CRIME SCENE ANALYSIS

Date of Report: October 12, 1998

Victim: Cynthia Allinger
9 YO white female
Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office
Case No. 96-0574

Examiner: Brent E. Turvey, MS
Forensic Scientist & Criminal Profiler
Knowledge Solutions, LLC
1271 Washington Ave. #274
San Leandro, CA  94577
(510) 483-6739; bturvey@corpus-delicti.com

For: Fred Leatherman, Attorney
Dept. of Assigned Counsel
949 Market Street, Ste. 334
Tacoma, WA 98402-3696
Contact: Fred Leatherman; (253) 798-6981

 

LOCATION           

The victim, Cynthia Allinger, was reportedly last seen in the general vicinity of her residence at 12804 SW Lincoln Ave, Lakewood, WA, on July 4th, 1996. She was reported missing to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department at 10:53pm by her mother, Rhonda Plank.

The body of Cynthia Allinger was discovered at an outdoor crime scene on July 17th, 1996 at 8:30pm, by Detective Robert Floberg of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, in an area of foliage approximately 150 feet behind the unoccupied residence at 4905 SW 123rd Street in Lakewood, WA. It had been placed in a piece of recently discarded carpeting (according to a report by Steven Verhey), beneath a heavy metal water tank, and covered by several layers of older discarded carpeting. This location is approximately 800 yards from her residence, and less than 50 yards from the Bridgeport Way North Interstate 5 onramp.

 

EXAMINATIONS PERFORMED

This examiner made an analysis of the case material provided to the attorneys for Guy M. Rasmussen as a part of discovery as well as the findings of other experts on this case. Excluded from that analyses were any materials relating exclusively to that defendant.

This examiner also visited the area of the victim's residence on September 20th, 1998, and walked to and examined the location where the victim's body was discovered.

Victimology

A competent study of victim history could not be performed in this case as the appropriate materials, in accordance with the basic requirements for the 1997 NIJ National Guidelines for Death Investigation, were not provided to this examiner.

As stated and italicized in the textbook Practical Homicide Investigation, 3rd Edition, by Vernon Geberth (part of the required reading for the International Association for Identification's crime scene certification process):

 "Assessing the victimology of the deceased is standard operating procedure for any good homicide investigator." (pp.719-721)

According to both Geberth and the NIJ National Guidelines for Death Investigation, part of establishing victimology is an assessment of victim physical and mental health history.

A thorough study of victim history (victimology) provides four major components to a forensic analysis: context, a basis for assessing victim risk, connections, and investigative direction. It provides context for the crime by giving insight into how the victim may react, respond, or behave in certain situations. It provides a basis for assessing victim risk which gives insight into how many barriers the offender had to penetrate in order to acquire the victim. It provides connections by helping to establish relational links between victims and potential offenders. These links may be geographical, work related, schedule oriented, school related, hobby related, or there may be a pre-existing relationship (i.e. - friends or family). Establishing the victim context of the attack, and the connections between the victim and the people in their life, gives insight into how the victim was selected, and potentially why.

Wound Pattern Analysis

Hemorrhaged Lacerations to the Vagina and Perineum

According to the autopsy report by Dr. Ramoso, and visible in the autopsy photos, the victim sustained numerous lacerations to the genital area. These injuries are evidence of a sexual assault to the victim. The multiple lacerations and hemorrhaging appear to be the result of multiple attempts to forcefully penetrate the victim's vagina while she was alive.

These injuries appear to have been made by a foreign object that was larger than her vaginal opening, as suggested by the semi-symmetrical injuries to her exterior vagina. This foreign object also appears to have been more solid and inflexible than a penis, such as multiple human fingers, a wooden hammer handle, a commercial sexual insertion device, or a glass bottle. It is possible that more than one object was used to inflict these injures. However the lacerations nearest the vagina and nearest the perineum appear to have been made as the result of stretching, most likely during the attempts to insert the inflexible solid object.

These injuries appear to be punishment oriented. Punishment oriented force is a reactive expression of offender anger. This suggests that the offender is repaying the victim for real or perceived wrongs. Injuries involving punishment oriented force are characterized by the use of more physically aggressive force than is necessary to achieve victim compliance, as in this case.

This examiner saw no evidence that this act was intended to be lethal. If the offender had intended to kill the victim with a foreign object, it would have been inserted into the vaginal vault and subsequent internal injuries would be present.

This examiner saw no evidence that this act was intended to be sexually sadistic. These injuries appear to have been delivered in a very short period of time, and very forcefully as an expression of offender anger. Evidence of sexual sadism requires injuries that are calculated and inflicted over time to cause extended victim suffering, as well as evidence that the offender was sexually gratified by that suffering. As the offender did not take a great deal of time to inflict these wounds, this examiner cannot support the conclusion these injuries represent a sadistic intent.

Victim's Underwear Obstructing the Airway
According to the autopsy report by Dr. Ramoso, and visible in the autopsy photos, the victim's underwear was found in her mouth, protruding out about 1-1/4 inches past the lips and extending back into the posterior pharyngeal region. Though not visible in the autopsy photos made available to this examiner, Dr. Ramoso further notes that some of the underwear material "is obstructing the airway in the region of the oropharynx and nasopharynx." According to the autopsy report this appears to have caused "asphyxia by gagging."

The above strongly suggests that the underwear was placed in the victim's mouth while she was alive. Furthermore, this examiner has seen no documentation that refutes this suggestion. Therefore, based on the available information, this examiner agrees with that conclusion.

This action was most likely intended to be control oriented. Control oriented is a term that may be used to describe physically aggressive offender behavior that is intended to manipulate, regulate, restrain, and subdue victim behavior of any kind. It involves directly forcing victim compliance by use of some physical means. During the attack on the victim, as she was alive and likely screaming or otherwise making a great deal of noise, it is likely that the offender grabbed what was available and convenient to control that verbal behavior. The underwear, then, was most likely intended for use as a gag. It is possible that the choice of underwear as a gag may have had a punishment oriented component to it as well.

This examiner saw no evidence that this act was intended to be lethal. The autopsy report makes no mention of injury to the interior of the victim's mouth, cheeks, or pharynx. If the offender had forced the underwear down the victim's throat, demonstrating intent to cut off the airway and a subsequent intent to kill, then it would be reasonable to expect such injuries. Furthermore, only some of the underwear is blocking the victim's airway, as though it had been drawn down. Autopsy photographs show that much of the material can still be seen in the victim's mouth. If the offender had intended to kill the victim by asphyxiating her with the underwear, then it would be reasonable to expect that some effort would have been made to lodge the bulk of the material in the airway, and leave very little material in the victim's mouth.

Fracture of the Mandible
According to the autopsy report by Dr. Ramoso, and visible in the autopsy photos, the victim sustained a fracture to the mandible.  This was very likely the result of two or more blows to her face, according to the report by Dr. Gerald Vale dated October 9th, 1998.

The intent of the force involved is most likely one of two possibilities, either separately or acting in concert:

Control oriented: It is possible that these blows were delivered as an initial method of attack, to immediately overpower the victim, give her no opportunity to defend herself, and to achieve compliance (this is sometimes referred to as a Blitz attack). The assault to the victim's genital area could have then been carried out as an extension of that physical attack.

Punishment oriented: It is possible that the victim was struck repeatedly during sexual assault in response to physical resistance, such as kicking the offender as he attempted to maintain control of her legs in order to gain access to her genital area.

This examiner saw no evidence that this act was intended to be lethal, such as brutal force injuries to areas of the head that are commonly associated with fatal injuries like the skull or the neck. The skull and the neck are both known to contain vital organs and arteries that if damaged may result in death. Victim injuries to these areas are not noted in the autopsy report, and were apparently not the intended focus of the offender's use of force.

  "Cigarette Burns"
There are some dark, circular (approximately 1/4") injuries to the victim's right thigh. Dr. Ramoso has suggested in his autopsy report that these are the result of cigarette burns. The limitations of 2-dimensional photo quality prevent this examiner from being able to agree or disagree with this assertion. However, if this injury is the result of a contact burn, then it is likely that the victim was unconscious or deceased when these injuries where inflicted. When a conscious victim is inflicted with a contact burn, they move and struggle and respond to the pain, which causes the burn pattern to be irregular. The wound patterns in this case are regular and do not suggest movement at the time of contact.

It is possible that either bindings or a second offender physically restrained the victim while these injuries were being inflicted, allowing for a lack of victim movement. However this examiner could find no evidence of victim restraint, and no evidence of victim restraint is noted in the autopsy report or suggested by items found at the crime scene.

If these injuries are cigarette burns, and they were inflicted to a conscious, restrained victim, then they are consistent with punishment oriented force.

 

Crime Scene Characteristics

Location Type

Location type is a term that refers to the type of environment that a crime scene exists within. There are four general types (these are not always exclusive), and each determines the nature and extent of evidence that one can potentially recover there: indoor, outdoor, vehicle, and underwater.

This location where the victim's body was found is an outdoor crime scene, meaning that it was exposed to the elements of nature. Less than 50 yards to the East of the crime scene is Interstate 5, the main highway servicing three states and on into Canada. Immediately to the North, South, and West of this area are residential living areas, including an abundance of apartment complexes and homes.

It is a secluded area that is not immediately visible, apparent, or accessible from any of the main roads. This makes it more likely that the offender who utilized this scene had intimate knowledge of, and familiarity with, the area.

Crime Scene Type
Crime Scene type refers to the relationship between the crime scene and the offender behavior, in the context of an offense.

The location where Cynthia Allinger's body was found is most likely a disposal site only. In this instance, this term is used to refer to the place where the body was disposed of after an attack. The physical evidence does not suggest that the location where her body was found is the Primary crime scene, which is a term used to describe a location where an offender engaged in the majority of their attack/ assault upon a victim.  The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. The entomological evidence provided by Dr. Haskell suggests that the victim's dead body had been in an indoor crime scene at some point.  

  2.  The entomological evidence provided by Dr. Haskell suggests that death may have occurred between July 7th and July 9th, several days after the victim's disappearance.

  3. The entomological evidence provided by Dr. Haskell suggests that the victim's deceased body may have been stored in an intermediate crime scene (a crime scene between the primary scene and the disposal site, where there may be evidence transfer). This location, it is suggested, was more thoroughly protected from insect colonization than the disposal site.

  4. Dr. Vale has opined that the teeth missing from the victim's mouth were dislodged as the result of physical blows. At least two teeth have not yet been accounted for in this investigation. If the tooth associated with the line of fracture was knocked out at the time of that attack, it is reasonable to conclude that this tooth would be found at the primary crime scene. To this examiner's knowledge, this tooth has not been recovered from the location where the victim's body was discovered.  

  5. The nature and extent of the behavior that the offender engaged in with the victim, especially on a day where many people would be outside, would have drawn a great deal of attention if done out in the open.

Disposal as a Precautionary Act
Precautionary Acts
are behaviors committed by an offender before, during, or after an offense that are consciously intended to confuse, hamper, or defeat investigative or forensic efforts for the purposes of concealing their identity, their connection to the crime, or the crime itself. In this case, the body of Cynthia Allinger was taken to location and disposed of for these reasons.

However, it is the opinion of this examiner that the offender intended that the body ultimately be discovered. If the offender had desired to completely conceal the body and any evidence of any crime, then the victim's body would have been taken to a nearby body of water for disposal, or remote disposal site in a more rural, less accessible location.

Instead, the evidence suggests that the offender chose to remove the victim's body from an intermediate storage scene and dispose of it several days later in a location frequented by activity. This area was surrounded by residential areas on three sides and was less than 800 yards from the vicinity where she was last seen. Being intimately familiar with the area, the offender must have known that once the body was placed in that location, it was only a matter of time before it was discovered.

 

______________________________

Brent Turvey, MS
Forensic Scientist & Criminal Profiler