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Isolation of Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline From Fly Puparia (Phoridae) and Beetle Exuviae (Dermestidae) Associated With Mummified Human Remains

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 39 Issue: 5 Dated: (September 1994) Pages: 1305-1313
M L Miller; W D Lord; M L Goff; B Donnelly; E T McDonough; J C Alexis
Date Published
9 pages
This article reports on the first detection of drugs from chitinized insect tissues found in mummified human remains.
In October 1991, the mummified remains of a middle-aged white female were discovered at her residence. Numerous prescription vials, mostly empty, were found near the corpse. The body was intensely mummified with evidence of considerable insect activity and some loss of tissues. A subsequent investigation, including a detailed victimology, revealed that the decedent had died of multiple drug intoxication in January 1989. Empty fly puparia, beetle exuciae, and beetle fecal material (frass) were collected at the scene and at autopsy for enomo-toxicological analyses. Additionally, controlled studies were undertaken to correlate the presence of drugs in tissues with the levels detected in fly puparia and other chitinous insect remnants. Two extraction techniques were used. One technique used a strong acid extraction and the other a strong base extraction. Each of these techniques are described in this article. Results show how insects and other arthropods can prove to be valuable tools in investigations of homicide, suicide, or other unattended deaths. Insects may serve as reliable alternate specimens for toxicological analyses in the absence of tissues and fluids normally taken for such purposes. 2 figures, 3 tables, and 16 references