The Chinese CSI Blogger

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  Legal Medical Experts Exposes Autopsy Stories On The Internet.  By Tan Renwei (譚人瑋) and Tong Jingrong (童靜蓉).  April 25, 2006.

(in translation)

"I have a certain respect for death, and for the dead as well.  
I look at a dead person in order to understand his wrongful treatment.
Anyone can ask me any questions related to legal medical advice.
When my opinion agrees with that of my teachers, I will tell you the answer."

                                                                                  Zhang Zhihao

Legal medical expert is a mysterious occupation.  The popularity of the television shows "CSI" and "The Great Song Dynasty Judge" have increased people's interest in this occupation.  On February 25 this year, the legal medical expert Zhang Zhihao of the Wenzhou Medical School established the "I am a legal medical expert" blog at  In the blog, he writes about various kinds of cases that he has encountered in his work.  Some are like Sherlock Holmes cases, some are brutal, some are suspenseful while othes are filled with genuine human feelings.  Many netizens have become his fans.  In two months' time, his blog has more than 170,000 hits.  A netizen even asked Zhang for help in discovering the truth of the death of his father.

Zhang Zhihao made the open declaration of his occupation when he started a blog with the title "I am a legal medical expert."  At first, he was writing his work summaries and case analyses so that the students of legal medicine can use them as reference and even people outside of legal medicine can gain some knowledge.  At the same time, this was going to be a summary of the cases that he has handled.  Zhang Zhihao said that all the stories are true and there are case files that can be checked.  But some of these cases took place a long time ago, so that the details may not be totally accurate.

To Zhang Zhihao's surprise, the number of visitors to his blog soared.  By March, there were more than 100,000 page views, with daily visits of 5,000 people.  On April 12, his blog was recommended by on the front page of the blog section.  Zhang Zhihao writes interesting stories, and people even suspect that this came from a professional writer.  Zhao Zhihao told the reporter that the essays that he wrote ever since elementary schools were almost all model essays.  He stopped writing when he began studying science.  He did not expect that his writing would still be appreciated by netizens after not having written for so many years.

Today, the main purpose of Zhang Zhihao's blog is to let more people understand the profession of legal medicine.  When some people learn that he is a legal medical expert, they won't even shake hands with him.  Today, since so many netizens are interested in his blog, why shouldn't he use this platform to explain his job?

Is it really so special to be a legal medical expert who handles corpses all day?  Zhang Zhihao said, "We are also normal people.  Some people study nuclear weapons, some people study viruses and I study corpses."

A student from the medical school left a comment that after his first dissection of a corpse, he could not eat meat for a month.  When Zhang Zhihao dissected his first body as a student, he had to try very hard not to vomit.  After he graduated and became a surgeon, he was more accustomed to sights of blood and flesh and his courage was built up.  But he was having a back problem, so he decided to switch occupation.  After finishing his graduate work, Zhang Zhihao realized his dream to teach at the Wenzhou Medical School while being a legal medical expert at the same time.

In his first legal medical assignment, Zhang Zhihao almost threw up again.  It was in the summer, and the corpse was severely decomposed.  The smell was awful and attracted many buzzing flies.  So Zhang completed his first examination in a hot surgical uniform in the presence of the terrible smell.  But Zhang Zhihao is 34 years old now and he has dissected many bodies.  But he still finds it hard to take when he sees some terrible deaths.  Zhang Zhihao never writes about these kinds of details because "I do not publicize blood and gore."

As a legal medical expert, the pleasure of finding the truth exceeds the horror of severed limbs.  To assist in solving cases and to help people reconcile with themselves make Zhang Zhihao happy.

On April 7, an autopsy took place in Tai'an (Shandong) in the presence of Zhang Zhihao.  He was there not as a legal medical expert, but as a friend of a netizen.

The name of the deceased was Wang Jiyuan and he was the father of Shandong netizen Wang Qiang.  In March this year in Tai'an, Wang Jiyuan underwent surgery on his urinary tract and prostate gland.  Twelve hours later, Wang Jiyuan suddenly expired.  Wang Qiang believes that his father went into shock in the middle of the surgery, but the doctor did not notice.  Therefore, his father died as a result of negligence.  After negotiations, it was decided that an autopsy would be conducted by the legal medical expert to determine the cause of death.  That day, Wang Qiang got on the Internet to look for information and came across Zhang Zhihao's blog by chance.  After reading it for not more than three minutes, Wang Qiang felt that Zhang Zhihao was trustworthy and he left a comment to ask for assistance.

"The Internet is virtual, but I am for real.  I want to let people know that when you want fairness and professionalism, there is a real legal medical expert by your side," said Zhang Zhihao.  This was his first Internet request for help, and he felt that this matter was meaningful.

Early 7am that morning, Zhang Zhihao called Wang Qiang and said, "I cannot just listen to what you say.  I need to reconcile the medical history with the autopsy.  Perhaps this won't help you, but I respect the facts."  These words made Wang Qiang more certain that he should invite Zhang Zhihao to come to Tai'an.

Two days later, on the afternoon of April 6, Zhang Zhihao took an airplane to Tai'an.  At around 10pm that night, Zhang and Wang met at the hotel.  "Over the telephone before meeting him in person, I felt that he was in his 40s and a steady old expert.  When I met him, I found out that he was tall, sharp, handsome, spirited, warm and professional."  Wang Qiang was surprised when he met the 1.84m tall Zhang Zhihao.

While the autopsy was going on, Zhang Zhihao stood nearby as the friend of Wang Qiang.  He took photographs and made notes.  On April 18, Wang Qiang said that the autopsy report was just like he thought.  The death of his father was due to serious heart failure, not due to shock.  He is ready to ask Zhang Zhihao to make a second examination at the Wenzhou Medical School where Zhang Zhihao is situated.

Wang Qiang's case is "cloudy and not optimistic," and Zhang Zhihao believes it will drag on for some time.  That case will be become a long and winding story.  Zhang Zhihao said if the outcome is good, then "it will not be a victory for Wang Qiang or me; it will be a victory for law and science."

Less than two months after the blog was started, "I am a legal medical expert" has more than 170,000 hits.  Zhang Zhihao has unexpectedly become an Internet celebrity.  There has been a stream of publisher requests.  Some magazines want him to write reportage, some publishing houses want to publish his books and a television production team even wanted to put his story on the screen ... Zhang Zhihao has declined all of these requests.  But as long as the scientific and solemn nature is not affected, Zhang Zhihao welcomes any form of adaptation.

Zhang Zhihao's stories touched the netizens, and their comments moved him.  The first story that he wrote was a throat-slashing/rape case.  According to a netizen who knows, the girl is now married.  When she gave birth, her husband held her hand and told her to work harder.  When Zhang read this comment, he was moved to tears.

Since starting his blog, Zhang Zhihao was happiest when more and more netizens are asking questions about legal medicine.  Apart from Wang Qiang, he has three more requests for assistance.  He will next attempt to understand the cases and then provide help according to the usual process.

Right now, Zhang Zhihao is continuing to write his blog.  But he does not spend more than one hour per day, and he tries to make sure that it does not affect his normal work and life.

Excerpts from "I am a legal medical expert"

  1. She used blood to write down her own home telephone number
    Her two eyes have been gorged out, her windpipe has been slashed and even more shocking was the fact that she used her own blood to write her family telephone number on the ground, so that her father will learn about this horrible news as quickly as possible ...
    From her intermittently interrupted narrative, occasionally supplemented by handwritten notes, and with the sight of the blood that were splattered all over the stairwell in that abandoned building, one can imagine what happened then: when she got out of work, she walked alone down the path outside the factory wall.  All of a sudden, she received a sharp blow at the back of her head.  She came to due to the pain of her eyes being gorged out.  Struggling apparently was useless.  Her windpipe was then slashed.  The perpetrator thought that she was dead and therefore left.  She struggled to crawl out of the small building.  She attempted to scream, but her slit throat made it impossible to make any sound.  So she could only use her own blood to write down a string of numbers ...
  2. I finished the autopsy with tears in my eyes
    A worker from the outside went to a private clinic to get help for his wife to deliver their baby.  When the baby came out, it was dead.  The midwife was scared and ran away without even cutting off the umbilical cord.  Fortunately, the mother was saved when she was quickly brought to the hospital ...
    It was a lovely male baby.  Even his hair and fingernails have grown, which proved that the baby was well-developed.  There was air in the lungs already, which said that he must have tasted air in this world.  There was air in the stomach, but not in the duodenum, which meant that he did not have time to learn to be a human and died within half a hour of being born!  I finished the autopsy with tears in my eyes.  I can only say: "If Heaven had love, it would be old."
  3. The doctor did not return the marble to me
    When I was small, I was not in good health.  But I was very naughty.  I remember that the worst thing that I did was to put a glass marble in my nose and then it could not be retrieved no matter what.  So the adults quickly took me to the hospital.  It was noon, and the doctor on duty had to call for the director to take the marble out because the marble was relatively large compared to my nostril.  When I was brought back out into the car to go home, my first words were: "The doctor did not return the marble to me!"