When detectives respond to a crime scene that has a deceased body, the first thing they need to know is when this person died. Detectives need this information to have a starting point for their investigation and to narrow down the range of suspects. This information helps detectives substantiate a suspect’s statements or refute them. The only person that can answer this question is the medical examiner. The medical examiner is able to ascertain the postmortem interval (PMI), time since death; through their knowledge of postmortem changes and the variables that may affect the time frame. The time of death is an estimation based on a number of factors such as decomposition stage and insect activity to name a few. A pathologist consults with other scientists, entomologists and/or anthropologist, in order to make a more precise estimation of time of death.
Initial stages of death
The body’s condition gives the pathologist clues which helps determine time of death. The initial changes a body goes through after death are algor mortis, rigor mortis, and livor mortis. Physical changes start to occur to a body soon after death.
Algor mortis is the cooling of the body after death; this is determined taking the core body temperature. The core body temperature is taken from either the liver or the rectum. The b...
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...ere buried or not, climate, moisture, and scavengers (Kercheval, n.d., para.5).
Claridge, J. (2013, August 24). Estimating the time of death. Retrieved from Explore forensics: http://www.exploreforensics.co.uk/estimating-the-time-of-death.html
Kercheval, J. (n.d.). Standards employed to determine time of death. Retrieved from http://www.arrakis.es/~jacoello/date.pdf
Paradon, R. (2011, October 28). 5 stages of human decomposition. Retrieved from Sciences 360: http://www.sciences360.com/index.php/the-5-stages-of-human-decomposition-3-4343/
Pounder, D. J. (1995). Time of death. Retrieved from Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Dundee: http://www.dundee.ac.uk/forensicmedicine/notes/timedeath.pdf
Presnell, E. S. (2013, February 20). Postmortem changes . Retrieved from Medscape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1680032-overview#aw2aab6b6
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