Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How to dig up bones for a mystery in Canada

...over the top forensic information for Canadian writers

Coroner  or Medical Examiner?

 Four Canadian Provinces have Medical Examiners.

  • Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. 

The other six provinces have Coroners.

  • Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia


- are responsible for overseeing investigations into unexplained natural deaths or unnatural deaths.
-  do not have to be physicians
- can call and oversee an in2uest into a death they have investigated

Medical Examiners

 - are also responsible for overseeing investigations into unexplained natural deaths or unnatural deaths.
- must be a physician
- cannot preside over an inquest; can only appear as a witness
- might also be a Forensic Pathologist by training. This always applies to a Chief Medical Examiner.

 For more information on their duties and other aspects of forensics in Canada, look up this publication on the net.

Forensics - Real Life Not TV

 Most of realize that the CSI and other shows with forensics as a basis for the story are fake. They are Hollywood versions of what makes the stories play out in 44 minutes and 32 seconds.

The real forensics are much more basic.

 - The techs most time where a uniform of some type so they are distinguishable at the crime scene as a member of the police team
- The labs are much less flashy - as i not at all.
- Fingerprints to not flash up and merge to prove they are a match.
- When processing the scene, the techs wear white paper suite, booties, head covers and often face masks. Cross contamination is easy to do, and that is a huge no-no. If you screw up one case, you are out of the forensics unit for good.

For further information on the steps to processing a crime scene and the investigation of materials and bodies, check out the thorough article written by Graham Pilsword on the CSI: Halifax with the input of Detective Constable Robert Furlong, Forensic Identification Technician - Nova Scotia's answer to Gil Grissom.


How to dig up skeletal bodies the right way.

There are articles on exhumation, on archeology and on digging up bodies from dirt. For those who are writing fiction, enough realistic information is needed to pull the reader into the scene. A few well placed comments or observations by one of you characters might well suffice. But what should they be?

  • Dirt in orifices is kept in place during the dig and removal from the ground.
Parker watched as the forensics tech cut into the dirt around the fully intact skull and removed it from its forgotten grave with all the internal dirt intact. 
  • The skeleton or body is unearthed from the top of the head downward in sequential areas.  Skull, Neck, Torso, Arms and legs and finally, hands and feet.
  • As much, if not more, work in forms of planning and gathering information is done prior to starting the dig.
  • The use of proper tools (e.g. ) plasterer's leaf trowel.
Many other useful tips are available in: