Estimating time of death: Forensics

  • Body temperature
  • Succession
  • Rigor Mortis
  • Decomposition
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  • Created by: Max123
  • Created on: 18-03-13 21:36
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Estimating time of death
Human core body temperature is usually 37 degrees, but as soon as the person dies the body cools due to the absence of heat-producing
chemical reactions.
Core temperature is measured via the rectum or through an abdominal stab.
The cooling of the body follows a sigmoid curve. However the curve does assume that the person hasn't had a fever or has suffered from
Many factors will affect post-mortem cooling:
Body sixe
Body position
Air movement
Whether the body is immersed in water (as water is better conductor of heat than air.
As a body decays, the population of insects found on it change. There is a succession of species. The community of species present when the
body is found allows the stage of succession to be determined and time of death estimated.
After death, muscles usually totally relax and then stiffen.
1. After death, muscle cells become starved of oxygen, and oxygen dependent reactions stop.

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Respiration in the cells become anaerobic and produces lactic acid.
3. The pH of the cells falls, inhibiting enzymes and thus inhibiting anaerobic respiration.
4. The ATP needed for muscle contraction is no longer produced. As a result, bonds between the muscle proteins become fixed.
5. The proteins can no longer move over one another to shorten the muscle, fixing the muscle and joints.
6. Rigor mortis eventually passes off as muscle tissue starts to break down, in the same order in which it developed.…read more


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