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The effect of suitcase concealment on the insect colonisation: A pilot study in Western Australia

Petersen, Christopher and Georgy, Jonathon (2017) The effect of suitcase concealment on the insect colonisation: A pilot study in Western Australia. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Knowing and understanding the stages involved in the decomposition process of a cadaver is crucial in the ability to accurately estimate the post-mortem interval (PMI) or time since death (TSD). A large amount of information about the PMI can be provided by the state of decomposition as well as the fauna colonizing the body. This is the case if decomposition is treated as a semi-continuous variable and used in conjunction with accumulated degree days (ADD) and by the successional waves of the insects and other arthropods consuming the body. PMI is a pivotal information in forensic investigations as it can be used in homicide cases by personnel of law enforcement for crime scene reconstruction and for the exclusion of potential perpetrators as well as to support witness testimony. Establishing the range of natural events and environmental conditions that were likely to have affected the remains with the passing of seasons can also be aided by knowing the PMI, permitting a more thorough taphonomic analysis.

However, the use of a method to conceal a body (such as burials, wrapping, suitcases) may affect changes within a body and the associated entomological activity that are different to bodies that are exposed to the environment. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the unique taphonomic processes that occur when a body is concealed. While numerous types of concealment have been researched and investigated in the past, minimal research has been specifically related to concealment within a suitcase. This literature review aims to address the effects of different concealment methods, with main focus on suitcase concealment, on the decomposition rate and entomological activity of a cadaver.

KEYWORDS: forensic science, forensic entomology, taphonomy, decomposition, accumulated degree days, post-mortem interval, concealment

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Magni, Paola
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