Law enforcing authorities need to provide a scientific basis for the identification of any unknown individual. In recent years, dental records comparison has developed into one such credible method of confirming the identity of a deceased. This method is however restricted as dentists are not making and maintaining adequate records of their patients. Fortunately the advent of inexpensive cameras and print processing procedures has enabled the availability of ample antemortem photographs. Photographs in which a person expresses his/her teeth 'gleefully' has provided a sound scientific basis for the identification by comparing dental characteristics of the deceased.
Bloodstain photography is important in forensic applications, especially for bloodstain pattern analysis. This study compares the enhancement effect of bloodstain photography using three different types of light source: fluorescent white light, near-ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diode (LED) light, and 410 nm LED light. Randomized complete block designs were implemented to identify the lighting that would statistically produce the best enhancement results for bloodstains on different types of surfaces. Bloodstain samples were prepared on white cotton, brown carpet, tar road, and wood. These samples were photographed in darkroom conditions using a Canon EOS 50D digital SLR camera, with Canon EFS 60 mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. Two-way analysis of variance and Fisher's least significant difference test were used to analyze the contrast of the images. The statistical analysis showed that 410 nm light is the best among the tested lights for enhancing bloodstains on the tested surfaces, where the contrast of bloodstain to background was the highest.
Cadaver body bags are the conventional method to contain a human body or human remains, which includes the use for storage and transportation of the deceased at any crime scene or disaster scene. During disasters, most often than not, the first responders including the police will be equipped with cadaver body bags to do scene processing of human remains and collection of personal belongings at the disaster site. However, in an unanticipated large scale disasters involving hundreds and thousands of fatalities, cadaver body bags supplies may be scarce. The authors have therefore innovated the cling film plastic wrap as an alternative for the cadaver body bag used at the disaster site. The plastic wrap was tested on six different experimental subjects, i.e. both adult and child mannequins; body parts of the mannequin figure (arm and hand); a human adult subject and an unknown dead body. The strengths of the cling film plastic wrap are discussed in comparison with the cadaver body bag in the aspects of costing, weight, duration of the wrap, water and body fluid resistant properties, visibility and other advantages. An average savings of more than 5000% are noted for both adult body wrap and child body wrap compared to the cadaver body wrap. This simply means that the authors can either wrap 25 adult dead bodies or 80 children dead bodies with the cost of 1 cadaver body bag. The cling film plastic wrap has proven to have significant innovation impact for dead body management particularly by the first responders in large scale disasters. With proper handling of dead bodies, first responders can manage the dead with dignity and respect in an overwhelmed situation to facilitate the humanitarian victim identification process later.
During a forensic entomological study conducted in a palm oil plantation in Tg.Sepat, Selangor in September 2007, a spider (Arachnida), Oxyopes sp. (Oxyopidae) was found to predate on a calliphorid fly (Chrysomya rufifacies). The female spider laid a silk thread, or "drag line", behind it as it moved. This spider bites its prey by using a pairs of chelicerae, and injecting venom into the fly. The fly was moving its wing trying to escape, however, it succumbed to the deadly bite.
Text categorization has been used extensively in recent years to classify plain-text clinical reports. This study employs text categorization techniques for the classification of open narrative forensic autopsy reports. One of the key steps in text classification is document representation. In document representation, a clinical report is transformed into a format that is suitable for classification. The traditional document representation technique for text categorization is the bag-of-words (BoW) technique. In this study, the traditional BoW technique is ineffective in classifying forensic autopsy reports because it merely extracts frequent but discriminative features from clinical reports. Moreover, this technique fails to capture word inversion, as well as word-level synonymy and polysemy, when classifying autopsy reports. Hence, the BoW technique suffers from low accuracy and low robustness unless it is improved with contextual and application-specific information. To overcome the aforementioned limitations of the BoW technique, this research aims to develop an effective conceptual graph-based document representation (CGDR) technique to classify 1500 forensic autopsy reports from four (4) manners of death (MoD) and sixteen (16) causes of death (CoD). Term-based and Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine-Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) based conceptual features were extracted and represented through graphs. These features were then used to train a two-level text classifier. The first level classifier was responsible for predicting MoD. In addition, the second level classifier was responsible for predicting CoD using the proposed conceptual graph-based document representation technique. To demonstrate the significance of the proposed technique, its results were compared with those of six (6) state-of-the-art document representation techniques. Lastly, this study compared the effects of one-level classification and two-level classification on the experimental results. The experimental results indicated that the CGDR technique achieved 12% to 15% improvement in accuracy compared with fully automated document representation baseline techniques. Moreover, two-level classification obtained better results compared with one-level classification. The promising results of the proposed conceptual graph-based document representation technique suggest that pathologists can adopt the proposed system as their basis for second opinion, thereby supporting them in effectively determining CoD.
Preservation of larvae retrieved from cadavers is important in ensuring the quality and integrity of entomological specimens used for the estimation of post-mortem interval (PMI). The process of killing and preserving larvae could distort the larvae leading to inaccurate estimation of PMI. In this study, the effects of killing Chrysomya megacephala larvae with hot water at different temperatures and subsequent maintenance in various preservatives were determined. Larvae not killed by hot water but preserved directly were used as control. The types of preservative used were 10% formalin, 70% ethanol and Kahle's solution. The morphological features examined were length, turgidity, curvature and coloration of larvae. Larvae killed in 80ºC hot water have shorter mean length (12.47 ± 2.86 mm) compared to those in 60ºC hot water (12.95 ± 2.69 mm). Increasing the duration of preservation in all types of preservative caused elongations of larvae treated or untreated with hot water. There were no significant changes in larval turgidity preserved in Kahle's solution compared to other two preservatives and were unaffected by the duration of storage. Larvae preserved in Kahle's solution experienced the least changes in coloration and shape compared to other preserved larvae in 70% ethanol or 10% formalin. Larvae directly immersed alive in 70% ethanol experienced the most changes in curvature, coloration and turgidity. This study suggested that killing larvae with hot water at 80ºC and preservation in Kahle's solution is the optimum method resulting in least changes in morphological features of Ch. megacephala larvae.
This study reported the ant species that were recovered from monkey carcasses in three different ecological habitats in Malaysia. The study was conducted from 9 May - 10 October 2007, 6 May - 6 August 2008 and 26 May - 14 July 2009 in forested area (Gombak, Selangor), coastal area (Tanjong Sepat, Selangor) and highland area (Bukit Cincin, Pahang), respectively. Monkey carcass was used as a model for human decomposition in this study. A total of 4 replicates were used in each of the study sites. Ants were observed to prey on eggs, larvae, pupae and newly emerged flies. This study found that ant species could be found at all stages of decomposition, indicating that ants were not a significant indicator for faunal succession. However, different species of ants were obtained from monkey carcasses placed in different ecological habitats. Cardiocondyla sp. was only found on carcasses placed in the coastal area; while Pheidole longipes, Hypoponera sp. and Pachycondyla sp. were solely found on carcasses placed in the highland area. On the other hand, Pheidologeton diversus and Paratrechina longicornis were found in several ecological habitats. These data suggests that specific ant species can act as geographic indicators for different ecological habitats in forensic entomology cases in Malaysia.
Decomposing carrion provides a temporary microhabitat and food source for a distinct community of organisms. Arthropods constitute a major part of this community and can be utilized to estimate the postmortem interval (PMI) of cadavers during criminal investigations. However, in Malaysia, knowledge of carrion arthropod assemblages and their succession is superficial. Therefore, a study on three types of forensic entomology animal model was conducted from 27 September 2010 to 28 October 2010 in a tropical rainforest at National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia. Over one month collections of arthropods were made on nine animal carcasses: three laboratory rats (Rattus norvegicus, mean weight: 0.508 ± 0.027 kg), three rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus, mean weight: 2.538 ± 0.109 kg) and three long tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis, mean weight: 5.750 ± 0.551 kg). A total of 31,433 arthropods belonging to eight orders and twenty-eight families were collected from all carcasses. Among 2924 of adults flies collected, approximately 19% were calliphorids with Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius, 1794) being the most abundant. Arthropod taxon richness was lower on rat carcasses compared to that of rabbit and monkey carcasses, and this was more apparent during the first week of decomposition. However, there were no significant differences in Shannon-Weiner index (H'), Simpson dominance index (C) and Pielou's Evenness index (J) between different animal model. The arthropod assemblages associated to animal model were different significantly (p<0.05) while decomposition stage was a significant factor influencing insect assemblages (p<0.05). Analysis on the arthropods succession indicated that some taxa have a clear visitation period while the others, particularly Coleoptera, did not show a clear successional pattern thus require futher insect succession study. Although human bodies were not possible for the succession study, most of the arthropods collected are necrophagous, and will also possibly colonize human cadaver, and potentially be useful in assisting in estimates of PMI in future forensic cases in Malaysia.
DNA identification of blow fly species can be a very useful tool in forensic entomology. One of the potential benefits that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has offered in the field of forensic entomology is species determination. Conventional identification methods have limitations for sibling and closely related species of blow fly and stage and quality of the specimen used. This could be overcome by DNA-based identification methods using mitochondrial DNA which does not demand intact or undamaged specimens. Mitochondrial DNA is usually isolated from whole blow fly and legs. Alternate sources for mitochondrial DNA isolation namely, egg, larva, puparium and empty puparium were explored in this study. The sequence of DNA obtained for each sample for every life cycle stage was 100% identical for a particular species, indicating that the egg, 1st instar, 2nd instar, 3rd instar, pupa, empty puparium and adult from the same species and obtained from same generation will exhibit similar DNA sequences. The present study also highlighted the usefulness of collecting all life cycle stages of blow fly during crime scene investigation with proper preservation and subsequent molecular analysis. Molecular identification provides a strong basis for species identification and will prove an invaluable contribution to forensic entomology as an investigative tool in Malaysia.
This paper discusses the colonization of the stratiomyid species Ptecticus melanurus (Walker) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) in monkey carrion and its potential for the determination of the minimum time since death (PMI). A study was conducted in a tropical forest at Bangi, Malaysia from 13 November 2009 to 8 June 2011. Twelve monkey carcasses (Macaca fascicularis Raffles) were used and divided in equal number into three different field trials. Adults of P. melanurus were first observed on monkey carrions on the second day the carcasses were placed in the field while their penultimate instar larvae were found in the wet soil under and beside carcass from day 8 to 31 days postmortem.
This study was designed to mimic homicide or suicide cases using gasoline. Six adult long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), weighing between 2.5 to 4.0 kg, were equally divided into control and test groups. The control group was sacrificed by a lethal dose of phenobarbital intracardiac while test group was force fed with two doses of gasoline LD50 (37.7 ml/kg) after sedation with phenobarbital. All carcasses were then placed in a decomposition site to observe the decomposition and invasion process of cadaveric fauna on the carcasses. A total of five decomposition stages were recognized during this study. This study was performed during July 2007. Fresh stage of control and test carcasses occurred between 0 to 15 and 0 to 39 hours of exposure, respectively. The subsequent decomposition stages also exhibited the similar pattern whereby the decomposition process of control carcasses were faster than tested one. The first larvae were found on control carcasses after 9 hours of death while the test group carcasses had only their first blowfly eggs after 15 hours of exposure. Blow flies, Achoetandrus rufifacies and Chrysomya megacephala were the most dominant invader of both carcasses throughout the decaying process. Diptera collected from control carcasses comprised of scuttle fly, Megaselia scalaris and flesh fly, sarcophagid. We concluded that the presence of gasoline and its odor on the carcass had delayed the arrival of insect to the carcasses, thereby slowing down the decomposition process in the carcass by 6 hours.
This study was carried out in an oil palm plantation in Bandar Baharu, Kedah using monkey carcasses and focuses in documenting the decomposition and dipteran colonization sequences in 50 days. This is the first study of Diptera associated with the exploitation of carcasses conducted in the north of peninsular Malaysia during the dry and wet seasons thereat. During the process of decomposition in both seasons, five phases of decay were recognized namely fresh, bloated, active decay, advance decay and dry remain. In this decomposition study, biomass loss of carcass occurred rapidly during the fresh to active decay stage due to the colonization and feeding activity of the Diptera larvae. The duration of the fresh and bloated stages of decay were the same in wet and dry seasons but later stages of decay were markedly shorter during the wet season. Twenty one species of adult Diptera were identified colonizing carcasses in the study period. Among the flies from the family Calliphoridae, Chrysomya megacephala Fabricius and Chrysomya nigripes Aubertin were recognized as the earliest arrivals on the first day of exposure. Adult Ch. nigripes was abundant for approximately two weeks after placement of the carcasses. By comparing the percentages of adults collected during the study period, the calliphorids abundance in percentages in wet season was 50.83%, but in dry season, the abundance was only about 35.2%. In contrast, the percentage of Sphaeroceridae in wet season was only 3.33%, but in the dry season, the abundance was 20.8%. Dipteran in family Phoridae, Piophilidae, Sepsidae, Drosophilidae and Dolichopodidae colonized the carcasses for a long period of time and were categorized as long term colonizers.
This preliminary study was carried out in a palm oil plantation in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor in 17 May 2007 by using pig (Sus scrofa) as a carcass model in forensic entomological research. A 3 month old pig (8.5 kg) that died of pneumonio was placed in the field to observe the decomposition stages and the fauna succession of forensically important flies. Observation was made for two weeks; two visits per day and all climatological data were recorded. The first visitor to the pig carcass was a muscid fly, seen within a minute, and followed by ants and spiders. Within half an hour, calliphorid flies came over. On the second day (fresh), few calliphorid and sarcophagid flies were found on the carcass. Two different species of moths were trapped in the hanging net. The first larva mass occurred on the third day (bloated) around the mouthpart, with some L1 and L2 found in the eyes. Reduvid bugs and Staphylinidae beetles were recovered on the fourth day (active decay), and new maggot masses occurred in the eyes and anus. L3 larvae could be found beneath the pig carcass on the fourth day. On the fifth day (active decay), new maggot masses were found on neck, thorax, and hind legs. Advance decay occurred on the sixth day with abundant maggots covering all over the body. The main adult fly population was Chrysomya megacephala (day 2 to day 6), but the larvae population was mainly those of Chrysomya rufifacies (day 4 to day 14). The dry stage began on the eighth day. Hermetia illucens adult was caught on day-13, and a larvae mass of Chrysomya rufifacies was seen burrowing under the soil. This forensic entomological research using pig carcass model was the first record in this country.
This entomological study was conducted in a man-made freshwater pond in a palm oil plantation in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor from 23 July 2007 by using pig (Sus scrofa) as a carcass model. A 1.5 month old piglet (5 kg), which died of asphyxia after being accidentally crushed by its mother, was thrown into a pond. Observation was made for ten days; one visit per day and climatological data were recorded. On the first two days, the piglet carcass sunk to the bottom of the pond. The carcass floated to the surface on the third day but no fly activities were seen. The blow fly, Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies started to oviposit on the fourth day. Other than adult flies, a spider (Arachnida) was also observed on the carcass. Bubbles accumulated at the mouthpart, and the abdomen was greenish black. A lot of blow fly eggs were seen on the body surface on the fifth day (floating decay), along with first and second instars C. megacephala crawling under the piglet's skin. On the sixth day, adult blow fly, C. megacephala,and C. rufifacies,and muscid flies, Ophyra spinigera and Musca domestica were observed on to the carcass. High numbers of first and second instars of flies were observed wandering around the body surface with C. megacephala larvae being the predominant species. Two prominent maggot masses occurred on seventh and eighth days. Bloated deterioration stage began on day eighth exposing rib bones, humerus bones and intestines. Carcass was partially sinking and the maggot masses were at the water level. On day ninth, the carcass was partially sinking and three maggot masses were observed on the exposed surface. There were very few adult flies, including a scarab beetle was sighted on the carcass at this stage. The carcass along with the maggots sunk on day tenth, leaving an oily layer on the water surface.
Analysis on fly artifacts produced by forensically important blowfly, Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) (Diptera:Calliphoridae), revealed several unique patterns. They can be divided into fecal spots, regurgitation spots and swiping stains. The characteristics of fecal spots are round with three distinct levels of pigmentation; creamy, brownish and darkly pigmented. Matrix of the spots appears cloudy. The round spots are symmetrical and non-symmetrical, delineated by irregular and darker perimeter which only visible in fairly colored fecal spots. Diameter of these artifacts ranged from 0.5 mm to 4 mm. Vomit or regurgitation spots are determined by the presence of craters due to sucking activity of blowflies and surrounded by thickly raised and darker colored perimeter. The size of these specks ranged from 1 mm to 2 mm. Matrix of the spots displays irregular surface and reflective under auxiliary microscope light. Swiping stains due to defecation by flies consists of two distinguishable segments, the body and tail. It can be seen as a tear drop-like, sperm-like, snake-like and irregular tadpole-like stain. The direction of body and tail is inconsistent and length ranged between 4.8 mm to 9.2 mm. A finding that should be highlighted in this observation is the presence of crater on tadpole-like swiping stain which is apparent by its raised border characteristic and reflective under auxiliary microscope light. The directionality of this darkly brown stain is random. This unique mix of regurgitation and swiping stain has never been reported before. Highlighting the features of artifacts produced by flies would hopefully add our understanding in differentiating them from blood spatters produced from victims at crime scenes.
Insects found associated with corpse can be used as one of the indicators in estimating postmortem interval (PMI). The objective of this study was to compare the stages of decomposition and faunal succession between a partially burnt pig (Sus scrofa Linnaeus) and natural pig (as control). The burning simulated a real crime whereby the victim was burnt by murderer. Two young pigs weighed approximately 10 kg were used in this study. Both pigs died from pneumonia and immediately placed in an oil palm plantation near a pig farm in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor, Malaysia. One pig was partially burnt by 1-liter petrol while the other served as control. Both carcasses were visited twice per day for the first week and once thereafter. Adult flies and larvae on the carcasses were collected and later processed in a forensic entomology laboratory. Results showed that there was no significant difference between the rate of decomposition and sequence of faunal succession on both pig carcasses. Both carcasses were completely decomposed to remain stage after nine days. The species of flies visiting the pig carcasses consisted of blow flies (Chrysomya megacephala, Chrysomya rufifacies, Hemipyrellia ligurriens), flesh fly (Sarcophagidae.), muscid fly (Ophyra spinigera), soldier fly (Hermetia illucens), coffin fly (Phoridae) and scavenger fly (Sepsidae). The only difference noted was in the number of adult flies, whereby more flies were seen in the control carcass. Faunal succession on both pig carcasses was in the following sequence: Calliphoridae, Sarcophagidae, Muscidae, Phoridae and lastly Stratiomyidae. However, there was overlap in the appearance of members of these families. Blowflies continued to oviposit on both carcasses. Hence postmortem interval (PMI) can still be estimated from the partially burnt pig carcass.
Three-dimensional imaging has improved the method of analysis in many forensic science investigations. The study aimed to derive regression equation for age estimation by investigating the relationship between chronological age and surface area of the developing mandibular 3rd molars apices. Furthermore, other predictor variables: ethnicity (Malay and Chinese), gender and status of the root development completion (open/closed apices) were also investigated in terms of fit to the age estimation model. One hundred and twenty eight training and 55 validation samples of intact mandibular 3rd molars were selected from 183 CBCT scans. The samples comprised of 93 Malays and 90 Chinese, ranging in age from 13 to 24 years. Three-dimensional image modeling and surface area analysis of the developing mandibular 3rd molars apices were performed using Mimics and 3-Matics software. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to derive age estimation model using chronological age as a dependent variable and surface area of the apices, ethnicity, gender and status of the root development completion (open/closed apices) as predictor variables. A strong inverse correlation (r = 0.95, SD = 1.144) was observed between chronological age and all the predictor variables. The results showed that 89.6% of the variation in age can be explained by the predictor variables. Mean absolute error (MAE) value of 0.8223 was observed when the derived regression equation was tested on the independent validation sample. In conclusion, three-dimensional surface area analysis of the developing mandibular 3rd molars apices can be used as a reliable method for age estimation.
Estimation of post-mortem interval (PMI) is crucial for time of death determination. The advent of DNA-based identification techniques forensic entomology saw the beginning of a proliferation of molecular studies into forensically important Calliphoridae (Diptera). The use of DNA to characterise morphologically indistinguishable immature calliphorids was recognised as a valuable molecular tool with enormous practical utility. The local entomofauna in most cases is important for the examination of entomological evidences. The survey of the local entomofauna has become a fundamental first step in forensic entomological studies, because different geographical distributions, seasonal and environmental factors may influence the decomposition process and the occurrence of different insect species on corpses. In this study, calliphorids were collected from 13 human corpses recovered from indoors, outdoors and aquatic conditions during the post-mortem examination by pathologists from the government hospitals in Malaysia. Only two species, Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies were recovered from human corpses. DNA sequencing was performed to study the mitochondrial encoded COI gene and to evaluate the suitability of the 1300 base pairs of COI fragments for identification of blow fly species collected from real crime scene. The COI gene from blow fly specimens were sequenced and deposited in GenBank to expand local databases. The sequenced COI gene was useful in identifying calliphorids retrieved from human corpses.
Fatal acute methamphetamine (MA) poisoning in cases of internal drug trafficking is rarely described in the literature. This case study reports an MA 'body packer' who died from fatal methamphetamine intoxication due to leaking drug packages in the alimentary tract. The deceased was examined by postmortem computed tomography (PMCT), and the results were correlated to subsequent autopsy and toxicological findings. The deceased was arrested by the police when he was found disoriented in the city of Kuala Lumpur. He was transferred to the emergency department on suspicion of drug abuse. The initial drug screening was reactive for amphetamines. Shortly after admission to the hospital, he died despite rigorous resuscitation attempts. The postmortem plain chest and abdominal radiographs revealed multiple suspicious opacities in the gastrointestinal tract attributable to body packages. An unenhanced whole body PMCT revealed twenty-five drug packages, twenty-four in the stomach and one in the transverse colon. At least two were disintegrating, and therefore leaking. The autopsy findings were consistent with the PMCT results. Toxicology confirmed the diagnosis of fatal methamphetamine intoxication.