Forensic Archaeology Field School 2019: Lab analysis and results

Students identified which two, of three, victims were “killed by Martin Harrington.”  Our names for them became Waldo and Wendy.  Waldo was thoroughly beat to death (trauma was especially severe on his head and chest) and Wendy was repeatedly stabbed in the thorax.  Students reasoned that Wendy and Waldo were likely in a romantic relationship, that Wendy’s pregnancy may have been a contributing factor to Martin’s rage.  It was not clear if Martin was also Wendy’s lover.  Opioid drug use may have been a factor the these killings – perhaps a drug deal gone bad? - because Martin had been a drug trafficker, and Waldo had a hypodermic syringe in his pocket. 

 

Clark, the ‘victim’ that was buried nearby was not related to the Harrington confession; he was someone who died accidentally and was buried to hide the fact of his death. 

Lab work was fun for everyone.  Because the pigs were immature nearly every bone provided many ‘pieces of the puzzle’ that fit together. Elements came together beautifully, after tiny epiphyses were all glued properly.   

Waldo: Homicide from Blunt Force Trauma   

Evidence is: 

  1. fractures on both the left and right ribs  

  2. and severe fractures to the right side of the skull (as seen in photo below).

     

 Wendy: Homicide from Sharp Force Trauma.  Evidence is 

  1. Vivid sharp force trauma damage seen on the back and right thorax.  Bones injured included scapula and several ribs, and a vertebral spine. 

 

Clark: Accidental Death from Opioid Overdose.  Evidence is  

  1. A longstanding injury to the left tibia is a comminuted fracture that never healed and shows evidence the two large fragments abraded against each other as pig walked.  This is a rare example of antemortem trauma and would have been very painful.  Strange coincidence: this fit our backstory of Clark being in chronic pain!  Closeup is the proximal piece tipped to show the smoothed, abraded edge of the fracture. 

  2. Empty prescription opioid pill bottles were found in the grave; their labels indicated each pill was a very high dosage.  Clark may have mixed two prescriptions, which provided a lethal dose.

 

Backstory Reveal: 

“Martin Harrington” killed Waldo because he impregnated Wendy, who was Martin’s daughter.  Waldo was beat to death with a baseball bat.  Both Waldo and Wendy were heavy drug users (opioids and stimulants) and Martin was enraged with both of them.  He killed Wendy because he reasoned that the fetus was already damaged by Wendy’s drug use, and that Wendy would be a terrible mother.  Wendy was stabbed to death at home. 

Clark died at home from an accidental overdose of two different prescription opioids, and his children decided to hide his body (and both empty pill bottles) and not report his death.  This meant they could keep collecting his pension and social security checks.   

All 3 individuals were victims, in one way or another, of Ohio’s opioid crisis.   

POSTED: Monday, December 16, 2019 - 11:02am
UPDATED: Monday, December 16, 2019 - 11:02am