Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NOAA does measure storm surge

One of the reasons people reject our evidence that Conner didn't wash ashore is the myth that the April 12 storm surge raised the water levels to unknown heights, and therefore it can't be proven that he didn't wash ashore.

The truth is, the 6-minute water level data collected by the NOAA does capture storm surges.  I've been making this point for years, and Sandy provides another opportunity to hammer it home.  Here are just two examples from NOAA stations in New York.  The red line is the observed water level, and the blue line is the predicted water level.  The green line is the difference between the predicted and the observed.

I had previously commented on the effects of the March 2011 Japan tsunami on the water levels in the San Francisco Bay.  Click here to read the full article.

To review, this is the chart for the Richmond station for April 11-13, 2003, showing the storm surge for the storm that hit the Bay area on April 12.  You can see just when the surge began and how large it was during the high tide on April 13, the day Conner was found.

It is well and good to hypothesize what might have happened on April 13, 2003; but it is necessary to be sure the objective data validates the hypothesis.  And the objective data does not validate the hypothesis that the April 12 storm surge produced unknown water levels.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why don't these issues matter?

Jane commented:
These are questions that have never been answered by the people who believe Scott Peterson is guilty:
How do you justify the failure of the MPD to promptly investigate:
1. the sightings of Laci walking in the neighborhood on the morning of Dec. 24?
2. the Harshman tip?
3. the Aponte tip?
4. the 3 men with the van seen by Diane Jackson?
5. the Croton watch and the woman who pawned it?
6. the use of the home computer between 8:40-8:45 on the morning of Dec. 24?
Jane, the answer I repeatedly get is, "they got the right man in the end, so it doesn't matter if they made some mistakes during the investigation."  And some praise the MPD for not letting themselves be distracted with this stuff, but keeping their focus on Scott, and it paid off.

These same people refuse to even admit that the Medina burglary occurred on the morning of the 24th.  Perhaps if they could take their blinders off long enough to admit that, they might start to take notice.

However, I have no idea what is necessary to get people to admit that the Medina burglary occurred in the morning of the 24th.  We've proven Todd could not have seen the mail inside the Medina mailbox and that he lied about where he was on the 24th. The Aponte tip links Todd directly with Laci on the morning of the 24th, and there is other evidence that Laci was alive on the 24th.

But because people can't be given a precise timeline when it all happened, and not every detail can be supplied, they refuse to take this evidence seriously.  Which is quite ironic given how many details Distaso flat-out admitted at trial the State couldn't provide.

There is still a $250,000 reward for information leading to Scott's exoneration.  There's also a $5,000 reward for the recovery of Laci's croton watch.  With so many people out there having enough information to benefit from these rewards, it's a real shame to let them go to waste.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What professional literature is there on bodies recovered from salt water?

RoseMontague commeted:
Let’s talk about how long Laci’s corpse was in the water. VOS says in his latest blog entry:“Laci Peterson could not have been in the sea for more than 14 days at the extreme outside. 16 weeks is impossible - there would remain only a few scattered bones of hers and nothing of the baby.” He links to a very good and appropriate study here called TR-09-2002. 
If you read the actual study, you can see it contradicts the claim made in the opening quote. In fact, it even shows a picture from the Fall experiment of a largely intact pig brought out of the water at 35 days. So what other literature is out there on time of death determination in bodies recovered from saltwater?
I don't agree with VOS that Laci was in the water 14 days at the extreme.  Evelyn Hernandez was missing 85 days and her remains were much more disarticulated than Laci's (112 days post mortem).  Both women had adipose tissue on the thighs and buttocks.  VOS seems to be ignoring the adipocere which takes weeks or months to form.

Estimating the post-mortem time period is by no means an exact science -- only a range can be determined, and that might not be 100% accurate as all conditions to which the body was subjected might not be known.  Galloway gave a 3-6 month estimate.  Interestingly, 3 months allows for Laci to still be alive as late as mid-January.

We've consulted a couple of sources to gain an understanding of the decomposition process, and especially for aqueous environments.

Forensic Taphonomy: the Postmortem fate of Human Remains by William Haglund and Marcella Sorg, 1996.  Click here for a list of all the chapters.  Of particular interest are chapters 29, 37 and 38.  You can copy the chapter titles into a google search and then should be able to access the entire chapters.

An Experimental Field Protocol for Investigating the Postmortem Interval Using Multidisciplinary Indicators, by Kenneth Schoenly, Ph.D.; Karen Griest, M. D.; and Stanley Rhine, Ph.D., found in Journal of Forensic Sciences, JFSCA, Vol. 36, No. 5, Sept. 1991, pp. 1395-1415.

Color Atlas of Forensic Pathology by Jay Dix.  It's exactly what it says -- a color atlas, meaning lots and lots of photos that are very gruesome.  Not something to read over lunch.

"Disappearance of Soft Tissue and the Disarticulation of Human Remains from Aqueous Environments," William Haglund, Journal of Forensic Sciences, JFSCA, Vol. 38, No. 4, July 1993, pp. 806-815.

There is some research ongoing on using Accumulative Degree Days (ADD) or Cumulative Degree Hours (CDH).  Click here for the source for the following, which provides information on using the presence of the decomposition chemicals to help determine PMI, but that wasn't done in Laci's case.

Accumulated Degree Days (ADDs), as described by Edwards et
al. (12), have typically been used for PMI determinations and are
determined by taking the sum of the average daily temperatures
(°C) for however long the corpse has been decomposing. For example,
one subject may require 4 days (assuming an average daily
temperature of 25°C) to attain an ADD score of 100, while another
subject, decomposing under cooler temperatures, may also obtain
an ADD score of 100, but which would require 20 days (assuming
a daily average temperature of 5°C) to attain the same decompositional
status and hence the same ratios of biomarkers in specific tissues.
This study indicates that ADDs are no longer sufficient to accurately
describe the narrowing PMIs. A more accurate technique,
based on ADDs, is the use of cumulative degree hours (CDHs).
This uses a twelve hour temperature cycle to describe the decompositional
process. Instead of using daily average temperatures, the
average temperature (°C) for each twelve hour interval is cumulatively
added to attain the CDH. For example, if maximum temperature
(30°C) is reached at noon every day and minimum temperature
(10°C) is reached every day at midnight, then in a 24 h period
(one day) the CDH would be 40 CDHs (30 + 10)/2 = 20 for the
first 12 h -- noon to midnight and (10 + 30)/2 = 20 from midnight
to noon for the second twelve h interval resulting in 20 + 20 = 40

I think these are the major works regarding decomposition, especially in salt water.