hank, so thanks for asking that question.

Really interesting information, Dr. Ross. Thank you, and thanks to Charlaine, as well.

Donna Andrews

I love your attitude toward dealing with the families. I once heard Marcella Fierro, then Virginia's medical examiner, talk about her job and my recollection was that while she felt detecting crime was important, it was equally important to bring closure to families who needed to know how their loved ones had died--that in some cases she was able to demonstrate to the police, the public, and most importantly to the family members themselves that they were not responsible. Does that factor into your job as well?

Karen F. Ross, MD

Absolutely Donna. I concentrated on the violent deaths here since I thought that would be of more interest to mystery readers and writers, but natural deaths are a significant part of medicolegal death investigation in all the offices where I have worked and are the most challenging in many cases. Natural deaths may evoke feelings of guilt in family members especially in parents of children who have died. I totally agree with Dr. Fierro. We can not only impart information about the cause of the death, but also reassure them that the death was not their fault not could they have prevented it. I also try to notify family members about possible hereditary factors that may be present so that the family can discuss possible impact on their own health with their personal physician. While this is not always comforting to the family initially, at least several family members have been found to suffer from the same disorder and hopefully the knowledge helped to prevent another untimely death.

Hank, my opinion was that a man could have thought it up but made the mistakes that allowed it to be detected as a staged scene. The women that I talked to would not have done this - thank God! While most bathroom outlets now have a ground fault circuit interruptor to break the connection when a significant change in the current is detected that bathroom did not have one.

Dana Cameron

Wow, thank you so much for sharing this glimpse into your work, Dr. Ross!


All so interesting. I had no idea that dealing with the families would be part of the job. Thanks so much for sharing with us today!

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