Volume 48, Issue 5 (September 2003)
Central Nervous System Consequences of an Unusual Body Disposal Strategy: Case Report and Brief Experimental Investigation
The body of a 73-year-old man was dismembered by his female companion for the purpose of covert disposal. The method employed included skillful separation of body parts with hacksaw and knife, piecemeal disposal of fragments, and prolonged boiling of the decapitated head. The latter treatment resulted in marked shrinkage of cranial dura mater, separation of dura mater from skull, and extrusion of brain fragments into the resultant enlarged epidural space through a dural defect due to the disproportionately greater shrinkage of dura mater compared to brain parenchyma. This resulted in curd-like brain fragments filling an enlarged epidural space and overlying a shrunken, leathery dura mater. The cranial dura mater, still adherent to the skull base, resembled a "shrunken brain" in contour but contained only the remnants of brain tissue not already extruded through the dural defect. This unusual thermal artifact is rarely illustrated or mentioned in forensic literature. The development of this postmortem artifact likely requires the presence of a specific combination of conditions which must be, but apparently rarely are, simultaneously present.