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2022 Strangulation Pre-Conference

2022 Strangulation Pre-Conference
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Pre-Conference Program

How to Catch a Killer:
Missed, Misdirected and Misdiagnosed Asphyxiation Deaths and Crimes

Tracy Matheson

Keynote Speaker

Tracy Matheson, Founder of Project Beloved

“Those who commit sexual violence and strangulation will be recognized as the evil cowards they are and held to justice promptly. Cowards like you will not be left to continue raping, strangling and killing.”— Tracy Matheson, from her allocution after the killer was convicted for the murder of two women, Molly and Megan, and the sexual assaults involving strangulation of three women across Texas in the decade leading up to their murders

*Course includes working a virtual death investigation*

Staging occurs in approximately 8% of homicides, however, research indicates that intimate partner homicides are the most staged death scenes. Misdirection by the perpetrator is often aimed to exploit the gaps and weaknesses of the criminal legal system and allows them to avoid detection and accountability. This training will discuss various cases where those offenders go on to kill other women.

Although potentially underestimated, killings by asphyxiation are not identified as a particularly high percentage of homicides. However, in sexually motivated homicides, strangulation has been identified as the cause of death in 67% of cases, 63% of those that target elderly females, and 61% of sexually sadistic homicides.  Many sexual predators who escalate to kill over time reveal missed opportunities to stop a killer before he starts.

Attendees will better understand why these cases are so often missed and gain the insight needed to catch a killer. Murderers like Drew Peterson and Serial killers like Reginald Kimbro, Samuel Little and many more used nonfatal asphyxiations before they escalated to killing. Building a strong case from the start can build a healthier path for practitioner’s wellness and finally give closure to families who are desperate to grieve the death of a loved one.

Homicidal asphyxiation often lacks obvious signs of external trauma, and as diagnosis of exclusion lend itself to being missed.  When these deaths are considered a suicide, accident, overdose or natural death we miss underestimate and minimize the significant presence of femicide in our society, policy and practice.

Even when identified as homicide, practitioners face barriers and challenges to establish intent and overcome claims of “rough sex gone wrong,” “missing person” claims and considerations around the unique prosecution of cases ruled “undetermined” in an autopsy.

Lack of research and training, confirmation bias and tunnel vision influence why nonfatal events are not identified as a potential precursor to homicide and impact how these hidden homicides are treated from initial response through a prosecution.

Whether missed entirely or discounted as a “missing person,” these hidden homicides can finally be brought to justice with a systematic investigation that reveals homicidal intent. This training will show how practitioners can incorporate existing knowledge and resources traditionally used in domestic violence advocacy and sex offender programs.

Attendees will navigate through a virtual death scene and work to investigate and build a common scenario in IPV murders. A true multi-disciplinary team of advocates, detectives, prosecutors, death investigators, perpetrator experts, forensic pathologists and many more will provide insight into the gaps, solutions, and opportunities to catch these dangerous killers.

Ninety-five percent of law enforcement who attended this course said that it would change their practice and over half of the attendees stated that it made them reconsider a past case. Additionally, homicide detectives reflected on what they would say to families who have not had their family members death recognized as a murder:

  • “Your child’s death did not go unnoticed and training classes like this will help prevent future tragedies and misdiagnosed cases.”
  • “Your child has not been forgotten and we will do everything we can to find the real answers.”
  • “We can not change the past but I will do everything I can to ensure you get the proper justice your family deserves.”
  • “We will honor your child’s death by continuing to learn and grow together as death investigators. We will do this so that we might prevent others from being killed in vain and their perpetrators will be stopped.”

This training will help me think outside the box, (it) opened my mind to different ways to investigate and gave me more tools for my toolbox. — Experienced Homicide Detective

Pre-Conference Run of Show

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Welcome, Introductions, Keynote

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Overview of the Issue: Miscounting, Misdiagnosing, & Missing Homicides

9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Identifying Gaps in Asphyxiation Deaths

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.
The Bigger Picture: Cold Cases, Serial Killers, etc.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

10:45 – 11:15 a.m.
Getting on the Same Page: Multidisciplinary Solutions

11:15 – 11:30 a.m.
Setup Lunch/Afternoon

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
LUNCH (and meeting your interactive MDTs)

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Working a Crime Scene

1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Crime Scene Debrief from MDTs

1:30 – 1:45 p.m.

1:45 – 3:15 p.m.
Improving Investigations

3:15 – 3:45 p.m.
Overcoming Defenses & Doubts: Rough Sex, Credibility, Confusion

3:45 – 4:15 p.m.
Tools, Tips, & Next Steps

4:15 – 4:30 p.m.
Questions, Closing, & Evaluations

Pre-Conference Onsite Faculty

Kelsey McKay – Consultant, McKay Training & Consulting, LLC

Kelsey McKay is the President of RESPOND Against Violence and McKay Training & Consulting, LLC. Ms. McKay trains and consults nationally to strengthen how communities collaborate, investigate, and prosecute strangulation, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence cases. She develops experts to testify and trains on the implementation of a strangulation supplement and community collaboration. Previously, Ms. McKay was a prosecutor in Travis County, TX for 12 years. For six years, she exclusively prosecuted strangulation-related crimes ranging from assault to capital murder.

Allyson Cordoni – Forensic Nurse, Taylor Forensic Consulting, LLC

Allyson Cordoni is a nurse practitioner with over 20 years of experience providing care to adults and children who have experienced sexual/physical violence. She has served as forensic nurse consultant, specializing in issues related to sexual assault adult and children, child abuse and neglect, strangulation, domestic violence and development of policies and procedures as well as educational trainings. Ms. Cordoni was a member of the US Military MEDCOM task force responsible for writing/implementing sexual assault policies for the US Army, authored a Shaken Baby bill for the State of Hawaii, presented at numerous international, national and local conferences, authored several peer reviewed articles, participated in numerous MDT boards, and conducted trainings in the area of sexual assault, domestic violence and strangulation research.

Scott Hampton – Director, Ending the Violence

Scott Hampton has been working with batterers, sex offenders, victims and children exposed to violence for over 30 years. As the Director of Ending the Violence, he provides community and jail-based educational classes to perpetrators. Dr. Hampton is also the Project Coordinator of Strafford County’s Supervised Visitation Center, a past president of the National Supervised Visitation Network, a peer reviewer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice and is a founding member of New Hampshire’s Fatality Review Committee. Dr. Hampton is frequently called upon to provide expert witness testimony in court and writes and speaks frequently on issues related to interpersonal violence having provided over 500 trainings in North America, Asia and Europe. His 2010 book, “Tolerant oppression: How Tolerance Undermines Our Quest for Equality and What We Should Do Instead” addresses the intersection of domestic violence, sexual assault, racism and other forms of oppression.

Thomas McAndrew – Detective, Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office/Homicide Task Force

Thomas McAndrew is a homicide detective with the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office. He formerly served with the Pennsylvania State Police for 26 years. During his career with the Pennsylvania State Police, he was a member of the Criminal Investigation Assessment (CIA) Unit that specializes in behavioral analysis of violent crimes and is designed to supervise and investigative homicides and missing person investigations of significance. He is president of the Pennsylvania Homicide Investigators Association, is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts, the Middle Atlantic Cold Case Homicide Investigators Association, and is a board member of the Vidocq Society.

Kimberly Orts – Detective, Travis County Sheriff’s Office

Kimberly Orts has served with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for 28 years and has specialized in crimes involving intimate partners since 2014. Her experience has included various assignments within the Corrections, Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureaus to include service as a full-time Mental Health Officer and as a part of the Crisis Negotiations Team. Det. Orts enjoys sharing what she has learned through her experiences and places emphasis on enhancing investigations through the understanding and capturing of family violence dynamics and fear, while providing sustainable best practices, with hopes to increase the safety of survivors, and aid successful prosecution of offenders.

Andrea Zaferes – Medicolegal Death Investigator, Forensic Aquatic Consulting & Training, LLC

Andrea Zaferes, a medicolegal death investigator, is familiar with the handling of aquatic and asphyxiation cases from the scene to the courtroom. She trains law enforcement, medical examiners/coroners, dive teams, domestic violence and trafficking crime workers, medical personnel, and jurisprudence members to recognize, document, and investigate homicide, death, assault, and abuse cases that involve drowning and other forms of asphyxiation. Ms. Zaferes assists in analyzing and building such cases in the U.S. and abroad, and has developed standards for their investigation. She has been teaching dive teams around the world for more than 30 years to recover submerged evidence and bodies, is an author, and frequent public speaker on aquatic forensics. Ms. Zaferes is a pro bono consultant for such organizations as NCMEC and the NYS DCJS Missing Person Cold Case Review Panel, and works with Lifeguard Systems, Dutchess County Medical Examiners’ Office, and Respond Against Violence.

Erica Olson – Consultant; Subject Matter Expert, Anassa Consulting

Erica Olson, owner of Anassa Consulting, is a consultant and subject matter expert specializing in gender-based violence and trauma-informed care and management. Ms. Olson draws on her 20 years of experience in direct services, advocacy, policy, and applied research to advise and support nonprofits, government agencies, and the private sector in advancing their knowledge and practices around interpersonal violence and abuse, gender inequality, and trauma. She has been appointed to multiple state and national efforts, including the CDC’s Rape Prevention and Education Program and the National Violent Death Reporting System. Ms. Olson is the former Director of the NJ Domestic Violence Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board and has co-authored curricula, policy, regulations, and legislation.

Kimberly Orts 

Kimberly Orts is a detective with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, specializing solely in criminal investigations involving intimate partners for the past 6 years. Her 27-year career has given her learning opportunities exploring the criminal justice system from the onset of the investigation through completion of the court processes. Through her service as a Crisis Negotiator and Mental Health Officer, she’s gained valuable first-hand knowledge of how to work with individuals in crisis and experiencing trauma. As a patrolman, she found her calling for investigating domestic violence, crediting colleagues to include detectives, advocates, and prosecutors for teaching her appropriate responses by understanding the dynamics of these relationships. During her time in Community Outreach, she drew on these experiences developing community education programs and partnering with a variety of disciplines to provide training opportunities from experts within her own community. In her role as a detective, she brings this cumulative education to each case she investigates and shares what she learns with others. As one of her agency’s adjunct instructors since 2011, she’s provided hundreds of hours of formal classroom and scenario-based training related to Crisis Intervention, Crisis Negotiations, and Family Violence. Through these classes, informal conversations, and “curbside classrooms” she’s gained the trust of countless officers, consulting on specific cases, and giving them sustainable tools to become independent in their investigations, focusing on better understanding the victim’s experience, recognizing trauma, detecting abuser behavior, and how to incorporate these into a more thorough investigation. Her professional affiliations have included over 10 years as a volunteer with People Against Violent Crime, service as a board member and instructor with the Texas Association of Hostages Negotiators, and currently as a board member and instructor with Respond Against Violence. She is proud to have been previously recognized by her Victim Services peers both as Deputy and Detective of the Year. Kimberly believes wholeheartedly in a team approach to combating domestic violence and hopes the skillsets she’s learned, developed, and shared will not only increase offender accountability but also strengthen safety and the overall justice for the survivor.  

Suzan Marshall, DO, C-MDI 

Dr. Marshall holds degrees from American and Columbia Universities. After medical school in Philadelphia, she completed a 5-year General Surgery Residency, the 4th woman in 50 years to finish the rigorous program. Dr. Marshall has extensive training in trauma and emergency surgery and surgical critical care. She is an Army veteran, having deployed for 4 years to Seoul, S. Korea to the 121st Combat Support Hospital and the 127th Forward Surgical Team, training for operations in an austere environment. Tragically, Dr. Marshall has had a 360°-view of trauma and death investigation. In 2016, her husband, also a surgeon, disappeared while jogging and was found dead, leaving her a widow with young children. She opened the cloud-based Plan B Forensics in 2018 after becoming a certified medicolegal investigator. She performs top to bottom death investigations and serves as an expert witness for traumatic injuries and death. Her new book, The Ménage à Trois of Death Investigations in the U.S., is currently under review at the agency level. Dr. Marshall is also a farmer, raising chickens and breeding Cleveland Bay Sporthorses, who are currently endangered. 

Khara Breeden,  DNP, MS, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, AFN-BC 

Khara Breeden completed her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, in August 2016. Khara holds a Master’s of Science in Patient Safety Leadership from the University of Chicago at Illinois. Her Bachelor’s degree is from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Her nursing career spans over 18 years with experience in critical care, emergency services, women’s health, academia and most currently, forensic nursing.  

Khara began working as a forensic nurse in 2011 and immersed herself in the field. In 2017, while working with community partners, the gap in forensic nursing services was recognized, in response Khara formulated Harris County Forensic Nursing Services (HCFNE), now Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners, a non-profit, community based forensic nursing program, where she currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer. 

In 2018, Khara was recognized by the Texas Nurses Association as one of the “Top 20 Nurses” in the region. In 2019, she was honored by The Houston Business Journal as an “Outstanding Health Care practitioner.” In 2020, she was recognized as Houston Business Journal’s, “Most Admired CEO” award.  

Khara serves as the Board Secretary for Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) and is the President of the board of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN).  She is also a working group member of the Texas Sexual Assault Survivor’s Task Force, led by the Governor’s office.  

Jennifer L. Ross, MD 

Dr. Jennifer L. Ross graduated from University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1997 with a Bachelors Degree in Biology and from the University of Texas Medical Branch with an MD Degree in 2005. 

Dr. Ross completed a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2009. She then completed her fellowship in forensic pathology at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in 2010 and a fellowship in neuropathology at the Methodist Hospital in 2012. She joined the HCIFS staff in 2012. Dr. Ross is certified in anatomic pathology, forensic pathology and neuropathology. 

Her interests include multidisciplinary involvement in the community to try to prevent child fatalities and fatalities associated with domestic violence.  She is the Medical Examiner representative on the Harris County Child Fatality Review Team, the State of Texas Child Fatality Review Team and the Harris County Domestic Violence Death Review Team. 

Pre-Conference Faculty (Virtual)

Dr. Marc Bollmann

Dr. Bollmann is currently the Director of Graubünden Institute of Forensic Medicine in Switzerland. He received his diploma in the studies of Human Medicine and his doctorate in medicine and biology. He has advanced training in interpersonal violence, elder abuse, violations of human rights and humanitarian law. He was a resident in Forensic Medicine at University of Lausaane and completed a residency at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne before becoming the Chief Resident in the Unit for Violence Medicine and then the Chief Resident in Forensic Medicine. He does case work and provides expert opinions in forensic pathology and clinical forensic medicine, forensic radiology and imaging, forensic histopathology, member of the cantonal round table against domestic violence. He lectures and has numerous peer reviewed publications published throughout his career. He is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Swiss Society of Legal Medicine, the Swiss Red Cross and the INTERPOL Standing Committee on Disaster Victim Identification and a variety of other organizations.

Katherine Maloney, MD  

Dr. Katherine Maloney is a board certified Forensic Pathologist practicing in Buffalo, New York. She has performed over 2500 autopsies and is board certified by the American Board of Pathology in Forensic Pathology, Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology. She has testified in both criminal and civil proceedings and holds teaching appointments at the University at Buffalo Medical School and through the National Criminal Justice Training Center. 

After completing her undergraduate in Biology at Boston College, Dr. Maloney went to medical school at the University of Massachusetts Medical School followed by four years of residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell in New York City. She completed her Forensic Pathology fellowship training at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City, followed by an additional year of Forensic Neuropathology and Forensic Cardiac Pathology training. 

Her areas of interest include child homicide investigations, sudden unexpected deaths in childhood, asphyxial deaths and traumatic brain injuries. She has published multiple research articles in peer reviewed journals and regularly presents on forensic topics at annual meetings such as those held by the National Association of Medical Examiners and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.  

Gladys Frankel, PhD 

Dr. Gladys Frankel is a Clinical Psychologist in Private Practice in New York City. She has been on the faculties of Weill Cornell College of Medicine, and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Dr. Frankel is an expert in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She serves as an expert for legal cases on the emotional consequences of traumatic experiences and was co-director of an in-patient PTSD unit at a VA where she treated combat trauma veterans and those who experienced sexual traumas. She provided  expert assessments for the U.S. government on combat and military sexual traumas. Dr. Frankel has been a frequently requested lecturer on topics including treating trauma nightmares and stress management. She is published in peer reviewed academic journals and has served as a resource for journalists on psychological content.  

Amber D. Riley, MS, RDH, FAAFS, FIACME  

Ms. Riley is a 1998 graduate of Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio. She completed her Baccalaureate with Wright State University and Master of Science with Boston University. Amber is an RDH Advisory Board Member to the Oral Cancer Foundation, a subject matter consultant serving dozens of state dental boards, and a Forensic Dental Consultant for the San Diego County Office of the Medical Examiner. She is a forensic consultant to the California Office of Emergency Services and the California Dental Identification team. She is a Federal Safety and Occupational Health Specialist & member of the forensic dental unit of the U.S. Government disaster mortuary operational response team (DMORT). Ms. Riley is a professional risk and liability consultant specializing in the dental sciences to national medical/dental liability insurance brokerages. 

Ms. Riley is President-Elect of the American Society of Forensic Odontology, Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Fellow of the International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners, Member of the California Dental Hygienists’ Association, Member of the American Society of Forensic Odontology, and an Associate Member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. She is an internationally recognized speaker providing continuing education programs for dental and medical professionals covering oral and systemic pathologies, forensic odontology, and the use and misuse of therapeutic and illicit pharmacology. 

Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN 

Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN is Anna D. Wolf Chair and Professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.  Dr. Campbell has published more than 310 articles, seven books and been Principle Investigator of more than 15 major NIH, CDC and NIJ grants in her decades of advocacy policy work collaborating with domestic violence survivors, advocates, health care professionals and marginalized communities.  She is particularly known for her research on domestic violence homicide and the development and validation of the Danger Assessment (DA) that helps IPV survivors more accurately assess their risk of being killed or almost killed by their abusive partner.  The DA is being used widely in the US and globally and has several adaptions for use in the health care and criminal justice system.  She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Nursing, is on the Board of Futures Without Violence and was on the boards of 4 domestic violence shelters. Dr. Campbell has consulted for DHHS, CDC, NIH, the Office on Violence Against Women, the Department of Defense and multiple advocacy organizations on the intersection of gender based violence and physical and mental health outcomes.  

Claire Ferguson, PhD, GCAP, FHEA 

Dr. Claire Ferguson is an Academic and researcher in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane Australia. She is a Senior Lecturer, researcher and consultant in forensic criminology. She is an adjunct lecturer in the School of Behavioural Cognitive and Social Sciences at the University of New England, Australia. 

Claire’s work brings together research and forensic case work in complex death investigations. While her research is published in many traditional academic journals, she also uses this expertise to assist police and attorneys by writing expert forensic reports and delivering expert testimony. Claire has been awarded several consultancies with police agencies around Australia, and has given expert testimony on equivocal deaths to the State Coroner of New South Wales. This testimony surrounded her research on detection avoidance strategies employed by homicide offenders. 

Claire’s work surrounds strategies used by offenders to conceal homicides as accidents, suicides, or missing people. While Claire has published over 40 academic journal articles, she also uses her research to inform training and expert consultancy for assisting police, attorneys, and Coroners investigating suspected homicides, equivocal deaths and missing persons. These are most often homicides of women, perpetrated and concealed by men in an effort to avoid being held accountable.   

Amy Carney, PhD, NP, FAAFS 

Amy Carney is an Elder Abuse Advocate, writer, speaker, and author in San Marcos California. Dr. Carney is a professor of Nursing at California State University San Marcos where she serves as Associate Director, Graduate Education. She has been a Primary Care Provider at Neighborhood HealthCare for 22 years working with adult and geriatric patients and was a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner and SANE-A with Palomar Medical Center in North County San Diego.  

Dr. Carney’s research is primarily focused on elder abuse, and how maltreatment of the elderly affects families, caregivers, and communities. She strives to teach students the importance of working with the elderly by ensuring their safety,  identifying their concerns, and reducing the stigma of reporting an abusive situation.  Her secondary focus is on sexual assault on college campuses, and the work to engender trust in the campus population. With other members of the forensic community, she wrote and edited the book Elder Abuse: Forensic, Legal and Medical Aspects, published in 2020. She believes that the measure of a community can be taken by how they treat their elderly. 

Registration Fees

Sunday, May 22, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM

Pre-Conference Only: $185

When added to Conference Registration: $160

**Includes a full day’s instruction and lunch**