by Darcia Helle

To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth. ~ Voltaire

If books and TV shows like the Rizzoli and Isles series are to be believed, then medical examiners are crime-fighting heroes who find all the answers hidden within the murder victim’s body, while also pretty much dictating the investigative process. The ladies also wear 5-inch Manolo Blahnik heels while performing autopsies and wandering through crime scenes. Today we’ll take a look at the history of autopsies, and learn whether medical examiners are as vital in solving murders as Maura Isles and her $800 shoes would like us to believe.

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by Lise LaSalle

After the initial shock of Brittany Murphy’s death on December 20, 2009, several questions were raised about her premature passing. Her husband Simon Monjack was in disbelief and at a loss to explain why his 32-year old bride could have encountered such a tragic end.

simonMonjack was a strange bird with a shady reputation. Unlike Brittany, who had been and remained one of America’s sweethearts, this out of shape older Britt had not won the heart of many. He was a talented photographer and an unemployed screenwriter, but his career was in Slow Mo and he had left a trail of unpaid debts and child support. The word around town was that he was an opportunist using Brittany for the lifestyle, and that he was ruining her career opportunities with his constant meddling. She had recently been fired from a movie set because of him.

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by Starks Shrink

Donna Kay Tapani paid three misfits to murder Martha Gail Fulton, the wife of her former lover, George Fulton. That’s the simplest story; the motivations and complexities of this case run much deeper than what’s readily apparent on the surface.

Gail Garza was a devout Catholic girl who grew up in small town Texas. She met George and they dated but she still maintained her college aspirations and completed a degree in speech pathology. In the meantime, George went off to West Point and a career in the Army. He reunited with Gail and they soon married, anticipating a typical peripatetic military existence.

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by Darcia Helle

In our modern world of supermax prisons overflowing with gang members, it might be difficult to imagine Alcatraz as a place criminals feared. But the men who spent time locked away on that now famous island prison would probably tell us that today’s inmates have it easy.

The small, rocky island of Alcatraz is located in San Francisco Bay, and sat unused until 1847, when the US Army claimed it as a military fortification. Initially a symbol of military strength, the fortress of Alcatraz included long-range iron cannons and 15-inch Rodman guns. Within twenty years, the modernization of weaponry rendered these defenses, and therefore the fortress, obsolete. At about the same time, the Army found itself in need of a military prison. The natural isolation made Alcatraz the ideal location for this purpose, and soon the fortress was transformed. In 1861, the island of Alcatraz began its 102-year history of housing prisoners, first as an army penitentiary and then as a federal prison.

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by Zachary Evans

There are countless portrayals of criminal justice, criminology, and criminal investigations in popular culture today. Shows like CSI have become ratings juggernauts, while ones like True Detective have ruled critically. While these stand primarily as forms of entertainment, they still inform public perception of real-world crime solving. In the last year, a new voice emerged in true crime entertainment in the podcast Serial, and in a few short months, became an incredibly important piece of pop culture.

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commentary by Patrick H. Moore

Why is there so much drug addiction in Utah? With singular and disturbing regularity, we read about truly awful crimes, usually against children, committed by Utes while under the influence of hard narcotics.

Today’s wretched story is about a Utah mother who reportedly stood by passively while her bespectacled 4-year-old son (Hell! This kid could have been me!) was brutalized and ultimately killed by his stepfather to be, a man named Nathan Sloop who both sides agree was suffering from mental illness.

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The Night Stalker was cold, colder and coldest. He was also not unintelligent, a fact which tends to get lost in the hyperbole he loved to unleash. Richard Ramirez is the stuff nightmares are made of. Here are eight of his most awful quotes courtesy of Angelfire.com.

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commentary by Patrick H. Moore

A few days ago I remarked that serious American violent crimes — which of course include sexual assaults — tend to be unimaginative. My statement was, in part, probably a defense mechanism designed to help me endure the horrific nature of the endless array of awful crimes that I cover on All Things Crime Blog. Now I’ve discovered that I was wrong, dead wrong. While sleuthing around I uncovered a horrifying case of American necrophilia that included two dead corpses and the perpetrator, an 18-year-old murderess named Alisa Massaro, having sex with her boyfriend(s) atop the dead bodies.

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commentary by Patrick H. Moore

It’s rather a twisted thing, and it’s downright embarrassing, but for some weird reason I feel a certain perverse pleasure when I read about immature sons exploiting their ancient sainted mothers.

I’m painfully aware that I should probably be drawn and quartered for harboring such anti-social feelings, but at least I can honestly say that I never exploited my own sainted father; rather, I was kind to him until the day he drew his final breath.

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commentary by Patrick H. Moore

Children’s fiction is full of stories in which clever teen (or even pre-teen) detectives delve into crimes and mysteries that they ultimately solve gloriously thus righting wrongs and bringing bad guy/girls to justice. These tales make for lively and highly entertaining reading that bring youthful readers many hours of constructive pleasure.

However, young readers should be forewarned that kids’ detective stories are just that: STORIES, and it is probably not wise or desirable for kids to attempt to solve serious crimes ON THEIR OWN IN REAL LIFE.

The heart-rending case of a 14-year-old Alabama special needs student who was SODOMIZED by a reputed adolescent sex fiend in a “sting operation’ gone wrong is an excellent case in point:

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