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What is Forensic Science?
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What is Forensic Science?

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  1. What is Forensic Science? • Application of science to criminal investigation. • Forensic science has an ancient history First recorded application of medical knowledge to the solution of a crime (forensic medicine): 1248 CE, Chinese book HsiDuanYu (The Washing Away of Wrongs) • Primer on the investigation of suspicious deaths • Discussed how to tell if a strangulation was masked as a suicide by hanging in a corpse • Still in practice today.

  2. The Medical Forensic Team CORONER (legal authority to investigate deaths; may not have an MD) MEDICAL EXAMINER (ME) usually a Forensic Pathologist (MD) OTHERS: Forensic Odontologist, Forensic Botanist, Forensic Entomologist, Forensic Anthropologist, Forensic Archaeologist, Forensic Palynologist etc.

  3. What is Forensic Anthropology? • Anthropology has 4 subdisciplines: • PHYSICAL(or BIOLOGICAL) Anthropology, • Archaeology, • Cultural Anthropology, • Linguistics • FA: a subfield of Physical Anthropology only • in last 35 yrs (FArch only within the last decade!) • FA: use of techniques from physical anthropology in medicolegal death investigation (i.e., deaths within the last 50 years) WHY? • BECAUSE it would be difficult to prosecute otherwise (murderer , family of victim, witnesses would likely be deceased)

  4. History of Forensic Anthropology • Began in the US with the murder of Dr. George Parkman at Harvard Medical School in 1849. Solved by 2 Harvard anatomists using skeletal evidence to identify the victim. • Thomas Dwight, 1883 Harvard anatomist: Founder of Forensic Anthropology- established an osteology section in anatomy dept

  5. 10 Question ProtocolDEVELOPED BY EMINENT FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST Dr. Clyde Snow 1982 • 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? • Are there any identifying characteristics, such as old injuries, disease or unusual features? • What was cause of death? • What was the manner of death? • Homicide • Suicide • Accidental • Natural • Unknown

  6. HUMAN OSTEOLOGYSkeletal System: Frontal View

  7. LANDMARKS AND FEATURES OF THE BONES

  8. Where does this bone fragment come from?

  9. From the frontal (forehead)bone of the skull

  10. First question of the Ten Question Protocol: Q1:Are the bones human?

  11. Q1: Are the bones human?

  12. Q3: How long ago did death occur? Remember, medicolegal interest is within the last 50 years! Teeth from prehistoric burial site

  13. DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE: Q4: What was the person’s age at death? Q5: What was the person’s sex? Q6: What was the person’s race(ancestry)? Q7: What was the person’s height?

  14. IDENTIFICATION AND CAUSE OF DEATH: • Q8: Are there any identifying characteristics, such as old injuries, disease or unusual features? ANTEMORTEM, PERIMORTEM; POSTMORTEM CHANGES TO BONE

  15. IDENTIFICATION AND CAUSE OF DEATH (continued): • Q9. What was cause of death? PERIMORTEMvsPOSTMORTEMTRAUMA TO BONE

  16. IDENTIFICATION AND CAUSE OF DEATH (cont.): • Q10:What was the manner of death? HOMICIDE? SUICIDE?

  17. THE CASE OF THE MISSING BARBIE: A classroom exercise in Forensic Archaeology

  18. The scene of the crime

  19. Gridding off the scene to map in evidence

  20. Flagging, photographing, mapping and removal of evidence

  21. Burial (bone) is visible

  22. Burial outline from the top

  23. Clean and exposed “in situ”

  24. Always excavate to “sterile” ground

  25. If possible, do detailed recovery in the laboratory or morgue

  26. Cleaning the bones and looking for trauma

  27. AFTER BEFORE