Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death

By Jessica Snyder Sachs | Go to book overview
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9 PLANTS, POLLEN,
AND PERPETRATORS

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work— I am the grass; I cover all.

—CARL SANDBURG, "GRASS"

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA botanist David Hall had been planning to wind up his informal talk to the state medical examiners' commission with a question-and-answer period. But there was something about the deputy sheriff perched on the edge of the stage that told Hall he'd better cut it short.

It wasn't that Hall was uncomfortable around police types. There was even something mildly Miami Vice about Hall's usual uniform of flowered "Don Johnson" shirts and blue jeans, something off-duty cop about his closely cropped crew cut and beefy frame. But there was an edginess about this officer that rattled the botanist. He had first noticed the man jump from his seat midway through the presentation. After slipping out the back door of the conference room, he had quickly returned to sit within a foot of Hall's lectern. Aside from the furious twitching of

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