Hidden Science in CSI: Las Vegas Season 10, Episode 10

19 03 2010

Better Off Dead

In this episode the team tries to find out the truth about how a major shootout at a gun store might connect to a young woman who may have committed suicide, who was involved in a suicide pact.

Now let’s look at the science involved in this episode

1. Autopsy

The body of Carrie Warren is examined by a pathologist by doing an external autopsy. An evidence of a bullet shot is found during the autopsy.

There is a big wound on her head that looked like a wound from a gunshot. The team finds a bottle of milk in Carrie Warren’s bedroom along with milk vomit stain on the side of the bed.

One of the investigators collect the milk sample for DNA analysis. There is another autopsy done with Carrie’s dog. A bullet is extracted from the dog. Lack of outer response in the surrounding tissue showed that he was shot postmortem.

Further autopsy revealed that the German Shepard of Carrie was poisoned to death, and the same poison is found in the milk. Carrie’s stomach, on the other hand, was clean. It turned out that Carrie’s boyfriend, named Sam, who had Carrie’s key, which is known because there was no sign of forced entry, poisoned the dog to death to make it be quiet, and killed Carrie with her own gun. However, this was wrong. It turned out that the vomit was Sam’s, and he tried to commit suicide in Carrie’s room, and it failed. The dog drank the rest of the milk.

2. Bullet

Bullet analysis done showed how the Two grooves showed that the bullet went pass Carrie’s head, bounced off, and hit the dog.

Also, bullet analysis done by an expert showed that the bullet is only used in rare types of guns. At that point, the investigator who was investigating the shootout at the store says that he found that gun at the scene. It is found that it is the same gun by comparing the serial number, and a piece of skin that was stuck at the back of the gun, because the criminal blocked the slide, shows who that belongs to.

This told the two investigators that they are looking for the same criminal, named John Rakow. John Rakow lives right behind Carrie’s lawn, which made it evident that the two crimes are related. However, interview with John Rakow showed that he was trying to protect Carrie using that gun. The man doesn’t have a scar from the gun, and his shoes are too big to fit in the sneakers that left footprints at the store. The skin from the gun turned out to be Carrie’s after DNA analysis, which tells that Carrie also tried to commit suicide

So this whole crime was thought to be about a suicide pact made between a couple. Sam and Carrie tried to commit suicide together, but both failed. However, it was all because of jealousy. Sam tried to get Carrie to see him dead, but he saw Carrie dead on the floor when he woke up. Carrie saw her dog dead, and committed suicide. Sam tried to save her life. However, on the way, Carrie fell out of the car and died. Wanting to die with Carrie, Sam went to the gun shop. Not knowing that the gun was jammed, he thought he was out of bullets. The owner of the shop did not give him bullets, so he threatened her, which led to the whole shootout. However, ironically, he came out alive. After finding out about Carrie’s death, John Rakow decides to kill Sam and breaks into Sam’s house. Sam’s dad, noticing how serious the situation is, tells Sam to take whatever he wants. He only takes eight dollars, which is spent to buy the ticket to the tower Sam and Carrie used to go often. He tries to commit suicide, but John Rakow holds him back, trying to kill him. Later, when John lets him go, he jumps off the tower, but he lands on a cushion prepared.

Forensic Pathologist

3 03 2010

Pathology is the study of disease. Forensic Pathologists are specialists in medical field concerned with pathology that focuses on the investigation of sudden or unexpected death of victims.

The pathologists …

  • Determine cause of death
  • Do forensic examination of the body
  • Identify absence/presence of disease from tissue samples
  • Examine post mortem wounds and injuries
  • Collect evidence to give to criminalists, toxicologists, or others for specialist analysis
  • Carry out investigation with other speicialists
  • Act as an expert witness in civil or criminal proceedings

(From www.all-about-forensic-science.com)

Out of all the things pathologists do, the most important thing is examining patterns of injury to figure out the cause of the victim’s death. They conduct an autopsy to figure out what happened to the victims of crimes. Above, is a picture of actual forensic pathologists conducting an autopsy. Autopsy is a postmortem examination done to discover the cause of death. Yes, it is a little disgusting for commoners to look at :(, but this is what they do! This is why you need a strong stomach! You will be encountering numerous rotting corpses. I think there is no job that is makes you sicker than forensic pathologist.

Forensic pathologists spend their day performing autopsies, gaining data from investigating officers, and testifying at the court. It is very rare for a pathologist to visit a crime scene, even though some may visit sometimes. Besides working to solve the mystery of the crime, forensic pathologists also examine patterns of injury in the living . This is important in saving people’s lives and in increasing the possibility later developments of cure.

If you want to become a forensic pathologist, you should take courses to meet prerequisites for med school. You do not necessarily have to major in science, though you are encouraged to take biochemistry and psychology.

In order to become a forensic pathologist, you need four years of college education(gain a bachelor’s degree), four years of medical school education(gain MD), four or five years of residency, and 1 or 2 years of forensic pathology fellowship. It takes minimum thirteen years, after high school graduation, to become a forensic pathologist. You will be over 30 years old by then! 😮 If you want to be a forensic pathologist, you should really rethink if you are not the person who wants to study as long as they studied in elementary, middle, and high school.

Even though you have to suffer a lot to become a forensic pathologist, it will be rewarding. The hours will be better than other physicians, and you will never be bored at work! Pay is not that great compared to other physicians though. You will make about $60,000 to $180,000 depending on your skills, experience, area, and responsibility.