April 5, 2004

Murder detectives must rethink maggot theory

From New Scientist magazine: bq. An investigation of the way insects colonize corpses left decomposing in the open has cast doubt on one of the key techniques used to estimate when a murder victim died. bq. Along with assessments of the body's state of decomposition, insect analysis is the most common means for estimating time of death. Many species of flies and beetles may live on a human body as it decomposes. By identifying their stage of development, and comparing them to those on a pig or human body deliberately left to rot in a similar environment, forensic entomologists can work out how long a corpse has been lying dead. This is still a lot better than any other method of determination known. The article is basically saying that the accuracy is not as great as sometimes thought. Fascinating subject though - I'm reading this book and it is interesting to follow the developments in this science. For a long time, the bug people (entomologists) weren't recognized as potential witnesses to murder investigations, now they are a crucial part of the evidence gathering. Posted by DaveH at April 5, 2004 3:10 PM