This Is Why I Worked in Forensic Chemistry

The following is a true story based on actual events that occurred on Thanksgiving Eve 2009.

Wednesday night is “Glee” night and my friend Kim comes over to watch. We get through another great episode and I mention that I have Star Trek and we agree to watch. But as I pop in the movie, she starts telling me about her downstairs neighbor. She mentioned how she thought it was odd that the door had been opened since she left for work that morning and that her mom remembers seeing the door open at 4 am when she got home from work.

An elderly couple used to live there, but in recent months, both have passed away. Their daughter had moved in with the mom, until the mom passed about a month ago. The daughter was apparently quite the alcoholic and would become very angry and have multiple outbursts. Kim and her mom remembers hearing the daughter yelling at apparently nobody about a week ago.

When Kim’s mom went to work Tuesday afternoon around 2 pm, she recalls seeing the neighbor sitting on the floor in the doorway, but when she tried to wave, the woman ducked away. And as I said, when she came home from work, the door was open. This time the woman was reclining in her chair. Though odd the door was open at 4 am, she didn’t stop to check because of the way the woman acted earlier. Not to mention the anger episodes she had been having.

Well, Kim goes to work around 8 am and comes home close to 5 pm and the door is still open and the open is still sitting in the chair. Now we are caught up to present and we’re about to start Star Trek. I suggest we go check on her in case there is a medical emergency. She said her mom should be getting home right about then, so she calls her and asks if the door is still open, the same lights on, and if she is still sitting in the same chair. She said yes. With us on speaker phone, she goes down and knocks on the door and there’s no response. I tell Kim we need to go over there and we do.

We get there and the woman is clearly not breathing. She is also very cold and stiff. 911 was called but it was unfortunately way too late. She was gone. I called one of our pastors because we were all kind of freaked out. The ambulance and fire truck arrive, followed by a lengthy wait for the police. They report multiple empty bottles of alcohol on the counter. She was also known to be diabetic. Yikes. Kim mentions that since the lady’s mom passed, the daughter has pretty much been shut up in the apartment. With the door open and her body in view, it is not hard to imagine she wanted to be found. The police couldn’t find any next-of-kin information. Detectives and coroners showed up and took statements. It was finally cleared out around midnight.

I’m irrationally creeped out by dead things, so I had my own freak out moment. And when I worked at the crime lab, I was always thankful that I didn’t have to deal with that aspect of crime scenes. People would ask me all the time if I had to deal with bodies, but I always thankfully said that I only worked drug crime scenes. Walking up on something like that cannot easily be forgotten. Nor can the tragedy of the situation and the sad existence that came to this end. So today on Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I have a loving God who provides strength and significance, a loving and supportive family, and the best friends that can be had.

This Is Why I Worked in Forensic Chemistry

What’s Popping in that Popcorn!

I heard about and read a story this week in the LA Times informing consumers of the healthiness of movie popcorn. If you don’t know about this study, you may find it shocking. Read on.

An average medium popcorn and soda is equivalent to eating three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter!

One movie chain’s medium popcorn contains 1,200 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat, and 980 milligrams of sodium. That does not include the butter. The source? Many theaters pop in coconut oil. Some are switching to canola.

When people complained about the unhealthiness of the movie snacks, one chain tried switching to air-popped popcorn. It didn’t take long for sales to plummet because of complaints about taste, and the theater return to their old methods. So what do you do?

On a side note, there is a debate about which is more detrimental when popping popcorn in a microwave at home. The carcinogens in the bag or the unhealthiness of the product…

My opinion? Most people don’t visit the movie daily or even regularly…so it is not like it is a constant consumption. Treat yourself when you go!

What’s Popping in that Popcorn!

In Memory of Uncle Orville Sutton

Life has the habit of shifting your relationships. Those high school or college friends who you would never lose contact with are rarely called anymore. Friends who move away and promise you’ll always keep in touch….eventually it fizzles out. As a child, I was closer to my extended family than I have been since college. And so most of my fond memories come from that time. My mom and I lived in a Dallas suburb and traveled to Searcy, AR–her hometown–regularly each year to visit relatives. (Funny that all those times crossing over the Arkansas River on I-30 and straining to see the capitol, I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be living here one day.) The first thing we *always* did upon reaching town was to stop at Uncle Orville’s shop in the back of an outdoors store in downtown Searcy. Uncle Orville repaired guns there. Mom and him would chat for a while as I eyed all the grimy tools and machinery he used to do his work. Then we’d make our way to Aunt Mary’s (my mom and his sister). Eventually, we would visit Uncle Orville and Aunt Imagene again at their house near Sidon. Sure they didn’t have a lot, but he made it enough. His kids, Matt and Aaron, took me on many outdoor adventures…good old country boys through and through. And we’d go running together when our mischief got a little past what he wanted. I’d even stay the night with them on occasion, on those trips.

I guess my greatest thoughts of the ways Uncle Orville lived was that he valued hard work and respect. He took his family to a little church down the road. He’d often be working in his garden out front of his home when we would arrive. And he always had his pipe in hand. His influence stretched across all aspects of our family…his kids, his nephews and nieces, and beyond. He was a good man who lived on great values and left that legacy to everyone he came in contact with.

In Memory of Uncle Orville Sutton