The post-mortem resilience of facial creases was studied using donated bodies in order to establish the efficacy of crease analysis for identification of the dead. Creases were studied on normal (pre-embalmed) and bloated (embalmed) cadavers at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) to establish whether facial bloating would affect facial crease visibility. Embalming was chosen to simulate the effects produced by post-mortem bloating. The results suggested that creases are resilient and changes were only detected for creases located on the periphery of the face, particularly at areas where the skin is thick, such as at the cheeks. Two new creases not previously classified were identified; these creases were called the vertical superciliary arch line and the lateral nose crease. This research suggests that facial creases may be resilient enough after death to be utilised for human identification.
Post mortem changes are important in estimating post mortem interval (PMI). This project's aim was to study the effect of burial and type of clothing on rate of decomposition, which can contribute to estimating PMI for victims. 12 rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) carcasses were separated into 3 groups: no clothing, light clothing and heavy clothing. Control subjects were placed on the ground surface while test subjects were buried at 30 cm depth graves. Soil samples prior and after decomposition were collected for soil pH and moisture analysis. Post mortem change was assessed using a Total Body Score system. The head, neck and limb regions were found to decay faster than the body trunk region. Mummifi cation occurred on body parts that were exposed directly to the atmosphere while adipocere formed on some buried subjects. Burial delayed decomposition due to lower insect activity and lower soil temperature. The soil layer also blocked the accessibility of majority of the arthropods, causing further delay in decomposition. Clothing enhanced decay for bodies on ground surface because it provided protection for maggots and retained moisture on tissues. However, clothing delayed decomposition in buried bodies because it physically separated the bodies from soil and arthropods. Higher sun exposure and repetitive exhumation showed acceleration of decomposition. The decomposition process increased soil pH and moisture percentage values. Soil pH initially increased until pH 8.0-8.4 followed by a slight decrease while soil moisture percentage changed inconsistently. Burial was significant in affecting post mortem change, F(1,11)=12.991, p<0.05 while type of clothing was not significant, F(2,9)=0.022, p=0.978 and combination of both type of clothing and burial factors were also not significant, F(2,3)=0.429, p=0.686. For validation, an accuracy of 83.33% was achieved based on soil pH and soil moisture percentage analysis.
Scuttle flies of genus Puliciphora Dahl (Diptera: Phoridae) are recorded for the first time in Malaysia from rabbit carcasses placed in concealed environments. They consist of Puliciphora borinquenensis Wheeler ♂♀, Puliciphora obtecta Meijere ♀ and Puliciphora beckeri Meijere ♀. All species were obtained from rabbit carcasses in used luggage and garbage bin placed at Forensic Science Simulation Site, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor. The specimens were collected from the carcasses using a modified Malaise trap, an entomological aspirator and preserved in 70% ethanol. This report expands the geographical distributions of these species and their microhabitat, suggests its possible important role in forensic entomology.
We present a case of skeletonised human remains. In the present case report, a body was exhumed from the ground above a cemetery. On exhumation, the body was partially-skeletonised with adipocere formation on the upper part of the body. Autopsy of the body showed two bullets in the right thigh muscle and lumbar vertebrae between L4 and L5. Postmortem changes and destruction of soft tissue made it impossible to determine direction of fire through the body, even in a careful complete autopsy.
Myospila pudica pudica (Stein, 1915) (Diptera: Muscidae) was recorded for the first time in Malaysia during a forensic entomological study conducted at a forested area of Forensic Science Simulation Site, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor. This species can be differentiated from other species of its genus by having R1 setulose on dorsal surface and R4+5 more or less setulose dorsally and ventrally. The legs, including tarsi, are testaceous yellow and palpi blackish. Lateral and ventral surface of scutellum bare below the level of bristles and the third antennal segment is brownish yellow. Other features including the diverging of inner margin of lower squama from scutellum margin. This is also the first report on the occurence of M. pudica pudica (Stein, 1915) on animal carcass.
Forensic entomological specimens collected from human decedents during crime scene investigations in Malaysia in the past 6 years (2005-2010) are reviewed. A total of 80 cases were recorded and 93 specimens were collected. From these specimens, 10 species of cyclorrphagic flies were identified, consisting of Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart) -38 specimens (40.86%), Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) -36 specimens (38.70%), Chrysomya villeneuvi (Patton) -2 specimens (2.15%), Chrysomya nigripes (Aubertin) -2 specimens (2.15%), Chrysomya pinguis (Walker) -1 specimen (1.08%), Hermetia illucens (Linnaeus) -1 specimen (1.08%), Hemipyrellia liguriens (Wiedemann) -5 specimens (5.37%), Synthesiomyia nudiseta (Wulp) -1 specimen (1.08%), Megaselia scalaris (Loew)-1 specimen (1.08%) and Sarcophaga ruficornis (Fabricius) -4 specimens (4.30%). In two specimens (2.15%), the maggots were not identifiable. Ch. megacephala and Ch. rufifacies were the commonest species found in human decedents from three different ecological habitats. S. nudiseta is an uncommon species found only on human cadavers from indoors. A total of 75 cases (93.75%) had a single fly infestation and 5 cases (6.25%) had double fly infestation. In conclusion, although large numbers of fly species were found on human decedents, the predominant species are still those of Chrysomya.
In Penang, Malaysia, the Oriental and Afrotropical Megaselia curtineura (Brues) and the Oriental and Japanese Megaselia spiracularis Schmitz are reported from human corpses, these being the first reports of these species in such forensic cases.
This paper describes a modified method of quantitative determination of histamine in human skin wounds using fluorescence spectrophotometer. In this study, histamine was used as an indicator to differentiate antemortem from postmortem wounds. Skin samples were obtained from 20 corpses which were brought to Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for medicolegal autopsy. Sections of human skin were processed biochemically for histamine determination using fluorescence spectrophotometer. Results revealed no significant difference in the histamine content of the antemortem wounds in comparison to postmortem wounds. Based on these results, detection of histamine is not suitable to differentiate antemortem from postmortem wounds.
Forensic entomology refers to the science of collection and analysis of insect evidence in order to determine the minimum time period since death. This study aimed to investigate the occurrence of forensically important flies on 34 human remains referred to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre over a period of three years. Entomological specimens were collected at the death scenes and/or during autopsies. Live specimens were reared into adults while preserved specimens were processed for species identification. Five families, seven genera and nine species of flies were identified from human remains. The results of the study showed Chrysomya megacephala (Calliphoridae) maggots occurred on corpses with the highest frequency (70.6%), followed by Ch. rufifacies (Calliphoridae) (44.1%), sarcophagid fly (Sarcophagidae) (38.2%), Synthesiomya nudiseta (Muscidae) (20.6%), Megaselia scalaris (Phoridae) (14.7%), Lucilia cuprina (Calliphoridae) (5.9%), Ch. nigripes (Calliphoridae) (5.9%), Eristalis spp. (Syrphidae) (5.9%) and Hydrotaea spinigera (Muscidae) (2.9%). The greatest fly diversity occurred on remains recovered indoors (eight species) compared to outdoors (three species). Whilst, single and double infestations were common for both indoor and outdoor cases, multiple infestation of up to six species was observed in one of the indoor cases. Although large numbers of fly species were found on human remains, the predominant species were still those of Chrysomya, while S. nudiseta was found only on human remains recovered from indoors. The present study provides additional knowledge in the context of Malaysian forensic entomology and the distribution of forensically important flies which is of relevance to forensic science.
Decomposition is degradation process of a corpse into basic respective constituents macroscopically and microscopically by action of microorganisms, arthropods and scavengers. Post mortem changes could be separated into early post mortem changes (i.e. algor mortis, rigor mortis and livor mortis) and putrefaction stages of corpse. These changes function as suitable indicators for determination of post mortem interval (PMI). In this paper, different stages of post mortem changes, possible variations such as mummification and formation of adipocere and special circumstances such as burial condition is discussed. This article also refers to several arguments in the different texture of adipocere and the influence of different types of fabric in affecting the post mortem changes and formation of adipocere. This is largely due to the property of permeability and resistance of material against degradation process. Undeniably, decomposition process involves numerous potential variables including burial condition, presence of clothing, potential formation of adipocere and mummification. Hence, studies in forensic taphonomy combined with real case scenario are crucial in understanding the nature of decomposition and estimation of PMI with higher accuracy.
A study on insect succession of monkey carcass in a forested area in Ulu Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia was conducted from 9 May to 18 June 2007. The third instar of the housefly, Musca domestica (Linnaeus) (Diptera: Muscidae) were only found on dry stage of a decomposed (Day-33) monkey carcass (Macaca fascicularis Raffles). This observation revealed that M. domestica maggots were found together with other muscid fly maggots, Hydrotaea (=Ophyra) spinigera (Stein) (Diptera: Muscidae) on dry stage of a carcass. However, the role of M. domestica on forensic entomological study remains unknown. This study recorded the first finding of M. domestica maggots on primate carcass in Malaysia.
The influence of rain and malathion on the initial oviposition as well as development of blowfly species infesting rabbit carcasses decomposing in sunlit and shaded habitats were studied over a period of 1 year in Kelantan, Malaysia. Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) was the most dominant species that infested the carcasses, followed by Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart). In general, rain, depending on its intensity, delayed initial oviposition by 1-2 days and prolonged the pupation period by 1-3 days. The presence of malathion in the carcasses delayed initial oviposition by 1-3 days and prolonged the pupation period by 2-3 days. These findings deserve consideration while estimating postmortem interval since rain is a commonplace occurrence in Malaysia and malathion is one of the common poisons as an agent for choice to commit suicide.
A human corpse at an advanced stage of decomposition was found in a house in the residential area of Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia. Entomological specimens were collected during the post-mortem and the live specimens were subsequently reared at room temperature. The time of death was estimated to have been 14 days previous to the discovery of the body based on the police investigation. Both adult and larvae of the beetle Dermestes ater (De Geer) were found to be infesting the corpse and from the stage of decomposition of the body and the estimated time of death it would appear that infestation may have begun at a relatively early stage of decomposition.
We report the case of an 82-year-old woman with a past history of diabetes mellitus who died following blunt head injury sustained in a fall resulting in an acute subdural hematoma. Serial postmortem CT scans of the chest and abdomen performed over a 3-day period demonstrated progressive intra-hepatic and intra-cardiac gas formation whilst the deceased was stored in a standard mortuary refrigerator at a nominated temperature of 4 degrees C. Measured mortuary refrigerator temperatures over a 7 day period showed statistically significant day to day variability in temperatures above 4 degrees C as well as variations in temperature depending on location within the refrigerator space. In the absence of other known factors associated with such gas formation, putrefaction seems the likely cause despite a lack of obvious external features. This phenomenon must therefore be taken into account when interpreting the presence of visceral gas on postmortem CT and relating such gas to the cause of death.
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.
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.
In estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) using maggots obtained during autopsy, the forensic entomologist makes decisions regarding the effects of low-temperature storage of the body on the insects. In this case report, a corpse was found in an abandoned house in the residential area of Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia. The maggots were found to be alive inside the mouth of the deceased although the corpse had been in the morgue cooler for 12 days. The maggots were reared and identified as Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius). The emerged adult flies were kept as a stock colony, and the duration of development under the indoor fluctuating temperature regime was studied. The total duration of developmental process of this species was 9.5 ± 0.5 days, and the PMI estimated was 3.2 ± 0.6 days. This case report demonstrates the survival of Ch. megacephala maggots for 12 days and their growth inside the morgue cooler.
An observational study was conducted in an oil palm plantation in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor, Malaysia on August until September 2007 to note the decomposition process of pigs and their related faunal succession. We collected six species of ants (Formicidae) from 3 subfamilies: Formicinae (Oecophylla smaragdina and Anoplolepis gracilipes), Myrmicinae (Tetramorium sp. and Pheidologeton sp.) and Ponerinae (Odontoponera sp. and Diacamma sp.) that were associated with pig carcasses placed on the ground. Oecophylla smaragdina, Pheidologeton sp. and Tetramorium sp. were found on a partially burnt pig carcass whereas the other species were recovered from unburned pig carcass. These ants predated on fly eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. Ants could be found at all stages of decomposition starting from fresh until dry stage. Predatory ants can reduce fly population and thus may affect the rate of carcass decomposition but this was not seen in our study. Even though O. smaragdina was seen at all stages of decomposition of the burnt pig, this did not alter much the decomposition process by fly larvae.
Signal fly, Scholastes sp. (Diptera: Platystomatidae) was observed associated with animal carcasses in Malaysia. The first observation was on a monkey carcass, which was killed by using a handgun and immediately placed in a forested area in Gombak, Selangor while the second observation was on a pig that died of natural causes and whose carcass was placed in an oil palm plantation in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor. Both animal carcasses were visited by Scholastes sp. flies during the fresh decomposition period. However, the role Scholastes flies in the decomposition process remains unknown. In this paper, we report the occurrence of Scholastes sp. on animal carcasses in Malaysia for the first time.