Posts Tagged ‘death’

by Antonio Regalado

The startup accelerator Y Combinator is known for supporting audacious companies in its popular three-month boot camp.

There’s never been anything quite like Nectome, though.

Next week, at YC’s “demo days,” Nectome’s cofounder, Robert McIntyre, is going to describe his technology for exquisitely preserving brains in microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process. Then the MIT graduate will make his business pitch. As it says on his website: “What if we told you we could back up your mind?”

So yeah. Nectome is a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere.

This story has a grisly twist, though. For Nectome’s procedure to work, it’s essential that the brain be fresh. The company says its plan is to connect people with terminal illnesses to a heart-lung machine in order to pump its mix of scientific embalming chemicals into the big carotid arteries in their necks while they are still alive (though under general anesthesia).

The company has consulted with lawyers familiar with California’s two-year-old End of Life Option Act, which permits doctor-assisted suicide for terminal patients, and believes its service will be legal. The product is “100 percent fatal,” says McIntyre. “That is why we are uniquely situated among the Y Combinator companies.”

There’s a waiting list

Brain uploading will be familiar to readers of Ray Kurzweil’s books or other futurist literature. You may already be convinced that immortality as a computer program is definitely going to be a thing. Or you may think transhumanism, the umbrella term for such ideas, is just high-tech religion preying on people’s fear of death.

Either way, you should pay attention to Nectome. The company has won a large federal grant and is collaborating with Edward Boyden, a top neuroscientist at MIT, and its technique just claimed an $80,000 science prize for preserving a pig’s brain so well that every synapse inside it could be seen with an electron microscope.

McIntyre, a computer scientist, and his cofounder Michael McCanna have been following the tech entrepreneur’s handbook with ghoulish alacrity. “The user experience will be identical to physician-assisted suicide,” he says. “Product-market fit is people believing that it works.”

Nectome’s storage service is not yet for sale and may not be for several years. Also still lacking is evidence that memories can be found in dead tissue. But the company has found a way to test the market. Following the example of electric-vehicle maker Tesla, it is sizing up demand by inviting prospective customers to join a waiting list for a deposit of $10,000, fully refundable if you change your mind.

So far, 25 people have done so. One of them is Sam Altman, a 32-year-old investor who is one of the creators of the Y Combinator program. Altman tells MIT Technology Review he’s pretty sure minds will be digitized in his lifetime. “I assume my brain will be uploaded to the cloud,” he says.

Old idea, new approach

The brain storage business is not new. In Arizona, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation holds more than 150 bodies and heads in liquid nitrogen, including those of baseball great Ted Williams. But there’s dispute over whether such cryonic techniques damage the brain, perhaps beyond repair.

So starting several years ago, McIntyre, then working with cryobiologist Greg Fahy at a company named 21st Century Medicine, developed a different method, which combines embalming with cryonics. It proved effective at preserving an entire brain to the nanometer level, including the connectome—the web of synapses that connect neurons.

A connectome map could be the basis for re-creating a particular person’s consciousness, believes Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist who is president of the Brain Preservation Foundation—the organization that, on March 13, recognized McIntyre and Fahy’s work with the prize for preserving the pig brain.

There’s no expectation here that the preserved tissue can be actually brought back to life, as is the hope with Alcor-style cryonics. Instead, the idea is to retrieve information that’s present in the brain’s anatomical layout and molecular details.

“If the brain is dead, it’s like your computer is off, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t there,” says Hayworth.

A brain connectome is inconceivably complex; a single nerve can connect to 8,000 others, and the brain contains millions of cells. Today, imaging the connections in even a square millimeter of mouse brain is an overwhelming task. “But it may be possible in 100 years,” says Hayworth. “Speaking personally, if I were a facing a terminal illness I would likely choose euthanasia by [this method].”

A human brain

The Nectome team demonstrated the seriousness of its intentions starting this January, when McIntyre, McCanna, and a pathologist they’d hired spent several weeks camped out at an Airbnb in Portland, Oregon, waiting to purchase a freshly deceased body.

In February, they obtained the corpse of an elderly woman and were able to begin preserving her brain just 2.5 hours after her death. It was the first demonstration of their technique, called aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation, on a human brain.

Fineas Lupeiu, founder of Aeternitas, a company that arranges for people to donate their bodies to science, confirmed that he provided Nectome with the body. He did not disclose the woman’s age or cause of death, or say how much he charged.

The preservation procedure, which takes about six hours, was carried out at a mortuary. “You can think of what we do as a fancy form of embalming that preserves not just the outer details but the inner details,” says McIntyre. He says the woman’s brain is “one of the best-preserved ever,” although her being dead for even a couple of hours damaged it. Her brain is not being stored indefinitely but is being sliced into paper-thin sheets and imaged with an electron microscope.

McIntyre says the undertaking was a trial run for what the company’s preservation service could look like. He says they are seeking to try it in the near future on a person planning doctor-assisted suicide because of a terminal illness.

Hayworth told me he’s quite anxious that Nectome refrain from offering its service commercially before the planned protocol is published in a medical journal. That’s so “the medical and ethics community can have a complete round of discussion.”

“If you are like me, and think that mind uploading is going to happen, it’s not that controversial,” he says. “But it could look like you are enticing someone to commit suicide to preserve their brain.” He thinks McIntyre is walking “a very fine line” by asking people to pay to join a waiting list. Indeed, he “may have already crossed it.”

Crazy or not ?

Some scientists say brain storage and reanimation is an essentially fraudulent proposition. Writing in our pages in 2015, the McGill University neuroscientist Michael Hendricks decried the “abjectly false hope” peddled by transhumanists promising resurrection in ways that technology can probably never deliver.

“Burdening future generations with our brain banks is just comically arrogant. Aren’t we leaving them with enough problems?” Hendricks told me this week after reviewing Nectome’s website. “I hope future people are appalled that in the 21st century, the richest and most comfortable people in history spent their money and resources trying to live forever on the backs of their descendants. I mean, it’s a joke, right? They are cartoon bad guys.”

Nectome has received substantial support for its technology, however. It has raised $1 million in funding so far, including the $120,000 that Y Combinator provides to all the companies it accepts. It has also won a $960,000 federal grant from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health for “whole-brain nanoscale preservation and imaging,” the text of which foresees a “commercial opportunity in offering brain preservation” for purposes including drug research.

About a third of the grant funds are being spent in the MIT laboratory of Edward Boyden, a well-known neuroscientist. Boyden says he’s seeking to combine McIntyre’s preservation procedure with a technique MIT invented, expansion microscopy, which causes brain tissue to swell to 10 or 20 times its normal size, and which facilitates some types of measurements.

I asked Boyden what he thinks of brain preservation as a service. “I think that as long as they are up-front about what we do know and what we don’t know, the preservation of information in the brain might be a very useful thing,” he replied in an e-mail.

The unknowns, of course, are substantial. Not only does no one know what consciousness is (so it will be hard to tell if an eventual simulation has any), but it’s also unclear what brain structures and molecular details need to be retained to preserve a memory or a personality. Is it just the synapses, or is it every fleeting molecule? “Ultimately, to answer this question, data is needed,” Boyden says.

Demo day

Nectome has been honing its pitch for Y Combinator’s demo days, trying to create a sharp two-minute summary of its ideas to present to a group of elite investors. The team was leaning against showing an image of the elderly woman’s brain. Some people thought it was unpleasant. The company had also walked back its corporate slogan, changing it from “We archive your mind” to “Committed to the goal of archiving your mind,” which seemed less like an overpromise.

McIntyre sees his company in the tradition of “hard science” startups working on tough problems like quantum computing. “Those companies also can’t sell anything now, but there is a lot of interest in technologies that could be revolutionary if they are made to work,” he says. “I do think that brain preservation has amazing commercial potential.”

He also keeps in mind the dictum that entrepreneurs should develop products they want to use themselves. He sees good reasons to save a copy of himself somewhere, and copies of other people, too.

“There is a lot of philosophical debate, but to me a simulation is close enough that it’s worth something,” McIntyre told me. “And there is a much larger humanitarian aspect to the whole thing. Right now, when a generation of people die, we lose all their collective wisdom. You can transmit knowledge to the next generation, but it’s harder to transmit wisdom, which is learned. Your children have to learn from the same mistakes.”

“That was fine for a while, but we get more powerful every generation. The sheer immense potential of what we can do increases, but the wisdom does not.”

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610456/a-startup-is-pitching-a-mind-uploading-service-that-is-100-percent-fatal/

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Female burial from near Bologna Italy (c. 7th c AD)

by Kristina Killgrove

An early Medieval grave near Bologna, Italy, was revealed to contain an injured pregnant woman with a fetus between her legs. Based on the positioning of the tiny bones, researchers concluded this was a coffin birth, when a baby is forcibly expelled from its mother’s body after her death. The pregnancy and the woman’s head trauma may also be related.

The burial, dating to the 7th-8th century AD, was found in the town of Imola in northern Italy in 2010. Because the adult skeleton was found face-up and intact, archaeologists determined it to be a purposeful burial in a stone-lined grave. The fetal remains between her legs and the injury to her head, however, triggered an in-depth investigation, which was recently published in the journal World Neurosurgery by researchers at the Universities of Ferrara and Bologna.

Based on the length of the upper thigh bone, the fetus was estimated to be about 38 weeks’ gestation. The baby’s head and upper body were below the pelvic cavity, while the leg bones were almost certainly still inside it. This means it was positioned like a near-term fetus: head down in preparation for birth. But it also means that the fetus was likely partially delivered.

Although rare in the contemporary forensic-medical literature and even more so in the bioarchaeological record, this appears to be a case of post-mortem fetal extrusion or coffin birth. Bioarchaeologist Siân Halcrow of the University of Otago explains that, in the case of the death of a pregnant woman, sometimes the gas that is created during normal decomposition builds up to such an extent that the fetus is forcibly expelled.

The actual mechanism of coffin birth is somewhat less understood, however. “The cervix shouldn’t relax with death after rigor mortis disappears,” Dr. Jen Gunter, a San Francisco Bay area OB/GYN, says. “I suspect that what happens is the pressure from the gas builds up, and the dead fetus is delivered through a rupture – it basically blows a hole through the uterus into the vagina, as the vagina is much thinner than the cervix.”

This example of coffin birth is interesting from an archaeological standpoint, but the state of the mother’s health makes it completely unique: she had a small cut mark on her forehead and a 5 mm circular hole next to it. Taken together, these are suggestive of trepanation, an ancient form of skull surgery. Not only was the pregnant woman trepanned, but she also lived for at least a week following the primitive surgery.

In the World Neurosurgery article, the Italian researchers proposed a correlation between the mother’s surgery and her pregnancy: eclampsia. “Because trepanation was once often used in the treatment of hypertension to reduce blood pressure in the skull,” they write, “we theorized that this lesion could be associated with the treatment of a hypertensive pregnancy disorder.”

Eclampsia is the onset of seizures in a pregnant woman with preeclampsia (high blood pressure related to pregnancy) and, particularly in the time periods prior to modern medicine, was likely a common cause of maternal death. A pregnant woman suffering in early Medieval times from high fevers, convulsions, and headaches may very well have been recommended trepanation as a cure.

“Given the features of the wound and the late-stage pregnancy,” the authors note, “our hypothesis is that the pregnant woman incurred preeclampsia or eclampsia, and she was treated with a frontal trepanation to relieve the intracranial pressure.”

If the researchers’ conclusions are correct, the mother’s condition was not cured by the cranial surgery and she was buried, still pregnant, in a stone-lined grave. As her body decomposed, her deceased fetus was partially extruded in a coffin birth. Halcrow, however, cautions that this may not be the best explanation. “In this instance,” she says, “the woman could just as likely have died as the result of normal complications from childbirth.”

Whether or not the trepanation and pregnancy are linked, Halcrow does note that “it is pleasing to see a study that is focused on maternal and infant mortality and health in the past, because this subject is often overlooked.” The unique case of the demise of a pregnant woman soon after invasive skull surgery is unparalleled in the archaeological record and therefore important for our understanding of ancient health and disease.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2018/03/23/pregnant-medieval-woman-gave-birth-in-grave/#17697bc81663

Bone measurement analysis indicates that the remains found on a remote island in the South Pacific were likely those of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart, according to a UT researcher.

Richard Jantz, professor emeritus of anthropology and director emeritus of UT’s Forensic Anthropology Center, re-examined seven bone measurements conducted in 1940 by physician D. W. Hoodless. Hoodless had concluded that the bones belonged to a man.

Jantz, using several modern quantitative techniques–including Fordisc, a computer program for estimating sex, ancestry, and stature from skeletal measurements–found that Hoodless had incorrectly determined the sex of the remains. The program, co-created by Jantz, is used by nearly every board-certified forensic anthropologist in the US and around the world.

The data revealed that the bones have more similarity to Earhart than to 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample.

The new study is published in the journal Forensic Anthropology.

Jantz also compared the bone lengths with Earhart’s. Her humerus and radius lengths were obtained from a photograph with a scalable object. The scale was provided by Jeff Glickman of Photek. Her tibia length was estimated from measurements of her clothing in the George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers at Purdue University. A historic seamstress took the measurements, which included the inseam length and waist circumference of Earhart’s trousers.

Based on this information, Jantz concludes that “until definitive evidence is presented that the remains are not those of Amelia Earhart, the most convincing argument is that they are hers.”

Questioning Hoodless’s analysis had less to do with his competence and more to do with the state of forensic anthropology at the time, Jantz said.

“Forensic anthropology was not well developed in the early 20th century,” the paper states. “There are many examples of erroneous assessments by anthropologists of the period. We can agree that Hoodless may have done as well as most analysts of the time could have done, but this does not mean his analysis was correct.”

Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while flying over the Pacific. Many assumed that her plane had crashed into the waters, and she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were never seen again.

A group of researchers, including Jantz, believe she died as a castaway on the island of Nikumaroro.

Along with bones found in 1940, a search party discovered part of a shoe judged to have been a woman’s, a sextant box designed to hold a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant, manufactured around 1918 and similar to the one Earhart’s co-pilot used, and a Benedictine bottle, something Earhart was known to carry.

The bones eventually disappeared, and what remained was metric data limited to four measurements of the skull and three of long bones–the tibia, humerus, and radius.

In reaching his conclusion, Jantz investigated other theories about the bones. He looked at the possibility that they may have belonged to one of 11 men who were presumed killed at Nikumaroro in the 1929 wreck of the Norwich City on the island’s western reef, more than four miles from where the bones were found. He also considered the possibility that they were the bones of a Pacific Islander.

He concluded that there was no documentation on the men and no evidence that any of them had survived the shipwreck to die as a castaway. The woman’s shoe and American sextant box also are not artifacts likely to have been associated with a survivor of the wreck. Nor was there evidence that a Pacific Islander had ended up as a castaway.

Based on all the evidence, the paper states, Earhart “was known to have been in the area of Nikumaroro Island, she went missing, and human remains were discovered which are entirely consistent with her and inconsistent with most other people.”

This article has been republished from materials provided by The University of Tennessee. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Reference
Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones: A 1941 Analysis versus Modern Quantitative Techniques. Richard L. Jantz. Forensic Anthropology, early view, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/fa.2018.0009.

https://www.technologynetworks.com/applied-sciences/news/bones-on-remote-island-are-amelia-earharts-298389?utm_campaign=Newsletter_TN_BreakingScienceNews&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=61208436&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9wXzuHgjTCBE-kfjy2aI1t3MUL9sd_5yCjnzo0oJb_R1HQdkMueXmiVXpB290Xv_tYEY8WdZxoDvtPtxyl3ajVpcPK1Q&_hsmi=61208436


The teeth and jaw from the younger dog in the grave: This pup likely had canine distemper.

By Laura Geggel

Ancient people likely cared for a sick, domesticated pup for weeks on end before it died about 14,000 years ago during the Paleolithic era, a new study finds.

After it died, the dog was buried with the remains of another dog and an adult man and woman — making it not only the oldest burial of a domestic dog on record, but also the oldest known grave to contain both dogs and people, the researchers said.

This discovery suggests that even though the dog was young, sick and likely untrained as a result, ancient people still had an emotional bond with it, the researchers wrote in the study. This may explain why the people buried the animal with two of their own, the researchers said.

The grave itself was found in 1914 in Oberkassel, a suburb of Bonn in western Germany. Until now, however, researchers thought the burial contained two humans and just one dog. But a new analysis of the canid bones and teeth revealed that two dogs were in fact buried there: an older dog and a younger dog, which likely had a serious case of morbillivirus, better known as canine distemper.

The younger dog was about 28 weeks old when it died, the study’s lead researcher, Luc Janssens, a veterinarian and doctoral student of archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in a statement. A dental analysis showed that the pup likely contracted the disease at around 3 to 4 months of age, and likely had two or even three periods of serious illness, each lasting up to six weeks, Janssens said.

Canine distemper is a serious illness that has three phases. During the first week, infected dogs can show signs of high fever, lack of appetite, dehydration, tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, the researchers wrote in the study. Up to 90 percent of dogs with distemper die during the second phase, when they can develop a stuffy nose, laryngitis and pneumonia. In the third phase, dogs experience neurological problems, including seizures.

There is now a vaccine for canine distemper, but unvaccinated dogs, as well as tigers and Amur leopards, can still die from the virus.

Given the severity of the disease, the ancient pup would have likely died right away unless it received intensive human care, the researchers said. “This would have consisted of keeping the dog warm and clean [from] diarrhea, urine, vomit [and] saliva,” as well as giving the pup water and possibly food, the researchers wrote in the study.

“While it was sick, the dog would not have been of any practical use as a working animal,” Janssens said. “This, together with the fact that the dogs were buried with people, who[m] we may assume were their owners, suggests that there was a unique relationship of care between humans and dogs as long as 14,000 years ago.”

The humans buried with the dogs had medical problems of their own. The roughly 40-year-old man had two healed bones, one on his arm and the other by his clavicle. He and the roughly 25-year-old woman also had moderate-to-severe dental disease, the researchers noted.

The grave also contained several artifacts, including a bone pin, a sculpture of an elk made from elk antlers, the penis bone of a bear and a red-deer tooth.

Although this finding is the oldest known domestic dog burial, it’s not the only ancient one. Other dog burials have been dated to about 11,600 years ago in the Near East, and archaeologists have found others dating to about 8,500 to 6,500 years ago in Scandinavia and about 8,000 years ago at the Koster Site in Illinois, the researchers said.

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

https://www.livescience.com/61717-oldest-dog-burial.html

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a tomb of a prominent goldsmith dedicated to the god Amun and the mummies of a woman and her two children, the antiquities ministry said on Saturday.

The finds were made in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, famed for its temples and burial grounds.

The tomb dated back to Egypt’s 18th dynasty New Kingdom era – around 15th century BC, said Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al Anani on Saturday.

“The work did not finish yet and we’re continuing and working to find more objects and more tombs,” he said.

The site includes a courtyard and niche where a statue of the goldsmith Amenemhat and his wife and one of his sons, as well as two burial shafts, the ministry said in a statement.

The tomb of “Amun’s Goldsmith, Amenemhat” contained a sculpture carved into a recess of him seated beside his wife, the ministry said.

A portrait of their son was painted between them.

A burial shaft in the tomb led to a chamber where the archaeologists discovered mummies, funerary statues and masks, the ministry said.

Another shaft led to a chamber where the team found the mummies of a woman and her two children.

The woman appears to have died at the age of 50 and tests showed she had suffered from a bacterial bone disease, the ministry quoted bone specialist Sherine Ahmed Shawqi as saying.

The team also discovered 150 small funerary statues carved in wood, clay and limestone.

https://www.trtworld.com/mea/egypt-announces-discovery-of-3-500-year-old-pharaonic-tomb-10361

Ever since her son disappeared almost 30 years ago, led someplace by his mental illness, Karen Bilyeu waited for him to call. She came up with theories: Maybe he witnessed a crime and was now hiding in a witness protection program. Maybe he was dead. His name was John Dean Dickens, and he was stocky and blue-eyed, with a baritone voice.

“One day, you want to think he’s alive,” the 72-year-old Cherryvale, Kansas, woman said. “The next day you don’t believe yourself.” But she remained hopeful and asked a retired police officer friend to try to find her boy.

Then, last month, Bilyeu found him.

The 54-year-old Dickens — known as J.D. — had died in May and been buried in a California grave, after the Orange County Sheriff coroner’s office mixed him up with another homeless man, Francis M. Kerrigan, who was alive. Local media covered the story, and it went viral.

At that moment, the lives of two families from California and Kansas became intertwined. They both loved an estranged, mentally ill, homeless family member, and tried to keep them close, but couldn’t. They both worried whether the men were cold or hungry or dead.

Bilyeu said she didn’t know her son was homeless until she learned of his death from the Orange County coroner’s office.

“At least he’s not suffering … not going hungry,” Bilyeu said.

Orange County officials are investigating how the mix-up happened. They plan to exhume Dickens’ body and cremate him at his family’s request.

J.D. was good at math, his younger sister, Diane Keaton, said. He would often help her with her homework, but they still bickered like siblings, she recalled, particularly when Dickens blasted Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.”

“That’s one reason he might have survived so long on his own: He had street smarts, he had the capability of thought,” said Keaton, 52, of Parsons, Kansas.

At 16, Dickens started to disappear and use drugs, his mother said. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

When he turned 18, he would leave home for months at a time but always popped back up, his family said.

“I always got frequent phone calls from him to let me know he was OK and to check on my well-being,” Bilyeu said.

J.D. began to settle down — albeit briefly — after a stint in the US Army in the 1980s, his family said.

In the late 1980s, he briefly stayed with Keaton, who was married, pregnant with her third child and living in Arkansas. But Keaton and her husband were struggling financially and their electricity was turned off, she said. They couldn’t afford to support their family and her brother.

So, J.D. left on good terms. He promised to let her know when he got settled.

“It wasn’t a big deal for him because he was used to getting up and going,” Keaton said.

J.D. made his way to Phoenix, and Bilyeu recalled having a cryptic conversation with him while he was there.

He said his car was stolen, and he knew who did it. But if he tried to recover the car, there would be trouble.

“We discussed it and we agreed, maybe the best thing was to leave it, get out the atlas and go down the road a little way,” Bilyeu said.

Again, he promised to call as soon as he got settled. That was the last time they talked.

“It’s heartbreaking, and it’s just over and over and over because you get your hopes up,” Bilyeu said. “Maybe he’ll call this birthday, and you hear nothing.”

“It’s the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent,” she said, “not knowing if (your child) is OK, if they’re hungry.”

‘My heart breaks for them’

About 15 years ago, Kerrigan was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, said his sister, Carole Meikel, 56, of Silverado, California. She said the challenges her family and Dickens’ family faced were identical. “My heart breaks for them,” she said.

Kerrigan’s life started to unravel a few years after the diagnosis, when their mother died about a decade ago. That’s when he became homeless, Meikel said.

Meikel said her family tried to get her brother, known as Frankie, into housing, but he wanted to stay on the streets. Mostly, she said, he was good about keeping in touch, but she still feared that something would happen to him.

Mistaken identity

In May, the Kerrigan family got a call from the Orange County coroner’s office with startling news: Frankie was dead, they said.

Officials told 82-year-old Francis J. Kerrigan that they had identified his son through his fingerprints, and that they didn’t need the elder Kerrigan to identify the body, members of the Kerrigan family said.

Speaking through his lawyer, the elder Kerrigan told CNN he believed his son was dead at that point — “no question about it.” But a Kerrigan family attorney said officials had actually identified the body found outside the cellular store in Fountain Valley using an old Department of Motor Vehicles identification.

An autopsy said that man died of an enlarged heart and fluid in his lungs, KABC reported.

The Kerrigans saw the body days before a funeral on May 12, and it was tough to recognize, the station reported.

But on May 23, Frankie called his father from the home of a family friend, who had served as a pallbearer at the funeral. He was alive. Days later, the family attorney notified the coroner’s office of the mistake.

The attorney has filed notices of claims, a prelude to a lawsuit, against Orange County on behalf of the elder Kerrigan and Meikel, seeking a little more than $2 million. The court papers allege the younger Kerrigan’s civil rights were violated and the family suffered emotional distress.

‘That’s J.D. — I know it’

On May 30, Orange County officials correctly identified the body using fingerprints. About a month later, Orange County officials reached J.D.’s stepsister in Illinois, who passed a message to Bilyeau, Keaton said.

An official later told Bilyeu of her son’s death in Fountain Valley, but not about the cause of death, Keaton said.

“What upsets me and Mom … is the media knew what he died from, the (Kerrigan) family knew what he died from and the attorneys knew,” she said. “She should have told us.” Keaton said Orange County officials also didn’t mention the mix-up to her mother.

Keaton, who had seen news reports about the burial mix-up, suspected her brother may have been the misidentified body. She also noticed that a form to consent to his cremation said he died in Fountain Valley and was homeless, like the man in the news reports.

Her brother’s physical description also matched the description of the unidentified man.

She called her mother around midnight with the news. “That’s J.D. — I know it,” she said.

A Kerrigan family attorney, who knew the identity of the misidentified body, later confirmed it was her brother, Keaton said.

Soon, Bilyeu will get her son’s ashes and she may spread them at a family plot. Or she may hold onto them, and she’ll leave instructions to bury the two urns together when she’s cremated.

“He and I have always been so close,” she said.

Lives of families intertwined in homeless men’s burial mix-up

Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin disappeared 75 years ago while hiking to a meadow in the Swiss Alps.


Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin disappeared while checking on their cows in the Swiss Alps in August 1942. (Photo: SRF/swissinfo.ch)

On a summer’s day in August 1942, Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin took a hike into the Swiss Alps above the small village of Chandolin. While the purpose of their excursion was to check on the status of their cows grazing in a mountain meadow, it was also an opportunity to briefly enjoy time alone as a couple. Marcelin, 40, a shoemaker, and Francine, 37, a teacher, had spent much of the last several years raising a family of seven children.

“It was the first time my mother went with him on such an excursion,” their youngest daughter, Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, 75, told the Lausanne daily Le Matin. “She was always pregnant and couldn’t climb in the difficult conditions of a glacier.”

When the couple failed to return that evening, search parties were sent out to find them. For two and a half months, locals scoured higher elevations hoping for some sign of their mysterious disappearance. None was ever discovered.


Swiss police circle the spot where the remains of the couple were discovered during a routine inspection of the area. (Photo: Swiss Police)

On July 14, nearly 75 years after they first went missing, a ski lift operator on a routine inspection discovered the mummified remains of the couple at the base of a receding glacier. Also present were personal items such as backpacks, mess kits, a glass bottle and even identification papers.

“The bodies were lying near each other. It was a man and a woman wearing clothing dating from the period of World War Two,” Bernhard Tschannen, the director of Glacier 3000, told the paper. “They were perfectly preserved in the glacier and their belongings were intact.”


Despite spending 75 years trapped in ice, all of the couple’s belongings remained relatively unscathed. (Photo: Swiss Police)

It is thought that the couple fell into one of the many crevasses in the region and were subsequently entombed in the glacier. Officials confirmed their identities by cross-matching their DNA with that of relatives.

For Udry-Dumoulin, a lifetime of heartache over the fate of her parents has finally come to an end.

“We spent our whole lives looking for them, without stopping. We thought that we could give them the funeral they deserved one day,” she said. “I can say that after 75 years of waiting this news gives me a deep sense of calm.”

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/blogs/frozen-remains-missing-couple-emerge-swiss-glacier