Death Scene Investigation


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  • Postmortem Changes - Rigor Mortis, Livor Mortis, Algor Mortis, Decomposition Clothing - Style, Color, Characteristics (e.g.,Tears, Holes, Everted Pockets, Blood Stain Patterns) Blood - Location, Patterns, Direction Of Flow, Degree Of Coagulation, Color Physical/Trace - Hairs, Fibers, Glass, Paint, Etc. (Corn Meal On Baby Burn/Epidermis) Valuables - Wallet, Jewelry, White Skin On Fingers/Wrists?
  • Death Scene Investigation

    1. 1. Death Scene Investigation & The Medicolegal Death Investigator Kelly Green B.A., F-ABMDISenior Forensic Death InvestigatorTarrant, Parker & Denton County Medical Examiners District
    2. 2.  What is a Medicolegal Death Investigator? Why is the Medical Examiners Office Here? What can the Medical Examiners Office do to help me?
    3. 3. Duties of the Death Investigator Scene Investigation Scene Photography Secure property that is on the deceased Arrange for proper transportation of the body Preserve Trace Evidence ID the Deceased Notify the Next of Kin Obtain medical records of the Deceased
    4. 4. In Other Words: TheForensic Death Investigator is the “Eyes and Ears” of the Forensic Pathologist
    5. 5. Goal:To conduct a thorough, independent, investigation of the circumstances surrounding a death to provide the Forensic Pathologist factual data to be used in conjunction with the examination findingsin order to reach a conclusion as to the Cause and Manner of Death
    6. 6. Types of Jurisdictions in Texas A) Medical Examiner B) Justice of the Peace
    7. 7. Medical Examiners Authority Texas ccp. Art.49.25  Death occurring outside of a hospital, within 24 hours of admission, or due to possible trauma or foul play.  Death that occurs in custody  Death of a child under age 6  Any death in which an attending physician is unable to certify as to the cause of death
    8. 8. Scene Investigation. Thorough examination of the scene seeking details or items that may be related to the death
    9. 9. Be alert for potential Hazards
    10. 10. Document: Postmortem changes Position of the body Trauma Notes, or messages (computer, audio & Video Tapes)
    11. 11.  Illegal drugs Alcoholic beverages Weapons Medications
    12. 12.  Blood Evidence (stains, spatter)
    13. 13. Useful Information Medical History Medications and Container pharmacy, physician, amount filled, date filled,amount remaining Identification Documents
    14. 14. PhotographyPhotograph SurroundingsAnd Items that may bePertinent to the investigation
    15. 15. Exam of Body General description of body and clothing Assessment of trauma Post-mortem changes Blood evidence Physical and trace evidence Presence or absence of valuables
    16. 16. Rigor Mortis Starts in ½ to 1 hour at room temperature Peaks in approximately 12 hours Gradually declines after another 12 hours Can be affected by environment, antemortem activity, and drug use.
    17. 17. Livor Mortis “Pooling of the blood” Is “blanchable” at first then gradually becomes fixed. Can indicate if a body has been moved after death. Color can indicate possible CO poisoning
    18. 18. Body Temperature Algor Mortis
    19. 19. Decomposition Begins at death. Is strongly affected by environment. Is caused by action of body enzymes, and bacteria on tissue. Is slowed by immersion, burial, cold. 1 week in air = 2 weeks in water = 8 weeks in soil
    20. 20. Types of Trauma Blunt Force Sharp Force Electrical Chemical Thermal
    21. 21. Trace Evidence Preservation Bags on Hands, Feet ect…. Paper not Plastic Wrapping in clean white sheet Placement in transport pouch. Alerting Prosector if biological evidence is possibly present.
    22. 22. Identification Done on scene if situation permits. Otherwiseaccomplished at the TCME Office using Forensic methods
    23. 23. Types of IdentificationCircumstantialVisualForensic
    24. 24. Methods of Circumstantial IdentificationClothingJewelryPlace, Time, and/or Event
    25. 25. Methods of Visual Identification InPerson By Photograph Remote Viewing
    26. 26. Methods of Forensic Identification Dental X-Rays (Anthropologic) Fingerprints DNA
    27. 27. Position of the body Isit consistent with observed rigor, and lividity? Has the body been “posed”? Has the body been moves or dumped?
    28. 28. Autopsy Elements Examination of the scene Identification of the decedent External and internal examination Toxicological and histological studies Interviews with witnesses, doctors, etc. Evaluation of relevant records
    29. 29. Autopsy Findings Type of weapon used Consistency of wounds and evidence Determination of fatal wound Length of time of victim survival Post-injury abilities of decedent Whether body was dragged or dumped Vectors of applied force
    30. 30. Autopsy Purposes Establish cause and manner of death Identify, recover, and preserve evidence Provide factual, objective medical report Separate natural deaths from unnatural Provide interpretation and correlation of facts and circumstances
    31. 31. Cause Of Death Gunshot wound to head Transection of aorta due to stab wound Cardio-respiratory Arrest
    32. 32. Manner of Death Natural Accidental Homicide Suicide Undetermined
    33. 33. Services Provided by the Tarrant-Parker&Denton County Medical Examiners District Examination Identification (Forensic Odentologist) Toxicology Firearms examination Fingerprint Examination (In House AFIS) Questioned Document Examination
    34. 34.  Photography Lab Anthropology Lab DNA Testing Histology Lab Courtroom Testimony
    35. 35. Conclusion TheMedicolegal Death Investigator gathers Facts , and acts as the liaison on the scene between the Law Enforcement Investigator, and the Forensic Pathologist. TheMedical Examiners Office is present to determine the cause and manner death
    36. 36.  TheMedical Examiners Office can assist your investigation through the collection and scientific analysis of facts and evidence.