The Bone Lady
Life As a Forensic Anthropologist
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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For almost two decades I have worked with hundreds of law enforcement agents, locally, nationally, and internationally. Though too numerous to name, they often played vital, even heroic roles in the ...
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"The Bone Lady" is the nickname I acquired from law enforcement personnel while working with authorities from most of the sixty-four parishes in Louisiana, several counties in Texas, Arkansas, and ....
1. Behind the Levee
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ON the first day of the search, I failed to find the body. The informant said we would find the man in a black plastic bag. Willie Dulac* thought he knew where he had dug the hole for the man in ....
2. Lost from the MV Mollylea
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I gently removed the fragile bones from the brown paper bag. The sheriff's deputy shifted his footing to get a little closer to the table as I...
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PEOPLE often ask me, "Just what is a forensic anthropologist?" We are physical anthropologists who are trained in the human ...
4. Kevin Paul
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OFTEN I am asked why I do what I do. Since forensic anthropologists deal with death on a daily basis, I'm not always clear whether that question arises from the desire to know why a woman is in the ...
5. Beneath the Corn Crib
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A few years ago, a very pleasant lady arrived at my laboratory one afternoon carrying a small wooden box, approximately eighteen inches long. It was well constructed, hinged, and lined with velvet, probably...
6. Under the Porch
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THE phone rang early that morning back in 1991. To reach it, I pushed aside the alligator osteoderms recently delivered to my office as yet another unidentified "something." As they spilled across the ...
7. The Rose Garden
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ON a cold March day I stood at the side of Antoine Hebert's former house on Lutcher Street, staring down at the skeletal remains of his first wife wrapped in the frayed remnants of a polyester mattress ...
8. Among the Shadows
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IN my first semester of graduate school, I was especially inspired by Doug Owsley, a new professor at LSU at the time. Volunteering to work in his bone lab led to an assistantship there, where I put together ...
9. In the Woods
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DOUG OWSLEY inspired me during my early years in the field, But it was Ann Marie Mires, one of his former research associates, who guided me. In 1997 Dr. Mires became Director of the Human ...
10. The Cast-Iron Coffin
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OVER the years, my friends have often asked if I ever felt spooked when dealing with someone's bones. "Usually not," I say. But ...
11. Fire in the Sky
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ON a hot and humid August day, "field recovery" in one of Louisiana's industrial plants took on a new meaning for me. A raging fire had raced through a section of the plant and filled the sky with ...
12. Lost and Missing Children
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In any death case, whether it is a child or an adult, assessing cause of death is a necessary part of the examination process. Cause of death refers to the action or condition that results in death and can include...
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THE forensic scientist from the State Police Crime Laboratory stood waiting for me in the cool shade of the small grove of trees that covered the southeastern edge of the State Capitol grounds in Baton ...
14. Indian Woman
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I like to use myself as an example of what our wonderful melting pot in America is like. Hill dirt may be in my blood, but ethnically, and even racially, I am a mix with ancestry among the...
15. Voodoo Woman
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A sheriff's deputy called me one day in 1989 to ask if I could look at a skull and tell him something about it. This one wasn't found in the woods or in a grave or along the side of a road, but in a plastic bag...
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I could not get a positive identification on 91-14. The remains had been transported to my laboratory at LSU by the sheriff's department, and my profile of the white, petite female under the age of thirty had...
17. The Boat
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THE ocean seemed really calm that day in 1994. Sidney Johnson lazily cast his line hoping to catch just one more fish before heading home. Then off his port bow, he spotted a small boat drifting in the ...
18. Clouds and Horses
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THE approaching storm sent lightning zigzagging across the sky and thunder roaring at our heels as the other anthropologists and I headed ...
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PERHAPS it is the smell of death that draws them toward us in the field; perhaps my O-positive blood, long thought to be attractive to things that bite and sting, makes me an especially popular ...
20. The Lake
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THE human skull with the three cervical vertebrae still attached to it stared back at me. Its fishy odor confirmed the officer's story...
21. The Bat-Wing Filling
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SHE was just seventeen," the detective from north Louisiana said. What distinguished his call to my lab from the several others I received that month in 1992 was the mileage...
22. Bayou Bleu
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HOW long can a six-week-old baby last if thrown into a bayou?" the assistant district attorney calmly asked me on the phone one ...
23. Who Killed Huey Long?
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THE crowd that gathered at the cemetery on North Street in Baton Rouge that day back ...
24. A Witch's Tale
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HISTORIC cemeteries dot the landscape across this country, and I am drawn to them, from the smallest, overgrown plot along the side of the road to the largest, manicured city of the dead. Cemeteries or...
25. Duralde's Return
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THE cemetery caretaker stumbled as he walked across the grass that day in early 1991. Where had the hole come from that caught his boot and almost made him fall? After a peek into the opening and a fast ...
26. Civil War on the Bluff
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ON a Pleistocene bluff that rises high above the abandoned floodplain of the Mississippi River north of Baton Rouge lies a small cemetery with direct ties to the American Civil War. The Port Hudson ...
27. For Those Who Wait
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WHAT famous cases are out there that you would like to solve?" is a question people often ask me. My answer sometimes surprises them. Media attention immediately focuses on any new or rehashed ...
Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 1999