Established the science of Forensic Toxicology, by studying the effects of toxins on animals
Alphonse Bertillon (France) (1853-1914)
Developed the science of Anthropometry – a way of taking extensive body measurements to identify people. This technique of personal identification was considered extremely accurate for 2 decades and was eventually replaced by fingerprinting.
The early stages of decomposition after death involve:
Rigor mortis: the muscles first relax, then stiffen. The body becomes rigid. Rigor mortis occurs within 24 hours after death and terminates within 36 hours.
Livor mortis: Once the heart stops pumping, the blood tends to pool in the parts of the body closest to the ground due to gravity. The skin in these areas appear purplish. However, skin that was restricted by belts, etc. will not appear purplish. This can help determine if the body was moved after death. Livor mortis begins immediately after death and continues for up to 12 hours.
Algor mortis: this is the conditions where the body temperature cools and reaches the ambient or room temperature. The location, size of body, clothing, weather conditions, etc. all play a role in algor mortis.
Generally speaking, beginning an hour after death, the body loses heat at the rate of 1 or 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per hour until body reaches ambient temperature.
Pallor Mortis Pallor mortis (paleness of death) is a postmortem paleness which happens almost instantaneously (in the 15–120 minutes after the death) because of a lack of capillary circulation throughout the body. Paleness develops so rapidly after death that it has little to no use in determining the time of death.
Potassium levels in vitreous humor of eye: after death, cells of the inner eye release potassium into the ocular fluid called vitreous humor. Examining these levels help determine time of death.
Amount of food in stomach: can help determine when last meal was eaten.
How long does food take in the GI tract? 30 to 40 hours Transit through the colon 2.5 to 3 hours 50% emptying of the small intestine 4 to 5 hours Total emptying of the stomach 2.5 to 3 hours 50% of stomach contents emptied
Deals with identification and examination of human skeletal remains. Bones degrade at an incredibly slow rate. They can tell:
- Race / Origin
- Type of injury (cause of death?)
Forensic anthropologists are often needed to identify victims of a mass disaster such as air crashes, 9/11 WTC disaster, bombings, etc.
Ways to tell male pelvis from female: spread of ilium: female more flared and cradle-like with anterior iliac spines farther apart vs. more straight “up-and-down” in male shape of hole in ischium: smaller and triangular in female vs. larger and rounded in male angle across pubic symphysis: pubic arch: less than 90° (acute angle) and more sharply angled in male, greater than 90° (obtuse angle) and more rounded in female inner diameter and distance between ischia: larger in female--big enough for head of baby to pass through
The study of insects and their relationship to a criminal investigation. Can help determine time of death.
After death, specific insects become inhabitants of the corpse in a specific sequence. Blowflies are usually the first to arrive. Knowing the life cycles and studying the maggots can help determine time of death. Ambient temperatures can play a role in insect life cycles, so it can be tricky to rely solely on this method.
Using teeth to identify remains. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and usually the last to decompose. So teeth can be used (and old dental records such as X-rays and casts) to identify a body in an unrecognizable condition.