Time of Death

Facts

  • In her sworn statement on April 19, 1979, Josie Stepenhorst said Theresa had finished her meal in the Dewhurst Dining Hall by 6 pm.
  • Theresa was seen by Tamara Westall around 9:30 pm grabbing a late-night snack in the King’s Hall dining room.

Fact

“The stomach contains a small mass of solid food, digested or decomposed. The intestines are void of matter.”
–Teresa Sourour, pathologist with the Laboratoire de medicine legale, in her April 14, 1979 autopsy report of Theresa Allore

Fact:

“The ME can often use the contents of the victims stomach to help determine time of death. After a meal, the stomach empties itself in approximately 4 to 6 hours, depending on the type and amount of food ingested. If a victim stomach contains largely undigested food material, then the death likely occurred within an hour or two of the meal. If the stomach is empty, the death likely occurred more than six hours after eating. Additionally, if the small intestine is also empty, death probably occurred some 12 hours or more after the last meal.

“At death, all digestive processes stop. This means that any food in the stomach or intestines remains as it was at death, until decay sets in….The stomach empties in about 2 hours and the intestines in about 12. So, if your victim was known to have eaten at about 6 p.m. and the ME found that his stomach contained the meal, he could state that the time of death was between 6 and 8 p.m. If the victim ate at 6 p.m. and the stomach was empty, he would say that the death was after about 8 or 9 p.m.”
–D.P. Lyle, MD, “Timely Death”

Conclusion

  • By 9:30 pm, Theresa’s meal from Dewhurst Dining Hall would be fully digested and therefore not present in her stomach or intestines. Therefore, the food discovered in her stomach during the autopsy would have been what she ate in the King’s Hall dining room. This means that Sharon Buzzee’s and Tamara Westall’s testimony is accurate.
  • Theresa definitely made it back to Compton and King’s Hall on November 3, 1978.
  • Theresa’s time of death should be estimated between 9:45 pm and 11:45 pm on November 3, 1978.

Questions

  • Where did Theresa go after her late-night snack? She wasn’t seen back at Gillard House. Nobody at the store in the village remembered seeing her. Did she meet up with her killer/fate at King’s Hall or on the way to the store? Did somebody invite her outside for a smoke in their car? Did somebody ask her to go with them to buy some weed or liquor?
  • How did Theresa get back to Compton? She missed the 6:15 pm bus. Could she have met up with someone she knew in Lennoxville (e.g., student/teacher) who offered her a ride back to her residence? If so, why didn’t this person admit to giving her a ride? If she hitchhiked and accepted a ride from a stranger, why didn’t that person come forward?

====
Maritime Missy

Category:

Leave a Reply