Comparison of protocols for measuring and calculating postmortem submersion intervals for human analogs in fresh water

Michael K. Humphreys, Edward A Panacek, William Green, Elizabeth Albers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Protocols for determining postmortem submersion interval (PMSI) have long been problematic for forensic investigators due to the wide variety of factors affecting the rate of decomposition of submerged carrion. Likewise, it has been equally problematic for researchers to develop standardized experimental protocols to monitor underwater decomposition without artificially affecting the decomposition rate. This study compares two experimental protocols: (i) underwater in situ evaluation with photographic documentation utilizing the Heaton et al. total aquatic decomposition (TAD) score and (ii) weighing the carrion before and after submersion. Complete forensic necropsies were performed as a control. Perinatal piglets were used as human analogs. The results of this study indicate that in order to objectively measure decomposition over time, the human analog should be examined at depth using the TAD scoring system rather than utilizing a carrion weight evaluation. The acquired TAD score can be used to calculate an approximate PMSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-517
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Keywords

  • Aquatic decomposition
  • Decomposition visual score
  • Forensic science
  • Piglets as human analogs
  • Underwater photography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics

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