Tag Archives: death

Bugs: the difference between closed case and unsolved murder


MSU partners with Detroit to investigate death scenes

EAST LANSING, Mich. – As bodies decompose, their types and numbers of bugs and bacteria change. Deciphering the clues they provide could mean the difference between a closed case and an unsolved murder.

Michigan State University is using a more than $866,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to help Detroit death-scene investigators examine these changing populations. The microbial communities may provide crucial details such as geographical location of death, gender, race, socioeconomic relations and more, said Eric Benbow, MSU entomologist and osteopathic medical specialist.
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The Forensic Antropologist

Robert W. Mann, M.A.
Douglas H. Ubelaker, Ph.D.
Physical Anthropologists Department of Anthropology Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, July 1990.

In recent years, just as the investigation of a crime scene has become more complex and sophisticated, so has the task of the forensic anthropologist. Forensic anthropologists assist medical and legal specialists to identify known or suspected human remains.

The science of forensic anthropology includes archeological excavation; examination of hair, insects, plant materials and footprints; determination of elapsed time since death; facial reproduction; photographic superimposition; detection of anatomical variants; and analysis of past injury and medical treatment. However, in practice, forensic anthropologists primarily help to identify a decedent based on the available evidence. Continue reading

Fingerprinting the Dead

by Daryl W. Clemens

Plastic Tape

Plastic Tape

Obtaining fingerprints for identification is a long established law enforcement practice. When the practice started, is was most common to use printers ink applied to the fingers which were then pressed onto paper cards. Later specialized inks were employed to improve the quality of the prints obtained. While ink is still used today, many agencies are now using computer “live-scan” methods to record reference prints. Continue reading

The Role Of Entomology In Forensic Investigations

Written by Katherine Steck-Flynn (2003)


This paper is intended for use by police and other emergency personnel who have occasion to be in contact to the recently and not so recently deceased. When first introduced I will mention the scientific name of the various species of insects which colonize bodies after death. After the first mention I will use the common name which is easier to both remember and pronounce.

All too often insect evidence is accidentally destroyed be emergency personnel who fail to realize the importance of this evidence. This author has personally witnessed well meaning emergency personnel shooing away insects and maggots at a scene. I have even observed emergency personnel stomping on maggots as they attempt to flee from the activity around the body. Education in the proper collection and preservation procedures is essential. Continue reading