Crime Story
Veeraswamy Krishnaraj, M.D
The Fish Spoke
It was a mild summer. The family wanted relief from boredom. The family of four launched the boat in the big lake for a day of fishing. Ron Gindan, his wife Theresa, and the two boys John and James were the handsome foursome on the boat. Ron fired up the gas oven to prepare pizzas. He forbade the family from eating the fish caught in the lake. This sounded strange to the other three. Ron did not give any reason. They were eating pizza. Ron caught the fish, unhooked them, and set them free in the lake water. He kept one fat fish stored in a plastic bag.
Theresa and Ron drank mineral water. The boys drank coke and ate pizza. They were disappointed that their father prohibited them from eating the fish from the lake.
Evening came. The boat was on the land by the garage, covered up in tarpaulin.
The weekend came and went fast. Ron was back in his office on Monday. He unwrapped the cold fish, cut it open, removed the contents of the stomach and saved it in the refrigerator. He took a piece of it and saw under the microscope. Lo and behold, it was a skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscle. He could not tell immediately whether it was of human or animal origin. He sent a bit of it for DNA analysis in the lab that was part of his lab.
Yes, Ron was a scientist in the FBI crime lab. After several days, the report came it was human DNA in the stomach of the fish. Hey, this is unusual, it is common to see fish tissue in the stomach of a human but not human tissue in the stomach of a fish.
Ron had a thought in his mind: There must be corpses hiding in the lake. Who would know them better than the people who threw them and the fish who ate them?
When Ron was a child, once he had several sores on his legs. The doctors called it ecthyma. It was like impetigo but affecting deeper tissues of the skin. When Ron was bathing in the lake, the fish ate all the debris from the ecthyma and made the lesions clean. The lesions healed very fast, soon after the fish had feasted on them. Thank the fish.
Ron’s childhood experience with ecthyma and fish made him suspect that some of the murder cases went unsolved because the lake was the repository of the dead bodies of the murder victims and many other secrets.
A complete DNA profile of the stomach contents of the fish was sent by email to him.
It was human DNA. This was the first time human DNA was found in the stomach of a fish according to the Crime Records Section of the Bureau. Ron faced the dilemma: Scour the bottom of the lake for a human body or bodies or do the DNA of the immediate blood relatives of murder victims in the neighborhood.
They chose the latter. DNA specimens were collected on all the blood relatives of murder victims and missing persons. Bingo, there was one match. The match was the sister of the murder victim.
Sonar was able to locate a bag and deep divers recovered the body bag. The DNA of the person in the bag matched with the DNA of the contents in the stomach of the fish. The investigators were looking for any clues as to the perpetrator.
An autopsy of the body in the bag revealed a piece of tissue in an otherwise empty stomach. DNA revealed a human male tissue compatible with male breast tissue. The investigator assume that the cool frigid waters kept the tissue intact inside the stomach of the victim. Obviously, the victim bit the murderer hard.
Now the job was cut out for the investigators to look for the man with missing breast and nipple.
They went to the hospitals in town looking for medical history of a man with missing nipple. No luck. Further enquiry revealed an erstwhile prisoner who stitched up lacerations of other prisoners, who sustained injuries during prison fights.
The investigators tracked him down and he admitted having stitched up the man with missing left nipple. The investigator gathered from him that the injured man was an avid swimmer. He could not tell where he lived.
It became apparent to the investigators that the victim bit into the nipple of the killer as she fought with him and inadvertently swallowed it.
Investigators went to Sauna clubs in town and asked the managers whether any of them saw a man with a missing nipple swimming in the pool. The manager routinely kept the swimming pool under video surveillance for any drowning.
Luck would have it that one sauna club produced a photo of a man in the pool with one missing nipple.
They tracked him down and arrested him. They were able to match the DNA of the nipple in the victim’s stomach with the man's DNA and put the man under arrest. The obvious corporeal evidence in the arrested man was a scar tissue where the left nipple should be.
The fish spoke. The nipple spoke. The video spoke. The DNA spoke.