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June 14, 2013

Kids’ tragic deaths detailed

Witnesses say boy and girl were badly burned in murder case

JEFFERSONVILLE —

On the last day of the prosecution’s presentation in the Jeffrey Weisheit double-murder trial, jurors were given gruesome details of the children’s deaths by a pathologist who conducted their autopsies. 

Weisheit, 37, of Evansville, is charged with setting fire to his own home in 2010 while his then-girlfriend’s two children, Caleb Lynch, 5, and Alyssa Lynch, 8, were in the house. The story was covered so heavily in Vanderburgh County that the case is being tried in Clark County, where an untainted jury could be found.

Jury selection began July 3, and a week later Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecutors Charles Berger and Gary Shutte began their presentation. Their final witness was Dr. Elmo Griggs, who conducted the autopsies of both children. Griggs said he determined both children died from asphyxiation of smoke and soot. 

During his testimony, the jurors where shown pictures of children’s remains that included deep-tissue charring.

“The bodies of the children were burned, basically, beyond recognition,” Griggs said from the witness stand.

He said both children also suffered carbon monoxide levels more than 70 percent, later saying carbon monoxide becomes fatal around a level of 50 percent.

Alyssa Lynch’s body was found in what had been a closet of the home in a pugilistic position, “like a boxer,” Griggs described, adding her position was similar to other fatally burned victims.

Caleb Lynch’s remains were found on his bed with his arms, legs and mouth bound by duct tape. His body was found in what Griggs described to the jurors as a “hog-tied position.”

Griggs said because Caleb Lynch’s mouth was covered with tape, he had inhaled enough soot through his nose it had reached his lungs.

Forensic dentist Barbara Wells — who examined both of the children’s remains to confirm their identify through dental records — also testified Thursday.

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