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Rose Tyson Seminar in the Forensic Sciences

Sep 28, 2013 – 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

We are pleased to announce the San Diego Museum of Man’s upcoming Rose Tyson 20th Seminar in the Forensic Sciences! The seminar promises to be exciting and educational as it features guest lecturers who specialize in various fields of forensics, including forensic anthropology, odontology, and entomology.

The Rose Tyson 20th Seminar in the Forensic Sciences will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2013, at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The Museum of Man is hosting this day-long seminar for the anthropology, medical, and legal communities, students, and anyone interested in the forensic sciences.

2013 Forensics Seminar Flyer


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20th Seminar in the Forensic Sciences Abstracts

Further Considerations of Moche Bloodletting
Alana Cordy-Collins, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of San Diego
Rose Tyson, M.A., Curator Emerita, San Diego Museum of Man

The ancient Moche occupied the north coast of Peru, AD 200-800. At the site of Dos Cabezas, in the Jequetepeque Valley, remains of 18 human crania were excavated from El Cuarto de los Craneos, a temple complex room. Some of the crania retained their mandibles and/or cervical vertebrae. Four crania with cervical vertebrae had small cut marks on the anterior surface of the vertebrae.

The fine-line drawings on the Moche ceramic vessels provide scenes of the decapitation of prisoners and the collection of blood in tall goblets. There is archaeological evidence that decapitation took place during Moche times, but the act of collecting blood is problematical. Recent work by other investigators has shown that cut marks from throat slitting and cut marks from decapitation are different. Those from El Cuarto de los Craneos do not show the decapitation cut marks found on the posterior surface of the vertebrae. Instead, the cut marks on the anterior vertebrae may be a result of the search for the carotid artery.


Forensic Anthropology: Current Student Perspectives into Graduate Study
Susy A. Cruz, BA; Angela L. Khalil, BA; Jennifer M. Mantie, BA; and Raquel M. Reynaga, BA

The field of forensic anthropology has been rapidly increasing in popularity during the last several years. This trend of heightened interest exhibits a need for clarity and an educated understanding of the field due to the “CSI Effect” and a lack of legitimate information regarding forensic sciences in general. This presentation emphasizes the importance of education, research, and interdisciplinary cooperation through the perspectives of current forensic anthropology graduate students at California State University – Los Angeles. We hope to educate and inspire current and future students by providing a clear understanding of the field and highlighting forensic anthropology programs available. We will present a comprehensive and personal look at what it takes to be a forensic anthropology graduate student, including: what to expect, the importance of networking and internships, developing yourself as a professional, and how to do so successfully. This increased interest in forensic anthropology is an excellent opportunity to introduce prospective students to the reality of working and researching in this field. Establishing informed students would help to maintain a higher retention rate in graduate programs, benefitting the field as a whole.

What Are We Really Measuring? Understanding the Complex Development of Musculoskeletal Stress Markers
Gereme O. Gaffney, University College Cork

Musculoskeletal stress markers are commonly used to reconstruct past lifestyles and understand activity patterns. However, the reliability of muscle markers as an accurate method of determining past behaviour has been called into question because of several confounding factors. This study examined both the upper and lower limbs of 130 adult individuals (80 males, 50 females) from four medieval Irish populations. In total, eight upper limb and twenty-two lower limb muscle marker locations were examined and the effects of body size, age, and sex investigated. Muscle markers were measured using a two-component observer rating scale while size was measured by standard methods. Age and sex were determined through pelvic, cranial, and dental morphology. Muscle markers of the upper limb from both early and late medieval periods correlated with upper limb size, age, and sex. Older individuals had larger muscle marker scores, as did larger individuals, and males. Based on partial correlations and regression analyses, age was the best predictor of muscle marker score in the early medieval sample while upper limb size was the best predictor in the late medieval sample. Muscle markers of the lower limb from both early and late medieval periods correlated with lower limb size, age, and sex. Older individuals had larger muscle marker scores, as did larger individuals, and males. Based on partial correlations and regression analyses, lower limb size was the best predictor of muscle marker score in the early medieval sample while age was the best predictor in the late medieval sample.


Identifying ‘Southwest Hispanic’ in Forensic Anthropology Cases
Madeleine J Hinkes, PhD, D-ABFA, San Diego Mesa College

Assessment of biological ancestry in human remains can be challenging for forensic anthropologists. Ancestral groups are not neatly defined. It is obvious that certain craniofacial and dental traits are seen more commonly in certain geographic areas, but no trait is uniquely seen in just one population. And with the mobility of modern populations, the degree of admixture has risen. Finally, what the skeleton shows about biological ancestry may not reflect the self-identified ethnicity. Be that as it may, forensic anthropologists must still attempt to assess ancestry as part of the biological profile, in hopes of establishing an identity for human remains.

The largest and fastest growing minority in the United States is Hispanics, and we expect that to be reflected in forensic cases, especially in the Southwest. This is a complex ancestral group, a combination of Native American and European (Spanish), with perhaps some African mixed in, especially in the Southeast. Recognizing craniofacial and dental traits which will indicate Hispanic ancestry has become a focus of much research lately, but in Pima County, Arizona, and San Diego County, California, anthropologists have 40+ years of experience in using morphoscopic traits to identify Southwest Hispanics. The most useful traits include shoveled incisors, anterior malar projection, nasal sill, enamel extensions on molars, intermediate nasal spine, medium nasal aperture width, and alveolar prognathism. Testing has shown a classification accuracy of over 87%, making it possible to distinguish among Southwest Hispanic, African-American, and European-American.

A Forensic Psychological Perspective on Terrorism Enterprise Investigations or Stop-and-frisk policy
Ronn Johnson, Ph.D., Bonnie Quo, Maggie Wilhelm
University of San Diego Clinical Mental Health Program

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, police departments and Homeland Security has been involved in conducting what are viewed as intrusive surveillance and search approaches. These police procedures are known as stop-and-frisk and “terrorism enterprise investigations.” The methods historically target groups, individuals or mosques even though there is no substantial evidence of criminal or terroristic behavior. Civil rights groups (e.g., NAACP and ACLU), and the Muslim community have expressed outrage over these policing practices. Why, because the history of police-community relations reinforce considerable reason for mistrust over these practices due in large part to previous misconduct (e.g., Rodney King). Police officer’s surveillance and stop-and–frisk have the stated motives of antiterrorism or crime prevention. Yet, these efforts have fueled charges of racial profiling and unintended Islamaphobic accusations. Forensically, once an officer is hired there is never a post-hire psychological evaluation for assignments in diverse communities to determine whether or not these officers are cross-culturally suitable for implementing these police policies. This proposal offers a post-hire forensic psychological program aimed at screening police officers who are involved in TEI and SF assignments. In terms of police reforms, the session identifies elements of the evaluation, as well as mandatory group process sessions required.


Antiterrorism, Police and PTSD: A DSM-5 Paradigm
JoJo Yanki Lee, Ronn Johnson, Ph.D., Linh Tran
University of San Diego Clinical Mental Health Specialization

Homeland Security on an international stage reveals a concern that terrorism results in and fuels a need for law enforcement officers to give appropriate attention to antiterrorism. Forensically, the mindset of a terrorist is often focused on creating fear that is for them justified on the basis of self-serving extremist views. From an antiterrorism perspective, the reverse reasoning is valid. If a violent attack should occur, police presence may reduce the prevalence of PTSD stemming from the event. Mental health professionals rely on the DSM-5 as a primary reference tool for diagnosing PTSD in individuals exposed to acts of terrorism. Police officers must assume a critical public role in all antiterrorism efforts in diverse community settings. The purpose of this session is to provide an overview of antiterrorism, PTSD, DSM-5 and police officers. The session identifies relevant cases that have impacted the way antiterrorism Homeland Security strategy come about. The 30-minute session will provide an overview of an approach that can be used to prepare police officers with PTSD training as an antiterrorism approach. Finally, the session discusses the relevance of this training as part of a larger Homeland Security effort.

Ritual Use of Human Remains: Saints, Sinners, and Skeletons in Los Angeles County
Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D., D-ABFA; Margaret Kaleuati, M.S.; Susy Cruz, B.A.

Ritual use of human remains is traced as far back to the beginnings of religion itself. Young Inca children sacrificed in the Andes, Celtic peoples tortured and preserved in bogs in Europe, whole churches decorated with human bones in Portugal and the Czech Republic, and catacombs under Paris and Rome serve as a few examples of these ritualistic practices. What few non-scientists realize is that the ritual use of human remains continues today in such practices as Palo Mayombe, a syncretic religion originally associated with the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and Central African slave populations. Over the past decade, the growing Mexican and Central American religion of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) and the associated cult of Jesus Malverde, have moved into the United States. These cults require the use of human remains for a variety of rituals, including some dark blessings that no other saint would grant. Research pertaining to Santa Muerte is scarce in the United States due to its recent practice outside of its area of origin. Case examples of Santa Muerte in Los Angeles County are presented and cues to law enforcement detailed to enable quick resolution of such cases.


Albert Nobbs and Other Surprises: What Historical Remains Can Teach Us About Identification
Kristen E. Pearlstein, MFS and David R. Hunt, PhD
Smithsonian Institution

When anthropologists are called to assist in forensic analysis, they provide a biological profile of the decedent to help law enforcement officers and investigators explore tentative identifications. Once written and radiographic records are compiled, the anthropologist compares the antemortem and postmortem data to help confirm or refute the identification. But what happens when the written records are incomplete, or there are inconsistencies between the records and the remains in question? This presentation explores issues in identification and highlights how comparative skeletal collections can provide invaluable support for methods in forensic analysis. Specifically, the George S. Huntington Anatomical Skeletal Collection, housed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., will be featured to illustrate the advantages of historical and anatomical collections for forensic anthropology. In addition to cases of discrepant written records compared to the biological evidence, this presentation will discuss aspects of trauma analysis, occupational habitual stress, and the interpretation of pathological conditions and how they can be used in forensic identifications. The Huntington Collection (dating to the late 19th century) is comprised of individuals from New York City during a period of rapid immigration, urbanization, and industrialization. Because of this historical context, it is an important resource for recognizing patterns of population variation, types of injuries associated with occupations of manual labor, and evidence of chronic untreated diseases.

Clinical Diagnosis vs. Postmortem Diagnosis
Ismail M. Sebetan, MD, Ph.D.
Forensic Sciences Program, National University

This presentation deals with the rate of missed clinical diagnosis and advocate for the use of autopsy as a mean for continued improvement of the standard of care in hospitals. The need to perform postmortem examination (autopsy) is essential to investigate and understand the cause and manner of death, particularly when it is sudden and unexpected or it occurs under confusing, or ambiguous circumstances.

Our investigation showed 30% missed diagnosis of the total studies cases. Major missed diagnosis was found in more than the 55% of those studied cases. Examples of additional cases that have been also found during autopsies performed by the investigator will also be presented. The financial and legal issues associated with the decline in number of autopsy cases performed and its effect on the community and court will be also clarified. In conclusion: 1) Autopsy is still a valuable tool that can be used to improve patient care; 2) Autopsy will provide benefits to Family, the Health Professional and to Society.


Skeletal Remains Identification of Infanticide: Case Study
Ismail M. Sebetan, MD, PhD
Forensic Sciences Program, National University

Infanticide is a crime of killing a newly born live born infant up to 1 year. In most countries, infanticide is a common law crime and any person including the mother, who kills a newly live born child may be charged with murder or manslaughter, depending upon whether there was intent to kill or not.

This presentation deals with one particular unusual case in which 9 infants in one family were involved in a suspected infanticide. Statistical data since 1984 will also be presented. The suspect is a forty-year old woman, married to a farmer in 1972 and they have 3 children.

Remains identification including date of birth of the 9 detected bodies, place of discovery, sex and degree of maturity of the infants were investigated and the following conclusion has been reached: 1) It is difficult to establish whether the baby was born alive or dead from the autopsy findings in cases of decomposed bodies; 2). Ossification centres were useful for estimation of degree of maturity; 3) It is very difficult to estimate the post-mortem interval in cases of putrefaction or decomposition; 3) It is sometimes difficult to determine the gender even by using DNA analysis and 4) The motive of infanticide is not clear in many cases.

Mindset of a Salisfist Jihadist: Is there an antiterrorism response?
Alejandra Stepensky, Ronn Johnson, Ph.D., Andi Fessler, Derrick Young
University of San Diego Clinical Mental Health Program

Over 50% of Syria’s Palestinian Camps are controlled by Salafi-Jihadists. Internationally, the Salafi jihadists have long sought to use their political positions to execute Muslim populations as a whole. Extremism and terrorism is observed in the ideological differences between conservative literalism and jihadism practices. Unfortunately, most of the victims of Salafi-Jihadists are Muslims, who are killed and injured more than non-Muslims. Salafi-Jihadists rationalize the killing of civilians under a distorted logic of the ends justifying the means. Those individuals who join these extremist groups have gaps in their religious knowledge, and are often easily manipulated. There is an elusive nexus between timely intelligence gathering, acts of terror, and understanding the mindset of a terrorist. An internalized homeland security decision-making approach to, “think like a terrorist” is instructive in coming up with actionable information for many counterterrorism efforts. This article raises several issues relative to the mindset of a terrorist. Such mindset is reviewed from two traditional theoretical frameworks (i.e., criminological and psychological theories). The paper also explores the applicability of these forensic psychological theories from a risk assessment perspective as it pertains to Salafist Jihadist. The paper concludes with implications for forensic psychology research, practice and training.


Remains of Murder
Doug Wyler, DDS, MFS, MA

The intense investigation of a homicide begins with the identification of the victim. Several methods used for identification are available with forensic anthropology and forensic odontology being used on decomposed cold cases. Following a brief description of commonly used identification methods used by forensic scientists, a video of A & E Network’s November 30, 2004 initial broadcast of Cold Case Files will be presented. This documentary shows all phases of a cold case investigation from the discovery of the remains to the conviction of the perpetrator.


Sep 28, 2013
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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