Calendar » Get Out

Bugging Out

by

comment
1392256.t.jpg
Joe Keiper has practiced enough "Forensic Entomology in Cleveland" to run circles around the folks on CSI. Since 2000, he's helped the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office solve 24 murders, suicides, and accidents by analyzing blowflies and their eggs found on decomposing bodies. "Any coroner worth their weight in salt will tell you about the degree of rigor mortis and sticking a thermometer inside the body cavity to get a temperature," says Keiper, curator of invertebrate zoology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "But all of that is fakey Hollywood stuff. The only way to get a good estimate of time of death is to look at insect evidence."

At today's lecture, Keiper will reveal the findings behind some of the cases he's worked on — including the 2003 murder of 11-year-old Shakira Johnson on Cleveland's East Side. "I kinda hate to spill the beans here, but this is not that difficult to do," he says. "If I know what the environmental data are — the temperature, whether it's sunny or cloudy — I can tell you how old a maggot is. Therefore, I can pinpoint the time of death to within two hours of when it actually happened."

Keiper's made believers of local law enforcement. "I've talked with a lot of lawyers and detectives to help them accept this as a real science, not this hocus-pocus, made-up stuff," he says. "It also makes people understand that there are things about Mother Nature that we should all know about. This begins to hit the tip of the iceberg."
Tue., Feb. 7, noon

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.