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domestic violence 3

Storage Locker

“I don’t know why I made the payments on that stupid storage locker,” the woman said, her frosted lips pouting. The interview had drawn to an end. The FBI agent closed the folder in front of him, standing up to see her out. “Even before I paid the gas and electric. It was that important to him,” Brandi continued, shaking […]

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When He Snapped

Afterward, no one could explain why he had done it. It happened while Ashley was watching television, an after-school cartoon, Rugrats, maybe, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, sitting cross-legged on the carpet, her face inches from the screen. Her mother would have scolded her for ruining her eyes or absorbing harmful radiation or not doing her homework. But her mother […]

mass disaster 9


“What’s going on?” I asked. There was an angry edge to my voice as I watched the bodies being laid on the floor — two hundred and twenty eight of them. “I don’t know, Doc,” answered Kaholo, my pathology assistant, as he put on a butcher’s apron. His torso was thick and so were his biceps. He was having trouble […]

murder 6


The Orange Crush. It sounds like an athletic team or a sparkling refreshment. Certainly not an elite division of prison guards. Not the name of an organized effort to control the incarcerated. Yet, that is what has been identified in a class action suit filed by inmates against the Illinois Department of Corrections. In an article from the Chicago Defender […]

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La Petite Morte

Evelyn had arrived early for the meeting. The curtains were closed on the first floor windows of the motel room. It didn’t matter. The only view was an empty parking lot, on this weekday at lunchtime. A Reader’s Digest lay abandoned on an end table next to a plastic cup of water. Rumpled linens covered the bed, spilling partway to […]

murder 4

The Canal

“Will there be girls?” the teen asked eagerly, brushing red bangs from his forehead. “Copy that,” crackled the radio followed by, “but it’s not at my home 20.” Eddie huddled next to his roommate who was speaking into the handheld. He raised his eyebrows and mouthed, “What’s he mean?” Their garage was base station for this new hobby – Citizens […]

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The Farmer

“How long was he out there?” I asked my assistant, who was unzipping the body bag. An aroma of mildew mixed with the sour tang of blood assailed me. The man was face down on the gurney, left in the same position in which he was found. “Two weeks,” Paul answered. “The trooper said the 15-year old son found the […]

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B.I.T.C.H. Part 2

The courtroom felt stuffy like an airplane cabin on a transatlantic flight. The defense attorney continued to bark questions at me. Jurors shifted in their seats. At times, a prosecutor objected and the judge would intervene — the referee in a game of words. Counsel spent time asking about each scratch and bump on the decedent, trying to attribute any one of them to a more benign event than the murder. As the medical examiner that had performed her autopsy, I knew the intimate details of the injuries that had claimed her life. She had been savagely attacked, sexually assaulted, and then run over in the road. This lawyer had a hard case to defend. The victim’s blood, and brain matter […]

court room 0


Tick, tick, tick, tick. The circular clock’s second hand made its way to the hour of 3:00. I had been waiting 45 minutes in this windowless room, seated on an inflexible metal folding chair. The overhead panel lighting cast a yellowish glow over the papers on the table in front of me. I looked over the ten pages, five times, […]

Uncategorized 8


Dark hair was matted to the little girl’s head. Her lips were dried and cracked, her eyes sunken. Amina was gaunt, and less than fifth percentile for height and weight. Despite her olive-toned skin, she was pale. She lay lifeless on the morgue table. I sharpened my pencil, preparing to take notes. Feeling sluggish, I thought about stopping for a […]

air crash 8

The Spider

People arrived, in groups of twos and threes, faces anxious. Looking rumpled as if they’d slept in the airport after a cancelled flight. Hair lackluster, makeup smeared, skin pale. They spoke in whispers, with an occasional sob. The families of the victims of TWA Flight 800, had come to identify the personal belongings of their loved ones. Large cafeteria tables […]

domestic violence 11

Watching her

The song starts simply, with drums, double bass, and acoustic guitar. Gordon Sumner’s beautiful tenor joins the music at the 15-second mark. “Every breath you take” was a huge hit for The Police, winning in the category ‘Best Song’ at the 1983 Grammy Awards. Consequently, it is on the radio a lot, even now, twenty years after it was first […]

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“Hi, you’ve reached John and Kelly. We’re not here to take your call right now, so leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” The voice is cheery like the one we all use for our phone tags. I listen to these reminders of the recently departed life with momentary panic. The hair stands […]

Post mortem 2


Dots of sweat gather above my industrial safety glasses. Overhead lights glimmer, reflecting on the stainless steel of the table. The air is humid despite the air-conditioning, and heat emanates in waves. A butcher’s apron over my surgical scrubs lays heavily at my neck, the waistband tied too tightly. Privacy-glass windows, along one wall, above my head, reveal the dark […]