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When a skeleton is all that's left to tell the story of a crime, Mary H. Manhein, otherwise known as "the bone lady," is called in. For almost two decades, Manhein has used her expertise in forensic pathology to help law enforcement agentslocally, nationally, and internationallysolve their most perplexing mysteries. She shares the extraordinary details of the often high-profile cases on which she works, and the science underlying her analyses. Here are Civil War skeletons, cases of alleged voodoo and witchcraft, crimes of political intrigue, and the before-and-after of facial reconstruction. Written with the compassion and humor of a born storyteller, The Bone Lady is an unforgettable glimpse into the lab where one scientist works to reveal the human stories behind the remains.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Mary H. Manhein, also known as "The Bone Lady," is an internationally acclaimed forensic anthropologist who, for more than 30 years, has helped law enforcement solve their toughest cases. An advocate for victims, Manhein has always worked to tell the stories of who they are and what happened to them, and to help bring about justice. She served as an instructor of anthropology and the director of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory (FACES) at Louisiana State University before retiring in 2015. She is the author of three nonfiction books: The Bone Lady, Trail of Bones, and Bone Remains, as well as one fiction novel, Floating Souls: The Canal Murders.
Read an Excerpt
"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 afternoon. I felt the sandwich I had just wolfed down from lunch rising in my throat.
When the two bayou detectives entered the forensics lab, their sharp after-shave introduced a welcome freshness to the stale air. "The case is fairly simple," the clean-shaven, serious officer said, his piercing eyes looking directly into mine.
I hoped he was right.
"The informant told us where to look, and we looked just where he said, and we found it, the body...the skeleton, that is."
"Well, how can I help you?" I responded.
"Tell us what happened to her," Piercing Eyes said," and tell us, if you can, where the baby might be."
With one look at the adult woman's skeleton, I knew I could respond with information to the first request. The second one was an entirely different matter.
"Well," I began again, hating to be put on the spot, but understanding their hurry--"it looks like a bullet wound to the back of the head." That part was obvious. What was not so obvious was where the bullet went after it entered the head. I turned the skull over in my hands, noting that the fragile bones of the right eye orbit were broken, some missing altogether. The bullet may have taken the easy way out--straight through and through. Quite often, as a bullet moves through the skull, it will leave a track of small metal fragments defining its route. A quick X ray could provide evidence that would confirm or deny my suspicion.
I took anterior, posterior, and lateral shots of the skull. The developed X rays showed the course the bullet had taken with bright white spots moving across the vault and toward the eye--straight through and through.
My earlier conversation with the assistant DA had not left me, nor had I forgotten the detectives' second request of me. "The victim allegedly had her baby with her; the baby has not been found. Bayou Bleu is very close to where she was found.
"What?" I said, feeling a terrible sadness rise up within me. "Do you think the baby went into the bayou?"
He shrugged big shoulders and looked away.
"How long has it been since this happened?" I whispered.
"Almost a year," he said. He gazed steadily at me and asked again, "Where do you think the baby might be?"
"In God's hands," I said.
The defendant looked so innocent at the trial, his youthful face arguing against his capacity to commit these unspeakable horrors: murder of the mother of his child, murder of the child. The prosecution argued that he had killed the mother in order not to pay child support and that he had then thrown the baby into the bayou. An eyewitness to the crime testified as much for the State, saying he had not been able to sleep well since the incident had occurred.
Conviction was fast, final. But the life of this former police officer was spared, and instead he was sent to prison for life without parole. This person, who had sworn an oath to protect his fellow man, was in the end saved by his eight-year-old son's plea, "Please don't kill my daddy."
We never found the baby.
Table of Contents
1. Behind the Levee
2. Lost from the MV Mollylea
4. Kevin Paul
5. Beneath the Corn Crib
6. Under the Porch
7. The Rose Garden
8. Among the Shadows
9. In the Woods
10. The Cast-Iron Coffin
11. Fire in the Sky
12. Lost and Missing Children
14. Indian Woman
15. Voodoo Woman
17. The Boat
18. Clouds and Horses
20. The Lake
21. The Bat-Wing Filling
22. Bayou Bleu
23. Who Killed Huey Long?
24. A Witch's Tale
25. Duralde's Return
26. Civil War on the Bluff
27. For Those Who Wait
What People are Saying About This
A fascinating and revealing look at forensic work from the parishes, levees, and bayous of Louisiana and nearby areas. Master storyteller Mary Manhein shows how the science of forensic anthropology with a human touch can help solve forensic mysteries.
Author of Bones: A Forensic Detectives Casebook
The Bone Lady is a delightful romp in the world of forensic anthropology recounted by a wonderful storyteller: skeletons of the murdered, exhumations, facial reconstructionand growing up in the hills of Arkansas.
The Bone Lady is a fascinating human interest book. Each case has its own unusual twist. Manhein has told her story in a most interesting wayjust as she speaks and just as she teaches.
From the Author
I'm a story teller who is also a forensic anthropologist. Sharing a good story is one of my favorite things to do, and the stories in this book have been dancing in my head for years. I hope you will enjoy the more than 25 I have selected to share with you from my experience as a forensic anthropologist growing up in the south. A few of my personal favorites include "Behind the Levee," "Voodoo Woman," "Under the Porch," "Lost from the MV Mollylea," and "Fire in the Sky." Let me know yours!
The author, mmanhei@UNIX.1sncc.lsu.edu, April 12,1999