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Old May 11th, 2015, 11:28 AM   #1
Trevor Marriott
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Default The Cachous

In an attempt to try to resolve the issues surrounding the cachous and Stride being found still gripping them I posed several questions to my forensic pathologist.

The questions and his interesting replies are set out below

Q One of the victims who had her throat cut was found still clutching cachous "firmly" in her hand. Is there any plausible explanations of this, bearing in mind if she were standing when her throat was cut would they not fall out or would there be some form of spasm which would make her grip them tight, and hold onto them, and would this be different if she had her throat cut whilst laying on the ground?

A. One of the phenomena handed down through the generations in forensic folklore is so-called “cadaveric spasm”. This is supposed to be where the normal stiffening of a dead body after death doesn’t take several hours to develop, but occurs “instantaneously” at the point of death. Classically sited examples are things like soldiers being found on the battlefield “clutching” their weapons or bodies recovered from water with bits of grass, weed or straw clutched in the hand… hence the expression “a drowning man will clutch at a straw”.

I think most forensic pathologists these days don’t believe that such “instantaneous” rigor mortis really happens, although it is known that rigor can develop very quickly after death. So it is possible that someone can die holding onto something, and by the time they are found (even only a short time later) the fingers can feel quite stiff around the object being grasped. I doubt anyone would refer to it as “cadaveric spasm” these days, but you will see it recorded in the books.

For the case you mentioned, there would be no difference (i.e. between lying or standing) than can reliably be inferred from such a finding. All it means is that she was probably holding them at the time of death, and they were still there by the time she was found and rigor mortis had already started. This is not unusual… the modern equivalent would be a driver found inside a mangled car, still clutching a mobile phone tightly (with a half-typed text message on the screen).

I hope that clarifies the situation, even though I know it probably doesn’t help take you much further.

www.trevormarriott.co.uk
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Old May 11th, 2015, 05:35 PM   #2
Lynn Cates
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Hello Trevor. Thanks for posting this reply.

I think that leaves us with:

1. Although not a cadaveric spasm, one CAN grip tightly if one makes a movement towards the throat.

2. One CANNOT hold on when being bounced against the ground.

Cheers.
LC
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Old May 11th, 2015, 05:57 PM   #3
Howard Brown
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Thanks for this information, Trevor.
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Old May 11th, 2015, 07:14 PM   #4
Wicker Man
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According to current forensic pathology, Cadaveric Spasms are not related to Rigor Mortis, they occur prior to the onset of Rigor. The reason for the spams, and its early appearance is unknown, except that Cadaveric Spasms occur at point of death due to a violent episode or a period of intense emotion.

Current thinking on the Cadaveric Spasm is available in a paper:
Postmortem Changes and Time of Death, Dr. Joseph A. Prahlow, Dr. Roger W. Byard 2012.
There are steps that can be taken to distinguish between a Spasm and the onset of Rigor, these steps are outlined in a paper entitled:
Postmortem Changes and Time of Death, Derrick J Pounder, 1995.

This link offers a brief summary.
http://www.ehow.com/how_2221120_dist...ric-spasm.html
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Old May 11th, 2015, 07:23 PM   #5
Wicker Man
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Cates View Post

2. One CANNOT hold on when being bounced against the ground.

Cheers.
LC
What if they were the last cachous on Earth?
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The theory that the murderer is a lunatic is dispelled by the opinion given to the police by an expert in the treatment of lunacy patients......."If he's insane
" observed the medical authority, "he's a good deal sharper than those who are not".
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Old May 11th, 2015, 08:07 PM   #6
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Thanks Jon !
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Old May 12th, 2015, 03:26 AM   #7
Lynn Cates
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Hello Jon. Thanks.

And made of gold? (heh-heh)

cheers.
LC
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Old May 12th, 2015, 08:32 AM   #8
Cris Malone
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Why did you tell your "expert" that she was still clutching the cachous "firmly" in her hand?
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Old May 12th, 2015, 09:00 AM   #9
Jon Simons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wicker Man View Post
What if they were the last cachous on Earth?
They were Stride`s last cachous on earth.
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Old May 12th, 2015, 09:54 AM   #10
Lynn Cates
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Hello Cris. Precisely. They were held between thumb and forefinger. Rather tenuous, it would seem.

Cheers.
LC
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