Swipe Up and Down
The City Morgue Story
This is an excerpt from my book
A human head washed up on a Staten Island beach in New York City. If you did not know, New York City has a few nice ocean beaches. I digress. The head belonged to white man in his 30’s. It ultimately ended up at the city morgue. The call came in to my office and I was off to the morgue. Inside the city morgue is pretty much like a horror movie bad lighting, metal doors, chrome gurneys, strange odors and of cause dead bodies. In the NYPD, these kinds of cases are handled by the Missing Persons Squad. This unit has a group of detective permanently assigned to the morgue. These guys are a special breed maybe a little Boris Karloff like. I truly believe. They like this stuff. Anyway, they are always happy to escort you to the latest decaying body. They will pick and poke at these bodies without batting eye. As they say “to each his own”, I guess. Anyway once I got there, I informed the detective that I was here to view the head that washed up earlier in the day. He led me through a few dark corridors and down a back stair case until we reach a metal gurney sitting outside the door of a large walk-in refrigerator. I stood there as the detective went to retrieve the victim well at least what was left of him. He came out with a black plastic bag and reached in pulling out the head (see above rotating gallery). He placed it on the gurney. It looked like a rubber mask that you would buy at Halloween store. He placed it on the back of the subject’s head looking upward. I started to develop a preliminary sketch. Then the head flopped over. The morgue detective picked it up and reset it. A second or two later, it flopped over again. This continued several times. Sensing my frustration, he turned to me and said “Don’t worry Steve I have just the thing.” He re-entered the refrigerator. Well in my mind, I figure he was going to get an official head holding stand. He returned with another black garbage bag and reaching in he pulled out a foot. Shoving it under the head, it stayed up nice and straight. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad, but the foot belonged to someone else.
Post Mortem Facial Enhancement
It is worth noting for this kind of case, that the news media generally will not show or print an image of a deceased person. A detective or medical examiner will request a post-mortem enhancement of a victim to help with identification. In this case, I was supplied with the morgue photographs of this unidentified homicide victim along with the medical examiner’s report. There was some pertinent information about the subject revealed during the autopsy, which aided in developing this digital facial reconstruction of the deceased. I was able to bring him back to life if just illustrated in a completed forensic art image. This image was printed in the city newspapers which generated the lead to identify the victim. Unfortunately, the young man was caught up in organize crime and murdered by a Russian gang.