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The value of autopsy reports in skull cases

Posted on March 24, 2022

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Skull cases are difficult to solve.

Lindell J. Kay

Skull cases are difficult to solve.

I've written about skulls a lot in recent weeks.

Setting aside beach bones, skull cases are probably the most difficult to solve. That's why killers separate head from shoulders.

These cases demonstrate the importance of obtaining autopsies when writing about unidentified skulls.

In this week's story, next to nothing would have been reported without an autopsy, or more specifically in this case the death investigation report.

In North Carolina, a medical examiner fills out an initial report upon first encountering a body. It's supposed to be at the scene.

These reports have information not found anywhere else. For example, in this week's case, the death investigation has information on the skull being found in the possession of a murderer's girlfriend.

Equipped with her name, I was able to find archived news articles about Mr. Bishop and his disastrous plan to rob Nan Schiffman.

The part of the story where Bishop's girlfriend had an unknown skull had been more or less forgotten.

How? I don't know. But all the NamUs site says is that the skull was found in the "possession of an individual."

And a 2015 story about a new trial for Bishop, and him pleading guilty, makes no mention of the skull - a detail no reporter I know would leave out if they knew it.

So now we have reintroduced the skull into Bishop's story.

Maybe someone with that context will read the new article and come forward…

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