February 24th, 2010

Thelma - Living Dead Girl
  • archica

What happens to unidentified dead bodies?

Setting: Present day, small country town (maybe somewhere in Virgina, for example).

When a very fresh dead body is found out in the open, where exactly is it taken and what happens to it before it is identified? I'm assuming it would be taken to a morgue until it can be identified, but I wanted to be sure of the process. Does someone take blood samples or fingerprints to try and find out who it is? Who does this, and do they do it on the scene (where the body was found), or after the body is taken to the morgue? Is there anything else they use (assuming the person has no personal effects on them) to attempt to identify the person besides blood/fingerprints? I know dental records might be used, but at what point do they try that? From the very beginning or after the blood/fingerprints turn up nothing?

Basically, I'd love to know the exact process of how an unidentified dead body would be handled from the time it is found up through a couple of days (without being identified during those couple of days, of course). Keep in mind that this is a small town setting, in case that has any bearing on it.

The Google searches I tried just brought up info on the various ways bodies can be identified, which isn't really what I'm looking for.


Materials for Medieval Padding (for armour)

Note: Forwarding a post from someone who doesn't have an account.

I am part of a medieval reenactment group, covering the time between the 11th and 15th centuries. While it is acceptable for us to buy our costume/armour, etc, more kudos is awarded for self-made items.
I'm thinking of making myself a gambeson from leather (with padded lining, of course), and my questions are thus:

1) Would leather have been used for gambesons in those times?
2) Would it be period-complient to wear it over maille, rather than under it (this being a the backup plan if my maille hauberk doesn't fit over it)?

Audience and lunch at the early 19th-c. Vatican for a minor Balkan noble

I am editing & doing research for a fantasy novel with a (more-or-less) historical setting.

First difficulty: The Baron has just been assigned a politico-military operative--ostensibly a humble priest--by His Holiness, to help him combat the Turkish invasion back home in his Balkan valley. They could presumably go to a nearby inn, but there's got to be one or more dining rooms and/or refectories, kitchens, etc., where the Pope's people regularly eat and/or where visiting dignitaries are entertained--or not? Is there food available all day or during certain hours, a formal meal at precisely noon, or what? Are there many choices, a few, or only one choice available? Surely if he's a papal guest, he won't be paying for anything?

I could handle this easily for Mr. Darcy with the Bennets over in England, and I wouldn't have any problem sending them to a Great Hall or equivalent during medieval times, but I'm lost in early 19th-century Rome among the aristocracy. And the author I'm researching for seems to know even less about the milieu than I do. (Unfortunately it's a little late to tell him "Write what you know"!)

To virtually no avail, I have websearched various combinations of
"19th century"
"modern history"
"early modern history"
"dining halls"
--where the last is the Italian for refectory. The most help I've found is
which mentions a refectory in a nearby monastery without naming it! (And I can't find relevant links on that site.)

Second difficulty: Does the Baron take his 4-man military retinue to the papal audience, and then to eat, or does he leave them to fend for themselves? He's told them that they will be his future inner circle, but they're even more countrified than the Baron, who has spent a year learning natural sciences at the University of Florence to supplement his magical studies (and falling in love and . . .).

Photography, Murder, US Marshals ...

An pair of questions: any help gratefully received.

Q1) Murderous Methods in a Darkroom
And by 'darkroom' I obviously mean a photographic darkroom rather than a 'shot in the dark.' The setting is Shanghai, c.1923; the necessity - bumping someone off, and since I'm no expert, I'm looking for novel lists of death in a private/home darkroom...

I know that acetic acid is needed for the stop bath, and would be particularly lethal if - say - forced down the victim's throat, but was strong acetic acid commonly kept in the darkroom itself in those days, and if so how? Similarly, I know that various cyanides can be produced by inelegant mixing of chemicals during the photographic process, but I don't want to kill our murderer also (them being in the room at the same time). There really is no 'right' or 'wrong' answer for this one: I'm just looking to build up a repository of interesting deaths; ones that leaves the victim relatively whole (so no combustion) - though they needn't have an open casket funeral...

Various search combinations including: 'acetic acid', 'cyanide', 'photography', 'darkroom', 'chemicals', 'death', 'murder' etc.

Q2) US Marshals in Shanghai
Officially between 1906 and 1945, Shanghai had a contingent of Deputy US Marshals to police American criminals. I've searched far and wide for information on their composition, armaments, headquarters, equipment, methods, etc. but there's very little out there I can find (I've gone through both Google and Google Books). Again, it's c.1923-1925. Knowledge or a pointer towards books or articles that have more than the bare facts I've dug up would be worth their weight in gold.

Search combinations include all the obvious: 'China', 'Shanghai', '[US] Marshals [Service]', 'US Court for China', 'police', and the names of those few people who I know served in it...


Police response to escape of a mental patient

I'm writing a story where a psychiatric patient slips out of sight of the orderlies accompanying the group during a supervised trip in the city. The patient in question is highly delusional, and though he's calm and easygoing enough when on his medication, he could become dangerous without them, especially in an unstructured environment.

The patient has been in a closed institution since he was twelve after shooting his father. Before that he was trained to shoot guns, use knives and other weapons and had some training in hand to hand due to said previously mentioned father, who was a former marine suffering from PTSD who pulled his two children on the road, forcing them in his own delusions along with heavy mental, physical and sexual abuse of his oldest, aka the patient in question.

My question then is, with this kind of patient, how long would it take before the police gets involved in the search and how big of a response would there be? And what would it take for the FBI to be called in?

And if said patient then ends up kidnapping a child, believing the boy to be his little brother, how would this affect the case. Especially if he takes the boy in question across state lines.

I looked in google under:
-police escape of mental patient Nevada
-treatment of mental patients by police officers

And I also asked on ask_a_cop, but haven't had an answer yet.

Specific classes. (and find-a-college)

Time/Location: Modern Day American University.
Terms searched: 'educational majors' 'declaring a major' 'boring classes' 'gen ed' and various permutations. 'California colleges'.

The third-level system where I live is entirely different to the system in the USA, so I need to find out if this situation is possible.

I have three characters who are all freshmen, all in the same class, which needs to be a really, really boring one. Two of them are taking it because they have to, but the third is taking it because they have a crush on the TA.

I know people don't usually declare a major right away, but is it unusual for freshmen to have done so? Or if they haven't officially declared, but do know what they want to major in, can they start taking specific major requirements right away? (It's a moderately sized, liberal-artsy, fictional university, so it doesn't have to be 100% realistic, so long as it's not hugely unlikely)

Is it possible for a class to be a requirement for certain majors, but a gen ed class for others? (The two characters who need to take the class are studying Communications/Journalism, and the other is studying Psychology.) It doesn't have to be a requirement itself if that's impossible, it could be a gen ed they have to take because their other options clash with things they have to take.

And what could be a hidiously boring class that no one in their right mind would take unless they had to?

(Is that confusing? I fear it might be.)

Secondly, I have a character from New York who's only requirement for college is that it be in California. Preferably LA, but San Francisco or San Diego would probably be alright as well. He has money, but not massive amounts, and he's smart, with good SATs, but his grades are only a little about average. He's got loads of extra-curriculars though, and he interviews well, if that's relevant. He's not going to major in something sciencey or technological.

Where would he be likely to attend?