Medical examiner discusses Adrienne Salinas case - New York News

Medical examiner discusses Adrienne Salinas case

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PHOENIX -

Police continue their investigation into the death of Adrienne Salinas. The 19-year-old woman was missing for 2 months before her body was found in the desert in Apache Junction.

Police are searching for any clues that could help solve this mystery. How did Adrienne die? And how did her body end up more than 30 miles away from where she was last seen?

Adrienne's body is now at the medical examiner's office undergoing forensic testing.

So when a body has been decomposing in the Arizona desert for 2 months, how do investigators put the forensic pieces together to figure out what happened, and bring the killer to justice?

We spoke to a veteran medical examiner about the Salinas case.

"We're not there saying who did anything, we just say what happened. We are solely focused upon the individual who died -- how did they die, when did they die," says Dr. Philip Keen.

Dr. Keen has spent his life's work as a medical examiner -- the last 14 years as Chief M.E. for Maricopa County. He says almost always they can figure out how a person died.

But Adrienne Salinas' body decomposing in the desert for so long complicates things.

"It is mostly in those bodies in which the condition of the bodies is such that too much time has elapsed so you don't have enough information to draw a conclusion."

Police are combing a four mile section of wash near the superstitions, looking for clues. They believe Salinas' body was dumped there and may have been washed downstream by floodwaters.

"You can have additional trauma hitting against rocks and debris in the wash, depends on the condition of the body when it first enters the wash, whether there was possibility of death at that site and left there or could have died somewhere else and dumped there."

All crucial pieces of the puzzle.

"One of the first things you look at is an X-ray of the body, look for evidence of fractures, evidence of foreign bodies and even in a decomposing body, if you look at patterns of hemorrhage in the decomposing body. You could for example identify a penetrating stabbing wound and its bleeding path."

But ultimately, finding who did this will be the job of detectives.

Dr. Keen says Pima County's Medical Examiner is handling the autopsy. And he says because it handles so many migrant deaths, that office is very experienced with bodies found in the desert.

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