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Chapter 11 Death: Manner, Mechanism, Cause, and Time . In 17th century, anyone in a coma or with a faint heartbeat was buried. Bury with a bell - “ saved by the bell ” Death - irreversible cessation of circulation of blood, or brain activity

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chapter 11 death manner mechanism cause and time
Chapter 11 Death: Manner, Mechanism, Cause, and Time
  • In 17th century, anyone in a coma or with a faint heartbeat was buried.
  • Bury with a bell - “saved by the bell”
  • Death - irreversible cessation of circulation of blood, or brain activity
  • Stoppage- heart stops, no O2, things stop working
  • Autolysis - cells breakdown, dump contents, digest surrounding tissues

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

death
Death

The Manner of Death

  • The manner of death can be natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal, or undetermined.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to determine the manner of death.
  • The most common manner of death is natural.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

death3
Death

Cause and Mechanism of Death

  • The reason for the death is the cause of the death.
  • The specific change in the body that brought about the cessation of life is the mechanism of death.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death livor mortis
Time of Death—Livor Mortis

The Leaden-Color of Death

  • When red blood cells break down, they turn a bluish-purple.
  • With decomposition, blood seeps down and settles in the lower parts of a body.
  • The discoloration that accompanies this becomes permanent after 8 hours.
  • Warmth accelerates the process.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death rigor mortis
Time of Death—Rigor Mortis

The Rigidity of Death

  • At death, skeletal muscles cannot relax.
  • Without oxygen, calcium accumulates in these muscles.
  • The muscles become stiff.
  • This starts in the head and works its way down to the legs.
  • After about 15 hours, the muscle fibers begin to dissolve, and softening begins.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death rigor mortis6
Time of Death—Rigor Mortis
  • At 12 hours after death, the body is at its most rigid state.
  • If a body has no visible signs of rigor, it probably has been dead less than 2 hours or more than 48.
  • If the body exhibits rigor only in the head and neck, the time of death is just over 2 hours.
  • This stiffness will have disappeared for the most part after 36 hours.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death rigor mortis7
Time of Death—Rigor Mortis

Many factors affect when rigor mortis sets in and how long it lasts:

  • Ambient temperature
  • The weight of the body
  • The body’s clothing or lack of it
  • Any illness the person had at the time of death
  • The level of physical activity at the time of death
  • Sun exposure

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death algor mortis
Time of Death—Algor Mortis

The Chill of Death

  • In death a body no longer generates warmth and begins to cool down.
  • To find the standard temperature of a corpse, a thermometer is inserted into the liver.
  • Body heat is lost at about 1 to 1.5 degrees F an hour.
  • Time of death determined by temperature calculations is expressed as a range of time.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death stomach and intestinal contents
Time of Death—Stomach and Intestinal Contents

Based on these specifics, give an estimate for each of these on how much time has passed since the meal was eaten:

  • Food is still present in the stomach. (0-2)
  • The stomach is empty but food is found in the small intestine. (4-6)
  • The small intestine is empty but waste is present in the large intestine. (12+)

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death stages of decomposition
Time of Death—Stages of Decomposition

After 2 days:

  • Cell autolysis begins following death
  • Green and purplish staining occurs from blood decomposition
  • Skin takes on a marbled appearance
  • Face becomes discolored

After 4 days

  • Skin blisters
  • Abdomen swells with CO2 released by bacteria in sm. Intestine

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death stages of decomposition11
Time of Death—Stages of Decomposition

Within 6-10 days

  • Corpse bloats with CO2 as bacteria continue to feed. Eventually the gas causes chest and abdominal cavities to burst and collapse
  • Fluids leak from body openings as cell membranes rupture - putrefaction
  • Eyeballs and other tissues liquefy
  • Skin sloughs off

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death insects
Time of Death—Insects
  • Besides recording data about the environment at a crime scene, a forensic entomologist collects insect evidence.
  • Within minutes of a death, certain insects arrive to lay their eggs on the warm body. Blowflies are a common example.
  • As a corpse progresses through the stages of decomposition, other kinds of insects arrive.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death insects13
Time of Death—Insects
  • Blowfly eggs can be found in the moist, warm areas of a corpse within 8 hours after death.
  • They will have progressed to the 1st of their 3 larva stages (illustration of one shown above) within 20 hours.
  • By the 4th or 5th day they will have progressed to the 3rd of their 3 larva stages.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death insects14
Time of Death—Insects
  • By the 8th or 12th day the larvae will migrate away from the corpse to a dry place.
  • Becoming pupa and immobile within 18-24 days, they will change from white to dark brown.
  • By the 21st-24th day the pupa cases will split open and adult blowflies (illustration of one shown above) will emerge.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

time of death insects15
Time of Death—Insects
  • Because scientists know how long it takes for the various stages of development at given temperatures, forensics entomologists can determine when the insects arrived.
  • Because life cycles are affected by fluctuations in the daily environmental conditions, insect evidence cannot provide an exact time of death.
  • Insect evidence, nonetheless, can yield a close estimate.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11

summary
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Summary
  • A body decomposes through the 3 changes of livor, rigor, and algor mortis.
  • Forensic scientists use evidence from these to estimate the time of death.
  • They also use stomach contents and insect evidence to estimate the time of death.
  • It is also important to remember how environmental factors can affect the estimated time of death.

Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations, Chapter 11