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Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator (Technical Update)

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
64 pages
Publication Series

This report reflects the best practices of the forensic community for conducting death investigations.


This study identifies, delineates, and assembles a set of investigative tasks that should be performed at every death scene. This research was based on the collective knowledge of three multidisciplinary content area expert groups and serves as the foundation for the investigative guidelines for death scene investigators. It focuses on the death scene, the body, and the interactive skills and knowledge that must be applied to ensure a successful case outcome. The study findings are divided into 6 sections detailing a specific investigative task in each section: section A explores investigative tools and equipment, section B details arriving at the Scene, section C explains documenting and evaluating the scene, section D discusses documenting and evaluating the body, section E provides guidelines for establishing and recording decedent profile information, and section F discusses completing the scene investigation. Each section provides a principle of the skill set presented; authorization for the principle skill set, by agency; the policy for each skill set; and the procedure, in steps, to be taken to properly carry out the skill set presented. Tables and notes

Date Published: June 1, 2011