| From: Terri (MALI40)
After nothing about the case for a few days,
I picked up todays paper from the lawn and there were
three articles on the front page regarding the case.
Below is one of the stories - Thank you Terri
Laci's remains raise mutilation questions
By GARTH STAPLEY and JOHN COTÉ
BEE STAFF WRITERS
Published: May 25, 2003
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to
some readers. Laci Peterson's body was recovered without a head and feet,
two separate sources close to the double-murder investigation said Friday.
One source added that significant parts of the torso were missing as well.
"There were no organs, no skin, nothing from the belly button up to the chest area,"said
a source familiar with the autopsy report, which a judge has sealed from public review.
Two forensic experts, however -- without having seen the autopsy -- offered differing opinions
on whether the body might have been mutilated before being dumped in San Francisco Bay.
The body of Laci, 27, and her unborn son were found along the bay's eastern shore in mid-
April, about four months after the then-pregnant Laci had gone missing from her Modesto home.
Divers, who had been searching the bay for evidence the last eight days,
quit early Friday afternoon and were not expected to resume before Tuesday.
Authorities have said they will seek the death penalty against Scott Peterson, 30. He has been
charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife and their unborn son, Conner.
"The absence of parts of (Laci Peterson's) body says to me it was dismembered before
being placed in the water," said Dr. Michael Baden. He is a New York forensic pathologist
who worked on O.J. Simpson's defense team and helped Chandra Levy's family after
the Modesto woman's remains were found in Washington, D.C.
Killers sometimes dismember bodies to make it easier to dispose of them, Baden said.
But Dr. Gregory Schmunk, Santa Clara County coroner, said news of the headless
torso "doesn't surprise me at all." He said it is perfectly natural for
tidal activity, boat propellers and feeding animals to break apart bodies.
"This is the normal type of thing we see," Schmunk said.
Baden disagreed, saying extremities are known to separate in water --but not in four months.
In the past two weeks, he has presided over six autopsies of people who drowned or were
killed in the winter, and whose bodies floated up as spring temperatures produce more
decomposition gases. "None of them was dismembered," he said.
"Usually (a body) stays together pretty good," Baden continued, adding that marine
animals normally do not chew through tough ligaments holding bones together. "After a
while (separation occurs), yes, but not after four months -- not even after four years."
Schmunk said speculation of mutilation is not warranted until borne out by the autopsy report.
"This is very common in a water environment when the body is in it for a long period of time,"
Schmunk said. "When you hear about a body without a head, you think, 'It must have
been decapitated, it was a heinous crime.' That's not to say it wasn't horrible,
but it's also not to say that anybody decapitated her. Nature probably did it."
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