Answer Key


1. The encoded parchment that lines the interior of the corpse, exhumed either rectally with pliers or cast in plaster by filling the corpse through the mouth, rectum or directly by injection into the stomach, is known as the Gastrointestinal Scroll

2. The Brain. Once expired, the brain grows turgid, swells with everything from unchanneled emotions to disagreeable thoughts to languages the person had been unable to comprehend in life. It is important to extract the swollen brain, weigh it, and tap it for the whereabouts of the corpse’s friends, family and 'noteworthy acquaintances.' Be careful not to place it over your hand, for you might be puppeted unknowingly, ascribing to your own brain thoughts the deceased brain has leaked into you. 

3. Bite Marks. It is often difficult to prove for certain that the deceased has not bitten her own face, back, ankles, thighs, genitals, anus, cheek, breast, armpit etc... So, to do this a mold must be made of the bite of the deceased. This can be done by placing a steak or lump of bread into the mouth of the corpse and working its jaw with your joint crank or rib splitter. To harvest the bite, dip the steak, bread (some pathologists have used corresponding body parts on other corpses they’ve had laying around, but this is not recommended as it could lead to a bite loop in which it is forgotten which corpse bit which and all the bites are then molded. Bite loops have been known to go on for months...) in plaster, beer batter or silicon and wait several hours. You should now have a replica of the mouth of the deceased. Superimpose this replica over the initial bite mark and look for similarities. 

4. The framework into which you must pour the contents of the corpse is known as narrative. The deceased is telling you a story, usually a long and convoluted one. To begin the narrative of the deceased, try using short prepositional phrases like “On the morning of...” or “In a field [lake, river] 2.5 miles outside...” or combine these. “On the morning of [place date here], in a field [lake, river] 2.5 miles north of [place name of major American city here], the body of [place name once ascribed to the corpse here] was found dismembered in [place number pieces here]....”  Your narrative must go several pages and be filed as your report. 

5. The vomiting of organs. It must be assumed that any empty corpse, in the act of dying, purged itself of its own organs as it also expelled its urine, feces and bile. It is very unlikely that someone else removed the organs as this is disgusting and there aren’t many people qualified nor capable of doing so. 

6. It is very unlikely that the corpse you are examining did not in some way contribute to its own demise, so it is next to impossible to rule out suicide or accidental death in any case. Before ascribing foul play to the data produced by the corpse, look at the face of the deceased. Does he look stupid? Does he look dumb enough to maybe, accidentally, back into the jigsaw? Did he maybe fire six or seven rounds into his own rectum? Might he have chopped off his own feet? Consult the gastrointestinal scroll. Pour over it, for it is there that you will find the instructions on how to produce a corpse exactly like this one. 

7. NO. It is not recommended that you produce similar injuries on say your wife or a homeless man (hobo) when trying to figure out what caused a mysterious mark. You have at your disposal some 12-100 corpses in the morgue at any one time. If you feel you need to burn something, burn one of them. If it proves not to be a burn mark, try a serrated knife. Label the marks you produce on other corpses to avoid falling into a loop of desecration--the families who own the corpse, for whom you work as an interpreter, want their corpse as ’mark-free’ as possible. 

8. Gaze Tracing. The eyes remain fixed in their sockets just as they were set at the time of death. Placing a laser pointer behind the eye and shining light through it will illustrate without a doubt the trajectory of the gaze at the time of death. Graph your gaze trace onto any photos or other visual representations of the accident/suicide/crime scene. This will show you how another might have come at the victim. If the vectors you graph appear to come from another set of eyes outside the body (as is usually the case), or the eyes are rolled back into the head, use this as further evidence of accident or suicide. 


Out fly fishing in Lickham Creek, two boys come running into town screaming that they’ve found somebody ‘in rough shape’ down by the water. You are the first to arrive at the scene. What do you do?

Sample. First I unpack my van. I set up my tent under the big tree and out front I put out my table with all my gear and wares. Then I make coffee and put out doughnuts, for the cops will be hungry when they get there with their gloves and flashlights. I start a campfire, careful not to ignite the body. My fire should be several feet from the body. Then I ignite my anti-dog flares as dogs have been known to make off with important, eloquent body parts and organs. I encircle the camp with tape, careful not to tape over the body, and place sticks and string in rows like in the movies. This will create a grid in which only forensic professionals may wander, keeping out pesky pedestrians and bicyclists with cameras and strange appetites. Then I get down to work. With my drumstick or pliers (never my finger, tongue or penis), I probe the rectum of the deceased until a tiny scrap of paper protrudes as from a fortune cookie. This is the easy-peel tab of the gastrointestinal scroll. If the tab breaks as I peel, I pour 20 gallons of quick-hardening plaster into one of three orifices (remembering I must inject the plaster with my syringe if I choose the stomach ) and wait for it to harden. Then I peel the corpse away from the casting and read it by running my hands over its surface. Either way, I read the instructions remembering always that they are instructions and not really a record of ‘what has actually happened.’ I am to interpret these instructions as best I can by referencing my forensic hermeneutics manual. Then I sit with the cops and tell stories. We camp out all night. Sometime in the night, a sound of violent wind is heard. I am to reassure the police that this is the final stage of language evacuation from the corpse and go outside with my windsock. Once I have collected the corpse’s wind, I must tie the sock closed and bring everything back to the lab, paying special attention not to forget or lose the corpse, itself.


Interpret the following passages from a gastrointestinal scroll (Feel free to consult your Forensic Hermeneutics manual):

On Thursday, Charlie told me to just stay home and wait it out. So, I emptied the cupboards and washed all the pans and cookware. I scraped rat shit from inside the cupboards with a piece of heavy cardboard. Then I ran vinegar through the coffee maker. The fumes bothered me a little, so I went into the other room and laid down. Through the walls, I could hear Jeff and Monica fucking. I felt at that moment very alone without Charlie and wished, somehow, someone, a camp leader, some other girl, had maybe instructed me on the art of masturbation. But no one ever had. I touched myself, but without pleasure, without purpose. Jeff and Monica fucked for a long time, but I only scraped at my clit a few minutes. I went to the study and buried my head in some reading. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore and took down the blinds. They were filthy with dust and a residue of nicotine from Charlie’s cigars. The sun had come around to this side of the house and I saw Jeff and Monica traipsing around the back yard, chasing each other. Light blasted through the windows at me, warmed my front, my breasts, my stomach, but my ass and back, the back of my thighs, my calves, how they ached with cold. “I’ll have to get a putty knife to scrape this shit off,” I hissed.
Sample: On the morning of August 13, 1996, in a field 2.5 miles north of Albany, one June MacRae was found dead apparently of head trauma, as it (her head) was missing and presumed squashed or burned. . . 

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