This afternoon we received the official Medical Examiner’s investigative reports for Patin Fields. Patin Renee Fields was just 5 years old at the time of the untimely and heinous acts leading to her death that’s been ruled a homicide. The Medical Examiner’s investigative reports confirm that Patin did, in fact, suffer strangulation.
The investigative report and the autopsy report that was released today gave us more details and perspective on the gruesome circumstances involving this young child’s death. From the medical examiner’s summary, the girl’s family took her to Pender Memorial Hospital on November 13, 2017, with complaints of seizure activity and an alerted mental status. She was transported by car with family after the family allegedly could not reach 9-11 due to a “busy line” from what close sources have told us previously. The autopsy report states specifically a “diffuse acute cerebral hypoxic injury” as well as “ligature strangulation”. Diffuse acute cerebral hypoxic injury refers to oxygen deprivation in the brain. In this case specifically, the autopsy report states, “there is severe cerebellar tonsillar coning; there is moderate to severe upward vermal softening/herniation into the quadrigeminal cistern is noted. There is a severe reduction in lateral ventricle size; a severe reduction in the size of the fourth ventricle is also recognized.” This is referencing the cerebellum portion which is at the rear, lower portion of the brain and the entire brain is usually deprived an adequate oxygen supply yet deprivation, not at a totality. Survival from this type of brain injury is majorly unforeseen. This is usually a result of hanging, strangulation, carbon monoxide poisoning or near drowning. Ligature strangulation is a form of asphyxia caused by constriction of the neck by ligature without suspending the body. Pulling a U-shaped ligature against the front and sides of the neck while standing at the back can cause death. There are two types: (1) strangulation by ligature, and (2) manual strangulation or throttling. Symptoms of this are sudden and violent compression of the windpipe causing immediate insensibility and death. A person suffering from this type of injury can experience buzzing in ears, congestion and/or cyanosis in the head, vertigo, tingling, muscle weakness, bleeding from the mouth, nose, and ears, clenching hands and convulsions before death occurs.
Homicidal Strangulation is common in murder. Many victims are frequently associated with sexual interference. Typically only one turn of ligature around the neck, with one or more knots at the front or side of the neck. When two or more firm knots, each being on separate turns of the ligature, homicide is nearly certain. (Forensic Pathology, 2013)
The conditions from the observation by the Pender Memorial ER staff are consistent with the aforementioned research findings that resulted in her death and autopsy report confirmation. The ER staff noted what appeared to be ligature marks on Patin’s neck consistent with strangulation. Patin was sent from Pender Memorial to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for further observation.
Patin died on November 15, 2017, after two days in NHMC (New Hanover Medical Center) where her small body began to shut down. She was taken to the hospital on the morning of November 13, 2017. On November 15, there was no sign of electrical activity on Patin’s brain from an EEG and from there she was prepped for organ donation. The previous two days before there had also been a complaint of illness. Between her admission on November 13th and her losing all brain activity on the 15th, her body rapidly shut down, losing the remaining cranial nerve reflexes.
The autopsy was scheduled for November 20th in Greenville, NC.
The investigative report shows there was a bruise on her right lung and a small amount of hemorrhage in the abdomen. The ME stated evidence of sexual assault.
Injuries listed from a portion of the autopsy report: I. TRAUMATIC HEAD/NECK INJURIES: Marked numbers of petechial hemorrhages are diffusely present over the neck and face. The hemorrhages stop abruptly at a horizontal line along the anterior neck. Hemorrhages are seen over the right lower sclera. The conjunctiva of both eyes show scattered, prominent petechial hemorrhages. Prominent,
numerous petechial hemorrhages are diffusely over the epithelial surfaces of both upper and lower gums.
A horizontal, interrupted, healing abrasion over the anterior neck extends over the thyroid cartilage. A 1/4-inch,
interrupted, a healing abrasion over the left neck extends posteriorly. Two, parallel, horizontal, healing abrasions over the posterior left neck are separated by 3/16-inch of intact skin. Two, diagonal, parallel, healing abrasions over the
posterior right neck are separated by 3/16-inch. Acute hemorrhage is present in the left, right and anterior neck muscles above the hyoid bone. After reflection of the scalp, massive numbers of prominent petechial hemorrhages are seen diffusely in the subgaleal tissues over all surfaces of the skull.
II. ADDITIONAL TRAUMATIC INJURIES: Three raised blisters are over the anterior palmar surface of the right hand.
Dark material is in both ear canals. Scattered small hemorrhages are present over the mid-back muscles. A small
hemorrhage is present over the right elbow.
Acute hemorrhage is along the vagina mucosa at 3-5 o’clock and at 7 o’clock.
Cerebellum: The cerebellum in normally formed; there is no evidence of foliar atrophy (volume loss), infarct, or contusion. There is patchy duskiness, consistent with hypoxic-ischemic injury. Scattered congested vessels are identified. The dentate nuclei are symmetrical.
The autopsy and investigative reports both state that Patin Renee Fields as a 5-year-old white female yet her family has stated to be of Native American descent Maternal and Paternal. We will update if a correction is necessary. Patin had her one pink and white stuffed animal cat (“Mary Meyer”) as also noted by the medical examiners and released with her after the examination was complete. A hair sample and DNA sample was retained.
Will update as information comes available.