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In most murder cases, the initial breakthrough usually comes in the medical laboratory. For instance: Over a period of years, a 10-year-old boy had been feeding his aunt slow doses of arsenic. Since the little boy looked like an angel, no one suspected what was going on. When "Aunty" finally died her death was attributed to natural causes and she was given a proper burial. But ' 'Aunty" was a pretty rich old girl and the family was soon squabbling over her money. Finally, one relative charged foul play, though the little nephew was the last one suspected. The aunt's body was exhumed. A chemical analysis of the hair, the bones and the fingernails revealed heavy doses of arsenic. This breakthrough came fast, due partially to' a new laboratory technique perfected by Dr. Rudolph J. Muelling Pr., associate professor of pathology at the Louisiana State university medical school. ALWAYS ON HUNT Dr. Muelling, who is chief pathologist and chief toxicologist for the coroner's office, is constantly trying to improve laboratory techniques. He is always on the hunt for instruments which will help bring about more rapid detection, faster diagnosis of suspicious cases. According to Dr. William W. Frye, dean of the medical school, helias done such a grand job he has actually helped make the local coroner's office one of the best in the nation. What are some of these new techniques? We can't tell you. Dr. Nicholas Chetta, coroner for Orleans parish, said this it the one thing which has to be kept a deep, dark secret. "It would never do for us to tip our hands to the criminals," said the coroner. "These criminals are smart boys. They are constantly try in gto outwit us." Dr. Chetta recalled the case of one smart boy who didn't get away with it. "This guy strangled his girl friend," said the coroner. "When tie saw what he had done he decided he would have to think up some way of hiding the marks of strangulation on her throat. So he wet a silk scarf which she was wearing around her neck, tie one end of the j. wet scarf to an electric fan plug, then plugged in the fan." PLOT BACKFIRES Dr. Chetta said the whole idea was to prove that the young woman had been accidentally! electrocuted. But the plat backfired, he added. Only one side of the victim's neck was burned. The marks of strangulation were quite obvious. It was "curtains'* for the boy friend. The coroner said there was also the case of the jealous woman who stabbed her boyfriend in the heart with a hat pin. A slow heart leak developed. Finally, the sac containing the heart became filled up and the heart stopped beating. When police arrived on the scene, Dr. Chetta added, there was no particular signs of foul play. The stab wound 'of the heart was so tiny it did not show up during a gross examination of the body. But when the "lab" boys got busy—these conscientious path-ologists who sometimes work weeks on end tracking down suspicious angles—it was a dif-' ferent tory. An autopsy revealed the tiny stab wound. Police were notified that death was not due to natural causes. With this lead they were able to trace the murder to the vengeful blonde. Or take the case of the woman who died from pneumonia. Nothing very unusual about that. But since death was sudden, an autopsy was perforpned. It revealed that 10 ribs had been broken. The ribs had fractured the1 lungs, bringing on the pneumonia. A police investigator turned up the fact that the worn-, an's husband had inflicted a fatal beating. Dr. Muelling, who is sometimes referred to as a "chemical detective," believes it is just as important tp get innocent people off the hook as it is to point the finger to the guilty. "Our chief problem in he lab is that we do not know what causes death," the pathologist explained. "So we more or less have to start from scratch. First we do general scans, running a test of^blood, urine, hair, kidneys, fingernails. If anything shows up during this initial examination we carry on a more detailed one." Dr. Muelling said when a person dies under suspicious circumstances all the pills and medicine found on the premises are brought into the laboratory where they are identified. One wall oi the "lab" contains a fascinating display of pills, each one carefully identified. "You can't combine large doses of barbiturates and large amounts of liquor," the pathologist added. "If you do you may find yourself dead by morning." OBJECTS AT SCENE In one corner of the lab at the coroner's office is a closet filled with various objects found at various murder scenes, Such murder weapons as butcher knives, scissors, hatchets, guns. Also tied up and carefully tagged are a mattress, a bed pan and a toy monkey. Both Dr. Chetta and Dr. Muel- ling admit that during an important murder case the going gets pretty rough at time. On one famous murder, they recalled, they worked night and day for three weeks. Another case lasted over two months. High praise of the work being done by the pathologists in the coroner's office was voiced Wednesday" by the dean of the LSU medical school. "Our coroner's office in New Orleans has become nationally known for the excellence of its program," said Dr. Frye. "Physicians from all sections of the nation and from many foreign countries visit the coroner's office each year. And all are high in their praises." Dr. Frye seemed especially pleased with the worl$ being done by Dr. Muelling in improving laboratory techniques. The dean said Dr. Muelling is not the only member of the LSU staff connected with the coroner's office. PART TIME WORK "We have several staff members who do part-time work out there," he added. "In addition to serving in the laboratory, these professors give lectures to our students on various phases of forensic medicine. It is a co-operative program. It not only aids in the training of our future pathol-ogists, it is also good for the medical student who expects to go into general practice After all every medical student should understand the function of the private physician in terms of coron-sr's cases." Dr. Frye said "we feel we have a definite obligation to assist in any way possible to develop an area such as the coroner's office, which is a community effort, And as I pointed out it also gives an Dpportunity for research training) in the field of forensice medicine."
|Title||Lab's new techniques aid crime breakthrough: Method Perfected by LSU Pathologist|
|Contact Information||John P Isché Library - LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans - 433 Bolivar St. New Orleans, LA 70112 ~ Send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org|
Department of Pathology and Bacteriology
Chetta, Nicholas John, Dr.
Muelling, Rudolph, Dr., Jr.
|Call Number||1959 p127-128|
|Identifier||See 'reference url' on the navigational bars.|
|Source||John P Isché Library - LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans ~ www.lsuhsc.edu/no/library|
|Coverage-Spatial||New Orleans (La.)|
|Rights||Use is restricted to IP address of LSUHSC - New Orleans|