Private Forensic Experts



Private Pathologist's Report [edited by Barbara Volkwyn]

NB. Michael's handmade holster was taken to the mortuary after his body was taken there. Unbelievable but true.


Name of deceased: Michael Volkwyn aged 61 years

Date of Death (as informed): 13th May 2015 Post-mortem date: 15th May 2015

Body identified by mortuary attendants at Salt River State Mortuary and Dr. G Kirk.

Post-mortem place: Salt River Mortuary, Cape Town.

Post-mortem commenced at 0730 and was conducted by Dr Gavin Kirk of the Department of Forensic Medicine at UCT Medical School. I participated in the entire procedure.

Prior to the dissection, the body was X-rayed in a special machine, an xemplar-dr, and scattered small metallic fragments, presumably from a bullet, were seen in the brain.


Height: 1.7m Mass: 67kg.

Body was that of a lean male with no distinguishing marks of note.

Special identifying marks: None except for a tag labelled WC11/1264/15 on the right leg.

Secondary post-mortem changes: None

Body was dressed in boots with blue socks, blue underpants, grey-blue trousers with a rip over the right thigh area, a white T-shirt, blue shirt and a black knit jersey. Strapped to the waist was an apparently home-made holster partly fastened with staples and the letters MV running into one another. The front of the chest had been exposed (by the paramedics apparently), and the head, face, hands and front of the chest were blood-spattered..


Signs of medical intervention: An endotracheal tube was in place, as were 3 ECG electrodes.

Eyes: Normal

Ears: Normal

Nose: Normal but with some crusted blood in an around the nostrils.

No injuries were present on the front of the body. A warty lesion was present on the outer aspect of the right knee at the level of the patellar tip.

Skin injuries:

1. A 12 x 10 defect was found in the right temple area situated 50mm above and 45mm in front of the right ear. Edges of this defect were ragged with barely discernible blackening but in the floor of the defect some distinct black deposits were seen. Abutting on the upper and lower edges of this defect was some bruising measuring 12 x 10 mm. (This defect is consistent with an entrance wound.) Lying a few millimetres below this are 2 small superficial lacerations. The posterior lesion has an irregular rhomboid shape, 13 mm in diameter. Anterior to this is a lesion resembling an angle iron, the angle pointing downwards and forwards.

2. An elliptical 20 x 10 defect was found in the left temple area situated 45mm above and 20mm in front of the left ear, the long axis lying slightly downwards and medially. Edges were ragged with some haemorrhage. Some superficial skin tears lay at the lower end. No sooty deposits were seen. (This lesion is consistent with an exit wound.)

3. On the lower back were two adjacent lesions,lying close to the midline, just above the level of the sacrum. One resembled a blood blister, 5mm in diameter and adjacent to it, two relatively broad interrupted linear abrasions, orientated vertically, and each some 12mm in length.

4. Lying 10mm above this is an area of stippled skin abrasion, the stippling becoming confluent in areas. This entire lesion covered an area some 60 x 30mm.

Pertinent skull injuries:

1. In the right parietal region a defect was present in the skull measuring 17 x 11 mm, consistent with an entrance wound, with radiating crack fractures extending into the adjacent parietal bone and onto the floor of the middle cranial fossa.

2. A defect consistent with a bullet exit wound was found in the left parietal bone measuring 30 x 10 mm. Extending from this wound was a crack fracture extending down and backwards to involve the occipital bone.

3. A ragged coronal fracture of the base of the skull extended from the entrance wound to involve virtually the entire width of the base of the skull.


Incision into the body revealed normal serous cavities (pericardial, pleural and peritoneal).

Neck structures: No abnormalities were found.

Thoracic cage and diaphragm: No injuries or other abnormalities were found

Vertebral column: Palpated and found to be normal. Dissection was not indicated.


Heart: 311gm. Epicardium, myocardium and endocardium were normal

Aorta and branches: Remarkably free from atheroma, as were the coronary arteries.

Great veins and branches: No thrombi.

Portal system: No thrombi.


Trachea and bronchi: A considerable amount of blood was present the blood emanating from the base of skull region.

Lungs – Right lung - 850gm, left lung - 721gm. The dorsal regions were dark red in colour, representing gravitational pooling of blood in addition to probable aspiration.


Mouth, tongue, pharynx and oesophagus: Blood was present here, the source once again being the fractured base of skull.

Stomach was empty.

Small and large bowel, anus: Normal.

Liver: 1305gm. This was normal, a little pale if anything.

Gall bladder, bile ducts: Normal

Pancreas: Normal


Kidneys Right - 116gm, left - 122gm. These too were a little paler than usual but no scarring or any other features of note were present.

Bladder: Normal

Prostate and testes: Normal


Spleen: 82gm. Pale

Lymph nodes: No localized or generalized lymph node enlargement was present.


Pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals: Normal


Scalp: Injuries described above.

Cranium: Injuries described above.


Brain: 1450gm.

The base of the brain displayed a roughly horizontal laceration passing the posterior tips of the temporal lobes and associated with some contusion of the undersurface of the right temporal lobe, partially disrupting the pons.

Spinal cord: No indication for examination.


At the request of the family I revisited the mortuary and swabbed the right and left hands paying particular attention to the undersurface of the nails on each hand.

The hands had by that time been washed but some residual black material was still present in and around the finger nails. I was informed that this was in all likelihood due to the fingerprinting process which is done as a routine. Furthermore I was informed by Dr Kirk that swabbing of the hands is done routinely in cases such as this, by the crime scene officers at the scene.

I handed these swabs appropriately labelled, to the deceased’s sisters.


Death was due to a contact wound of the head, the entrance on the right and the exit wound on the left and resulting in extensive brain damage.

No ready explanation for the lesions on the back could be found. The likeliest cause for this is injuries produced by the paramedics in the course of doing what they could for the deceased.

Death must have been almost instantaneous.