Volume 47, Issue 4 (July 2002)
Fluvial Transport of Human Remains in the Lower Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has claimed many lives over the last several decades. A better understanding of the universal dynamics of its fluvial system can help direct the production of a predictive model regarding the transportation of human remains in the river. The model may then be applied to situations where the location and the identification of water victims are necessarily part of the recovery process. Results from the preliminary phase of a longitudinal project involving the transport of human remains in the Mississippi River are presented and represent the analyses of 233 case files of river victims.
A provisional model for fluvial transport of human remains in the Mississippi River is proposed and examined. This model indicates that time in the river and distance a body travels are related. Such a model may assist in pinpointing entry location for unidentified human remains found in the river or on its banks. Further, it has the potential to provide local and regional law enforcement agencies, the United States Coast Guard, and other search and rescue organizations with primary search areas when someone is missing in the river.
Other results from this study indicate that a relationship exists between the side of the river where victims enter the water and the side of the river where the remains are recovered. Finally, relationships are established between the length of time before recovery of the remains and state of preservation exhibited by those remains. A secondary benefit from this study is a database of river victims that can be used by a variety of different agencies.