Volume 49, Issue 5 (September 2004)
Interpretation of Postmortem Change in Cadavers in Spain
Estimating time since death is especially difficult in the examination of poorly preserved cadavers and depends on the experience of the examiner and comparison with previously documented cases showing similar characteristics.
The present study reports on information obtained over the past ten years through the work of the Laboratorio de Antropología y Odontología Forense (LAF) of the Instituto Anatómico Forense de Madrid, Spain, in particular evaluating how the type of fracture influences postmortem change.
From the original 225 forensic cases examined between 1992 and 2002 in the LAF, a sample of 29 cases were selected from various regions of the Spanish mainland.
A data collection protocol was established to reflect factors which the existing specialized literature, documenting the relation existing in the sample analyzed between time since death and the extent of postmortem change, which in the environments examined are distributed into the following phases: Phase 1 (putrefaction): one week to one month on the surface and two months in water. Phase 2 (initial skeletonization): two months on the surface and five to six months in water. Phase 3 (advanced skeltonization): six months to 1.5 years on the surface and 2.5 years buried. Phase 4 (complete skeletonization): about one year on the surface and three years buried.
This paper also provide useful information on the impact of carrion insect activity, location, climate, seasonality, and predator.