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Unusual Death of a Transvestite: Identification of Crime Weapon and Survival Time

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2009 Pages: 1149-1151
Sandra Cornetta, M.D.; Annalisa Addante, M.D., Ph.D.; Fiorenza Zotti, Ph.D.; Alessandro Dell' Erba, M.D., Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2009
3 pages
This paper describes the case of a murdered transvestite in Italy whose autopsy was able to determine the crime weapon and the victim's survival time.
The victim was found dead near his car with several lacerated contused wounds to the face and cranial fractures. The autopsy determined that the cause of death was a serious head trauma with subdural and subarachnoidal hemorrhages. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed metallic residue on the skin fragments that had the same molecular composition as the car paint. Bloodstains and hair traces found on the car door as well as on the car floor led to the conclusion that the victim's head had been repeatedly struck against the car door. Fractures of the left forearm bones, surrounded by a large amount of blood was interpreted to be the result of the victim's attempt to defend himself by raising his forearm to fend off the attacker. The autopsy was also able to determine that the time elapsed between the infliction of the injury and death was 2 to 3 hours. The presence of blood in the deep airway passages suggested that death did not occur immediately after the assault, since the victim must have had time to inhale blood before dying. Antibody anit-beta-amyloid protein was applied to brain fragments and brainstem tissue, allowing for axonal varicosities, which form 2 to 3 hours after death, to be observed under the optic microscope. 5 figures and 7 references


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