The Ontario woman’s naked body was found deep in a forest, her legs spread apart, what appeared to be bruises speckling her face, neck and torso.
Evidence from the eerie scene and common sense pointed to one thing: sexual assault and homicide.
But then authorities carried out an autopsy and did other investigation, producing a much different story — and a cautionary tale for a province where forensic science has a contentious history.
The bruises were actually the effects of insect bites, while the victim had a history of mental illness and had once before run unclothed through the woods, says a newly published study of the case.
Her death was eventually blamed — not on rape and murder — but on heat exhaustion and insect stings, says the report by Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist.
The sexual-homicide “mimic” underscores the importance of considering alternative theories, of “disentangling our preconceptions from the actual truth,” he said.