Oklahoma City pastor’s autopsy shows neck wounds were fatal

| August 28, 2009

ANADARKO — "Brutal and severe” injuries to the neck are what killed the Rev. Carol Daniels, a renowned forensic scientist who reviewed preliminary autopsy reports said Friday.

Multiple other wounds, including mutilation of her left breast, most likely were inflicted postmortem, said Brent Turvey, a private forensic scientist and criminal profiler, and an adjunct professor with Oklahoma City University.

Daniels, the pastor of Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko, was found dead inside the church shortly before service time Sunday. Authorities said she died of multiple sharp-force injuries.

Neither the state medical examiner’s office nor the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation would comment on the reports obtained by The Oklahoman through an open records request.

Turvey said he doesn’t think the killing was a ritualistic sacrifice by a serial killer.

"I believe there is no motive other than it appears to be an anger-oriented sexual homicide,” Turvey said after reviewing the reports.

"Her hair was burned, and she was found behind the church altar,” he said.

The autopsy diagrams show what appear to be defensive injuries to Daniels’ hands, which Turvey said indicates she was possibly "fending off a knife,” and fighting her attacker.

The medical examiner’s report depicted massive gashes encircling her neck with other major wounds around her left breast area.

Likely a knife attack
 

Dr. William Manion, a forensic pathologist and deputy medical examiner in Burlington County, N.J., told The Associated Press on Friday that the medical examiner’s report shows Daniels likely was attacked with a knife and died quickly after her throat was slashed.

"The most fatal injuries are those around her neck,” Manion said. "I would say, based on the fact that both sides of the neck have major wounds associated with them, that she would be nearly decapitated.”

Turvey agrees that the report clearly shows the neck wounds caused her death, but all the other injuries, including the massive chest wounds and gash on her back, were most likely inflicted postmortem.

"That means that after she’s dead, the killer keeps doing things to her,” Turvey said.

Manion, going on previous descriptions that the body was left in an unnatural position, said that posing or staging of a body is extremely rare and usually means the killer wanted to thwart investigators or shock whoever discovered the body.

"It’s something to repel and nauseate people, something very shocking to try and upset people investigating the crime,” Manion said.

The evidence from the autopsy reports and the information released so far show signs of a sexual slaying possibly carried out by someone Daniels knew and who knew her schedule, Turvey said.

OSBI has called in FBI behavioral science experts to help track down the killer, said Jessica Brown, OSBI spokeswoman.

Turvey said he believes agents should stick close to people Daniels knew, including any romantic relationships or possibly someone she was counseling.

The theory that the killer knew Daniels and was enraged is one shared by Manion, "In the case of a robbery … he’s not going to hang around and keep slashing at her, stabbing her over and over, and take time to stage the body,” he said.

From a forensics standpoint, Turvey said, it seems likely the nudity and the attack on her breast indicate the crime was a sexual homicide.

Turvey said authorities should be careful not to assume the killer is a man, because the crime could have been committed by a female — specifically a jealous woman.

"For example, the burning of the hair,” Turvey said. "That’s something a female might do.”

Contributing: Associated Press

 

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