The Mourning Goes on; 11 Bodies Released; Medical Examiner Must Analyze Each

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 20, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Mourning Goes on; 11 Bodies Released; Medical Examiner Must Analyze Each


Byline: Tarron Lively, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Officials with the medical examiner's office in Richmond said yesterday that they have released the bodies of 11 of the 32 victims in the shootings Monday at Virginia Tech.

Investigators have not released the body of the shooter, Cho Seung-hui, and say it could be weeks before blood tests are returned. The tests could determine whether Cho was under the influence of drugs at the time he shot the victims, then himself.

Robert Parker, a spokesman for the state medical examiner's office, could not say which victims had been released.

Each victim must be examined, a process that takes a few hours, for legal purposes, said Lawrence Kobilinsky, professor of forensic science at John Jay College in New York.

"Any time there's a death, even in instances where the cause is fairly obvious, every single person has to be completely analyzed," he said. "I know it sounds trivial, but it's important to cross the t's and dot the i's."

Mr. Kobilinsky said autopsies also help criminal investigations by determining where and how many times the victims were struck and the caliber of the weapon used.

Ronald S. Wade, director of the anatomical services division of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the Maryland State Anatomy Board, said the autopsies are performed largely at the discretion of the medical examiner.

"Autopsies generally are done to definitively determine the cause of death," Mr. Wade said. "Unless it's a clear suicide, there's pretty much always an autopsy, especially in cases of multiple gunshots so it can be determined which wound was fatal."

Victims' families are arranging funerals and memorial services.

A public memorial service for Kevin P. Granata, a professor of engineering science and mechanics, will be held at the Blacksburg Presbyterian Church at 2 p.m. today, according to Virginia Tech's alumni association.

The family will have a private funeral service at a later date.

Mr. Granata served in the military and later conducted orthopedic research in hospitals before coming to Virginia Tech, where he and his students researched muscle and reflex response and robotics. …

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