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Case closed: wrappings and encasement delays and reduces fly presence on body parts

Case closed: wrappings and encasement delays and reduces fly presence on body parts

Brownlow, Linda ORCID: 0000-0002-0422-914X, Young, Stephen, Fernández-Grandon, Mandela and Hopkins, Richard J. (2022) Case closed: wrappings and encasement delays and reduces fly presence on body parts. Forensic Science International, 342:111542. ISSN 0379-0738 (doi:

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Homicide, particularly where a body has been concealed, is uniquely challenging for investigators to estimate the time of occurrence due to the methods employed by perpetrators to hide the body or its constituent parts from detection. The regularity of necrophagous insect lifecycles to determine minimum post-mortem interval (minPMI) is widely employed but remains an unreliable technique if used without a clear understanding of the factors that affect insect access and oviposition behaviour to concealed remains. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of wrapping body parts on fly colonisation and implications for minPMI calculations. Field studies were carried out using four treatments of pork (as surrogate body parts), in five replicates, one unwrapped, the other three wrapped in either a black plastic sack, a small-zipped wash bag (to simulate a suitcase), or a plastic sack further placed in a wash bag. Over a 48-hour period all the methods of wrapping significantly disrupted the host-finding process of blowflies to dismembered carcasses, with a delay of initial contact and oviposition of 30+ hours (dependant on wrapping) and even more in wet conditions (48+ hours). Egg numbers were also reduced by as much as 99.1% on wrapped samples compared to unwrapped. These new findings highlight the importance of applying adjustments to minPMI calculations when encountering wrapped remains. Advances in the accuracy of minPMI calculations will prevent the waste of valuable police time and resources and better focus the search for witnesses and suspects in homicide investigations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: attraction time; blowflies; dismemberment; oviposition; post-mortem interval; wrapping method
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Science (SCI)
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 12:07

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