Mom China Arnold, 26, stands accused of aggravated murder after bringing her dead infant daughter, Paris, to a hospital, with a “high body temperature”. The woman was arrested, and later released.
“We have reason to believe, and scientific evidence to support, that a microwave oven might have been involved in the death of this child,” Montgomery County Coroner’s Office Director Ken Betz is quoted as saying
My immediate thoughts, beyond a general sense of tragedy, are to wonder what the actual effects would be. Obviously one effect would be the same heating that results (eventually) in cooking. The temperature is raised rapidly to a depth of several centimetres through direct microwave action. Heat then conducts inward.
Unlike a meat joint, a living body will attempt to compensate. However an infant’s ability to do so is limited. Even in adults, the brain is vulnerable to even a small rise in temperature. I think death would be rapid, and would occur long before the flesh began to cook.
It’s not clear to me what other effects there would be, that might distinguish such a death from other causes. For example, it’s not clear whether the baby would suffer a skin burn, assuming microwaving no more than sufficient to cause death.
It’s also not clear to me how one would go about testing any hypotheses about the likely effects (other than the obvious unethical ways). I would be very concerned if someone were to be convicted on the basis of untested conjecture.