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What does the post mortem reveal? [Catherine Eddowes]

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  • What does the post mortem reveal? [Catherine Eddowes]

    I know it was early medical knowledge but Dr. Hebbert states in "A System of Legal Medicine", page 107:

    In conclusion, it is worthwhile to present a resume of periods at which some idea of the time that has elapsed since death may be gained from external inspection, as stated by Casper.

    1) The greenish discoloration of the abdomen and the softening of the eyeballs indicate that the person has been dead from twenty-four to seventy-two hours.


    In a modern text I found this:

    Color changes: The abdomen develops a green discoloration after 24–36 hours, usually in the right lower quadrant first (the location of the cecum). An example of this is below. Early decompositional changes are manifested by green discoloration over the abdomen.



    Here is the statement by Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown during the post mortem examination performed on Catherine Eddowes at the mortuary:

    I made a post mortem examination at half past two on Sunday afternoon. Rigor mortis was well marked; body not quite cold. Green discoloration over the abdomen.

    In slightly over 12 hours from her estimated TOD, Kate had developed this green discoloration on her abdomen. I realize temperature can play a part in this, but do any medical experts here have an opinion on this? Was it likely for this green discloration to appear earlier than usual? Or was Kate dead earlier than we think?

  • #2
    Well, we know when she left the police cells, so unless she was a zombie already...
    Kind regards, Sam Flynn

    "Suche Nullen"
    (F. Nietzsche)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
      Well, we know when she left the police cells, so unless she was a zombie already...
      Thanks Gareth.

      A very smart and safe answer. But, the question remains, is in unlikely the first stage of putrefaction occurred in Catherine's body roughly 12 hours earlier than what is suggested by the medical field. If it is not likely, what does that say about everything that happened 12 hours or so before her suggested TOD?

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      • #4
        I'm guessing that the onset of putrefaction, which might have been the cause of the greenish discolouration, would have been benchmarked against "normal" cadavers in the medical literature. I don't know whether this process would be accelerated in the case of a body that had suffered the damage incurred by Catherine Eddowes, but that's an avenue worth exploring I guess.
        Kind regards, Sam Flynn

        "Suche Nullen"
        (F. Nietzsche)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jerry Dunlop View Post
          I know it was early medical knowledge but Dr. Hebbert states in "A System of Legal Medicine", page 107:
          Hi Jerry, I just wanted to point out that the section you quoted wasn't written by Dr Hebbert himself but by American M.D.. Francis A. Harris. Hebbert's involvement on the chapter 'Death in its Medico Legal Aspects' by Harris, was to allow the information from his four essays previously published in the Westminster Hospital Reports in 88 and 89, to be used in the book. Hebbert was working with Harris in Chicago at the time ASOLM was published in 1894. He had been working there since the early 90's.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
            Hi Jerry, I just wanted to point out that the section you quoted wasn't written by Dr Hebbert himself but by American M.D.. Francis A. Harris. Hebbert's involvement on the chapter 'Death in its Medico Legal Aspects' by Harris, was to allow the information from his four essays previously published in the Westminster Hospital Reports in 88 and 89, to be used in the book. Hebbert was working with Harris in Chicago at the time ASOLM was published in 1894. He had been working there since the early 90's.
            Than you for the correction, Debs.


            For some reason I was thinking Harris was referring to Dr. Hebbert in that section.

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