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Multi-Modal Method for Determining the Postmortem Interval in Juvenile Remains and Assessing Skeletal Health

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2017
41 pages
Ann H. Ross
Publication Type
Research (Applied/Empirical), Report (Study/Research), Report (Grant Sponsored), Program/Project Description, Grants and Funding
Grant Number(s)
In order to facilitate greater accuracy in estimates of postmortem interval (PMI) for juveniles, the objective of this study was to develop a regional model for soft and hard tissue decay rates applicable to the broader warm temperate climate region of the Southeastern United States, using juvenile and fetal pigs (Sus scrofa) as juvenile and infant human analogs.
The surface juvenile remains showed a significant seasonal pattern in days for decomposition, with the "summer juvenile" reaching a total body score (TBS) of 26 in 8 days, the "fall juvenile" reaching a TBS of 28 in 11 days, and the "winter juvenile" reaching a TBS of 27 in 789 days. These TBS values correspond with just over half the remains being skeletonized. The variable analyzed showed significant associations between TBS and accumulated degree-days (ADD) for summer, fall, and winter. The blanket fetal remains showed significant seasonal changes that mirror those seen in the juvenile remains. The summer fetal remains reached a TBS of 27 in 7 days; in the fall, they reached a TBS of 29 in 10 days; and in the winter, they reached a TBS of 27 in 79 days. The variables analyzed showed significant associations between TBS and ADD for summer, fall, and winter. The bagged fetal remains for summer and fall showed a similar decomposition pattern unrelated to seasonal deposition, with the summer bagged fetal remains reaching a TBS of 26 in 9 days; and in the fall, reaching a TBS of 27 in 6 days. The paired t-test showed a significant difference in bone mineral densities (BMD) in juveniles between initial deposition and final recovered remains for both surface and buried remains. The researchers note that the development of regionally specific bone weathering standards has important implications for more accurate PMI estimates. A listing of scholarly products and 33 references
Date Created: January 14, 2019