Pam Fodrill Case Study

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The popular television show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigations has been on the air for 12 years, and it has brought forth the behind-the-scenes actions of criminal investigations, even if its portrayals are not always scientifically accurate. This has caused an interest in the forensic sciences that has led most people to a skewed view of how a criminal investigation actually works. The reality of a criminal investigation is that it is generally more tedious and difficult than the theory of criminal investigation would have you believe. By examining the forensic and investigative procedures of the case of Pamela Foddrill, it is apparent that the theory of criminal investigation was not representative of the procedures concerning examination of the body, but that it was demonstrative of much of the investigatory steps taken by police, like search warrants. On August 18th, 1995, 44-year-old Pamela Foddrill disappeared from the town of Linton, Indiana. Pamela went to buy some groceries at the local IGA and was abducted: her body was found wrapped in a sleeping bag near Russellville, Illinois four months later. Roughly four years later, five individuals were held responsible for their part in the abduction, rape, and murder of Pamela Foddrill: Roger Long, John Redman, Jerry Russell Sr., Wanda Hubbell, and Plynia Fowler. Long, Redman, and Russell are serving life sentences, while Fowler pled out to 14 years and Hubbell pled out to 20 years of incarceration.

The forensic aspect of the Pamela Foddrill case made the differences between the theory and the reality of criminal investigation very apparent. When Foddrill’s body was found in December of 1995, the cause of death was originally ruled as violent trauma, indicated by the “broken and splintered nasal bones and fractures to her neck” (Course 69). A few years later, forensic pathologist Scott Wagner said that Foddrill’s injuries, while harmful, were probably not fatal, and the cause of death was changed to blunt force trauma. One might think that the cause of death is easy to find and apparent, but oftentimes, the only thing an investigator or forensic pathologist can determine conclusively is the manner of death and the injuries that contributed. In Foddrill’s case, the presence of blunt-force injuries meant that murder was the manner of death, but the most clues to a direct cause of death for Foddrill were in the statements of Fowler and Hubbell, not the forensic evidence. Another similarity between theory and reality is the determining of the time of death. In 1996, investigators ruled that “the condition of the body when it was found prevented examiners from determining an exact time of death” (Course 79). In Michael Lyman’s book, Criminal Investigation: The Art and the Science, it is noted that “the speed at which decomposition occurs varies greatly” (Lyman 296). The book acknowledges that there are many factors that can affect decomposition, like temperature, humidity, clothing, and cause of death. Since the time of death is generally determined from body temperature and tissue breakdown, these factors could have contributed to a discrepancy in findings and an inability to reach a decision on Pamela Foddrill’s time of death. In the midst of Roger Long’s trial, Long’s deceptive answers on a polygraph test were admitted as evidence. Although Long’s attorney argued against them, Long agreed that the results could be used in court, and Bill Warner of the FBI testified during trial that “Long was deceptive on all questions about his involvement in the murder of Pam” (Course 143). However, according to criminal theory concerning polygraphs, a polygraph might not have been worth doing because “its results are not currently admissible as absolute evidence in court” (Lyman 213). It stipulates that if all parties agree to the acceptance of the results before administration, it can be accepted, but in this case the defense attorney did not agree to said acceptance. Lyman’s Criminal...
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