DECEASED: Paula Oberbrockling (sic)
AUTOPSY NO.: A-70-510
AGE: 18 or 19 years
DATE: 30 November 1970
AUTHORIZATION FOR AUTOPSY:
Percy G. Harris, M.D.
Linn County Medical Examiner
119 3rd Street NE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
AUTOPSY PERFORMED BY:
Earl F. Rose, M.D.
133 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City, Iowa
On Sunday, 29 November 1970, I received a telephone call from Percy G. Harris, M.D., Medical Examiner for Linn County, Iowa. I arrived at Otis Road, Southeast, Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 6:17 PM, 29 November 1970. Dr. Percy Harris requested that I assist him, Chief of Police G. J. Matias, Assistant Chief of Police Kenneth Vanous, and other Law Enforcement Officers in the investigation of human remains found at this location.
Under the direction of the above the grass and weeds were cleared from the immediate vicinity of the body. The remains were freed from the soil and weeds. The position of the body was that of acute hyperextension with the upper lumbar region acutely hyperextended about a steel stake the end of which was in the ground. This was in a washout on a steep incline adjacent to the road. The decomposition of the body was advanced with the hair free from the skull. The majority of the bones of the skeleton were exposed. Dried skin and some tendons and fibrous tissue remained attached to the bones, particularly over the lateral pelvic region and the legs. The right humerus was behind the chest, the chest surface was up with the sternum exposed, and the thoracic vertebrae over the right humerus resting on the soil. Two rings were recovered adjacent to the bones of the hands. I picked up these two rings and immediately handed them to Dr. Harris who in turn immediately handed these to Assistant Chief of Police Vanous.
The body with clothing and soil from the vicinity of the body was placed in a plastic surfaced yellow disposable blanket, and immediately placed in an empty large gray screw-top box, which in turn was immediately closed and the top screwed on. This was immediately placed in a police van driven by Patrolman Donald D. Potter. The body was transported in this van to Iowa City. I followed this van throughout this trip, and was accompanied by Lt. Paul Dickerson of the Cedar Rapids Police Department. The body was placed in the University of Iowa Hospital morgue at 8:40 PM, 29 November 1970.
Complete x-rays and photographs were made under my supervision and control.
Four pieces of cloth were recovered from the tissues adjacent to the head. These measured 13×9 cm, 5×5 cm (folded), 4×3 cm, and 16×3 cm. A fifth piece of cloth with a knot was recovered from the tissues adjacent to the head, this contained a knot and measured 9x3cm. There was a short night gown with narrow shoulder straps and a high waist line; this was on the body, and was crumpled about the neck and chest. This gown was extensively stained with soil and dried tissue juices. The material including weeds and soil recovered with the body was screened and this material retained.
Head: The skull is intact and there is no evidence of fractures. There is a closure of the saggital suture and the occipital suture to the left for several cm. The remainder of the outer table sutures are not closed. No soft tissue remains with the head and the cranial vault is empty. Matted light colored hair is found, this being separate from the skull.
Jaw and Teeth: No fractures or bony injuries are noted. A few fibrous bands are present on the condyles, however, the jaw is disarticulated. Many of the teeth are recovered with the body, and these are placed into the appropriate empty tooth sockets. Two teeth are not recovered and there is one empty healed over tooth socket. There are a total of twenty-nine (29) teeth present including the impacted third molars. Many of these show reparative work with silver colored fillings.
Neck: There is no remaining soft tissue from the neck. The cervical vertebrae are intact and there is no evidence of injury. No hyoid or laryngeal tissue is present, specific reference being made to the recovery of neck structures. The position of the night gown was about the chest but did not include wrapping about the neck.
Chest: The thoracic vertebrae are intact and there is no evidence of fracturing or traumatic injury. The bones of the chest are held loosely together by narrow and irregular strands of fibrous tissue and dried flesh. The heart and lungs are not present. Dessication of the remaining soft tissue is extensive. The ribs are intact and all are accounted for. The sternum is intact and there is no fracturing or displacement. No breast tissue remains.
Abdomen and Pelvis: The soft tissues of the abdomen including the intestinal tract, the liver, spleen, kidneys, adrenals, pancreas, uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, are not present. The majority of the soft tissue of the abdomen including the skin and subcutaneous tissue is not present as the decomposition of the body is advanced. There is a small amount of dessicated hide over the lower abdomen and the lateral aspects of the hips. No pubic hairs are noted on the dried soft tissue of the lower abdomen. No perineal tissue is present. There is no evidence of traumatic injury of the remaining bones and tissues. The lumbar vertebrae are examined for evidence of injury, particular reference being made to the upper lumbar region, the location of the metal stake about which the back was acutely hyperextended. There are no demonstrable bone injuries. The pelvic bones are intact and these are free of injury. No fetal parts are present.
Upper Extremities: The arms are separated from the body with disarticulation at the elbows. The right humerus lies behind the chest. No fractures are demonstrated. The bones of the right hand are relatively intact, being held together by dried fibrous bands and a small amount of dessicated hide. The fingernails have separated. The bones of the left hand have separated at the wrist. The right radius and ulna, and the left radius and ulna are held together distally by two (2) types of flexible material, one having the appearance of plastic clothesline and the other of sash cord. Fingernails (5) were recovered in the vicinity of the hands. These are long fingernails and there is chipped pale material on these having the appearance of nail polish. The fingers of the left hand are separately identified being held together at the interphalangial joints by fibrous bands. A skeletonized left thumb is also identified. Eight (8) small bones from the left hand are also recovered.
Lower Extremities: There is a partial covering of the bones of the legs by dried tissue and the major bones are connected by loose fibrous and tendinous bands. The legs are tied together at the ankles by two (2) types of flexible material, one having the appearance of plastic clothesline and the other of cording. The bones of the feet have separated and thirty-nine (39) are recovered including the calcaneous, cuboids, naviculars, metatarsals, and a number of phalanges including both great toes. No fractures are demonstrable. One toenail is recovered.
FINAL SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS:
The body of Paula Oberbrockling, autopsy number A-70-510, was found in the vicinity of Otis Road, Southeast, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 29 November 1970. I viewed the body before the body was moved and I aided in the scene investigation and transportation of the body. The autopsy examination and other medical investigations were done under my supervision or control.
The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition with bones, some small amount of dessicated skin, and tendinous and fibrous bands remaining. The viscera, brain, muscles and neck organs were no longer present. The skeleton was virtually intact and there was no evidence on visual examination of traumatic injury.
X-ray examination included a skeletal survey as well as x-ray examination of pieces of cloth recovered with the body and hair recovered with the body. There was no evidence of bone fractures and no foreign bodies suggesting trauma were noted.
Following these examinations the pieces of cloth, the hair, and the finger and toe nails were released to the Cedar Rapids Police. In addition, the ropes binding the wrists and ankles, and the night gown were released to the Cedar Rapids Police.
Positive identification of the remains was based upon the dental records and dental x-rays in comparison with the skull and mandible.
Anthropologic examination confirmed the physical description of the deceased.
Immunologic examination for determination of blood type was made upon a portion of lumbar vertebra, and the conclusion is that the deceased’s blood (bone) type is Group O, Lea-.
Objective observations are summarized as follows:
- The body was found on a steep incline in a washout beside a road.
- The position of the body was that of acute hyperextension at the lumbar region about a stake in the ground.
- The wrists were tied with two ropes, with the arms behind the back.
- The ankles were tied with two ropes.
- Decomposition was advanced with virtual skeletonization of the remains.
- There was no evidence of trauma demonstrable on the skeleton or remaining soft tissue.
- Positive identification was made on the basis of dental comparisons.
- The blood type is Group O, Lea-.
It is my considered opinion based upon my knowledge and experience that:
I. 1)The position of the body in acute hyperextension at the lumbar region about a metal stake, and
2) the tied wrists and ankles,
preclude the deceased, if alive and conscious when placed in this position, from extricating herself from this position in the washout on a steep incline.
II. It was not physically possible for the deceased to have tied and secured her ankles and wrists in the manner found without the assistance of another person; or that this was done entirely by another person or persons.
III. Death due to (1) soft tissue injury, (2) poisoning, (3) asphyxiation, or (4) a combination of these, cannot be excluded from the examination of the remains of the body.
IV. If the deceased was not dead when placed in this position, death would have resulted from: respiratory embarrassment, exposure, or a combination of respiratory embarrassment developing as exposure continued and she tired.
Signed: Earl F. Rose, M.D.