By Gilberto Godinez, Even
Smith, and Shawn Boswell
 electron
capture detection (ECD)
 flame ionisation detection (FID)
 photo-ionisation detection (PID)
 mass spectrometry (MS)
way to wake someone from chloroform
with ammonia.
 Can
cause damage to the liver, kidneys,
and heart.
 Can knock people out from 2 to 30
The first narcosis with chloroform was performed by James
Young Simpson on himself on November 4, 1847. The
chemical substance had been first produced in 1831
almost simultaneously in the USA by Samuel Guthrie and in
France by Eugene Soubeiran. Knowledge of the narcotic
effect of chloroform spread rapidly, but very soon reports of
sudden deaths mounted. The first fatality was a 15-year-old
girl called Hannah Greener, who died on January 28, 1848.
The opponents and supporters of chloroform were mainly
at odds with the question of whether the complications
were solely due to respiratory disturbance or whether
chloroform had a specific effect on the heart. Between
1864 and 1910 numerous commissions in UK studied
chloroform, but failed to come to any clear conclusions. It
was only in 1911 that Levy proved in experiments with
animals that chloroform can cause cardiac fibrillation.
The reservations about chloroform could not halt its soaring
popularity. Between about 1865 and 1920, chloroform was used in
80 to 95% of all narcoses performed in UK and German-speaking
countries. In America, however, there was less enthusiasm for
chloroform narcosis. In Germany the first comprehensive surveys of
the fatality rate during anaesthesia were made by Gurlt between
1890 and 1897. In 1934, Killian gathered all the statistics compiled
until then and found that the chances of suffering fatal
complications under ether were between 1: 14,000 and 1: 28,000,
whereas under chloroform the chances were between 1: 3,000 and
1: 6,000. The rise of gas anaesthesia using nitrous oxide, improved
equipment for administering anaesthetics and the discovery of
hexobarbital in 1932 led to the gradual decline of chloroform
narcosis. In 1947, Ralph Waters attempted to reactivate chloroform,
but failed. Possibly as a result of these efforts, however, chloroform
played a role in American publications longer than elsewhere. The
story of the clinical use of chloroform ended in 1976 with the
second edition of V. J. Collins' textbook.
Diana Smith and Scott Jones were found murdered in
Scott’s St. Paul apartment in March 1981. Her dad had
reported her missing when she failed to meet him for
church services and called police. Police thought the crime
scene seemed staged because of the way the bodies of
the victims were positioned.
The cause of death turned out to be chloroform — a rare
method for murder that was much more common in movie
scripts than in actual homicides. St. Paul Police hope DNA
tests on old crime scene evidence may finally give them
what they need to arrest a longtime suspect for the
couple’s murder.
Investigators say the prime suspect is a former boyfriend of
Diana’s who lives in the Twin Cities. He is now married and
has a child.
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