OKLAHOMA CITY – The wounds suffered by a pastor killed inside her church indicate that she tried to fight off her attacker before her throat was slashed and she was nearly decapitated, according to a forensics expert who reviewed a preliminary autopsy report on Friday.
The state medical examiner's office released the eight-page report of anatomical drawings after an open records request by The Associated Press.
They show that 61-year-old Carol Daniels, whose body was discovered Sunday inside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko, suffered numerous gashes to her neck and throat, as well as stab wounds to her chest, back, stomach and hands.
Oklahoma's medical examiner's office declined to comment on the report. Dr. William Manion, a forensic pathologist and deputy medical examiner in Burlington County, N.J., said the report shows Daniels likely was attacked with a knife and died quickly after her throat was slashed.
"The most fatal injuries are those around her neck," said Manion, who analyzed the report at the request of the AP. "I would say, based on the fact that both sides of the neck have major wounds associated with them, that she would be nearly decapitated."
Slices on both of Daniels' hands are classic defensive wounds and indicate the attacker used some kind of knife, Manion added.
"She was putting her hands up to try and confront her assailant," he said.
Several large gashes to Daniels' chest, along with stab wounds to her stomach and back, likely were inflicted after her death, Manion said, relying on notations written in hand on the report.
Investigators have said that whoever killed Daniels posed her body in an unnatural position, or "staged" it, but have declined to elaborate. The staging of the body is extremely rare, Manion said, and usually means the killer either wanted to thwart investigators or shock whoever discovered the body.
"It's something to repel and nauseate people, something very shocking to try and upset people investigating the crime," he said.
Police have not said if any items were missing from Daniels or the church, but Manion said it's unlikely the killing was a burglary gone bad. The nature of Daniels' wounds indicates that the killer likely knew her and was enraged, Manion said.
"In the case of a robbery ... he's not going to hang around and keep slashing at her, stabbing her over and over, and take time to stage the body," he said.
Authorities, who have released no information on possible suspects, are asking the FBI for help. Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said Friday police hope the agency's experts in fields like behavioral science can help solve the grisly killing.
Brown also said she's unaware of any evidence that Daniels was sexually assaulted.