Dr. Joshua Perper's

Testimony In The

Jackie D. McCrady

Trial Of 1997

Presented By

Bonnie M. Wells


Page Two:

Continued from page one:



Q.- Dr. Perper, I am going to hand you what has been marked for identification as State's Exhibit #26 and ask if you have ever seen this before?

A.- No, I did not see that, sir.

Q.- Please take a moment and read that.

(The witness examines the document)

Rings Q.- Are you familiar with Dr. Bass?

A.- I know about him.

Q.- By the way, did you prepare a written report in this case?

A.- No.

Q.- Why not?

A.- I was not asked to. If I had been asked to, I would have done it.

Q.- When did you form your opinion about the time of death in this case?

A.- After I received -- I received a letter from the attorney, from Mr. Kiger, asking me to review that saying that he doesn't want to give me a great deal of information and asking me to say what is the time of death. And, I reviewed the photographs, and that's the time when I made my determination.

Q.- When was that now?

A.- Sometime in May, June.

Q.- May or June?

A.- Yes.

Q.- You have done a lot of autopsies. How do you keep this one straight -- or this analysis straight if you didn't reduce anything in writing? I mean, does this stick out in your mind?

A.- This one sticks out in my mind for sure because it is an interesting case, plus I was not involved in a large number of private consultations of this nature, plus I reviewed this again before I came. But, at that time, when I reviewed the case, I remember distinctly without any need for reminding that I called the office of Mr. Kiger. He was not there. I think his assistant was .... and I told her at that time my opinion that the time is about a week or so.

Q.- In his report, Dr. Bass indicates - "photographs taken during the autopsy show a number of areas on the body where the epidermis has softened, turned white and is beginning to slip from the underlying dermis." He is describing skin slippage there, isn't he?

A.- As I stated before, I disagree with that.

The areas which I saw -- the only thing which I saw slippage, and I looked very carefully in order to determine if there was slippage. I saw it on the video on the face. You can see a little bit of slippage, some piling of the skin.

Q.- Dr. Bass said this is especially evident on the hands and feet, but can also be seen on the neck. Do you disagree with that as well?

A.- I disagree. I think that the problem is that the forensic anthropologists are not used to looking at the body. The features on the hands and the feet show very classically the so-called pattern of 'washer woman.' There is no slippage there but you can see the soggy skin, and almost everyone who has sat in the bathtub for a long time recognizes this kind of soggy skin, and you can see it on the photograph.

Q.- Dr. Bass also found areas which he believes indicates that marbling is beginning to appear. You disagree with that as well?

A.- I don't know what the word 'beginning' to appear -- apparently he doesn't feel confident enough to say that they are present. In other words, to make a determination of marbling doesn't require to be a great forensic pathologist -- you just see them. In other words -- and the photographs which I was provided shows very clearly. You see very clearly those blue green veins under the skin, like a meshwork. Everybody who wants to examine the case can look at those, and I would be glad if someone would show me something which resembles marbling. It is just not there.

Q.- So, when he says early stages of putrefaction can be seen and in at least two photographs taken of the body after it was exhumed and still at the burial scene. He says there were two photographs that he saw that were consistent with marbling, and you disagree with that?

A.- I disagree with that.

Q.- If there were photographs which show skin slippage and marbling, how would that change your opinion with respect to the time of death, sir?

A.- As I said before -- when you see a finding, there are two things about the finding -- or three things about the finding. Second is the location of the finding. And third is the extent of the finding.

If I would have seen significant peeling of the skin; if I would have seen significant marbling; if I would have seen swelling of the face and bloating, this would have increased the postmortem interval.

Q.- So, my question, sir, is if there was skin slippage and marbling, would that change your opinion?

A.- Yes, it -- if somebody would come and show me a photograph -- and, I don't -- it is difficult because here I have a photograph which I see. Assuming that those photographs are a forgery and those are not true photographs -- and you can come to me -- with photographs which show bloating of the face, entire discoloration of the face, an advanced generalized slippage and severe marbling -- the marbling which is in this photograph is just 48 hours, so even at 48 hours you see it -- then I would change my opinion that it would be longer, but, again, I would have to see the location, the nature and the extent.

Q.- Does the condition of the body affect the rate of decomposition?

A.- The condition of the body?

Q.- The condition that it is being laid in or where it is placed after death?

A.- As I said before, in my opinion, the slight evidence of postmortem changes, in particular, the absence of internal postmortem changes in the pancreas -- the pancreas is an extremely sensitive organ to decomposition.

Q.- I am sorry, perhaps I didn't make myself clear. Does the place where the body is stored affect the rate of decomposition?

A.- The place -- yes. If you put the body in the refrigerator, then you are going to stop the decomposition.

Q.- How does that work with respect to -- if I had a body laying on top of the ground or under the ground, what's the difference, rate of decomposition?

A.- If you remember what I said during the direct examination, that putting the body in the ground delays the postmortem changes.

Q.- Can you give us a rate that it delays it? In other words, does it delay it by half as much?

A.- What?

Q.- By half as much? Can you put a figure to it?

A.- Yeah. There are different formulas.

There are some formulas which are used in the past. There are some formulas -- however, you cannot go mathematically, you have to take it by what is actually -- the general condition of the individual; in other words, you have to relate the internal decomposition to the external appearance. There are a number of formulas. One of the formulas says that -- I think in ground is one -- one week on ground equals two in water or equals eight in the ground, but again, those formulas have to be applied according to the circumstances of the case.

Q.- Do you agree with that formula, one week on the ground is worth eight weeks in the ground?

A.- I know about the formula. I quoted the formula. I don't think the formula is a mathematical formula.

Q.- I'm sorry, I didn't hear.

A.- It is not a mathematical formula. I don't think it is true always, and I don't think it is true often because it depends on many other factors.

Q.- You say you don't think it is true often?

A.- That's right.

Q.- Dr. Bass quoted this out of your book.

A.- That's right.

Q.- But you still don't think it true often?

A.- That's correct. I quote in my book things which occur, and they are mentioned in other places.

Q.- Do you believe the injuries to the victim's hands and legs were premortem or postmortem?

A.- In my opinion --

Q.- Yes, sir.

A.- I am just answering. In my opinion, they were premortem.

Q.- And upon what do you base that, sir?

A.- On the fact that in order to see a premortem thing, you have to see bruising, which means that you see bleeding, some bleeding under the skin.

If somebody is dead, the blood vessels in the skin are devoid of blood and, therefore, they do not bleed and they do not show marks.

Q.- You mentioned that there were some semicircular marks the you suspected might be bite marks on the left side of the face?

A.- I said only one. In other words, there are a number of round marks, which I don't know really what they come from. I don't think that they come from the finger because they are totally circular. I don't think they are fingers. Usually a finger leaves a mark which is not totally circular because, obviously, the finger has an edge and a much rounder surface.

However, close to the chin there is a round mark, and this is a pattern which is seen in bite marks which are sucking bite marks. Now, I am not saying -- and I was careful to mention that -- I am not saying that this is a bite mark, but it is certainly suspicious -- no question, it is suspicious for a bite mark.

Q.- Were you aware that the coroner who actually examined ---

You have a photograph that was a little bit fuzzy, is that right?

A.- Yes, sir.

Q.- It wasn't real good and clear?

A.- I had two. One -- this is one -- probably a better one.

Q.- Okay.

A.- Sometimes enlargement doesn't do justice to the original photograph. This is, I think, one image the pattern is more clear than the other.

Q.- Were you aware, sir, that the coroner testified that he knows what bite marks are, he had firsthand dealing with the body and he says that's not a bite mark, there were no bite marks on the body?

A.- He is a coroner, a forensic pathologist?

Q.- I believe he is, sir. Could that be correct?

A.- I believe that in my opinion even if he's correct, he is wrong -- or the pathologist was wrong in the procedure because this mark to me is very suspicious. It had to be suspicious to him as well. If he felt confident about that, he always could have taken the advice of a dentist and asked him, do you think this is a bite mark, and the dentist could take even an imprint of the bite mark and could match it to a person. So, what I am saying is -- if as a forensic pathologist you see an injury which is suspicious, you have an obligation to check it.

Q.- And if the coroner didn't think it was suspicious, then what?

A.- I think the coroner was wrong in my opinion.

Q.- Okay. You also mentioned acetone in her system. Were you aware that those who knew her knew that she was on a diet, she was trying to lose weight by intentionally cutting back the amount of food that she was taking in?

A.- As I said before, if somebody is on a starvation diet, then ketone bodies, acetone, which is a keytone body, would appear in the blood.

Q.- Can you off an opinion as to how long someone would have to be on a starvation diet to reach this level?

A.- I cannot give you a number, but it is more than one day. If you are going to starve one day -- it should probably be more than a couple of days. And that's one of the reasons why it would have been very important in this case to make a comment about the presence of fecal material in the intestine because absence of fecal material could have indicated that indeed she was on a starvation diet.

Q.- Doctor, I want to return to the issue of someone being placed in the ground, someone buried and how that might affect the rate of decomposition. You mentioned, I think, that the temperature of the ground has something to do with the rate of decomposition, is that right?

A.- The temperature of the environment has something to do with it.

Q.- So, what happens in Florida would be different that what happened in Pittsburgh in your experience?

A.- What happens in Florida would be different from what happened in Pittsburgh, that's correct.

Q.- Does the level of moisture in the ground also play a part in this formula?

A.- The level of moisture plays at all, only when you get really the type of changes this person didn't have. In other words, this person had evidence of moisture because it had those washer woman hands and legs, however, this body did not have evidence of changes, of postmortem changes which are related to presence in water. The change which is particularly seen in those cases is called adipocere, and that's a special change, a waxy change on the skin which preserves the appearance of the body and was not present in this case.

Q.- I don't mean to suggest she was under water, but --

A.- It doesn't have to be under water.

Q.- So, the dampness -- you are talking about even a heavily saturated soil?

A.- That's correct.

Q.- Does the way the body was wrapped or prepared have anything to do with it?

A.- Not in particular. The wrapping might even increase the rate of decomposition because it would leave -- it would decrease the level of the rate of the cooling of the body.

Q.- Dissipation of the heat?

A.- Right.

Q.- Doctor, you mentioned the washer woman -- the wrinkles in the skin?

A.- Yes.

Q.-Can you tell if that condition is premortem or postmortem?

A.- The videotape which I saw --

Q.- I'm sorry?

A.- The videotape which I saw showed evidence after the body was removed that there was water in that particular area, so, therefore, it is a possibility that it was postmortem. However, I cannot exclude that she was in some water environment before that.

Q.- For example, a bathtub or shower?

A.- It's possible -- it's not enough for her to have been in the bathtub or shower. As most people know, you have to be there and soak a long time in order to get this appearance.

MR RINGS: Thank you, doctor.

THE COURT: Redirect:


Q.- Doctor, just so I am certain, you were handed a report to look at by Dr. Bass. Do you still have that or has that been returned?

MR. RINGS: "No, I do."

MR. SIPE: I didn't want to get it lost.


Q.- Doctor, I am directing your attention to this paragraph here where that formula was discussed, and the book that is mentioned, the source of that information is Spitz and Fisher, is that the book that we have just discussed?

A.- Yes.

Q.- That's your quote?

A.- Yes.

Q.- You feel you understand your quote better than someone who would read it?

A.- I hope that I understand what I am writing, otherwise --

Q.- In this particular case you are the teacher, he is the pupil, is that a fair statement?

A.- I'm just the person who wrote the chapter.

MR SIPE: Nothing else.

THE COURT: Anything further, counsel?

MR. RINGS: No, Your Honor, Thank you.

THE COURT: Thank you very much sir, you can stand down.

At this time, we are going to take our mid afternoon break. While we are in recess, you are not to discuss this case amongst yourselves or with anyone else. ...... etc, etc....


I am working on these pages nearly twelve years after Jenifer McCrady's murder. Many, many things have happened in those years.

I have designed a web site, so the McCrady case could be profiled and people could see for themselves some of the things that were said in that court room. I am not an attorney, but I feel that I am reasonably intelligent, and a reasonable person. In my opinion, there was ample evidence presented in the McCrady case to raise a 'reasonable doubt' in the minds of the jury. It didn't, obviously, since Jackie McCrady is sitting in prison for the murder of his wife.

Doctor Perper was ignored, just as was everyone else who tried to 'prove' to the state that they were making a mistake ..... they were wrong.

More than ten years after Jenifer McCrady was murdered, and most of the world never heard of her case -- except those few who have watched various stories presented on national television about it -- the world lost Anna Nicole Smith, and for awhile there, I thought she must have been a queen or something - somewhere, because everyone seemed to be obsessed with her death. It certainly was a far more 'high profile' case than anything ever seen in this area.

I was somewhat surprised to see Doctor Perper on television, and to learn that he was the forensic pathologist that would be conducting all the tests on Ms. Smith. How things had changed -- everywhere except here. The man was very respected, world wide. His opinions counted -- except here.

As I said, many things have changed. Today, Belpre Police Officer Dave Garvey -- who was the champion; lead investigator; darling of the county in 1996 and 1997, is now facing his own court battles after being investigated by BCI&I and being indicted by the grand jury on several felony charges.

But beyond Garvey's personal problems, there have been several other murder cases in which there were similarities to the McCrady case. No one noticed -- because no one was looking. As far as everyone involved in the McCrady case is concerned, it's over and done with. They nailed the right guy and did their civic duty, and it's back to their normal lives. Lives that I sincerely hope are never ripped apart by the serial killer whom I continue to believe murdered Jenifer McCrady.

My own work on the McCrady case has NEVER let up .... not that anyone cares. But you see, I don't work for the opinions; approval or disapproval of others. I work, and search for the truth - the whole truth, because it certainly did not come out in that court room, and I know it didn't because I was sitting there and I heard every word of testimony. Plus, I have read every report; every transcript; every interview, and things just don't add up to Jackie McCrady being the killer of his wife.

Why would the man have inflicted injury to her body 'after death'?

In the testimony of Dave Garvey and others, the sleeping bag that Jenifer was found in was never traced back to anyone. They never were able to connect it to Jackie McCrady or anyone else. It took me several years, but you know what -- I located two people who described that sleeping bag to me -- and guess what, both people were directly connected to my suspect, not Jackie McCrady. In fact neither knew McCrady or cared anything about the case or its outcome. One person gave a written statement to an attorney that they were with the suspect when he bought the sleeping bag - and the other person actually lived in the house with my suspect and described that sleeping bag in great detail -- even told how it was kept stored in the attic -- where the insulation [like was found on it] is.

Since the case is over as far as the state is concerned, I knew it would do no good to send them the information, so I put it up on my web site, where the entire world can see it, and perhaps know that there were other people who should have been investigated in the McCrady case.

Those who wish to follow this case should go to my September page, and start clicking on the links that are marked McCrady Case. The Real Dummy is one of the most important stories within the series, because the time line from Doctor Perper's testimony is almost exact! And no, I don't know Doctor Perper - never met the man -- never communicated with him in any way, so don't even go there!

All I know is, Doctor Perper's opinion as to the time of death for Jenifer McCrady, more closely matches the events that my friends and I witnessed during the time period that she was missing.

The one thing that I continue to wonder about, and am inclined to disagree with everyone on, is the issue of Jenifer's actual death date, and method by which she died. I have reason to believe that Jenifer McCrady was alive on September 19th and well into the 20th. And I do not believe she died by gun shot, as everyone else seems to believe. I believe that Jenifer was smothered to death with that plastic trash bag that was found over her head. And I believe she lay in an open, exposed area where flies could reach her body. {According to the states theory, she was murdered in the middle of the night, and was immediately buried. I have always wanted to ask them -- how and when did flies get to her? There are no flies out at night, and flies do not bury into the ground to lay their eggs.}

I believe that Jenifer was already dead when the bullet was put into her head. I believe [based upon statements made by witnesses who were never called to testify] the killer shot two times, but for some reason {probably because it was dark where he was working} he missed the first time, and had to fire a second shot. My reasoning for this is -- someone heard two gun shots in the area where Jenifer was found. The reason I believe she was already dead is because there was no blood. Every expert; every hunter, and half the people on the face of this earth can tell you, a head wound bleeds profusely. A gun shot to the head produces blood spatter in all directions. This is well known within law enforcement and those who investigate homicides. The only case I have ever heard of where there was absolutely no blood produced when the victim was shot in the head with a .357 magnum, is Jenifer McCrady's. And I find that extremely odd, not to mention very unlikely.

I believe that Jenifer's red blazer was hidden in a storage building, just a short distance from where it was ultimately found. I believe it remained in that storage building - very possibly with her tied up and gagged inside of it - during the daylight hours of September 19th. I believe, at some point, after dark on September 19th, Jenifer was moved from the storage building to the top storage area over an old garage. Once there, she remained tied and gagged so that she could not attract the attention of those individuals who were working directly below her.

Court room testimony indicated that Jenifer was definitely tied up at some point and had fought to free herself. No one ever explained this in the court room. All they could ever say there was that Jackie had come home, flew into a rage, and shot his wife. And yet, it was the state that proved she had been tied up and had tried to free herself. How could all of this have taken place within their home and neither child heard anything? How could there have been no signs of a struggle -- no signs of blood?

I contend the blood was in a storage building and in the top of that old garage -- the two places that no one would look, because they were so intent on convicting the woman's husband.

I believe that Jenifer was suffocated with a trash bag sometime during the evening hours of September 20th, and that her vehicle was rolled out of the storage building right at 'shift change' time for Belpre PD. It was then driven down to Civitan Park, parked there, and the driver got out and walked home. The state was right about that. Jenifer's killer walked home. Only problem is -- he lived in the opposite direction from the McCrady household, and it took him all of two minutes to reach his house instead of the time the state said it took to walk to the McCrady house. The killer didn't walk down through Belpre. He came up the rear steps at Hardee's -- may have even stopped in to Hardee's a picked himself up a chocolate milk shake -- and walked on home. He was back in bed by midnight and no one even knew he'd been gone. -- Well, one or two people may have known it, but no one would listen to them when they tried to tell them that the man was timing things; gauging distances; checking weather reports; documenting all kinds of things -- no one listened.

I believe Jenifer's make-shift grave was dug [not the night of September 19th, as the state contended] but the night of September 21st, and I believe she was placed into the hole that same night, and covered up. I also believe the area had already been selected - the killer had been on that property on more than one occasion and knew his way around the property real well.

Many of my pages within the McCrady case contain additional comments about the case. Depending on the information listed on the page, I have attempted to show my 'evidence' according to the topic. So, those who really want to learn more and to take an honest look at this case, are welcome to go to those pages and read for themselves.

I would love to think that the Ohio Innocence Project or some other group that was actually interested in the truth, would step forward and do something.

I have devoted many years of my life to working on unsolved murder cases. The McCrady case is no more special than any of the others. It's just that the McCrady case was the first one in which I had a pretty good idea of who the killer was by the time it occurred, and had been watching him and actually predicting his next move -- well before he made it. Not that it did any good -- but I did try.

The Real Dummy / with 2006 update

Bonnie M. Wells

September Story Page





Page posted: July 2008 // BMW