Second Ellen Bury Medical Report

[This report was prepared by William Kinnear and David Lennox, who examined Ellen Bury’s body a few days after Charles Templeman and Alexander Mitchell Stalker examined it.  Both doctors would testify for the defense at William Bury’s trial.  —Steve Earp]

Report upon the Post-Mortem Examination of the body of the woman said to be that of Ellen Elliot or Bury held in the Mortuary attached to Dundee Prison on February, 14th, 1889 at 2 p.m. Drs Templeman and Stalker being present.

A. External Examination:—

The body is that of a female, fairly nourished,  5 feet 1¼ inch in height and apparently about 32 years of age.  On the head the hair is dark except at the temples where there are some grey hairs.  The eyes are blue.  At the base of the inner aspect of each great toe is a bunnion.  A circular mole about one inch in diameter lies over the anterior extremity of the seventh left rib.

The skin of the abdomen below the level of the navel is discoloured with blood which has been roughly wiped or washed off.  On the inner aspect of the left thigh at the inguinal region are several very minute patches of hardened blood.  The anterior nares or nostrils are coated internally with coagulated blood.

Cadaveric rigidity of the muscles is absent in the neck, trunk, upper extremities and in the right leg.  It is slightly marked in the left lower extremity and in the right thigh.  Post-mortem lividity is fairly marked on the trunk affecting all the back and spreading across the shoulders to the posterior fold of the armpits but it is only present in patches at the buttocks.  The head and upper part of the neck are deeply congested: the face is swollen and has spots of ecchymosis upon it especially on the right cheek.  The lips are livid.  The tongue is swollen and protruded against the teeth.  The lower jaw is retracted.  The eyes are soft from putrefaction : the pupils are equal and relaxed : the upper aspect of the eyeballs is congested : on the right eyeball this congestion is diffuse and on the left it is punctiform.  The fingers are semi flexed on the palms and the hands are livid.  The mucous membrane of the genitals is congested : there is a yellowish discharge in the vagina.  The abdominal wall is green from incipient putrefaction.

Encircling the neck is a band of blue discoloured skin about ½ inch in vertical diameter : the upper border being more marked than the lower.  (The larynx and hyoid bone have been removed by Drs Templeman and Stalker)  The inferior edge of the blue band is in front 3½ inches from the top of the breast bone and at the sides it is 2 inches below the mastoid processes.  Viewed from either side the band has therefore a slightly oblique direction from below upwards and from before backwards.  When cut into the skin forming the band exhibits ecchymosis throughout its thickness but there are no ruptured vessels in the subcutaneous cellular tissue the blood vessels of which are congested.  This cellular tissue has a condensed silvery appearance.  (Drs Templeman and Stalker have made a dissection into the neck in the middle line in front and another into the sternomastoid region on the right side : these dissections have destroyed the original state of affairs in these regions.  They have also made several incisions through the skin forming the discoloured band which do not however interfere with accurate observations).

On the body are several small bruises viz:— (1.) Across the bridge of the nose at the junction of the cartilages and nasal bones is a small bruise and transverse irregular rupture of the skin about ½ inch in length and inclining downwards to the left.  The skin of the bruise has a dry and parchment like appearance.  (2.) A dark blue bruise 2 inches vertically and 1 inch wide is situate a little anterior to the angles of the 9th, 10th and 11th ribs.  (3) And there is an excoriation at the anterior extremity of the 10th. rib 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide : the direction being vertical.

About four inches below the interior tuberosity is a compound comminuted fracture of the right tibia and there is a transverse fracture of the fibula at the same level.  The soft parts are lacerated extensively but no blood spots are to be found in the wound which runs along the skin for 4 inches in a vertical direction.

The abdomen, pubis and perinaeum exhibit a number of incised wounds viz:— (1) In the middle line an incised wound opening the abdominal cavity extends vertically upwards from 1½ inch above the pubis for 4½ inches. (through this aperture it is stated by Drs Templeman and Stalker that twelve inches of the small intestine protruded).  The muscles on either side of the wound are dark from decomposition.  (2) on the right side eight inches above the pubis a wound is present one inch to the right of the middle line and 1/8 inch in vertical extent, dividing the skin.  (3) 6¾ inches above the pubis and 2 inches to the right of the middle line is a vertical incised wound, ¾ inch in its long diameter :  the skin, fat and external oblique muscle are divided.  (4) Two inches above the middle of the groin (Poupart’s ligament) on the right side is a small transverse incision inclining upwards at its outer end :  it is ¾ inch in length and divides the skin, fat and fascia.  (5) On the left side one inch above the pubis and 1½ inch from the middle line but curving upwards towards it is a superficial wound 1¼ inch in extent.  (6) 6¾ inches above the pubis on the left side and one inch from the middle line is a vertical incision extending upwards for 1½ inch and dividing the skin, superficial and deep fasciae and external oblique.  (7) Two skin scratches run from the ensiform cartilage to the upper end of this wound.  (8) About 1/8 inch above the middle of the groin on the left side is a vertical wound 3½ inches in extent and passing into the subcutaneous tissue.  (9) Two skin scratches run from the level of the navel on the right side to the apex of the wound which lays open the abdomen  (10) And another scratch lies parallel to these on the right side.  (11) There is a vertical incised wound from the anterior and upper part of the Mons Veneris on the left side over the crest of the pubis for 2½ inches and extending through the skin and subcutaneous fatty tissue.  (12.) A second vertical incision runs from the lower edge of the pubis into the vulva, dividing the skin, the mucosa of the labium majus and the subcutaneous fat : It is also 2½ inches long and lies towards the right.  (13) A third incision extends from 1¼ inch posterior to the anus in the middle line and passes obliquely forwards and to the left ending between the vulva and tuberosity of the ischium and dividing the skin, superficial and deep fasciae, inferior haemorrhoidal vessels and part of the sphincter and muscle.

All these wounds gape somewhat.  Their edges are flaccid and not everted.  The portions of muscle exposed are shrivelled and darkened from the action of the air and decomposition.  There are no blood coagula in the wounds and there is no blood on the hair of the privates.

B. Internal Examination.

(The body has been previously opened and examined by Drs Templeman and Stalker and most of the viscera removed from their natural situations.)

On examining the larynx and upper part of the windpipe, which have been removed from the neck, the mucus membrane lining those air passages shows deep congestion.  The large veins of the neck are congested.

The lungs exhibit extensive rupture of the air cells or emphysema along and near their anterior borders and base.  Both organs are intensely congested : And in both what appears to have been patches of blood intravasated into their substance can be seen.  There is no ecchymosis below the costal plurae and none can be detected below the visceral

(In answer to a question Drs Templeman and Stalker report that bloody mucus without froth was found in the larynx and trachea and bloody mucus with froth in the bronchi)

The heart is absent from the body.  (Drs Templeman and Stalker report that it was healthy and that its cavities were empty.)

There is no evidence of inflammation in the abdominal cavity and there is no wounding of the viscera (apart from post mortem requirements).  Only one of the abdominal incisions penetrates the thickness of the belly wall—the large wound in the middle line through which about twelve inches of the small intestine are said to have been found protruding.  Twelve inches of the small intestine are of a dark green colour evidently due to decomposition but have no sign of inflammatory changes.  The spleen is dark and congested.  The kidneys are slightly congested.  The liver is normal and in section exhibits fluid blood.  The stomach has been cut open (in the previous examination) and is empty.  Its mucous membrane exhibits marked patches of congestion especially towards the pyloric or intestinal end where the congestion is striated and the mucosa pigmented.  There is no evidence of ulceration of the stomach.  The womb has been removed along with a portion of the vaginal canal.  (This was done by Drs Templeman and Stalker who report that the womb was normal and not pregnant)

The skull cap is thick and uninjured.  The dura mater is congested and strips off easily.  The sinuses are full of blood.  The pia and arachnoid maters are also deeply congested and strip off easily.  On section the brain exhibits numerous puncta eruenta.

All the blood found in the body is fluid.

From the above post mortem examination we are of opinion 1st. that death was due to asphyxia produced by the mechanical constriction of a ligature round the neck.

2nd. that the constriction was probably effected by strangling

3rd. that the strangulation was suicidal

4th. that the bruises found on the body were probably inflicted within several hours before death but that from their number, extent and situations were probably accidental.

5th. all the wounds on the trunk were inflicted after death.

We hereby certify in soul and conscience that the foregoing is a correct report of our post mortem examination.

William Kinnear M.D.
D. Lennox M.D.

February 14th., 1889