Unit 5 Discussion Topic
200 words initial Post and two replies
Please read the case studies in the attached link. Explain how it relates to this weeks lecture, why it is important in forensic science and what you find interesting!
Wednesday2 Mar at 14:13
After reading the case studies, it it clear that they relate to this weeks lecture, more specifically chapter five, by documenting how insects can help determine the crime of death of a victim and how long a body has been deceased. According to the case studies, “Arthropods have been shown to be useful in estimating the post- mortem interval (PMI) (e.g., 1–9). Because insects are attracted by specific states of decay, particular species colonize a corpse for a limited period of time. This produces a faunal succession on cadavers. Together with the knowledge of growth rates under specific environmental conditions, this faunal evidence provides an estimation of time since death” (Benecke). This quotation highlights the main topic of these case studies which is determining the time of death of the victim. This specific document details how the presence of insects can help determine how long a body has been deceased, for example, “The corpse of a 66-year-old man (46.5 kg, 159 cm, back-calculated alcohol level at time of death: 1.07 parts per thousand) was found on the balcony of his flat on the 8th floor of an urban building in Cologne. The corpse was thought to have been there for 25 days, from 31 August 1996 to 25 September 1996. The soft tissue of the face, neck and right ear was destroyed by maggots; the skin was greasy and colored greenish-brown, the abdomen was bloated. Masses of maggots were found on the corpse” (Benecke). This quotation shows how the presence of insects can help forensic investigators determine the time or death and how long the body has been sitting.
This relates to this weeks chapter information since chapter five also details how forensic scientists determine or estimate a victim’s time of death. ” After death, the body undergoes a process in which it continually adjusts to equalize with the environmental temperature. This process is known as algor mortis” (Saferstein 114). This quotation details algor mortis which involves the process of the victim’s body temp trying to addict and equalize with the surrounding temperature. This relates to the reading in the following case, “As the mean outside temperature was calculated to be 10.9 C, most likely the heating was turned on. Together with the known covering of the corpse and the insect-producing heat (47), inside temperatures were assumed to have been constantly higher than 20 C” (Benecke). In this quotation forensic examiners used the concept of algor mortis and the presence of insects to help determine the environmental temperatures that the body was in.
Continuing with the textbook, “Another condition that begins when circulation ceases is livor mortis. When the human heart stops pumping, the blood begins to settle in the parts of the body closest to the ground. As shown in Figure 5–10, the skin becomes a bluish-purple color in these areas…Immediately following death, a chemical change occurs in the muscles that causes them to become rigid, as shown in Figure 5–11. This condition, rigor mortis, evolves over the first 24 hours under average temperature and body conditions. This rigidity subsides as time goes on, however, and disap-pears after about 36 hours under average conditions” (Saferstein 114). This quotation documents the other elements that examiners use to determine time of death, liver mortis and rigor mortis. Livor mortis is seen in the article when any body is documented as being discolored.
Death investigation, more specifically determining an accurate time of death is important in forensic science since it can help pinpoint when a possible suspect would need to be with the victim and can either support or reject any alibi a suspect may have. This can help identify the murderer.
What I found interesting is how the presence of different kinds of insect can not only help identify the level of decomposition but also what environmental factors or elements the body was left in. It’s not really something you first think about when thinking of a crime scene but clearly the presence of insects can be dry helpful. My dad is in law enforcement and on multiple occasions, had to be around and examine dead bodies. Some of the stories he’s told me reminds me a lot of some of the stories we read, specifically the ones dealing with older women who died in their apartment and weren’t reported for days or weeks. My dad has experienced this and told me one of the things he remembers most was the smell and the insurmountable amount of maggots. So, although reading these cases grossed me out a little, it was interesting for sure and connected to other stories I’ve heard.
Saferstein, Richard. Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science. Pearson, 2020.
Thursday3 Mar at 18:21
This case relates to this week’s lecture because how it talks about how insects help understand and determine how long that victim has been dead. It is important in forensic science because it helps investigators know when the victim has died and for how long the corpse has been there. What I found interesting about this case is how insects can actually help tell when a victim has passed.