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Forensic Anthropology. Forensic Anthropology. Barely 40 years old as a legitimate branch of forensic science. Years ago, anthropologists who studied the corpses and bone fragments of crime scene victims were looked down upon by the peers.

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forensic anthropology1
  • Barely 40 years old as a legitimate branch of forensic science.
  • Years ago, anthropologists who studied the corpses and bone fragments of crime scene victims were looked down upon by the peers.
  • The people of yester year who shaped today’s Forensic Anthropology consist of scientists, detectives, murders and their victims.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert1
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • Was a well known sausage maker
  • On May 1st, 1897 his wife Louisa disappeared.
  • Adolph claimed that his wife ran off to relatives after an argument.
  • Neighbors became suspicious when Luetgert’s two young sons began to ask door-to-door if anyone had seen their mother.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert2
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • Six days later, in order to stop the rumors, Luetgert reported his wife’s disappearance to the police.
  • Police Captain Herman Schuettler and his team of investigators interviewed people in the neighborhood.
  • The neighbors described Luetgert as an adulterous wife beater. Luetgert did not live in the family home, but in the office of the sausage factory.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert3
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • Business associates of Luetgert said that he wanted to expand his sausage-making business but his wife, Louisa, disagreed.
  • Police questioned workers of the factory who said that weeks before Louisa’s disappearance, Luetgert ordered 375 pounds of potash and 50 pounds of arsenic which was unusual.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert4
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • The factory’s night guard said that on the night of the disappearance, Luetgert sent him on an errand then gave him the entire night off.
  • The guard left Luetgert stirring a large vat of boiling liquid. He had never seen him do this before.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert5
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • Luetgert fired up the furnace under the vat and kept vigil all night.
  • The next morning, the employees found Luetgert asleep in the back office and a greasy substance all over the floor.
  • Other witnesses claim they saw Luetgert and his wife enter the factory the night before. Some witnesses even heard screams coming from inside the factory.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert6
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • Captain Schuettler and his men found several small bone fragments, a steel corset stay, a false tooth and a wedding ring inscribed with the initials L.L..
  • Experts from the University of Chicago told the police that boiling potash and arsenic would dissolve a human body within two hours. The potash would leach the calcium out of Louisa’s bones, reducing them to a jelly.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert7
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • Charles Deneen was the Illinois State’s attorney assigned to the case. He had to prove that the bone fragments were human.
  • Several “experts” he contacted could not distinguish between animal or human bone.
  • Deneen contacted a specialist in the study of ancient human remains, George Dorsey, a curator of physical anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
the sausage maker adolph luetgert8
The Sausage MakerAdolph Luetgert
  • There were four bone fragments and they could fit on tablespoon.
  • Dorsey testified that the bone fragments could only come from a human.
  • While Dorsey’s testimony helped cement the case against Luetgert, his reputation suffered.
  • His colleagues couldn’t believe that he “lowered” himself by “performing” at a trial.
  • George Dorsey opened the door for other anthropologists.
the webster case
The Webster Case
  • On the Friday before Thanksgiving, 1849, Dr. John Webster had a meeting with Dr. George Parkman.
  • Dr. Parkman had loaned Dr. Webster some money.
  • On the night in question, Dr. Webster had (according to him) an agreeable conversation with Dr. Parkman and the two parted amicably.
the webster case1
The Webster Case
  • After the Parkman/Webster meeting, no one ever saw Dr. Parkman again.
  • The janitor, thinking Webster was guilty, searched every inch of the medical building.
  • In the basement he found a hacked-up body.
  • Upon further police investigation, parts of Dr. Parkman were found all over the medical building.
the webster case2
The Webster Case
  • 150-odd bones were collected from the medical building.
  • A team of doctors from Harvard Medical College were called to piece Dr. Parkman back together again.
  • Webster was convicted and sentenced to hang
  • 100 years later – some experts questioned Webster’s guilt.
  • Out of the trial came a set of 10 questions that are used by forensic anthropologists today.
10 questions used today
10 Questions Used Today
  • Are the bones human?
  • How many individuals are represented?
  • How long ago did death occur?
  • What was the person’s age at death?
  • What was the person’s sex?
  • What was the person’s race?
  • What was the person’s height?
10 questions used today1
10 Questions Used Today

8. Are there any identifying characteristics, such as old injuries, disease, or unusual features?

9. What was the cause of death?

10. What was the manner of death? (homicide, suicide, accidental, natural, or unknown)

characteristics of bones
Characteristics of Bones
  • Living tissue!
  • Inside contains marrow where the blood cells are made
  • Regulated by hormones
  • Capable of growth and repair
  • Adult has 206 bones – after all of the bones have fully developed
  • Infants have about 300 bones

Human bone –vs- Animal bone

Macroscopic differences

Microscopic differences

macroscopic differences
Macroscopic differences

Greater Trocanter


Lesser Trocanter

Medail and Lateral epicondyles (patellar side)

Baboon femur

Human femur

microscopic differences
Microscopic differences

Human bone thin section

Dinosaur bone thin section


Parts of bone important to know




Openings (foramina)