Thursday, 3 March 2011

SIDS: Forensic pathology and much delayed diagnosis of homicide

By Melissa Daugherty

Turhon Murad stands in front of hundreds of journals he’s donated to Chico State’s Anthropology Lab, a place he operated for decades.

For decades, Turhon Murad has been telling the stories of the dead.
Murad is a forensic anthropologist who has worked quietly on the Chico State campus as a sort of detective whose specialty is studying the deceased. He’s worked with dozens of municipalities on the remains of hundreds of people to determine things such as identity, sex, race and cause of death in cases that otherwise would remain mysteries.
About five years ago, law enforcement officials in a neighboring county asked him to exhume an infant who was thought to have died of sudden-infant-death syndrome (SIDS) back in 1979 while in the care of a babysitter. As Murad tells it, more than 25 years later, the same sitter confessed to authorities that her ex-husband actually killed the baby. Upon examination of the remains, Murad found evidence of head and rib fractures consistent with shaken-baby syndrome, something never before reported.
In other words, the pathologist decades earlier had failed to determine the correct cause of death, and the man responsible for it subsequently went on with his life without reprisal. That man pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Murad said, but he was given probation having lived with a clean record since that time.
That doesn’t set well with Murad

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