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8 Forensic Scientists Detail The Craziest Cases They’ve Encountered

8 Forensic Scientists Detail The Craziest Cases They’ve Encountered: Showtime


Forensic science is defined as “the application of science to criminal and civil laws where forensic scientists collect, preserve, and analyze scientific evidence during the course of an investigation.” Basically, Sherlock Holmes meets Dexter. As you can imagine, their eyes have seen A LOT of insane stuff. Below are some of the most WTF cases, as told by the forensic scientists who surf Reddit.

1. Sherlock Holmes Would Solve This Immediately

A 27-year-old woman in Alaska hadn’t paid her rent in four months and the landlord gave her a reprieve because he knew she was very poor. But after 4 months of zero contact, he calls the cops to get into her place. The cops find the front door to be bolted from the inside, then find the woman dead in her shower slumped as if she fell against the wall and slid down. The water wasn’t on and the water is never shut off by the city because if hot water isn’t moving through the pipes they freeze and burst. The fact that her shower is off means she never turned it on or someone turned it off. No obvious means of death can be found. As far as the autopsy could conclude, she died from an adrenal surge causing her heart to stop, more commonly known as “frightened to death.” No residual drugs were found in her system, none were found in the apartment and there was no sign of anyone having entered or left before the cops. The young, healthy woman appears to have gotten into her shower, and then her heart stopped due to terror.

2. That’s a Pretty Good Clue

A friend of mine is a forensic scientist and her department dealt with burglary cases. Once she got a pair of gloves found at the crime scene, she went to examine them and felt that there was something hard inside. She turned the gloves up to get it out, and out falls a thumb, ripped off at the first joint. Apparently, this particular burglar was holding up a safe while his partner went underneath it, dropped the safe on his hands, ripped his hand out and ran. They obviously caught the guy.

3. Always Examine the Body First

Went to the scene of a suicide in a garage. This guy had a project car that he had worked on his whole life, when he decided to end it all he wanted to go with the car, so he shut the garage and turned on the engine and waited. To top if off, he had taken a bunch of pain and sleeping pills. EMTs and other specialists were there looking for details (he was the VP of a fairly large chain of local businesses, so there was an insurance settlement to consider). In the middle of photographing the scene and the guy was laying there, pronounced dead hours ago and he suddenly just shook hard. Thought it was a death rattle so kept taking pictures. Eventually the guy sat up and nodded and the EMTs were called back in to stabilize him and eventually save him. Apparently the car had run out of gas right at the moment he went out and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

4. Or Maybe He Was Trying to Reach Something Else With His Head

We found a man suffering from internal decapitation. His spine was severed to the point that his neck stretched until his nose was buried in his own navel. Looking at the scene, I suspected that he actually died of positional asphyxia (body weight and position meant he couldn’t breathe in), and the decapitation was post-mortem due to the weight. He’d been working on his coin collection, and we found him wedged between the wall and the bed, with one of the coins on the floor under him. It looks like he was drunk, dropped a coin, reached for the coin, passed out, asphyxiated, then stayed there all night until the weight of his body severed his spine. The medical examiner confirmed the cause of death was asphyxia, the spine damage was post-mortem, and a blood-alcohol content of .2, but the rest is speculation.

5. This is Why You Shouldn’t Do Stupid Shit

Kid found on top of an elevator in a six story dorm. Apparently he was “elevator surfing,” which is just as dumb as it sounds. He somehow got his head caught in the cables and got it twisted around a couple of times. This did not immediately kill him. He died from asphyxiation. This means he had anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes to contemplate what had happened to him before he lost consciousness.

6. Now This is What We Call a Coincidence

A man told police he had picked up a hitchhiker in the evening. After the man and the hitchhiker got into a fight, the man threw him out of his car 2 miles away from his mother’s house on a busy highway. The man later came home to his mother’s house only to find the hitchhiker there. He left to go call police from a pay phone (this was before cell phones). The police found his mother dead in bed. The man was a beneficiary of a huge life insurance policy and was the prime suspect. The cops or anyone did not believe the man’s story. It was inconceivable that the hitchhiker, who did not know where the mother’s house was, could make a two mile journey with turns in a neighborhood to just randomly break in and kill the man’s mother, whom he didn’t know. But there was blood at the scene and a palm print on the staircase that was not the man’s nor the mother’s. After some investigation, people at a local Hardee’s did confirm that there was a man that fit the description looking to hitchhike. Still they just assumed the man had paid the other man to kill his mother.

15 years later after the invention of CODIS, the DNA was matched to a career criminal who definitely matched the description of the hitchhiker. After bringing him in, and interrogating him, the killer had no idea he had killed the mother of the man who gave him a ride. He simply walked through this neighborhood looking for a house that looked empty and his mother’s was the only one without the lights on.

7. Get This Woman a NASA Application

I’m a specialty Forensics investigator that focuses on fire and explosions. Somehow, a lady with a coffee can of gas, her husband’s asphalt covered work clothes, and a front load dryer, managed to turn the dryer into a rocket ship that launched through a plate glass window and 10 feet into the road. We have no known models that can demonstrate how the available materials were able to launch the dryer.

8. That is How You Lose Sleep

Forensic Engineer/Accident Reconstruction expert. We worked on a case where a hotel guest was sitting on the windowsill in a Las Vegas hotel, recording himself talking about the previous night’s events and as he was recording himself, he lost his balance and fell out of the window. It was an eighth floor window. The creepy part was that as he was freefalling the camera was still recording and he glanced at the camera one last time before hitting the ground.

RELATED: Check Out Our Documentary of Forensic Photographer Nick Marsh

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