The gunshot wound which killed Amanda Bach rendered her incapable of
“intelligible” speech. It also paralyzed Bach and very rapidly caused her to
lapse into unconsciousness.
Those are the conclusions of the forensic pathologist who performed the
autopsy on Bach on Monday, Sept. 19, in Indianapolis.
Other conclusions: what the Dustin McCowan’s defense has characterized
possibly as ligature marks—on and around Bach’s knees—were post-mortem
injuries; and at the time of her death Bach had consumed either no alcohol
or very little.
Under direct examination, Dr. John Cavanaugh said he saw no “obvious” signs
of sexual assault. He estimated that Bach had been in the actual physical
position in which she was found a “minimum of 24 hours.” And he stated that,
when found, she had been dead for 24 to 48 hours.
Under defense attorney Nick Barnes’ cross examination, Cavanaugh testified
that the bullet wound would have caused “a noticeable amount of blood
loss”—though by no means to the point of exsanguination—and that whether or
not a blood trail would have been left by the body depends on what happened
immediately after Bach had been shot.
Could he tell whether Bach had been sitting or standing or lying when shot?
There’s no way of telling that, Cavanaugh stated.
Barnes then asked Cavanaugh where the abrasions around her knees could have
been made by a ligature.
Cavanaugh first noted that there are actually “separate clusters” of
injuries—behind the knees, to the sides, on the knee caps—and that those
clusters are not continuous. It would be “hard to say,” on the other hand,
whether a ligature caused those injuries. In any case, Cavanaugh said, if a
ligature did cause them, it did so after Bach had died.
“Is there any evidence Amanda Bach had been beaten or punched or struck?”
“There are no significant injuries” beyond those already discussed,
Cavanaugh stated, although it’s possible that, had she been pushed and then
fallen to her knees, she might have received those abrasions to her knee
caps. “But there’s no clear evidence for blunt force.”
Barnes concluded the cross examination by questioning Cavanaugh about the
lividity observed on Bach’s body: the places—mostly on her back, waist, and
upper legs—where gravity had pulled the blood and caused it to pool.
Later, under re-direct examination, Cavanaugh testified that the lividity
and blanching which he observed in Bach’s body is consistent with the
position in which she was found.
A juror did submit one question, which Porter Superior Court Judge Bill
Alexa put to Cavanaugh: is there evidence that Bach consumed alcohol prior
to her death.
Alcohol was found in Bach’s system “at low levels,” Cavanaugh stated. It’s
impossible to say, though, given those low levels, whether she had consumed
that alcohol or whether it had been produced in her body as a result of
A forensic entomologist testified on Wednesday that, based on his analysis
of temperature data and his observation of blowfly eggs deposited on Amanda
Bach’s body but not yet hatched, Bach in all likelihood had been at the site
where her body was later found at least since 10:30 to 11 a.m. Friday, Sept.
Under direct examination, Dr. Ralph Williams stated the following: common
blowflies are attracted “to decomposing flesh by the odor of death”; adult
female blowflies will deposit their eggs on cadavers but not after dark and
not below the temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit; studies have determined
that blowfly eggs on average take 267 to 300 “accumulated degree-hours” to
hatch; and none of the eggs deposited on Bach—mostly in her hair and nasal
cavities—had hatched into maggots when the body was found at 3:49 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 17.
Using temperature data recorded at the Porter County Regional Airport,
Williams testified that no egg-laying would have occurred until 10:30 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 16—probably closer to 11 a.m.—when the temperature that day
finally hit 50 degrees. The temperature did not again fall below 50 degrees
on Friday until after dark and by mid-afternoon Saturday, Sept. 17, had
reached the mid-60s.
Williams’ calculation: by the time Bach was found at 3:49 p.m. Saturday, the
eggs deposited on her body had been there a total of 89 accumulated
degree-hours, well short of 267. “That’s why we did not see maggots,” he
Working backward from those 89 accumulated degree-hours to what he called
the “post-mortem interval,” Williams testified that, in his opinion, Bach’s
body was already “probably at that location” at 10:30 or 11 a.m. that
In cross-examination, defense attorney Nick Barnes pressed Williams on the
particular species of blowfly but Williams testified that it’s impossible to
identify species until the third growth stage, well after the eggs have
hatched into maggots.
Shouldn’t investigators have collected samples of the eggs, in order to
hatch them and determine their species? Barnes asked.
Williams wouldn’t speak to what the investigators should or should not have
done but he did state that, “regardless of the species, nowhere near the
amount of time” had elapsed, when the Bach’s body was discovered, for the
eggs to have hatched.
“In this situation you don’t believe collection would have given you any
other information” Barnes asked.
“I would normally advocate collection but again we’re dealing only with 89
accumulated degree-hours,” Williams replied.
Barnes asked Williams about the minimum—not the average—number of
accumulated degree-hours it takes for eggs to hatch.
Williams testified that he did not consider the minimum number but, in any
case and once again, “it still wouldn’t be enough.”