Lecture 10 – Determining Time Interval Since Death

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Lecture 10 Determining Time Interval Since Death
First question “how long have the remains been there?”, important
because:
o Support or refute a suspect’s alibi
o Help in the identification of unknown victims
o Improve efficacy of the criminal investigation
o Can establish time line prior to victim’s death
Many different methods that depend on the state of the body
Determining Time Interval Since Death
o All are environmentally dependent
o All methods are considered educated guesses
o Unless the forensic pathologist has had the opportunity to examine
the body at the scene any conclusion on TSD would be equivocal
Time Since Death Interval Methods
o Temperature changes in body (if recent)
o Hypostasis (livor mortis) and rigor mortis (muscle stiffening)
o Autolysis rates mummification
o Adipocere (specialized postmortem conditions)
o Vitreous fluid
o Stomach contents
o Botanical evidence - entomology
o These methods are usually only good for the first few hours
post mortem!
Intrinsic and extrinsic methods of TISD
o Intrinsic
Size
Sex
Body fat content
Affects livor mortis
o Extrinsic
Ambient air temperature
Depositional environment
Humidity
Sun vs. shade
Clothing
Animal scavenging
Trauma
Forensic Entomology
o Use of insects with a body after death to help in criminal
investigation
o Most accurate method when more than a day or two days have
passed
o Can be used to determine:
Time Interval Since Death (primary use)
Whether body has been moved from one location to another
Whether body was disturbed after death
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