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Lewes, Delaware
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November 15, 2002     Cape Gazette
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November 15, 2002
 

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-1" --CAPE. -Fri No iS ,,Ne,,,, 21;200'a ,,la HEALTH &-FITNESS Crime scene investigation: the dentist knows... Teeth often the clues that solve mysteries By Kerry Kester The images of mutilated and bloodied. corpses flashed on a large screen, but the 140 people in the room didn't gasp at the brutality in the photographs they were see- ing. Most were impassive. As seasoned crime scene investigators usually immune to shocking crimes, they were there to study how dentists sometimes have the key to un- locking mysteries. Death, violated bodies and trauma are of- ten part of a day's work for the police offi- cers who attended the 7th Annual Delaware Forensic imaging Services photo Above shows an enlargement of a pattern injury caused by serial killer Ted Bundy, whose teeth had a very unusual alignment that was later identified on some of the victims he bit before killing. State Police Homicide Conference Nov. 4- 8, at Polytech High School. Dr. Lowell J. Levine, board certified forensic odontologist, showed the officers how viewing victims' bodies as crime scenes within crime scenes can sometimes provide indisputable links between killers or rapists and their victims. "Nowadays, DNA is not the end all," said Levine, direc- tor of the New York State Police Medicole- gal Investigations Unit. "The bad guys watch TV and read the newspapers. They use condoms. They wear gloves. They try not to leave very much of themselves at the crime scene." Sometimes teeth - which withstand the ravages of water, heat and time -can be the means by which investigators can identify a body or a suspect. Like DNA, teeth and tooth patterns are unique to individuals. Using that unique identifier is how police learned the identity of a serial killer whose victims spanned from the Midwest to Maine. It was early fall in the Midwest, when a 12-year-old boy disappeared. He was later found on his stomach in the woods, wearing just his underwear, and his legs were bound upward. A piece of his thigh was missing - a bite mark a pathologist found. Just before Thanksgiving, another 12-year-oM boy dis- appeared. Like the other, he was found in a similar situation but his chest was maimed with deep slashes. The next case involved a boy found in Portland, Maine. He, too, had been slashed to death but a pathologist described an in- jury on his calf as a bite mark. Witnesses interviewed in the cases, some under hyp- nosis, described a possible suspect for whom artists rendered a drawing. Eventually, John Joubert was locat- ed. The Scout leader's teeth had an unusual pattern, said Levine: "a dot, a scallop, a rectan- gle." The teeth prints matched those on the victims, and Joubert was convicted. A psych 0- logical study revealed Joubert fantasized about cannibalism. Teeth and sex crimes In another case, a rapist's typical pattern was to break into apartments of sleeping fe- males to catch them off guard. He'd tie his victims' hands and feet, but he'd wear a condom when he sexually assaulted them, so he left little evidence behind. In one case, however, investigators found a pattern injury on a woman and determined the marks were made by teeth. "So we were looking for someone whose teeth could look like that," said Levine. Unexpectedly, some police officers spotted a jogger in the general vicinity where a rape occurred. The jogger was wearing a ski mask. 'q'hey thought that was a little odd, so they took him in," said Levine. After going through appropriate legal procedures, investigators were able to ob- tain a model of the man's teeth. "This stuff is very visual," said Levine. None of the investigators were particularly surprised to learn the jogger's teeth pattern matched the injuries on the woman. "You tend to fred other things also," said Levine. "A bite mark is an injury, and it's going to heal like any other injury." Usual- ly, an injury is red between the first 24 and 48 hours and blackens between two and five days. Between five and seven days, it takes on a greenish-yellow tint, and be- tween a week and 10 days it turns a canary yellow then begins to disappear. Pathologists can also biopsy injuries, said Levine. 'q'eeth have class characteristics; the characteristics do get reproduced in the skin. Skin can capture the unique and inter- esting characteristics with surprising fideli- ty." For example, he said, a mother notified police a couple of weeks after a 19-year-old male had baby-sat for her child. The child claimed the sitter sexually assaulted him and bit him on the back. Proving the alle- gation to be true appeared to be a formida- ble task for police. "Collagen - the connective tissue that re- pairs injuries - sometimes will fluoresce un- der ultraviolet light," said Levine. With children, the time frame in which the proce- dure must occur is up to 12 weeks, he said. However, it is a difficult task because the children must remain still. "It's not an easy technique," said Levine. In the case of the young boy, though, it was a technique that worked. Using the ul- traviolet light procedure, investigators illu- minated the bite mark on the child's back. The babysitter pleaded guilty. Team approach needed Levine showed several slides of other in- juries caused by teeth. One case involved the death of a baby who was killed during his christening party. Thirty adults and sev- Continued on page 44 Healthy lifestyle, vigilance key to success with diabetes What do B.B. King, Mary Tyler Moore and Mikhail Gorbachev have in common? They are all successful, talented people who have touched the lives of many, while living with diabetes. Although being diagnosed with diabetes isn't the end of the world, it is a condition that can have deadly consequences if left un- treated. , According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 million people in the United States have diabetes. Alarmingly, that figure includes almost 6 million people who have diabetes but who have not yet been diagnosed. With proper care and vigilance, diabetes is a man- ageable disease, yet it still ranks as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors include a family history of diabetes; being of His- panic, African-American, Native American or Asian descent; being overweight or having an un- healthy lifestyle that includes smoking or excessive alcohol use; hypertension or abnormal choles- terol levels; and a history of gesta- tional diabetes - that which devel- ops during pregnancy. Our risk of developing diabetes also increases as we get older. Insulin important Everyone needs food for ener- . gy. When we eat and drink, food is broken down into glucose, a simple sugar that is used by our body's cells to provide us with en- ergy. When the amount of glucose in our blood stream reaches a certain level, our pancreas releases in- sulin. The insulin, in turn, carries the glucose to different cells. As glucose enters our cells, the level in our bloodstream drops. Diabetes occurs when our bod- ies don't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin, which causes sugar to build up in our blood. If left untreated, diabetes can result in heart disease, blind- ness, kidney failure and lower-ex- tremity amputations. People with Type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, so they must inject insulin daily to control their blood glucose. Type 1 diabetes commonly starts in people under the age of 20, but it can occur at any age. People with Type 2 diabetes do produce insulin, but it is either not enough or doesn't work properly in their body. When this happens, glucose can't get into the body's cells. This is the most common form of diabetes and usually starts in peo- ple older than 40 years old who are overweight. The good news is some people can manage this type of diabetes by controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regu- larly. Others may also need to take a pill that helps them use insulin better, or they may need to take insulin injections. Gestational diabetes is triggered by pregnancy. Hormone changes affect insulin's ability to work properly, which results in high glucose levels. Women who are most at risk are those who are older than 25, are overweight before pregnancy, HEALTH TOPICS John Hutchinson John Hutchinson, RP, is a pharmacist at Wal-Mart in Rehoboth Beach. For more information, call 644-8022. have a family history of diabetes, or are Hispanic, African-Ameri- can, Native American or Asian. Usually, blood glucose returns to normal levels after childbirth, but these women have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes lat- er in life. There is a range of symptoms for those diagnosed with diabetes, including frequent urination; ex- cessive thirst; unexplained weight loss; extreme hunger; sudden vi- sion changes; tingling or numb- ness in the hands or feet and very dry skin. If you feel you are at risk for de- veloping diabetes because of fam- ily history or lifestyle, and you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately. There's no secret to living with diabetes. A big part of it is doing what we should all be doing: exer- cising regularly, eating right and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, diabetics have the ad- ditional challenge of closely fol- lowing a balanced meal plan, usu- ally one prepared by a registered dietician. It's also important for them to monitor blood glucose and blood pressure levels, and take all medi- cine as prescribed. This requires vigilance and ded- ication on the part of the diabetic, but the result should be many healthy, active years to come.