The Morgue: A Pictorial Journey
Jodi found the body lying beside the path, her favorite jogging trail. She stopped for a closer look, thinking that maybe her mind was up to its usual nighttime tricks—another boogeyman or zombie that turned out to be a bush, or a trash bag filled with leaves left by the park’s “mow, blow, and go” guys. After all, there was no moon, and the closest streetlight was awfully far away. And the shadows, well, they were long, and pretty dark. But this bush had…yes, those are arms and legs and…a head! It was a man. A dead man. Blood. There was so much of it. A knife on the ground. Don’t touch it. Run! Run and then call 911. Yes, 911.
She stood there talking to the detective, but her mind was now focusing on the coroner and his investigators as they loaded the body into the back of the van, shoving it inside as if it were no more than a roll of new carpet. They closed the rear doors, and the one who looked like a stump with arms and legs climbed into the driver’s seat. The brake lights flashed for a second, painting the pavement behind the van a faint red. Then it was gone, leaving a trail of wispy steam in its wake. She wondered what would happen next. I mean, what do they do with murder victims? Where do they take the bodies?
*Warning. Images below are graphic and may not be suitable for some readers and/or children. Please exit if images of death upset or offend you. We’ve posted this this particular piece solely to assist writers with their research.
The body is weighed, sometimes by rolling the gurney onto a set of digital floor scales.
Bodies are placed inside a cold room, or cooler until autopsy.
The body is brought into the autopsy room.
The gurney carrying the body is positioned in front of a station such as this one.
Side view of same station.
Scales for weighing organs.
A pathologist’s tool kit.
Suturing the rear scalp after examining the brain.
The “Y” incision is closed post autopsy, and the body is released to a funeral home. (Top left is the neck, presenting a ligature mark. Bottom left of photo is the victim’s right, upper chest area).
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Sure, SZ, but that’s a bit different (I believe) than what Elizabeth is asking. I think she’s inquiring about an ordinary John or Jane Doe asking if they could view an autopsy just because it’s something they’d like to see. Not as a pathology student, police academy recruit, medical student, etc.
I dont think I would want to watch an autopsy, however as Elizabeth asked, if you are in school, or if it was an interest, aren’t there times when a body is donated to science, or a release has been made so a class can view and learn ?
Another great post, Lee. I also expected more gruesome pictures and was glad not too. I’ve seen Detectives Joseph Paglino and Mauro Corvasce’s slideshow (they are the homicide detectives who wrote Murder One and Modus Operandi) and after that nothing it gory, let me tell you.
I love that you showed and explained the room and all the equipment. The pictures give me a chance to describe things in my stories. Description is my weakest writing area.
Thanks, Lee, for the post. It’s good to get a look into an area that most of us (thankfully!) will never venture.
Again, my hats are off to those professionals who make sense of such…senselessness.
Elizabeth – As a rule, no. But I’ve known it to happen for various reasons, so you could always ask. But there’s no “right” to attend. Remember, the body is evidence of a crime so it must be protected from contamination, etc. Besides, the people in the profession try to be as respectful to the victim and the family as possible. To have just anyone in there witnessing would be in poor taste, I’d think.
Interesting to get an “inside” look at the room. Can a member of the public (such as me) view an autopsy? When a corpse requires an autopsy, whether from suspected foul play or as a non-hospital death, does the corpse or the family of the corpse lose their privacy rights?
SZ – All suspicious deaths require an autopsy. However, authorities sometimes consider beliefs of certain religions, But that’s not the norm. A family cannot simply say, “No.”
LEM – I thought that was a good stopping point… 🙂
Thank you for not showing the scalp being reflected, that one always gets me a little queasy.
This is extremely important, showing this process. Thank you so much. These photos are well done. As the previous poster put, I expected much gorier photos – which is not to say I am disappointed. This was graphic enough. 🙂
Not as super gore as expected. Do murder victims have automatic autopsies or does a family still have rights ? Is it state to state ?