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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six: Case File No. 25-285


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Where We Left Off:

We opened a case when we experienced an usual incident. A red-tailed hawk landed close to us. It was ready to steal a chipmunk for a meal but left empty-handed.

La Bête Humaine:

Happy Halloween! Bones are an iconic witchcraft symbol so it’s fitting that I have an update about the second full skeleton I cleaned. As of today, there are only some small bones left to scrub from this skeleton. The rest has been completed. A lot of the photos in this case might be consider stomach-turning gross.

Gus working with tools

The primary reason this skeleton took so long is because The Grumpy Old Man found the body at the top of the hill when it was relatively fresh, but in the open and available to scavengers. The vultures were feasting for days as were other animals. As the flesh was eaten away, some opportunistic beasts had an easier time pulling sections apart. I’d find a leg twenty feet away and move it back. Then another piece would be moved the next day and so forth. Trying to keep a skeleton in tact is difficult when creatures want to take huge pieces back to their dens and families. It doesn’t take very long for the larger beasts to get all that they can from a carcass. At that point, it’s up the insects and smaller critters to take over.

I’ll show you the end photos first because the cleaned bones are not as disgusting to look at. The body of the creature was moved to part of the backyard where I could work outside. I set up a “crime scene” area even though this is not the crime scene (see related case file). I needed to cordon off the area to work so I used what I had.

This body was investigated in Case No. 26-234 which you should read to see how we concluded that this was case of a vampire attack!

As I wonder what else I can tell you about this case, my heart gets sad. The place where this body was discovered is up for sale. The realtor has the price set way too high with an extremely creative summary about the house, garage, and land. I exaggerate, but I also write fiction. In the instances of six years of cat adventures, it’s actually semi-fiction. Plenty of it is authentic based on the escapades of Gus and Oliver. When you’re writing about something for sale, it’s supposed to be realistic. Obviously the whole premise of advertising is based on lies from selling snake oil and tapeworms. They gilded the lily and that worries all of us down here.

vintage tonic ad

The front yard of that property (if you can call it a yard) is down a steep slope. There were stairs once and apparently some sort of sign. The metal post for that still exists and leans into the sticker bushes. Maybe it said Welcome or had their last name on it. The area of the slope comes alive in spring. Half of it is covered in yellow and white daffodils. There are so many of them. Maybe the next owners will wait and see what the land is like before immediately digging it all up. It would be a shame for all those bulbs to be destroyed accidentally because people were told it would make a fantastic vegetable garden or livestock enclosure.


This case file may be the last set of bones we find. I’m not interested in transporting roadkill back to our yard. That’s messy and disgusting and I don’t have the vehicle for it. Moving bodies dripping blood in a wheelbarrow is probably where I can draw the line at bone collecting.

In Nottingham, UK, a team of scientists closely examined a species called red deer which looks like a larger cousin of the white-tailed deer we find here in New Jersey. Naresh Kumar, Sandeep Kukreti, Mushtaque Ishaque, and Robert Mulholland published their paper in 2000. It’s a fascinating study on how the red deer spine compares to a human spine for the purpose of scientific needs for human models. Immediately, some parts of the deer spine are disqualified because they don’t resemble the human spine enough. The primary reason for conducting this study with red deer was because the usual animal replacements – pigs and cows – caused too much concern about prion disease transmitting to the humans doing the examinations (and agriculture).

red deer (hart)
Red deer (Cervus elaphus)

The objective was to create a database for the anatomical parameters of the deer spine, with a view to establish deer spine as a valid model for human spine biomechanical experiments in vitro.

Kumar, N., Kukreti, S., Ishaque, M. and Mulholland, R. (2000), Anatomy of deer spine and its comparison to the human spine. Anat. Rec., 260: 189-203.<189::AID-AR80>3.0.CO;2-N

It’s obviously difficult to test things like new medical implants if you can’t find the right structure on which to test them. I suppose robots will be used someday, but at the moment, it’s more cost effective to murder an animal than build a robot.

Grace & Frankie gif

I did learn something this week about bone collecting and I kind of hate it in that way older generations automatically hate trendy shit from younger generations. For example, everything scandalous is -gate; everything fashionable is -core. Do they even know the -gate suffix came from Watergate? We had shabby chic. Now it’s cottage core. It’s the same fucking thing! I used to cringe at the word cosplay because it felt appropriative of anime/manga fans. I used to say costuming or dressing up or costumer. Then the word cosplay became normalized and mainstream.

I was perusing YouTube for other bone cleaning tips and noticed that ones made by people who are a.) not Goth or b.) not hunters don’t simply use the term bone collecting. Nope. They call it vulture culture. Okay, it’s cute and it rhymes and if I had thought of it, I’d be quite proud. But I hate it just because so get off my lawn.

Case Findings:

I learned some facts because of this case. Deer and hence Jersey devil-deer hybrid cryptids do not have the same number of vertebrae as humans: cervical – thoracic – lumbar – sacral. They definitely have more plus tails! What I need is an expert to help me assemble the spines in the correct order.

All that’s left is scrubbing those final small bones and then acquiring the perfect box for this skeleton.

Case Status: Closed

***The rest of the images might be considered extra gross***

If you’re curious about the lumbar sections of other mammals including primates and dolphins, read this paper:

Lumbar mammal comparisons: Boszczyk, B.M., Boszczyk, A.A. and Putz, R. (2001), Comparative and functional anatomy of the mammalian lumbar spine. Anat. Rec., 264: 157-168.

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