Case Studies in Drowning Forensics

Kevin Gannon, D. Lee Gilbertson

© 2014 - CRC Press
Published March 7, 2014
Reference - 462 Pages - 215 Color Illustrations
ISBN 9781439876640 - CAT# K13561

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  • Presents 14 real cases thoroughly analyzed by the authors
  • Challenges the findings of law enforcement agencies and medical examiners
  • Takes an interdisciplinary approach, linking evidence not only to the scene, but to the other kinds of evidence
  • Presents a step-by-step list of things that need to be immediately done when a person is reported missing, during the continued search effort, and after the body is recovered
  • Provides lists of questions that must be answered in an investigation and a sample victim profile statistic sheet
  • Includes diagrams of anatomical descriptors, postmortem artifacts, and the taxonomy of drowning scenarios


When a corpse is found in a body of water, authorities generally presume that the manner of death was either an accident or a suicide. They do not treat the recovery site as a potential crime scene or homicide, so many cases remain unsolved. Case Studies in Drowning Forensics investigates the cases of 13 bodies recovered from water in similar circumstances and one survivor. The product of intensive field investigation and archival research, this is the first book that presents and explains forensic autopsy evidence associated with the "Smiley Face" murders.

Each chapter begins with background information on the victim in the case and discusses when and where the victim was last seen and how the body was recovered. This is followed by in-depth analysis of the evidence found and the peculiarities of each case. Gannon and Gilbertson challenge authorities’ determinations regarding cause and manner of death by critically examining autopsy, toxicology, and law enforcement reports and photographs. They also reveal evidence not previously made public—including search efforts, cell phone records, GPS data, and additional drug tests. Building on each successive case study, they explain relationships among postmortem artifacts in a graphic format.

Presenting the inside truth on the circumstances and the evidence, the book enables readers to determine for themselves whether the deaths of these young men were accidents or homicides.


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