Doctor talks forensic science in Woodstock

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WOODSTOCK — As chief medical examiner for Oklahoma in April 1995, Fred Jordan witnessed the carnage left by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

He’s carried the case with him ever since, he told an audience Thursday at Whitman Memorial Library in Woodstock.

Now Maine’s deputy chief medical examiner, Jordan talked about forensic science and the role it plays in solving crimes.

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Asked to talk about his most difficult cases, Jordan recalled the grisly killings at a Newry inn over Labor Day weekend in 2006, when three women were killed and dismembered. A fourth person, a guest at the inn, was killed off site.

“After the murder at the inn, I couldn’t sleep for about three days,” Jordan said.

He shut off his cellphone and police radio and took his dog for a walk in the woods for what he referred to as a debriefing to help him cope with the images left in his mind.

Jordan, originally from Maine, said he spent summers in the area, including in Bryant Pond, and that might have added to his emotions, but the time with his dog helped.

He described a unique case in 1976 that had ties to Maine and Oklahoma and involved a corpse at a fun house in California.

The corpse was believed to be fake. However, when a television crew filming the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man” broke the arm of the supposed mannequin, they discovered it was a real body.

Jordan said using forensic science, they pieced together the story of the corpse and learned the man’s identity. It was Elmer McCurdy, a train robber killed by law enforcement officers in Oklahoma in October 1911, he said.

McCurdy was mummified using arsenic and the body was never claimed, so it was used as an amusement attraction, Jordan said.

McCurdy was finally given a proper burial in Oklahoma in 1977. He was born in January 1880 in Washington, Maine, Jordan said.

Jordan started working at Central Maine General Hospital in Lewiston at the age of 16, developing an interest in forensic science.

Maine’s first chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles Branch, was a key influence in his career, Jordan said.

“Charlie was like a father to me,” he said.

Branch began working as a medical examiner in Maine in 1967. In his first year, 1,645 cases came across his desk.

Jordan said his office now sees 6,000 cases a year.

He explained techniques used to create a body of evidence, including DNA, patterns of blood spatter and luminol, a chemical used to find blood that is not visible to the human eye.

Jordan said he enjoys the career because it gives him a chance to bring closure to grieving families.

ecox@sunjournal.com

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