Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exam – A Case Study Highlighting The Need for Better Collaboration

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75 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 8, 2021

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Carolyn Cordle, BSN
Director of Clinical Services, COVERSA – Collection of Victim’s Evidence Regarding Sexual Assault
Nancy Penrod
Nancy Penrod
Detective, Persons and Violent Crime Unit, Platte County Sheriff’s Department
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Mark Gibson, JD
First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Platte Co. Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

In June 2011, the Platte County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a body located in a conservation area. When they arrived, deputies found a semi-nude white female with severe injuries to her head, wearing only a bikini top. The deceased was identified as Alyssa Shippert. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries to the head. The Sheriff’s office worked numerous leads but was unable to establish a suspect in the case.

Fast forward to December 2011, when deputies found Brittany Costello in the hallway of her apartment complex. She had life-threatening cuts to her chest, and it appeared as though she had been sexually assaulted. She was transported to the nearest hospital, where the primary focus was to save her life. The secondary goal was to preserve any forensic evidence relating to her possible sexual assault. Search warrants were obtained to complete the forensic sexual assault nursing examination because she was in a medically induced coma. Hospital administrators refused to allow detectives and the SANE to complete the exam, despite the search warrant. Eventually, the exam was completed and revealed physical findings of sexual assault. Detectives interviewed Quintin O’Dell, one of the last people to be with Brittany on Christmas night. O’Dell also happened to be a co-worker of Alyssa Shippert. O’Dell confessed to cutting open Brittany’s abdomen and sexually assaulting her. He also confessed to killing Alyssa on June 1, 2011.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Establish MOUs between hospitals, forensic service providers, law enforcement, and prosecutors.
  • Recognize the purpose and scope of search warrants.
  • Identify the roles of law enforcement and forensic examiners when acting in response to a search warrant.
  • Strategize to improve collaboration between law enforcement and health care providers.


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