Anthropophagia

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Insects and other animals will feed on the body after death, if it is accessible. This is common both indoors and outdoors. Roaches and ants may cause yellow/brown erosions of the skin that may resemble abrasions and confuse examiners. Ant and roach bites on the skin of children dying of SIDS have been misconstrued as evidence of abuse. Insects and their larvae play a major role in the defleshing of a body during decomposition.

Larger animals, including household pets, will also feed on a dead body. Pet cats and dogs will chew on their dead owners if left alone and hungry. Rodents, raccoons, possums and other feral animals may also cause considerable damage to the body. Most of these postmortem injuries are readily recognized by either the pathologist or the consulting anthropologist. Rarely does an animal consume an entire body. However, animals may spread parts of the remains over a wide area.

Figure 1.1 This man was found in this position the day after he died. His body was completely stiff. This stiffness (rigor mortis) begins in all muscles 1-2 hours after death when the environmental temperature is approximately 75°F. The body will be in complete rigor in 10-12 hours and remain stiff for another 24-36 hours at the same environmental temperature. Heat speeds up the process and cold retards it. See next photo.

Figure 1.1 This man was found in this position the day after he died. His body was completely stiff. This stiffness (rigor mortis) begins in all muscles 1-2 hours after death when the environmental temperature is approximately 75°F. The body will be in complete rigor in 10-12 hours and remain stiff for another 24-36 hours at the same environmental temperature. Heat speeds up the process and cold retards it. See next photo.

Figure 1.2 The man's knee remains bent after he is moved because the rigor mortis is still in a fixed position. If discovered in this position, the examiner would know the body had been moved.
Figure 1.3 Law enforcement first saw this man in bed with his arms "fixed" and suspended above his head. This proves he was in a different position prior to examination by law investigators.

Figure 1.4 Livor mortis. Blood settles with gravity after a person dies. The blood becomes fixed in the dependent position in approximately 8-10 hours. Prior to fixation, the blood will redistribute to the new dependent location if the body is moved. The normal color of livor mortis (lividity) is purple. The cold, cyanide, and carbon monoxide can cause red lividity.

Figure 1.4 Livor mortis. Blood settles with gravity after a person dies. The blood becomes fixed in the dependent position in approximately 8-10 hours. Prior to fixation, the blood will redistribute to the new dependent location if the body is moved. The normal color of livor mortis (lividity) is purple. The cold, cyanide, and carbon monoxide can cause red lividity.

Figure 1.5 Lividity and congestion (buildup of blood) in the head, neck, and upper chest can give this splotchy pattern. This pattern is not indicative of a particular disease or traumatic entity.

Figure 1.6 This man was discovered dead in bed. The pattern of livor mortis suggests the man had been moved after the livor mortis had fixed. See next photo.

Figure 1.7 The pattern of bedding on the leg suggests the decedent was lying on the bed after death.

Figure 1.8 The lividity pattern is consistent with the man being on his face in the bed. Fluid stains (arrow) on the bed also show he had been moved.

Figure 1.9 This man's arm was in complete rigor against his body. When the arm is moved, the absence of lividity is apparent where the arm was in contact with the skin.
Figure 1.10 The livor mortis outlines the decedent's hand. This pattern will not go away since the lividity is fixed.
Figure 1.11 The pale mark on this man's forehead indicates he was resting on his head after death.
Figure 1.13 The anterior lividity with the pale areas is outlined in blood.
Figure 1.14 Occasionally, livor mortis may appear as an unusual pattern or look like an injury. This man was discovered at the bottom of some stairs. The pathologist can cut into the area to differentiate between livor mortis and injury. See next photo.
Figure 1.15 An incision into the area reveals only the yellow fat and no blood. This indicates the area is lividity and not an injury.
Figure 1.16 The pale mark on the left side of the face indicates that side of the face was against the floor.
Figure 1.17 This woman was face down on the floor. She has insignificant abrasions from striking the floor after her sudden collapse. See next photo.
Figure 1.18 The paleness on the top of her foot also reveals she was face down on the floor.
Figure 1.19 The arrows point to a shoe pattern on the decedent's arm. There were pale impressions and not bruises or scrapes. This indicates the person was lying against the shoes after death and not before.
Figure 1.20 One of the first signs of decomposition is green discoloration of the skin, especially in the abdomen. Decompositional changes may appear within a few hours if the environmental temperature is high.
Figure 1.22 As decomposition progresses, the body swells (bloats) from bacterial gas formation and there is skin slippage and subcutaneous marbling (the outlines of the blood vessels under the skin).
Figure 1.23 Drying artifacts of the nose and mouth. This should not be considered suspicious.
Figure 1.24 Internal pressure occurs on the internal organs when gas develops. Pressure pushes bloody fluid out the nose and mouth (purging). This should not be confused with trauma to the nose and mouth.
Figure 1.25 Another example of purging in beginning decomposition.
Figure 1.26 Marked bloating and skin discoloration after a couple of days in a warm house.
Figure 1.27 This lady was discovered dead near her garden, approximately 12 hours after she was last seen during July. See next photo.
Figure 1.28 Fluid-filled blister (arrow) of decomposition.
Figure 1.29 This woman is decomposing while she is still in rigor. The presence of rigor is more important than the decomposition in estimating the postmortem interval. See next photo.

Figure 1.30 She also has fluid-filled blisters that should not be confused with thermal injuries.

Figure 1.31 Marked skin slippage with slight to moderate decomposition.
Figure 1.32 Bodies may not swell much when they are in hot and dry climates. The skin slippage may also be dry. See next photo.
Figure 1.33 The skin slippage on the man's hip is dry, not wet and slippery as is usually seen.
Figure 1.34 This man was 21, thin, and white. He was discovered in a river 4-5 days after he was killed in the summertime. Decomposition can cause the facial features to change and the hair to slip off. Visual identification may be difficult when such changes occur.
Figure 1.35 The facial features begin to change as swelling occurs during decomposition.
Figure 1.36 Marked decomposition of face and abundant maggots. The rest of the body was only slightly decomposed. He was face down on the ground. Maggots accumulate more in areas where there are injuries.
Figure 1.37 This 22-year-old white man was found in the woods on a hot summer day five days after he died. The body is markedly swollen and discolored. Initially, he was mistaken for an African-American man.
Figure 1.38 Three weeks in the winter under a brush pile caused this man's decompositional changes. The head area is more decomposed than the rest of the body because he had been shot multiple times there.
Figure 1.39 Except for a few injuries, this man's body is in relatively good shape. He was identified visually. He had been in the water for at least three weeks during February.
Figure 1.40 More decompositional changes of the face, because he was face down (similar to 1.36).
Figure 1.41 This is another example of asymmetrical decomposition. The exposed head is much more decomposed than the rest of the body within the sleeping bag. Covered areas prevent decompositional changes from occurring as quickly as exposed parts of the body.
Figure 1.42 This man was found on the side of the road two days after he was strangled and beaten in the head. He was also covered with a blanket. See next photo.

Figure 1.43 His body was much more decomposed in the head region where he was injured and less where he was clothed and covered with the blanket. This asymmetrical decomposition is commonly seen when insects and flies are attracted to the blood in the injured areas. Estimating time of death must be done with the least decomposed areas. The arrow points to postmortem insect activity (anthropophagia).

Figure 1.43 His body was much more decomposed in the head region where he was injured and less where he was clothed and covered with the blanket. This asymmetrical decomposition is commonly seen when insects and flies are attracted to the blood in the injured areas. Estimating time of death must be done with the least decomposed areas. The arrow points to postmortem insect activity (anthropophagia).

Figure 1.44 This boy was one of four family members who drowned after his father drove their car off the road and turned upside down in a river. They were found two days later. See next photo.

Figure 1.45 Because he was belted in upside down in the car, the upper part of his body is more decomposed than the lower part. See next photo.
Figure 1.46 His younger brother was wearing a life jacket and was also belted in the seat. See next photo.
Figure 1.47 The difference between his upper and lower parts are not as distinct as his brother. See next photo.
Figure 1.48 Their mother was decomposed similarly to the boys, however, she also had facial cuts from glass. See next photo.
Figure 1.49 She also had a laceration of the forehead.
Figure 1.50 Organs begin to soften as decomposition occurs. This brain is only slightly decomposed. Eventually, decomposition will cause the brain to flow out of the skull in an amorphous mass.
Figure 1.51 The next series of photos are of a man shot in the back of the head and buried. He was discovered six months after burial. See next photo.
Figure 1.52 Much of the surrounding dirt accompanied the body. The blanket wrapping the body was carefully removed. The remains and the dirt had already been X-rayed. No bullets were discovered.
Figure 1.53 The next of kin identified the T-shirt. It had the distinctive phrase "Kiss my Grits." See next photo.
Figure 1.54 The skeleton was complete except for the head. Many of the facial fragments were lost at the time of the shooting. The man was wearing red shoes, shorts, and a shirt, which were used in the identification. See next photo.
Figure 1.55 There was no soft tissue remaining. A dentist was asked to look through all of the bone fragments of the face and head in order to find some teeth for identification. He was unsuccessful. See next photo.

Figure 1.56 The bones of the feet were still in the red sport shoes.

Figure 1.56 The bones of the feet were still in the red sport shoes.

Figure 1.57 Mummification. The skin dries out and turns leathery. This man's head mummified within two days because his head was next to a heater. His head will not decomposed further due to the mummification. See next photo.
Figure 1.58 His hands had also mummified.
Figure 1.59 These remains were completely mummified in approximately six weeks during the summer months.
Figure 1.60 Adipocere. A clothed body wrapped in a U-Haul blanket was discovered at the edge of a lake. See next photo.
Figure 1.61 The body was still white and originally thought by law enforcement to not be very decomposed. They thought the body had been in the water about a week. See next photo.
Figure 1.62 Even though she had been in the cold water for over ten months, the sheriff visually identified her. See next photo.

Figure 1.63 Upon closer examination, the skin appeared to be thickened with the superficial layers of the skin missing. This change is called adipocere. The soft tissue turns into a soap-like substance (saponification). This occurs in cold wet conditions. Once the change occurs, it will remain for years. See next photo.

Figure 1.63 Upon closer examination, the skin appeared to be thickened with the superficial layers of the skin missing. This change is called adipocere. The soft tissue turns into a soap-like substance (saponification). This occurs in cold wet conditions. Once the change occurs, it will remain for years. See next photo.

Figure 1.64 She was also identified by numerous tattoos. See next photo.
Figure 1.65 The internal organs were in remarkably good condition given the time in the water. This photograph of the brain shows that it was still in good enough condition to be examined for evidence of trauma.
Figure 1.66 This case is another example of adipocere. The body was buried for more than two years in a casket filled with water. See next photo.
Figure 1.67 The remains are much less preserved than in the previous case. An examination could be made; however, the results were not as good as hoped.

Figure 1.68a This woman was in cold water for approximately three months. Adipocere was only beginning. Adipocere change usually takes months before it is well developed. The mark on the neck is from a cable (tied to a concrete block) which aided in sinking the body.

Figure 1.68b This woman floated over 100 miles down the Missouri River. She had been missing for over two months. Her body was in the beginning stages of adipocere formation.

Figure 1.69 This man had been embalmed and buried for over three years. See next photo.

Figure 1.69 This man had been embalmed and buried for over three years. See next photo.

Figure 1.70 Aside from the mold, the body was well preserved. See next photo.
Figure 1.71 The internal organs were in very good condition and could be easily evaluated. The white arrow points to the right lung and the black arrow points to the liver.
Figure 1.72 This man's body was disinterred because a faulty heart valve was thought to be the cause of his death. See next photo.
Figure 1.73 The body had undergone moderate change with mold on the external surface and internal organ softening and discoloration. See next photo.
Figure 1.74 The heart valve could easily be located and evaluated. In this case, the valve did not malfunction; however, it was damaged from the trocarring performed during the embalming process.
Figure 1.75 This woman's body was placed in a steel box, filled with concrete, and buried under the house. The concrete did not totally encase the body because her back was lying on the bottom of the box. She was found approximately 18 months after death. See next photo.
Figure 1.76 The concrete was over 7" thick. See next photo.

Figure 1.77a The body had markedly decomposed while in the concrete for almost two years. No cause of death could be proven. There were no fractures. The woman was thought to have been strangled.

Figure 1.77b A woman was abducted, killed, and buried here in the woods. See next photo.
Figure 1.78 After ten days in the ground, the body was in relatively good condition. See next photo.
Figure 1.79 There was obvious trauma to the head. The body was transported directly to the morgue and placed in refrigeration. See next photo.
Figure 1.80 This is the top of her head the next day at autopsy. There were marked decompositional changes by the time the autopsy was performed. Bodies can change significantly from the time they are discovered until the examination.
Figure 1.82 Her body was in remarkably good condition except for some mold and skin slippage on her hands.
Figure 1.83 A two year old was disinterred nine years after burial. He was not autopsied prior to burial. His babysitter reported he had fallen down some stairs. Her story was accepted, even though there was a fracture of the skull and retinal hemorrhages. See next photo.
Figure 1.84 There were marked decompositional changes. See next photo.
Figure 1.85 The face had a putty-like consistency from adipocere change. There were no visible external injuries. See next photo.
Figure 1.86 A depressed skull fracture (arrows) in the posterior skull extended toward the front. This is inconsistent with a fall. When confronted, the babysitter admitted striking the child.
Figure 1.87 Roaches caused these abraded lesions after death. This is called anthropophagia. See next photo.
Figure 1.88 Notice the lack of blood around the area where the ear is missing. A rat had chewed off this man's ear after he died in a car.
Figure 1.89 Most postmortem injuries are usually red-brown to brown with a lack of blood in or around the wounds. However, they may be red if the area is in a dependent position.
Figure 1.90 These injuries were caused by insects. The man was clothed and wrapped in a blanket. They are somewhat more red than usual. See photos 1.42 and 1.43.
Figure 1.91 Another example of anthropophagia by ants or roaches. This baby was thought to have been abused. An emergency room physician saw these marks and became suspicious. The child died of SIDS.
Figure 1.92 This woman was shot in the chest. Her body lay on the floor for two days prior to discovery. See next photo.
Figure 1.93 Her face was chewed by her cat. See next photo.
Figure 1.94 Teeth marks from the cat were apparent on her cheek.
Figure 1.95 Notice the difference between the skin of the hand and the rest of the body in this drowning victim. See next photo.
Figure 1.96a A close-up view of the hand shows the dramatic wrinkling of the skin. Had the person been in the water longer, the skin might have easily slipped off like a glove.
Figure 1.96b The skin and toenails will also slip off the feet in drowning, heat, and decomposition.
Figure 1.97 The discoloration of this man's legs is from heart failure and not decomposition or livor mortis.
Figure 1.98 Swollen abdomen from fluid buildup due to cirrhosis of the liver and not decomposition.
Figure 1.99 Blood from the eye after eye donation.

Figure 1.101 A Plastic eye replaces the original eye after donation.

Figure 1.100 Another example of hemorrhage from eye donation.

Figure 1.101 A Plastic eye replaces the original eye after donation.

Figure 1.102 This man's body is decomposing after his abdomen was initially opened for liver and kidney specimen removal for toxicology.

Figure 1.103 Decubitus ulcers (bed sores) in a case of elderly abuse. Not a postmortem injury.

Figure 1.104 Decubitus ulcer of the hip.

Figure 1.105 Marks from straps used to secure the decedent onto the stretcher. These are not antemortem injuries.
Figure 1.106 Panty line marks are quite apparent after decomposition occurs.
Figure 1.107 Normal discoloration of the skin on the abdomen (not from a scar or injury).

Figure 1.108a Vomitus on the face. Vomit and aspiration is rarely the sole cause of death. Many people vomit when they are dying.

Figure 1.108b Superficial abrasions on the face from acid in vomitus or gastric contents. See next photo.
Figure 1.109 Postmortem dilatation of the rectum. There are no injuries. It is not a sign of sodomy.
Figure 1.110 This woman was bludgeoned to death and left on the side of the road. See next photo.
Figure 1.111 The cold caused her skin and soft tissues to have a doughy consistency.

Figure 1.112 A couple with a handicapped son was visited every week by a visiting nurse that worked with the son. She came for her weekly visit and discovered the couple on the kitchen floor. See next photo.

Figure 1.113 The man had been dead for 4-5 days. The degree of his body's decomposition was consistent with the mail and newspaper buildup outside the house. Autopsy revealed significant coronary artery disease as a cause of death. See next photo.
Figure 1.114 The son was not as decomposed as the father was and his lividity was cherry red. Autopsy revealed physical deformities (he was confined to a wheelchair) and a carbon monoxide level of 30%. There was no other cause for his death. See next photo.
Figure 1.115 The mother's body was not decomposed. Autopsy revealed cardi-omegaly, pericarditis, and aortic stenosis. Toxicology was negative for all drugs, including the digoxin she was supposed to be taking. See next photo.
Figure 1.116 A closer look at the original scene shows the wife with her leg over her husband's leg. The only thing out of place at the scene was an overturned stool next to the bodies. A car in the garage was empty of gas and the key was in the "on" position. See next photo.

Figure 1.117 In summary: The father died first of heart disease. The wife killed the son by carbon monoxide in the garage and then killed herself. At the end, she lay next to her husband, grabbed his hand (arrow), and waited for death. Their physician confirmed the fact that the husband and wife had a suicide pact; if one of them died, the other would kill the son and then commit suicide.

Figure 1.117 In summary: The father died first of heart disease. The wife killed the son by carbon monoxide in the garage and then killed herself. At the end, she lay next to her husband, grabbed his hand (arrow), and waited for death. Their physician confirmed the fact that the husband and wife had a suicide pact; if one of them died, the other would kill the son and then commit suicide.

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