Journal Cover Journal of Forensic Sciences
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   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 0022-1198 - ISSN (Online) 1556-4029
   Published by John Wiley and Sons Homepage  [1579 journals]
  • Temporal Trends in Rainwater Tank Suicides in Rijeka, Croatia—A
           30‐year Study
    • Abstract: Although drowning in rainwater tanks is a generally rare phenomenon, this method for suicide has been observed in parts of Croatia. Review of autopsy records at the University of Rijeka, Croatia, was undertaken from 1987 to 2016 to examine this phenomenon. Of 469 drowning deaths, there were 35 suicides in rainwater tanks (7.5%). Overall drowning deaths showed no temporal trends. In contrast, suicidal drownings in rain water tanks showed a marked decline over the years, with 15 cases in 1987–1991, seven in 1992–1996, six in 1997–2001, six in 2002–2006, one in 2007–2011, and none in 2012–2016. Thus, suicidal drowning cases as a percentage of overall drownings dropped from 18% to zero (p
       
  • Measuring the Frequency Occurrence of Handwritten Numeral Characteristics
    • Abstract: The premise of this follow‐up sister study to “Measuring the Frequency Occurrence of Handwriting and Handprinting Characteristics” was to collect a representative population sampling of numerals and assess how many participants utilize each of the predetermined characteristics as found in their specimens. A total of 1410 handwriting specimen forms were collected from across the United States and pared to 1025 to obtain a proper representative sample of the U.S. adult population based on the same demographics used in the original 2017 study. This study provides frequency of occurrence proportions and 95% confidence limits for 25 handwritten numeral characteristics. A total of 277 intercharacter pairs of handwritten numeral characteristics were cross‐analyzed for interdependence. The results were that 72.92% of all intercharacter pairs had a coefficient of correlation between −0.2 and +0.2 in this study.
       
  • Enhanced Visualization of Latent Fingermarks on Rough Aluminum Surfaces
           Using Sequential Au and Zn/ZnS/ZnO Depositions
    • Abstract: Detection and visualization of fingermarks on rough and diffuse surfaces is a relatively challenging task. We succeeded in developing latent fingermarks on scratched and rough aluminum surfaces by sequential deposition of a thin layer of gold followed by one of zinc or zinc‐based compounds on the fingermarks. The best image enhancement was achieved with sequential Au and ZnS depositions. Using this combination, we could enhance the visualization of latent fingermarks aged over 65 days in normal conditions. The optical reflectance from the fingermarks with the deposited layers of metal/dielectric is analyzed as a stratified medium. Significant contrast in the reflectance from the regions of the ridges and the valleys of the fingermark would enhance the visualization. Our results show that the Au and ZnS bi‐layer combination can have a large reflection contrast and improved fingermark visualization at wavelengths corresponding to the green light for specific thickness of ZnS.
       
  • Use of Xylazine in Drug‐Facilitated Crimes
    • Abstract: Human xylazine poisoning is uncommon. This report describes the use of xylazine for intentional poisoning with criminal intent. Two incidents occurred within 3 weeks: the first involved one victim, and the second involved two victims. The clinical presentations were brief coma, bradycardia, hypotension, and hyperglycemia. The victims recalled having been given a drink from a stranger in a hospital waiting room before loss of consciousness. In the first case, general drug screening by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (MS) revealed xylazine in the gastric contents, but liquid chromatography–tandem MS (LC‐MS/MS) of serum did not. In the second incident, LC‐MS/MS screening of both victims’ urine and serum samples revealed an unknown peak in the total ion chromatograms, which a molecular mass database identified as morantel or xylazine. The latter was confirmed by comparison with a xylazine standard. Based on this report, we suggest that xylazine should be classified as a controlled drug.
       
  • Child Fatalities in Dammam: A Call for Child Fatality Reviews in Arab
           Countries
    • Abstract: Identifying children's risk exposure is the first step toward mortality prevention. This retrospective study determined the causes of child fatalities in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Death reports of children and adolescents from 1999 to 2015 (N = 157) were analyzed. Boys represented most cases (69%) and there were two age peaks (1–5 years and 16–18 years). Accidents (typically immersion) defined the main death circumstance (51%) followed by homicide (25%). Only 33% of cases underwent autopsy, and the most common cause of death was head injury (27%) followed by firearm injury. Only one immersion death underwent autopsy. This study revealed important data about the risk exposure of children in Dammam and emphasizes deficient investigative procedures. Child fatality reviews comprise systematic data collection by multidisciplinary teams to determine the true risks toward children in a community. Such teams do not exist in Arab countries; therefore, strategies should be implemented to initiate them.
       
  • A GIS‐based Quantitative Approach for the Search of Clandestine
           Graves, Italy
    • Abstract: Previous research on the RAG color‐coded prioritization systems for the discovery of clandestine graves has not considered all the factors influencing the burial site choice within a GIS project. The goal of this technical note was to discuss a GIS‐based quantitative approach for the search of clandestine graves. The method is based on cross‐referenced RAG maps with cumulative suitability factors to host a burial, leading to the editing of different search scenarios for ground searches showing high‐(Red), medium‐(Amber), and low‐(Green) priority areas. The application of this procedure allowed several outcomes to be determined: If the concealment occurs at night, then the “search scenario without the visibility” will be the most effective one; if the concealment occurs in daylight, then the “search scenario with the DSM‐based visibility” will be most appropriate; the different search scenarios may be cross‐referenced with offender's confessions and eyewitnesses’ testimonies to verify the veracity of their statements.
       
  • Arterial Perfusion—A Useful Technique for Evaluating Incised Wounds
    • Abstract: A 54‐year‐old woman was found deceased with incised wounds of both sides of her neck and both wrists. Postmortem CT scanning revealed air in the heart and in the dural veins in continuity with air in the right jugular vein. Death was due to incised wounds of the wrist and neck with blood loss and air embolism. The manner of death was suicide. At autopsy, perfusion of the thoracic ascending aorta produced a fine stream of water emanating from an incised wound of the right ulnar artery with no significant leakage of water from the wound of the left wrist. There was also leakage from the facial artery branch of the right external carotid artery. Perfusion testing can be used as a screening test prior to formal dissection and also to identify small vessels that may not be obvious on standard examination of an exsanguinated field.
       
  • Potential Use in Forensics of a Novel Hybrid Gelatin—Dynamic Impact
           Assessment
    • Abstract: Ballistic gelatin as simulant of the human body and organs is a support in forensics. After having obtained very good results for a new gelatin‐based composite in terms of physicochemical and rheological properties, this study focused on this material's mechanical behavior during stabbing and shooting versus bovine and porcine organs and standard ballistic gelatin. The hybrid gelatin has a predominantly elastic behavior at 23°C, whereas the elastic modulus becomes practically constant in the 10–0.1 Hz frequency range. In terms of stabbing behavior, the small variations obtained between porcine organs and surrogate are below 5%, the perforation indicating a good similarity. From the ballistic test results using 10 × 28T rubber balls, it has been seen that the hybrid ballistic gelatin conducts to more reliable and reproducible values of perforation/penetration versus standard gelatin, making from it a real candidate for use in forensic tests.
       
  • Self‐Strangulation Turning into Partial Hanging for a Suicide Victim
    • Abstract: Hanging is the most common asphyxial method of suicide, whereas suicide by strangulation is unusual. Here, we are reporting a particular methodology of the asphyxial method of suicide in which a case of self‐strangulation culminated into partial hanging. A 30‐year‐old male wrapped one end of the cable wire around his neck. He then passed the other end over a curtain rod and tied that end around the right hand. He pulled the hand down, using the curtain rod as a fulcrum, to tighten the noose around the neck in an attempt to strangulate himself. However, he lost consciousness during the process and the body slipped down, pulling the right hand up which got stuck at the curtain rod. This led the body hanged in the kneeling position. This bizarre scenario raised suspicion of homicide but the crime scene, autopsy and victim characteristics were in favor of suicide.
       
  • Lone Actor Terrorist Attack Planning and Preparation: A Data‐Driven
           Analysis,
    • Abstract: This article provides an in‐depth assessment of lone actor terrorists’ attack planning and preparation. A codebook of 198 variables related to different aspects of pre‐attack behavior is applied to a sample of 55 lone actor terrorists. Data were drawn from open‐source materials and complemented where possible with primary sources. Most lone actors are not highly lethal or surreptitious attackers. They are generally poor at maintaining operational security, leak their motivations and capabilities in numerous ways, and generally do so months and even years before an attack. Moreover, the “loneness” thought to define this type of terrorism is generally absent; most lone actors uphold social ties that are crucial to their adoption and maintenance of the motivation and capability to commit terrorist violence. The results offer concrete input for those working to detect and prevent this form of terrorism and argue for a re‐evaluation of the “lone actor” concept.
       
  • Weapon Use in Korean Homicide: Differences Between Homicides Involving
           Sharp and Blunt Instruments
    • Abstract: On the basis of information regarding 276 homicides committed in South Korea between 1987 and 2008, we compared offenders’ and victims’ characteristics, injury locations, weapon‐related behavior, and offending behavior between homicides involving sharp and blunt instruments. The victims of sharp‐force homicide were much younger relative to those of blunt‐force homicide. In addition, homicides involving blunt instruments were more likely to be committed by offenders who lived with the victims. Most sharp‐force homicides involved injuries to the torso, while blunt‐force homicides involved mainly head injuries. Furthermore, perpetrators of sharp‐force homicides tended to preselect their weapons, while those of blunt‐force homicides were likely to use weapons of opportunity. Logistic regression analysis identified a number of factors, including injury location and body transportation, which significantly predicted weapon type. As this was the first South Korean study to compare sharp‐ and blunt‐force homicides, the results have practical implications for homicide investigations.
       
  • Suicide by Medication Overdose in Prison: A Study of Three Cases
    • Abstract: Suicide is one of the principal causes of mortality in a prison environment. Although suicide by medication overdose is less frequent than suicide by hanging, self‐strangulation, or vein cutting, it raises questions as to how the medications are obtained, particularly in view of the specific organization of the medication circuit in prisons. We present three cases of suicide by medication overdose involving different therapeutic classes with different distribution circuits and review the regulatory requirements and the measures that could be taken to prevent such suicides.
       
  • Judicial Murder‐Suicides in Van Diemen's Land
    • Abstract: On the morning of December 17, 1827, nine convicts were executed by public hanging in Hobart Town, the capital of the British colony of Van Diemen's Land (now the Australian state of Tasmania). Two months previously they had drowned senior Constable George Rex on Small Island, which was part of the penal settlement at Macquarie Harbor, in front of five bound and gagged witnesses. They offered no defence at their trial. Examination of the Tasmanian colonial convict records shows that “suicide by lottery” involved convicts choosing two men, one to die and the other to kill him. The witnesses would earn a respite when taken away for the trial, and the murderer would be executed. “Death by gallows” could be considered a nineteenth‐century version of an orchestrated suicide reminiscent of more modern “death by cop.” This category of “judicial” murder‐suicide expands the range of contemporary classifications of dyadic deaths.
       
  • Development and Validation of a Virtual Examination Tool for Firearm
           Forensics, ,
    • Abstract: The transition from 2D imaging to 3D scanning in the discipline of firearms and toolmark analysis is likely to provide examiners an unprecedented view of microscopic surface topography. The digital examination of measured 3D surface topographies has been referred to as virtual microscopy (VM). The approach offers several potential advantages over traditional comparison microscopy. Like any new analytic method, VM must be validated prior to its use in a crime laboratory. This paper describes one of the first validation studies of virtual microscopy. Fifty‐six participants at fifteen laboratories used virtual microscopic tools to complete two proficiency‐style tests for cartridge case identification. All participating trained examiners correctly reported 100% of the identifications (known matches) while reporting no false positives. The VM tools also allowed examiners to annotate compared surfaces. These annotations provide insight into the types of marked utilized in comparative analysis. Overall, the results of the study demonstrate that trained examiners can successfully use virtual microscopy to conduct firearms toolmark examination and support the use of the technology in the crime laboratory.
       
  • A Retrospective Study of the Investigation of Homicidal Childhood
           Asphyxial Deaths
    • Abstract: As one of the leading causes of traumatic deaths in newborns, infants, and young children, there is no anatomic or microscopic feature that is pathognomonic for asphyxial deaths. Instead, pathologists rely on investigation information, including confessions and/or witness statements, and potential evidence at the scene. Twenty cases of homicidal newborn, infant, and young children asphyxial deaths were reviewed, which included death and police investigation reports and autopsy reports, as well as histology slides of lung sections. This series of homicidal asphyxial deaths highlight that, in a vast majority of such cases, the final cause and manner of death rulings are dependent on confession by the perpetrator. Furthermore, this series highlights the possible role of histology to help forensic pathologists better certify asphyxial deaths. Finally, this series emphasizes important investigation points and considerations at autopsy during the investigation of asphyxial deaths in newborns, infants, and young children.
       
  • Authentication of Surveillance Videos: Detecting Frame Duplication Based
           on Residual Frame
    • Abstract: Nowadays, surveillance systems are used to control crimes. Therefore, the authenticity of digital video increases the accuracy of deciding to admit the digital video as legal evidence or not. Inter‐frame duplication forgery is the most common type of video forgery methods. However, many existing methods have been proposed for detecting this type of forgery and these methods require high computational time and impractical. In this study, we propose an efficient inter‐frame duplication detection algorithm based on standard deviation of residual frames. Standard deviation of residual frame is applied to select some frames and ignore others, which represent a static scene. Then, the entropy of discrete cosine transform coefficients is calculated for each selected residual frame to represent its discriminating feature. Duplicated frames are then detected exactly using subsequence feature analysis. The experimental results demonstrated that the proposed method is effective to identify inter‐frame duplication forgery with localization and acceptable running time.
       
  • Myocardial Bridging: A Meta‐Analysis of Prevalence
    • Abstract: The main objective of this article was to analyze prevalence data about myocardial bridging (MB) in published studies. To this purpose, we performed a meta‐analysis of studies published in English literature that contained data about the prevalence of MB and its anatomical characteristics. The overall prevalence was 19% (CI: 17–21%); autopsy studies revealed an overall prevalence of 42% (CI: 30–55%), CT studies 22% (CI: 18–25%), and coronary angiography 6% (CI: 5–8%). Most bridges were located on the left anterior descending artery (82% overall, 63% on autopsy studies), had a mean thickness of 2.47 mm and a mean length of 19.3 mm. In conclusion, autopsy studies should be the gold standard in evaluating the actual prevalence of myocardial bridges, while in vivo high‐resolution CT scanning should be preferred to coronary angiography studies.
       
  • An Investigation into the Relationship between Human Cranial and Pelvic
           Sexual Dimorphism
    • Abstract: When faced with commingled remains, it might be assumed that a more “masculine” pelvis is associated with a more “masculine” cranium, but this relationship has not been specifically tested. This study uses geometric morphometric analyses of pelvic and cranial landmarks to assess whether there is an intra‐individual relationship between the degrees of sexual expression in these two skeletal regions. Principal component and discriminant function scores were used to assess sexual dimorphism in 113 U.S. Black individuals. Correlation values and partial least squares regression (PLS) were used to evaluate intra‐individual relationships. Results indicate that the os coxae is more sexually dimorphic than the cranium, with element shape being more sexually dimorphic than size. PLS and correlation results suggest no significant intra‐individual relationship between pelvic and cranial sexual size or shape expression. Thus, in commingled situations, associations between these skeletal elements cannot be inferred based on degree of “masculinity.”
       
  • An Automated Two‐Dimensional Form Registration Method for
           Osteological Pair‐Matching
    • Abstract: This study introduces an automated method for osteological pair‐matching using two‐dimensional outline form data extracted from photographs. A procedure for acquiring photographs that improve the differentiation of specimens from the background is presented along with an extraction procedure that allows the capture of form data from photographs. The raw form data are used in a two‐dimensional registration procedure, which combines iterative closest point, K‐nearest neighbor search, and iterations around an estimated mean. Form data are used in optimized distance calculations that minimize true‐pair difference and maximize false‐pair difference. The sample consists of 122 calcanei and 110 tali from the UI‐Stanford collection. Performance statistics are provided for the maximum and average Segmented‐Hausdorff, Hausdorff, and Procrustes distances to show the comparative statistical results for matching. Results indicate 98.36% and 98.2% accuracy in pinpointing true‐pairs for the calcanei and tali, respectively, using a shortlist of one‐lowest‐distance.
       
  • Total Ion Spectra versus Segmented Total Ion Spectra as Preprocessing
           Tools for Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry Data
    • Abstract: Alignment of fire debris data from GC‐MS for chemometric analysis is challenged by highly variable, uncontrolled sample and matrix composition. The total ion spectrum (TIS) obviates the need for alignment but loses all separation information. We introduce the segmented total ion spectrum (STIS), which retains the advantages of TIS while retaining some retention information. We compare the performance of STIS with TIS for the classification of casework fire debris samples. TIS and STIS achieve good model prediction accuracies of 96% and 98%, respectively. Baseline removal improved model prediction accuracies for both TIS and STIS to 97% and 99%, respectively. The importance of maintaining some chromatographic information to aid in deciphering the underlying chemistry of the results and reasons for false positive/negative results was also examined.
       
  • Quantification of Morphine, Codeine, and Thebaine in Home‐Brewed Poppy
           Seed Tea by LC‐MS/MS
    • Abstract: Recently, medical examiners reported two cases of a 21‐year‐old male and 24‐year‐old male with high amounts of morphine in their blood at autopsy. It was suspected that the decedents ingested lethal amounts of morphine from home‐brewed poppy seed tea. No studies to date have investigated opium alkaloid content extracted from poppy seeds by home‐brewing methods. Various poppy seed products were purchased from online sources and extracted with four home‐brewing methods representative of recipes found on drug user forums. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine were quantified in the tea extracts by liquid chromatography‐tandem mass spectrometry using a validated analytical method. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine concentrations from seeds were
       
  • Familial Vehicular Murder‐Suicide
    • Abstract: A certain number of single‐vehicle crashes into stationary roadside objects such as trees are thought to be occult suicides. However, is it possible that some cases of multiple deaths within a family in similar crashes are due to unrecognized familial murder‐suicides' A 39‐year‐old woman and her 11‐year‐old daughter are reported who died of injuries following a vehicle impact with a tree. Unusual behavior of the mother leading up to the crash, and assessment at the scene, raised the possibility of this being a nonaccidental event. However, difficulties in retrospectively determining the intent of a driver in a vehicle crash, and the nonrecording of, or lack of separate coding for murder‐suicides on registers, make determination of the incidence of these types of events extremely difficult. It may be that this is a subcategory of murder‐suicide that is underdiagnosed and so is not being registered on central motor vehicle crash databases.
       
  • Sudden Death Secondary to an Undiagnosed B‐Cell Lymphoma of the
           Hypopharynx and Infiltration of the Inferior Constrictor Muscle
    • Abstract: The aim of this presentation was to share an uncommon form of sudden death, suffered by a 64‐year‐old woman, due to a mechanical obstruction of hypopharynx by an undiagnosed B‐cell lymphoma, infiltrating the inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscle. A forensic approach by means of scene investigation, circumstantial data collection, autopsy, and histological and toxicological investigations led to conclude that the cause of death was asphyxia, correlated with B‐cell lymphoma of the hypopharynx. The autopsy examination highlighted the presence of a wall thickening, infiltrating, and projecting into the hypopharynx lumen. The histological analysis showed the essential finding of a B‐cell lymphoma of the hypopharynx, diffusely infiltrating the inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscle. To conclude, this case demonstrates once more that in the absence of specific data, a thorough forensic investigation including autopsy, histological examination, and circumstantial data collection is mandatory to reach a correct cause of death.
       
  • Personal Identification of Deceased Persons: An Overview of the Current
           Methods Based on Physical Appearance
    • Abstract: The use of the physical appearance of the deceased has become more important because the available antemortem information for comparisons may consist only of a physical description and photographs. Twenty‐one articles dealing with the identification based on the physiognomic features of the human body were selected for review and were divided into four sections: (i) visual recognition, (ii) specific facial/body areas, (iii) biometrics, and (iv) dental superimposition. While opinions about the reliability of the visual recognition differ, the search showed that it has been used in mass disasters, even without testing its objectivity and reliability. Specific facial areas being explored for the identification of dead; however, their practical use is questioned, similarly to soft biometrics. The emerging dental superimposition seems to be the only standardized and successfully applied method for identification so far. More research is needed into a potential use of the individualizing features, considering that postmortem changes and technical difficulties may affect the identification.
       
  • Ridge Width Correlations between Inked Prints and Powdered Latent
           Fingerprints
    • Abstract: A methodology to estimate the time of latent fingerprint deposition would be of great value to law enforcement and courts. It has been observed that ridge topography changes as latent prints age, including the widths of ridges that could be measured as a function of time. Crime suspects are commonly identified using fingerprint databases that contain reference inked tenprints (flat and rolled impressions). These can be of interest in aging studies as they provide baseline information relating to the original (nonaged) ridges’ widths. In practice, the age of latent fingerprints could be estimated following a comparison process between the evidentiary aged print and the corresponding reference inked print. The present article explores possible correlations between inked and fresh latent fingerprints deposited on different substrates and visualized with TiO2. The results indicate that the ridge width of flat inked prints is most similar to fresh latent fingerprints, and these should be used as the comparison standard for future aging studies.
       
  • The Relationship Between Gambling Severity and Risk of Criminal Recidivism
    • Abstract: Individuals involved with the criminal justice system have the highest prevalence of gambling disorder. Yet, this is an understudied area, especially in relation to postrelease functioning and recidivism risk. Participants (N = 100) were recruited from a local nonprofit organization and a federal probation office. Participants completed both self‐report and interviewer‐administered questionnaires assessing past‐year and lifetime gambling behaviors and problems, legal history, health, and risk of recidivism. Past‐year (8%) and lifetime (18%) rates of gambling disorder among the current sample are significantly greater than those of the general population and similar to rates found in incarcerated populations. Furthermore, 13% of individuals reported a direct relationship between their gambling and crime, and analyses revealed that increased gambling severity was a significant predictor of increased recidivism risk. Results suggest the need for screening and intervention efforts and call for policy reform among incarcerated and ex‐offender populations.
       
  • Application of the Optimized Summed Scored Attributes Method to Sex
           Estimation in Asian Crania
    • Abstract: The optimized summed scored attributes (OSSA) method was recently introduced and validated for nonmetric ancestry estimation between American Black and White individuals. The method proceeds by scoring, dichotomizing, and subsequently summing ordinal morphoscopic trait scores to maximize between‐group differences. This study tests the applicability of the OSSA method for sex estimation using five cranial traits given the methodological similarities between classifying sex and ancestry. A large sample of documented crania from Japan and Thailand (n = 744 males, 320 females) are used to develop a heuristically selected OSSA sectioning point of ≤1 separating males and females. This sectioning point is validated using a holdout sample of Japanese, Thai, and Filipino (n = 178 males, 82 females) individuals. The results indicate a general correct classification rate of 82% using all five traits, and 81% when excluding the mental eminence. Designating an OSSA score of 2 as indeterminate is recommended.
       
  • Controversial Suicide Case Using a Submachine Gun with a Sound
           Suppressor—The Need of Team Work of Forensic Chemistry and Firearm
           Examiners
    • Abstract: Evidence materials in a presumed suicide case were studied by a firearm examiner and a forensic chemist. The victim's body with double gunshot wounding in his forehead, a machine gun in the sustained fire mode with a silencer, and four cartridge cases were found. Examinations of the evidence, the case file studies, and experiments dedicated to the case were carried out. Relationships between the placement of cartridge cases and the gun were established using a fast camera. The distributions of gunshot residues on the evidence materials and within the comparative gunshot patterns were studied by means of optical and electron microscopy, X‐ray microanalysis, and infrared spectroscopy. The shooting distance was assessed to be 30 cm or more, whereas the greatest distance that could have been achieved by the victim himself was about 11–13 cm. The obtained results supported the version of homicide rather than suicide.
       
  • Metal Railing Fences and Accidental Death
    • Abstract: Two cases of accidental deaths caused by the sharp ends of fence or gate posts are reported. Case 1: A 47‐year‐old man was found hanging by his ankle in an inverted position on fencing. He had attempted a shortcut to a railway platform by climbing over a metal rail fence. He had slipped and been impaled through his ankle by the sharp end of the fence post, resulting in death from positional asphyxia. Case 2: An 18‐year‐old male slipped while climbing over a gate and died after being impaled on a spear tip finial, which had lacerated his external iliac vein. Death was due to exsanguination. These cases demonstrate two rare examples of accidental deaths from impalement by the ends of sharp fence posts. Mechanisms of death in such circumstances involve suspension with positional asphyxia and vascular injury with exsanguination.
       
  • Ebstein Anomaly and Sudden Childhood Death
    • Abstract: A 13‐year‐old girl is reported who died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep from previously undiagnosed Ebstein anomaly. At autopsy, there was dilatation of the right atrium with marked dilatation of the right auricle and apical displacement of the tricuspid valve into the right ventricular cavity with atrialization of the upper portion of the right ventricle. There were also prominent dysplastic changes in both the septal and posterior leaflets of the tricuspid valve with thickening of the valve and fusion of leaflets to the wall of the ventricle. Histology of the myocardium showed focal, minor microscopic areas of interstitial fibrosis with marked fibrous dysplasia and thickening of the tricuspid valve. Lethal arrhythmias occur in this condition because of the geographical relationship of the conduction system to the abnormal anatomical structures. As adolescents who died suddenly are often minimally symptomatic, cases will rarely present de novo to forensic autopsy.
       
  • Using Named Entities for Computer‐Automated Verbal Deception
           Detection
    • Abstract: There is an increasing demand for automated verbal deception detection systems. We propose named entity recognition (NER; i.e., the automatic identification and extraction of information from text) to model three established theoretical principles: (i) truth tellers provide accounts that are richer in detail, (ii) contain more contextual references (specific persons, locations, and times), and (iii) deceivers tend to withhold potentially checkable information. We test whether NER captures these theoretical concepts and can automatically identify truthful versus deceptive hotel reviews. We extracted the proportion of named entities with two NER tools (spaCy and Stanford's NER) and compared the discriminative ability to a lexicon word count approach (LIWC) and a measure of sentence specificity (speciteller). Named entities discriminated truthful from deceptive hotel reviews above chance level, and outperformed the lexicon approach and sentence specificity. This investigation suggests that named entities may be a useful addition to existing automated verbal deception detection approaches.
       
  • Injury Patterns Sustained in Fatal Motor Vehicle Collisions with Driver's
           Third‐Generation Airbag Deployment
    • Abstract: The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario database for 2011–2012 was used to compare fatal injury patterns in drivers whose third‐generation airbags deployed compared to first‐ and second‐generation airbag deployments and airbag nondeployments with and without seatbelt use. There were 110 frontal and offset frontal crashes analyzed. The small sample size meant that the odds of craniocerebral, cervical spinal, thoracic, and abdominal injuries were not statistically different for airbag generation, deployment status, and seatbelt use; however, the risk of fatal thoracic injuries in third‐ and second‐generation cases was increased. Seatbelt usage in third‐ and second‐generation deployment cases reduced the risk of all injuries except abdominal trauma. High severity impacts and occupant compartment intrusion were frequently observed. The analyses in this retrospective study were challenged by data that were not collated in a standardized way and were limited in details about scene, vehicle, and driver variables.
       
  • Trace DNA Sampling Success from Evidence Items Commonly Encountered in
           Forensic Casework
    • Abstract: Trace DNA analysis is a significant part of a forensic laboratory's workload. Knowing optimal sampling strategies and item success rates for particular item types can assist in evidence selection and examination processes and shorten turnaround times. In this study, forensic short tandem repeat (STR) casework results were reviewed to determine how often STR profiles suitable for comparison were obtained from “handler” and “wearer” areas of 764 items commonly submitted for examination. One hundred and fifty‐five (155) items obtained from volunteers were also sampled. Items were analyzed for best sampling location and strategy. For casework items, headwear and gloves provided the highest success rates. Experimentally, eyeglasses and earphones, T‐shirts, fabric gloves and watches provided the highest success rates. Eyeglasses and latex gloves provided optimal results if the entire surfaces were swabbed. In general, at least 10%, and up to 88% of all trace DNA analyses resulted in suitable STR profiles for comparison.
       
  • Suicidal Decapitation by Hanging—A Population‐based Study
    • Abstract: A prospective study was undertaken at Forensic Science SA over a 15‐year period from July 2002 to June 2017 for all cases of adult (>18 years) suicidal hangings with decapitation. A total of 1446 cases of suicidal hangings were identified from a general population of approximately 1.5 million (1206 males—age range 18–97 years, average 42.6; and 240 females—age range 18–96 years, average 40.1). Only three cases of decapitation were found, all from long‐drop hangings; these consisted of three males (ages 32–55 years; average 45 years). Spinal transections had occurred between the first and second, second and third, and third and fourth cervical vertebrae, respectively. In this study, the number of suicidal hangings with decapitation represented only 0.2% of the total number of hangings. These events are therefore extremely rare, most likely due to most suicidal hangings occurring from relatively low levels in a domestic environment.
       
  • The Role of Forensic Botany in Solving a Case: Scientific Evidence on the
           Falsification of a Crime Scene
    • Abstract: Forensic botany can provide useful information for pathologists, particularly on crime scene investigation. We report the case of a man who arrived at the hospital and died shortly afterward. The body showed widespread electrical lesions. The statements of his brother and wife about the incident aroused a large amount of suspicion in the investigators. A crime scene investigation was carried out, along with a botanical morphological survey on small vegetations found on the corpse. An autopsy was also performed. Botanical analysis showed some samples of Xanthium spinosum, thus leading to the discovery of the falsification of the crime scene although the location of the true crime scene remained a mystery. The botanical analysis, along with circumstantial data and autopsy findings, led to the discovery of the real crime scene and became crucial as part of the legal evidence regarding the falsity of the statements made to investigators.
       
  • The Biological Effects of Kambo: Is There a Relationship Between its
           Administration and Sudden Death'
    • Abstract: Kambo is a substance obtained from the skin secretions of a frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, popular in the Amazon region, which is administered via the transdermal route. We report a case of 42‐year‐old man found dead in his house. Near the corpse, a plastic box labeled as “Kambo sticks” was found. The man was a chronic consumer of Kambo and no previous pathology or genetic disease emerged in clinical history from the declaration of his general practitioner. Autopsy investigations and toxicological analysis were performed. The histopathological examination showed left ventricular hypertrophy. Toxicological screening was negative for ethanol and other drugs. Phyllocaerulein, phyllokinin, and deltorphin A were isolated from the Kambo sticks but, only deltorphin A was detected in blood sample. We describe the first forensic case of death associated with Kambo administration. We attempt to explain how its use could be related to the cause of sudden death in this case.
       
  • An Improved Version of a Tool Mark Comparison Algorithm
    • Abstract: Chumbley et al. (2010) described a statistically based algorithm for comparing pairs of tool marks. They presented empirical evidence that the algorithm produces well‐separated similarity score values for “matching” and “non‐matching” pairs of tool marks. However, the algorithm has two substantial weaknesses. First, it is “uncalibrated” in the sense that error rates can be determined only through empirical investigation. Second, it relies on a randomized test and can lead to different similarity scores when the algorithm is repeatedly applied to the same pair of tool marks. We present an improved version of the procedure, which eliminates the randomized scores and yields more consistent and predictable error rate control. This is accomplished by replacement of a random sampling step from the original algorithm with a deterministic process. We demonstrate the improved algorithm and compare its performance to the original by applying to known “matching” and “non‐matching” pairs of tool marks.
       
  • Identification of
           1‐(2,3‐dihydro‐1H‐inden‐5‐yl)‐2‐(ethylamino)pentan‐1‐one
           (bk‐IVP) in a Seized Drug Exhibit
    • Abstract: To circumvent the law by evading regulation and obscuring their identities in routine analyses, numerous substituted cathinones have entered the illicit drug market. These compounds have been coined “bath salts” by users. In the described case, the laboratory received an unknown white powder for controlled substances identification. The sample could not be immediately identified using standard methods and procedures. Ultimately, the structure was elucidated using GC‐MS, NMR, FTIR, GC‐SPIR, UV, and color tests to be 1‐(2,3‐dihydro‐1H‐inden‐5‐yl)‐2‐(ethylamino)pentan‐1‐one (bk‐IVP), a cathinone analog with a rarely observed nonoxygenated bicyclic ring system. Features of spectra and chemical tests are reported that distinguish this class of cathinones from heterocyclic analogs.
       
  • Reanalysis of Korean War Anthropological Records to Support the Resolution
           of Cold Cases
    • Abstract: Re‐investigation of previously unidentified remains from the Korean War has yielded 55 new identifications, each with corresponding records of prior anthropological analyses. This study compares biological assessments for age at death, stature, and ancestry across (i) anthropological analyses from the 1950s, (ii) recent anthropological analyses of those same sets of remains, and (iii) the reported antemortem biological information for the identified individual. A comparison of long bone measurements from both the 1950s and during reanalysis is also presented. These comparisons demonstrate commonalities and continuing patterns of errors that are useful in refining both research on Korean War cold case records and forensic anthropological analyses performed using methods developed from the 1950s identifications.
       
  • The Micro‐Taphonomy of Cold: Differential Microcracking in Response to
           Experimental Cold‐Stresses
    • Abstract: Cold is a central feature of environments at higher latitudes and elevations. Thus, cold‐induced taphonomic changes are relevant in many forensic contexts. Fifty‐two lamb bone segments were used to assess the impact of cold, freeze‐thaw cycles, freeze‐drying, and water immersion on microstructural cracking of bone in a series of controlled exposure experiments. For each bone segment, three thin sections were examined under a light microscope. Cold exposure caused taphonomic changes in the form of microscopic cracking. Transverse cracks occurred in all treatments, whereas osteonal cracks were restricted to rapid freezing treatments. Type of cold exposure had a statistically significant effect on both the total number of cracks and each type of crack observed. Skeletal microcracking could potentially be used as a taphonomic indicator of postmortem bone exposure to sub‐zero temperatures. The type and prevalence of this damage could also be used to distinguish between different types of cold exposure.
       
  • Effects of Cremation on Fetal Bones
    • Abstract: The charring process is a weak point of anthropological analysis as it changes bone morphology and reduces information obtainable, specially in fetuses. This experiment aims at verifying the conservation of fetal bones after cremation. A total of 3138 fetuses of unknown sex and age were used, deriving from legal and therapeutic abortions from different hospitals of Milan. Cremations took place in modern crematoria. Nine cremation events were analyzed, each ranging from 57 to 915 simultaneously cremated fetuses. During the cremations, 4356 skeletal remains were recovered, 3756 of which (86.2%) were morphologically distinguishable. All types of fetal skeletal elements were found, with the exception of some cranial bones. Only 3.4% of individuals could be detected after the cremation process, because of the prevalence of abortions under 12 lunar weeks. All fire alterations were observed and the results were statistically analyzed. This pilot study confirmed the possibility of preservation of fetal skeletal elements after cremation.
       
  • The Effect of Body Mass on Outdoor Adult Human Decomposition
    • Abstract: Forensic taphonomy explores factors impacting human decomposition. This study investigated the effect of body mass on the rate and pattern of adult human decomposition. Nine males and three females aged 49–95 years ranging in mass from 73 to 159 kg who were donated to the Complex for Forensic Anthropology Research between December 2012 and September 2015 were included in this study. Kelvin accumulated degree days (KADD) were used to assess the thermal energy required for subjects to reach several total body score (TBS) thresholds: early decomposition (TBS ≥6.0), TBS ≥12.5, advanced decomposition (TBS ≥19.0), TBS ≥23.0, and skeletonization (TBS ≥27.0). Results indicate no significant correlation between body mass and KADD at any TBS threshold. Body mass accounted for up to 24.0% of variation in decomposition rate depending on stage, and minor differences in decomposition pattern were observed. Body mass likely has a minimal impact on postmortem interval estimation.
       
  • Identification of Eight Synthetic Cannabinoids, Including 5F‐AKB48 in
           Seized Herbal Products Using DART‐TOF‐MS and LC‐QTOF‐MS as
           Nontargeted Screening Methods
    • Abstract: Synthetic cannabinoids are sprayed onto plant material and smoked for their marijuana‐like effects. Clandestine manufacturers modify synthetic cannabinoid structures by creating closely related analogs. Forensic laboratories are tasked with detection of these analog compounds, but targeted analytical methods are often thwarted by the structural modifications. Here, direct analysis in real time coupled to accurate mass time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry (DART‐TOF‐MS) in combination with liquid chromatography quadruple time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry (LC‐QTOF‐MS) are presented as a screening and nontargeted confirmation method, respectively. Methanol extracts of herbal material were run using both methods. Spectral data from four different herbal products were evaluated by comparing fragmentation pattern, accurate mass and retention time to available reference standards. JWH‐018, JWH‐019, AM2201, JWH‐122, 5F‐AKB48, AKB48‐N‐(4‐pentenyl) analog, UR144, and XLR11 were identified in the products. Results demonstrate that DART‐TOF‐MS affords a useful approach for rapid screening of herbal products for the presence and identification of synthetic cannabinoids.
       
  • Raman Microspectroscopic Mapping: A Tool for Identification of Fused
           Materials in Fire Debris
    • Abstract: Examination of fire debris can provide information about the types of materials which were present at the time of the fire to give insights for fire scene reconstruction and understanding compartment fire dynamics. This paper demonstrates the ability of Raman spectroscopy for material identification postfire in complex situations, such as the production of fused masses during fire dropdown. A validated Raman spectral library is combined with Raman mapping in three fire case studies, to determine the individual materials in the fused masses formed. The case studies accessed material combinations of several common polymers. Raman mapping was carried out on a 10 μm × 10 μm square of the masses. Material identification using this technique ranged from a high of 85% match to a low of 40% match. This work demonstrated that complex masses found in the fire debris can be resolved into the individual material components for identification and spatial distribution.
       
  • Quantitative Differentiation of Bloodstain Patterns Resulting from Gunshot
           and Blunt Force Impacts
    • Abstract: Bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) provides significant evidentiary value in crime scene interpretation and reconstruction. In this work, we develop a quantitative methodology using digital image analysis techniques to differentiate impact bloodstain patterns. The bloodstain patterns were digitally imaged and analyzed using image analysis algorithms. Our analysis of 72 unique bloodstain patterns, comprising more than 490,000 individual droplet stains, indicates that the mean drop size in a gunshot spatter pattern is at most 30% smaller than the mean drop stain size in blunt instrument patterns. In contrast, we demonstrate that the spatial distribution of the droplet stains—their density as a function of position in the pattern—significantly differs between gunshot and blunt instrument patterns, with densities as much as 400% larger for gunshot impacts. Thus, quantitative metrics involving the spatial distribution of droplet stains within a bloodstain pattern can be useful for objective differentiation between blunt instrument and gunshot bloodstain patterns.
       
  • Latent Fingermark Aging Patterns (Part III): Discontinuity Index as One
           Indicator of Degradation
    • Abstract: This article is the third in a series of reports exploring quantifiable visual parameters of the aging process of latent fingermarks. On this occasion, research is focused on the occurrence of ridge discontinuities (i.e. breakages) as a function of time. Experiment variables included type of secretion (eccrine and sebaceous), substrate (glass and plastic), and exposure to natural light (dark, shade, and direct light) over a 6 months period. Fingermarks were sequentially visualized with titanium dioxide powder, photographed, and the number of naturally occurring ridge discontinuities subsequently evaluated. A semi‐quantitative value, named Discontinuity Index, was used to better characterize this aging parameter. Results indicated that ridges of sebaceous depositions on glass were generally less affected by the environmental conditions compared with those on plastic surface. In addition, aging in darkness was not always the best condition for preservation, and the direct exposure to light seemed not to affect the degradation under certain conditions.
       
  • Optimizing Ballistic Imaging Operations
    • Abstract: Ballistic imaging systems can help solve crimes by comparing images of cartridge cases, which are recovered from a crime scene or test‐fired from a gun, to a database of images obtained from past crime scenes. Many U.S. municipalities lack the resources to process all of their cartridge cases. Using data from Stockton, CA, we analyze two problems: how to allocate limited capacity to maximize the number of cartridge cases that generate at least one hit, and how to prioritize the cartridge cases that are processed to maximize the usefulness (i.e., obtained before the corresponding criminal case is closed) of hits. The number of hits can be significantly increased by prioritizing crime scene evidence over test‐fires, and by ranking calibers by their hit probability and processing only the higher ranking calibers. We also estimate that last‐come first‐served increases the proportion of hits that are useful by only 0.05 relative to first‐come first‐served.
       
  • Visualizing Digital Forensic Datasets: A Proof of Concept
    • Abstract: Digital forensic visualization is an understudied area despite its potential to achieve significant improvements in the efficiency of an investigation, criminal or civil. In this study, a three‐stage forensic data storage and visualization life cycle is presented. The first stage is the decoding of data, which involves preparing both structured and unstructured data for storage. In the storage stage, data are stored within our proposed database schema designed for ensuring data integrity and speed of storage and retrieval. The final stage is the visualization of stored data in a manner that facilitates user interaction. These functionalities are implemented in a proof of concept to demonstrate the utility of the proposed life cycle. The proof of concept demonstrates the utility of the proposed approach for the storage and visualization of digital forensic data.
       
  • Facial Age Synthesis Using Sparse Partial Least Squares (The Case of Ben
           Needham)
    • Abstract: Automatic facial age progression (AFAP) has been an active area of research in recent years. This is due to its numerous applications which include searching for missing. This study presents a new method of AFAP. Here, we use an active appearance model (AAM) to extract facial features from available images. An aging function is then modelled using sparse partial least squares regression (sPLS). Thereafter, the aging function is used to render new faces at different ages. To test the accuracy of our algorithm, extensive evaluation is conducted using a database of 500 face images with known ages. Furthermore, the algorithm is used to progress Ben Needham's facial image that was taken when he was 21 months old to the ages of 6, 14, and 22 years. The algorithm presented in this study could potentially be used to enhance the search for missing people worldwide.
       
  • Evaluation of Acute Alcohol Intoxication as the Primary Cause of Death: A
           Diagnostic Challenge for Forensic Pathologists
    • Abstract: Deaths caused by acute alcohol intoxication (AAI) remain a major public health issue. This study is retrospective and descriptive: an 8‐year case analysis of deaths due to AAI in Maryland. Study showed that of 150 AAI deaths, the death rate among Hispanics (10.41/100,000 population) was significantly higher than all the non‐Hispanics combined (1.88/100,000 population). The majority of individuals were young adults, overweight, and binge drinkers. The obese group showed significantly lower mean heart and peripheral blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (0.36%, 0.37%) than the normal weight group (0.45%, 0.42%). Based on the PBAC and urine AC ratio, 49.6% deaths likely occurred close to peak phase, followed by postabsorptive phase (31.6%) and absorptive phase (18.8%). Our results indicate that forensic pathologists should evaluate postmortem BAC in the light of individual's age, drinking history, body weight, possible phase of alcohol intoxication, and other autopsy findings when certifying AAI as primary cause of death.
       
  • Flail Chest Following Failed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
    • Abstract: Following the death of a woman with blunt force chest trauma, the question was asked how common was the finding at autopsy of a flail chest in decedents after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It was suggested in court that this was an uncommon occurrence. To address this issue, autopsy cases in adults (>18 years) with rib fractures attributable to cardiopulmonary resuscitation were taken from the files of Forensic Science SA over a 7‐year period from 2008 to 2014. Flail chest injuries were defined as those arising from fractures at two sites in at least three consecutive ribs. From 236 cases with rib fractures attributed to resuscitation, a total of 43 flail chest injuries were found in 35 cases (14.8%). The majority occurred in the 60‐79‐year‐old age group. These data suggest that flail chest injuries are a more common sequelae of cardiopulmonary resuscitation than has been previously appreciated in autopsy cases, particularly in the elderly.
       
  • Use of an Automated Nested Multiplex Respiratory Pathogen PCR Panel
           Postmortem in the Pediatric Forensic Setting
    • Abstract: Respiratory pathogens have been detected in forensic investigations using multiple techniques; however, no study has examined the use of automated, nested, multiplex polymerase chain reaction (ANM‐PCR), commonly used in living patients, in the forensic setting. This retrospective study assessed the utility of ANM‐PCR in detecting respiratory pathogens in the pediatric forensic setting. Respiratory samples from 35 cases were tested for up to 20 respiratory pathogens. 51.4% of these cases yielded a positive ANM‐PCR result, 20% of which were considered the cause of or contributory to death. The most commonly detected pathogens were rhinovirus/enterovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, and these were the only pathogens determined to play a significant role in cause of death. The sampled sites and postmortem intervals tested did not affect the likelihood of a positive or negative test. ANM‐PCR panels are effective, affordable, and rapid ancillary tools in evaluating cause of death in the forensic pediatric population.
       
  • Sex‐ and Size‐Related Patterns of Carrion Visitation in Necrodes
           littoralis (Coleoptera: Silphidae) and Creophilus maxillosus (Coleoptera:
           Staphylinidae)
    • Abstract: The estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) based on successional patterns of adult insects is largely limited, due to the lack of potential PMI markers. Sex and size of adult insects could be easily used for such estimation. In this study, sex‐ and size‐related patterns of carrion attendance by adult insects were analyzed in Necrodes littoralis (Coleoptera: Silphidae) and Creophilus maxillosus (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). For both species, abundance of males and females changed similarly during decomposition. A slightly female‐biased sex ratio was recorded in N. littoralis. Females of N. littoralis started visiting carcasses, on average, one day earlier than males. There was a rise in size of males of N. littoralis at the end of decomposition, whereas for females of both species and males of C. maxillosus, no size‐related patterns of carrion visitation were found. Current results demonstrate that size and sex of adult carrion beetles are poor indicators of PMI.
       
  • Temperature‐dependent Development of Parasarcophaga similis (Meade 1876)
           and its Significance in Estimating Postmortem Interval
    • Abstract: Flesh flies are commonly found insects on decaying corpses that appears slightly later than blowflies, and their development patterns are significant indicators for minimum postmortem interval (PMImin) estimation. In this study, the flesh fly Parasarcophaga similis (Meade 1876) was reared at nine constant temperatures ranging from 15°C to 35°C to examine indicators for estimating their age. We generated three development models, including isomorphen diagram, isomegalen diagram, and thermal summation model. Larval body length at different rearing temperatures was fit into an L = a + bT + cT2 + dT3 equation with which the relationship between the larval body length (L) and the time after larviposition (T) was confirmed. The pupal stage was categorized into 13 substages according to intrapuparial morphological changes, and a detailed table was generated of the pupal developmental stages at five rearing temperatures, 15°C, 20°C, 25°C, 30°C, and 35°C. This study provides fundamental data in supporting P. similis as an indicator for PMImin estimation.
       
  • Profile of Hospital Admissions due to Self‐Inflicted Harm in Los Angeles
           County from 2001 to 2010
    • Abstract: We aimed to describe the demographic profile of self‐inflicted harm (SIH) in Los Angeles County between 2001 and 2010 and to investigate trends over this 10‐year period. We used the California Hospital Discharge Data to investigate all cases of hospital admission due to SIH, including suicide attempts and if they had a concurrent psychiatric diagnosis based on ICD‐9 codes. African‐Americans (AA) had the highest 10‐year SIH admission rates. SIH admission rates remained steady throughout the 10‐year study period. Median age of SIH was significantly lower in Latinos. Episodic mood disorders were the most common psychiatric comorbidity. The use of solid/liquid poisoning was the most common SIH method among all racial/ethnic groups. We found major disparities in SIH admissions across racial/ethnic subgroups. The importance of programs to identify, prevent, and treat SIH in these groups is discussed.
       
  • Sexual Dimorphism of the First Rib: A Comparative Approach Using Metric
           and Geometric Morphometric Analyses
    • Abstract: This research investigated the sexual dimorphism of the first human rib using geometric morphometric and metric approaches on a sample of 285 specimens containing European Americans and African Americans from the Hamann‐Todd collection. Metric measurements were investigated for sexual dimorphism and ancestral differences using univariate statistics. Four type II landmarks and 40 sliding semi‐landmarks were placed outlining the dorsal and ventral curvatures of the ribs. Landmark data were processed using Generalized Procrustes Analyses with Procrustes distance sliding, and the subsequent coordinates were investigated for sexual dimorphism and ancestral differences using Procrustes ANOVAs. Both geometric morphometric and metric data were analyzed using cross‐validated discriminant function analyses to test the hypothesis that variables from both approaches can be combined to increase sex classification rate. European Americans had sex correctly classified as high as 88.05% and African Americans as high as 70.86% using a combination of metric and geometric morphometric variables.
       
  • Quantifying Sexual Dimorphism in the Human Cranium: A Preliminary Analysis
           of a Novel Method
    • Abstract: In forensic anthropology, sexually dimorphic cranial features are traditionally visually assessed and scored using an ordinal scale, which is highly subjective. This study quantifies six cranial features using original three‐dimensional coordinate measurements to provide greater accuracy in sex estimation. Cranial features include supraorbital ridges, glabella, external occipital protuberance, nuchal protuberances, mastoid processes, and frontal bosses. Measurements were taken using coordinate calipers from 158 White and Black male and female crania from the Maxwell Documented Collection at University of New Mexico and Tennessee's Bass Collection. Overall, 72.2% of the crania were correctly classified. Males were correctly classified 69.9% of the time, while females were correctly classified 74.7% of the time. The overall value is similar to the results from traditional methods and suggests this method may be just as reliable as established visual sex estimation techniques.
       
  • A Comparative Taphonomic Analysis of 24 Trophy Skulls from Modern Forensic
           Cases,
    • Abstract: Cranial remains retained from fallen enemies are commonly referred to as “trophy skulls,” and many such crania were acquired as souvenirs by U.S. servicemembers during WWII and the Vietnam conflict. These remains increasingly have become the subject of forensic anthropological analysis as their possessors, typically veterans or their relatives, try to discard or repatriate them. The present research uses a qualitative analytical approach to review 24 cases of reported trophy skulls (14 previously unpublished cases and 10 from the literature) to determine which perimortem and postmortem characteristics are most useful for generating a taphonomic profile. Overall, the taphonomic signature of trophy remains includes traits relating to acquisition and preparation, ornamental display, and subsequent curation. Contextual evidence and the biological profile also are considered when determining the possible origin of human cranial remains as a trophy skull. Thorough taphonomic analysis will aid in identifying these types of remains as trophy skulls.
       
  • Comparison Among Manual Facial Approximations Conducted by Two
           Methodological Approaches of Face Prediction
    • Abstract: This study verified the difference between two methods of forensic facial approximation (FFA) regarding recognition and resemblance rates. Three‐dimensional models of skulls were obtained from computerized tomography (CT) scans of two subjects (targets). Two manual FFAs were performed for each target, by applying two different guidelines for the facial structures (what we called “American method” (AM) and “Combined method” (CM)). Unfamiliar assessors evaluated the sculptures by recognition and resemblance tests. The AM was that which allowed more correct responses of recognition and higher resemblance's scores for the male target (p 
       
  • The Reliability of Facial Recognition of Deceased Persons on Photographs
    • Abstract: In humanitarian emergencies, such as the current deceased migrants in the Mediterranean, antemortem documentation needed for identification may be limited. The use of visual identification has been previously reported in cases of mass disasters such as Thai tsunami. This pilot study explores the ability of observers to match unfamiliar faces of living and dead persons and whether facial morphology can be used for identification. A questionnaire was given to 41 students and five professionals in the field of forensic identification with the task to choose whether a facial photograph corresponds to one of the five photographs in a lineup and to identify the most useful features used for recognition. Although the overall recognition score did not significantly differ between professionals and students, the median scores of 78.1% and 80.0%, respectively, were too low to consider this method as a reliable identification method and thus needs to be supported by other means.
       
  • Comparing the Scoring of Human Decomposition from Digital Images to
           Scoring Using On‐site Observations
    • Abstract: When in forensic casework or empirical research in‐person assessment of human decomposition is not possible, the sensible substitution is color photographic images. To date, no research has confirmed the utility of color photographic images as a proxy for in situ observation of the level of decomposition. Sixteen observers scored photographs of 13 human cadavers in varying decomposition stages (PMI 2–186 days) using the Total Body Score system (total n = 929 observations). The on‐site TBS was compared with recorded observations from digital color images using a paired samples t‐test. The average difference between on‐site and photographic observations was −0.20 (t = −1.679, df = 928, p = 0.094). Individually, only two observers, both students with
       
  • Assessment of the Effects Exerted by Acid and Alkaline Solutions on Bone:
           Is Chemistry the Answer'
    • Abstract: The treatment of corpses with extremely acid or basic liquids is sometimes performed in criminal contexts. A thorough characterization by chemical analysis may provide further help to macroscopic and microscopic analysis; 63 porcine bone samples were treated with solutions at different pH (1–14) for immersion periods up to 70 days, as well as in extremely acidic sulfuric acid solutions (9 M/18 M) and extremely basic sodium hydroxide. Inductively coupled optical emission spectrometry (ICP‐OES)/plasma mass spectrometry (ICP‐MS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT‐IR), energy dispersive X‐ray analysis (EDX), X‐ray powder diffraction (XRPD), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that only the sulfuric acid solution 18 M was able to completely dissolve the sample. In addition, chemical analysis allowed to recognize the contact between bone and substances. Hydrated calcium sulfate arose from extreme pH. The possibility of detecting the presence of human material within the residual solution was demonstrated, especially with FT‐IR, ICP‐OES, and EDX.
       
  • Application of the Stephan et al. Chest Radiograph Comparison Method to
           Decomposed Human Remains
    • Abstract: This manuscript describes the use of comparative radiography of the chest to facilitate positive identification of human remains in advanced stages of decomposition. The method reported by Stephan et al. for positive identification of dry, disarticulated skeletal elements was used on semifleshed, decomposing remains. Positive identification was established through multiple points of concordance observed in radiographs of the left and right clavicles and the C5‐T1 vertebrae. This case study demonstrates the applicability of the Stephan et al.'s method in cases involving decomposing remains.
       
  • Bloodstains on Leather: Examination of False Negatives in Presumptive Test
           and Human Hemoglobin Test
    • Abstract: Presumptive tests for blood are very simple and sensitive tests used in the search for evidence. They also provide initial information on the nature of stains. A second test can confirm their nature. However, these tests can present false–negative results for different reasons. Some of those reasons have been studied, while others, those caused by the substrate material that contains the stain, are less well known. This work studies the effect of one component of a leather substrate—quebracho extract—on presumptive and human hemoglobin blood tests. Assays were performed using samples of blood dilutions contaminated with quebracho extract and others formed on a substrate containing the contaminant. Results show an undoubted interference that causes false negatives and even visible to the naked eye stains and also indicate that some tests (phenolphthalein) are more affected than others. Examiners should be taken into account when working on this kind of substrates.
       
  • The Effect of Varying the Composition of Fingerprint Sweat Deposits on the
           Corrosion of Brass and Fingerprint Visibility
    • Abstract: Corrosion of α‐phase brass by sebaceous sweat fingerprint deposits produced identifiable impressions in a majority of samples (n = 40) 4 days after deposition. Combining sebaceous with eccrine sweat yielded a greater percentage of identifiable fingerprint deposits, although this increase was not statistically significant. Production of identifiable fingerprints from eccrine sweat deposits was dependent on the sampling time of year with deposits taken during summer months giving similar percentages of identifiable fingerprints to sebaceous deposits. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between elapsed days after deposition and identifiable eccrine (ρ = 0.787, p < 0.05), sebaceous (ρ = 0.724, p < 0.05), and eccrine/sebaceous mixture (ρ = 0.908, p < 0.01) fingerprints deposited during summer months. The summer increase in the percentage of identifiable eccrine sweat deposits was statistically significant compared to winter eccrine deposits (p < 0.0001). Observations were consistent with results obtained from artificial sebaceous and eccrine sweat.
       
  • Accuracy of Dental Age in Nonadults: A Comparison of Two Methods for Age
           Estimation Using Radiographs of Developing Teeth
    • Abstract: This research tests the accuracy of two methods for age estimation, Cameriere's European formula and AlQahtani's London Atlas, on a multi‐population American sample. Digitized radiographs of 360 European American, Hispanic, and American Indian children aged 6–17 years were analyzed. The accuracy of these methods was assessed using the mean and absolute mean difference of the residuals. Results indicate that Cameriere's European formula underestimated age for both sexes, with a mean difference of −1.19 years for girls and −1.32 years for boys, prompting the first author to create an American‐specific formula. The London Atlas underestimated age with a mean difference of −0.18 years for girls and −0.16 years for boys. Sex and ancestry had no significant affect on accuracy. The results indicate that both methods can be used for age estimation in an American population.
       
  • Benford's Law for Quality Assurance of Manner of Death Counts in Small and
           Large Databases
    • Abstract: To assess if Benford's law, a mathematical law used for quality assurance in accounting, can be applied as a quality assurance measure for the manner of death determination. We examined a regional forensic pathology service's monthly manner of death counts (N = 2352) from 2011 to 2013, and provincial monthly and weekly death counts from 2009 to 2013 (N = 81,831). We tested whether each dataset's leading digit followed Benford's law via the chi‐square test. For each database, we assessed whether number 1 was the most common leading digit. The manner of death counts first digit followed Benford's law in all the three datasets. Two of the three datasets had 1 as the most frequent leading digit. The manner of death data in this study showed qualities consistent with Benford's law. The law has potential as a quality assurance metric in the manner of death determination for both small and large databases.
       
  • Use of Cardiac Injury Markers in the Postmortem Diagnosis of Sudden
           Cardiac Death
    • Abstract: In the daily practice of forensic pathology, sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a diagnostic challenge. Our aim was to determine the usefulness of blood biomarkers [creatine kinase CK‐MB, myoglobin, troponins I and T (cTn‐I and T), and lactate dehydrogenase] measured by immunoassay technique, in the postmortem diagnosis of SCD. Two groups were compared, 20 corpses with SCD and 8 controls. Statistical significance was determined by variance analysis procedures, with a post hoc Tukey multiple range test for comparison of means (p < 0.05). SCD cases showed significantly higher levels (p < 0.05) of cTn‐T and cTn‐I compared to the control group. Although only cases within the first 8 h of postmortem interval were included, and the control group consisted mainly of violent death cases, our results suggest that blood troponin levels may be useful to support a diagnosis of SCD.
       
  • Postmortem Serum Tryptase Levels with Special Regard to Acute Cardiac
           Deaths
    • Abstract: An elevated serum tryptase concentration is considered a specific marker for systemic mast cell activation, a central feature of anaphylaxis. However, in some cases of acute cardiovascular death, high concentrations of serum tryptase are also observed. We compared the postmortem serum tryptase concentrations in 74 cases assigned to the following four groups: anaphylactic deaths (Group A, n = 20), acute cardiac deaths (Group ACD, n = 30), acute dissecting aneurysm ruptures (Group ADA, n = 10), and controls (Group C, n = 14). Additionally, the cutoff between Group A and the other groups was calculated using receiver‐operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Tryptase concentrations were markedly elevated in Group A (p < 0.001), Group ACD (p = 0.015), and Group ADA (p = 0.005). The optimal cutoff was 43 ng/mL, the sensitivity was 90%, and the specificity was 98%. While elevated concentrations of tryptase were noted in practical autopsy cases, due attention should be paid to the differential diagnosis between anaphylactic and acute cardiovascular deaths.
       
  • LIFE BEYOND LIFE – An Easy Way to Derive Lung Fibroblasts from
           Cadavers
    • Abstract: Several protocols have illustrated the possibility of deriving cells, such as fibroblasts, from different organs. These techniques generally concern organs sampled from living persons, but have already been described for cadavers, especially concerning the skin and tendons. We present, for the first time, an easy way to derive pulmonary fibroblasts from a lung tissue sampled from a cadaver and directly culture plated. The fibroblast output was checked daily. We obtained lung fibroblasts from 3 (60%) cadavers and 2 (100%) living persons. The fibroblast output took about 3 days for cells from living persons and took up to 39 days for those from cadavers. We did not clearly identify any parameters that could explain these differences. Nevertheless, these derived cells had the same features as the source cells, especially in terms of morphology and proliferation, and could potentially be used in different research domains such as forensic or regeneration medicine.
       
  • Application of MALDI‐TOF MS for Estimating the Postmortem Interval
           in Rat Muscle Samples
    • Abstract: Estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) is very important in the forensic sciences. Although many approaches have been used for estimating the PMI, accurate PMI calculations are still difficult. In this study, four Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were sacrificed by suffocation, and muscle samples were collected by dissection at various time intervals (0, 48, 96, and 144 h) after death. All samples were probed using matrix‐assisted laser desorption/ionization time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry (MALDI‐TOFMS) to obtain molecular images and data for principal component analysis (PCA). The results showed that the peaks at m/z 1511, 1543, 1564, 1586 clearly decreased in intensity from 0 to 144 h postmortem and that the time groups were separated from each other on the PCA score plot. The prediction model showed high recognition capability (95.93%) and cross‐validation (83.72%). Our work suggests that MALDI‐TOF MS can be used to determine the PMI.
       
  • Determination of Time since Death using Vitreous Humor Tryptophan
    • Abstract: Determination of time since death (TSD) plays very important role in forensic examination as it narrows down field of suspects and aids in deceased identification. This study utilizes the fluorescence property of vitreous humor (VH) tryptophan to determine TSD using o‐phthalaldehyde (OPA). The detection limit of these fluorometric studies was found to be 8 ppb indicating sensitivity and high accuracy in TSD determination. The study was performed on selected 76 cadaver with known TSD ranging from 3 to 90 h. Excellent correlation between VH tryptophan and TSD was obtained with a coefficient of correlation R2 = 0.9590. Results showed statistically significant increase in vitreous tryptophan with TSD up to 90 h, and the proposed method was efficaciously applied for prediction of TSD as no systematic error exist. The regression equation obtained from the study is [Trp] = 2.21 + 2.98 * TSD.
       
  • Preliminary Data on the Role of Emotional Intelligence in Mediating the
           Relationship Between Psychopathic Characteristics and Detention Terms of
           Property Offenders
    • Abstract: We present preliminary data on the role of emotional intelligence (EI) in mediating the relationship between psychopathy and detention term of authors of property crimes. We assumed that the detention term is an approximation of the severity of criminal behavior. A sample of 24 property offenders were individually administered a brief anamnestic interview, the Psychopathic Personality Inventory—Revised (PPI‐R), and the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). Information concerning the detention term was obtained from prison records. A mediation model was applied to the data showing that offenders high in psychopathic traits (i.e., total PPI‐R score and Self‐centered dimension of PPI‐R) have a low level of ability EI and this is in turn negatively associated with the duration of their prison sentence. Results encourage the investigation of ability EI as a protective factor against the antisocial outcomes of psychopathic disorder.
       
  • Preliminary Study of Testosterone and Empathy in Determining Recidivism
           and Antisocial Behavior
    • Abstract: Recidivism, repeated criminal behavior after conviction and correction of prior offenses, is a costly problem across the nation. However, the contribution of empathy in determining the risk of recidivism has received limited attention, although lack of empathy has been related to antisocial personality disorder in various studies. Studies linked testosterone to aggression, antisocial behavior, and criminality, and evidence support hormonal connections between empathy and aggression. Adult male prison inmates convicted of violent or nonviolent offenses were included in a cross‐sectional study of empathy, antisocial behavior, salivary testosterone, and recidivism. Subjects underwent criminal history, Empathy Quotient, Levenson Self‐Report Psychopathy Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Spielberger State‐Trait Anxiety Inventory, and salivary testosterone assays. Bivariate analyses indicated multiple correlations between variables. Multivariate modeling analyses found a significant relationship between self‐reported conviction number and psychopathy scale score (p = 0.013). These preliminary results suggest avenues of investigation of factors contributing to recidivism risk.
       
  • Visualizing Indented Writing on Thermal Paper by the Controlled
           Application of Heat
    • Abstract: Indented writing on thermal paper made with either one, two, or three sheets of paper above the thermal paper has been visualized by the controlled application of heat to the thermal paper at temperatures below the paper's normal color change temperature. Indentations created by applying a variable pressure to a steel letter stamp showed that, with one sheet above the thermal paper, indentations were more visible at lower pressures than with either two or three sheets above. Handwriting from 20 volunteers produced indented writing graded with most of the text clear and easy to read for all samples with one sheet above, half the samples with two sheets above and eight samples with three sheets above. Comparison with ESDA showed that, with three sheets above, there was a statistically significant difference (p < 0.01), with heating producing more samples than ESDA with most of the text clear and easy to read.
       
  • Fingerprint Change: Not Visible, But Tangible
    • Abstract: Hand–foot syndrome, a chemotherapy‐induced cutaneous toxicity, can cause an alteration in fingerprints causing a setback for cancer patients due to the occurrence of false rejections. A colon cancer patient was fingerprinted after not having been able to use fingerprint recognition devices after 6 months of adjuvant chemotherapy. The fingerprint images were digitally processed to improve fingerprint definition without altering the papillary design. No evidence of skin toxicity was present. Two months later, the situation returned to normal. The fingerprint evaluation conducted on 15 identification points highlighted the quantitative and qualitative fingerprint alteration details detected after the end of chemotherapy and 2 months later. Fingerprint alteration during chemotherapy has been reported, but to our knowledge, this particular case is the first ever reported without evident clinical signs. Alternative fingerprint identification methods as well as improved biometric identification systems are needed in case of unexpected situations.
       
  • Identification of a Carbonized Body Using Implanted Surgical Plates: The
           Importance of Computed Tomography
    • Abstract: In addition to clinical examination, forensic odontologists can use diagnostic imaging as an auxiliary method for identification. This paper reports a case where forensic odontologists from the Afrânio Peixoto Legal Medicine Institute in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) positively identified a carbonized and partially calcined body using oral and maxillofacial imaging. The cadaver showed several metallic plates fixed with metallic screws on bones of the neurocranium and viscerocranium. Family members provided spiral computed tomography scans of the skull and a panoramic radiograph that were acquired after an accident that required surgical procedures. Comparative analysis between the clinical exam and the maxillofacial images demonstrated complete coincidence, confirming the victim's identity. Dactyloscopy, which is the most commonly used method of identification, was not possible because of the body carbonization. Thus, diagnostic imaging, especially computed tomography, was essential for elucidation of this case.
       
  • Domestic Predation of an Elder: A Fatal Dog Attack Case
    • Abstract: We present the case of a 91‐year‐old woman lived alone at her home with two domestic dogs, that is,, a Labrador Retriever and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and found dead. The investigation of the scene revealed that the Bull Terrier's jawbone and chest were covered with blood. The autopsy revealed multiple, histologically confirmed, life‐threatening skin and bone lacerations without scavenging marks. The punctures and tearing of each of the wounds on the skin were compatible with bites. A left humeral fracture and multiple fractures of the right facial bones were observed. The death was attributed to external hemorrhages due to several dog bites. A veterinary physical and behavioral examination indicated that the Bull Terrier was involved in the attack. A domestic predation hypothesis was deemed here most likely due to the presence of food supplies at the scene, the dog's previous history of attack, and the breed of the dog.
       
  • Case Report of a Migrating Bullet: An Unusual Cause of Postmortem
           Confusion
    • Abstract: Migrating bullets are rare sequelae of penetrating gunshot wounds. Such cases have been described in the neurosurgical literature because they can produce complications in the management of patients such as decline in neurologic status, delays in rehabilitation, and difficulties in bullet removal. In contrast, few postmortem reports have described this phenomenon. We report a case of a gunshot wound in which the projectile entered the left side of the head and traversed to the right frontal area as documented by CT scan on hospital admission. At autopsy, the bullet was noted to have migrated back to the left side of the head from where it was recovered. Medical examiners need to be aware of this unusual phenomenon of retained intracranial projectiles.
       
  • Repeat Coronary Artery Dissection in Pregnancy: A Case Report and Review
           of the Literature
    • Abstract: Non‐atherosclerotic spontaneous coronary artery dissection (NA‐SCAD) is a rare cause of morbidity and mortality with a propensity for young, healthy, and often peripartum women. NA‐SCAD etiology is poorly understood, with possible hormonal and hereditary mechanisms. Current treatment strategies range from conservative management (often showing resolution on angiographic follow‐up) to invasive angiographic procedures. Rarely, NA‐SCAD has recurred in another coronary artery, ranging hours to years later. We report NA‐SCAD of the right coronary artery (RCA) in a 30‐year old, 3‐month postpartum female with an additional autopsy finding of remote myocardial infarction (MI) in the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery territory. The remote MI is consistent with prior NA‐SCAD of the LAD and, given the medical history, may have occurred in the peripartum period of the decedent first pregnancy 3 years earlier. As such, to the best of our knowledge, this may represent the first reported case of NA‐SCAD recurrence in a subsequent pregnancy.
       
  • Alteration of the Death Scene After Self‐stabbing: A Case of Sharp Force
           Suicide Disguised by the Victim as a Homicide'
    • Abstract: This paper reports a case of a 72‐year‐old woman who was found dead in her bedroom with a 4 cm vertical stab wound in the abdomen. A bloodstained knife was found in the top drawer of her bedside table. The clothes worn by the victim showed no damage. A bloodstained vest and a sweater with frontal incisions were found far from the victim, in the bathroom and in the bedroom respectively. Several bloodstains were found in every room of the apartment. The evidence found during the forensic examination and, in particular, the Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, led the investigators to determine the manner of death, being consistent with a suicide with a long‐lasting physical activity after self‐stabbing. This report describes an unusual case of “disguised suicide,” in which the victim tried to cover‐up the suicide by changing her clothes and concealing the weapon, in the last minutes of her life.
       
  • Frozen: Thawing and Its Effect on the Postmortem Microbiome in Two
           Pediatric Cases,
    • Abstract: Previous postmortem microbiome studies have focused on characterizing taxa turnover during an undisturbed decomposition process. How coexisting conditions (e.g., frozen, buried, burned) affect the human microbiome at the time of discovery is less well understood. Microbiome data were collected from two pediatric cases at the Wayne County Medical Examiner in Michigan. The bodies were found frozen, hidden in a freezer for an extended time. Microbial communities were sampled from six external anatomic locations at three time points during the thawing process, prior to autopsy. The 16S rRNA V4 gene amplicon region was sequenced using high‐throughput sequencing (Illumina MiSeq). Microbial diversity increased, and there was a distinct shift in microbial community structure and abundance throughout the thawing process. Overall, these data demonstrate that the postmortem human microbiome changes during the thawing process, and have important forensic implications when bodies have been substantially altered, modified, and concealed after death.
       
  • Biparietal Thinning: Accidental Death by a Fall from Standing Height
    • Abstract: Biparietal thinning resulting in bilateral and symmetrical resorption and loss of thickness of the parietal bones is an uncommon to rare condition in the anthropological and clinical literature. This enigmatic condition of unknown etiology was first reported in the 18th century and has been variously described as a nonmetric trait, anatomical variant, anomaly, and pathology. Biparietal thinning presents grossly and radiographically as oval‐shaped depressions in 0.25–0.8% and 0.4–0.5% of individuals and with a higher frequency in females over the age of 60 years. A review of the literature revealed only one example of cranial trauma associated with biparietal thinning and none of fatal trauma associated with this condition. This case reports a rare example of fatal trauma in an elderly man that resulted from a backward fall from a standing height and highlights the increased risk of craniocerebral trauma in individuals with this condition.
       
  • Drug Recognition Evaluation and Chemical Confirmation of a
           25C‐NBOMe‐Impaired Driver
    • Abstract: This case report details an individual arrested for drug‐impaired driving after leaving the scene of multiple motor vehicle collisions and evading police. The driver was examined by a drug recognition expert and failed the drug recognition evaluation. The driver admitted to using cocaine, marijuana, an antidepressant medication and “N‐bomb,” a novel psychoactive substance that possesses hallucinogenic properties. Toxicological analyses at the Centre of Forensic Sciences’ Toronto laboratory revealed only the substance 2‐[4‐chloro‐2,5‐dimethoxyphenyl]‐N‐[(2‐methoxyphenyl)methyl]ethanamine (25C‐NBOMe) in the accused's urine. This is the first report in which 25C‐NBOMe was identified through DRE and toxicological analyses in a drug‐impaired driver.
       
  • The Toxicology of Methadone‐Related Death in Infants Under 1 Year: Three
           Case Series and Review of the Literature
    • Abstract: Methadone‐related fatalities occur rarely in infants under 1 year, with five confirmed cases in the literature. The interpretation of pediatric postmortem toxicology relies on adult data; however, infants have crucial physiological differences that may impact interpretation of results. Retrospective case review included scene investigation, interviews, autopsy, and NIH/CDC Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form. Methadone levels were confirmed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC‐MS/MS). The fatal blood methadone levels in this case series ranged from 69 to 700 ng/mL. This review of the literature adds toxicological findings of three methadone‐related infant fatalities and reviews the current literature on methadone‐related death in infants under 1 year. With opioid use on the rise in today's society, forensic experts should have a high index of suspicion for the possibility of intentional or unintentional poisoning in infants.
       
  • Authors' Response
    •  
  • Review of: Hair Analysis in Clinical and Forensic Toxicology
    •  
  • Review of: Forensic Archaeology: The Application of Comparative Excavation
           Methods and Recording Systems
    •  
  • DXAGE: A New Method for Age at Death Estimation Based on Femoral Bone
           Mineral Density and Artificial Neural Networks
    • Abstract: Age at death estimation in adult skeletons is hampered, among others, by the unremarkable correlation of bone estimators with chronological age, implementation of inappropriate statistical techniques, observer error, and skeletal incompleteness or destruction. Therefore, it is beneficial to consider alternative methods to assess age at death in adult skeletons. The decrease in bone mineral density with age was explored to generate a method to assess age at death in human remains. A connectionist computational approach, artificial neural networks, was employed to model femur densitometry data gathered in 100 female individuals from the Coimbra Identified Skeletal Collection. Bone mineral density declines consistently with age and the method performs appropriately, with mean absolute differences between known and predicted age ranging from 9.19 to 13.49 years. The proposed method—DXAGE—was implemented online to streamline age estimation. This preliminary study highlights the value of densitometry to assess age at death in human remains.
       
  • Quantifying Macrophages and Hemosiderin in Pediatric Dura Mater,
    • Abstract: Determining the age of a subdural hematoma at autopsy is of great interest for medicolegal purposes. The appearance of pigment-laden macrophages is often referenced as evidence that the subdural hematoma is 3–4 days old. However, understanding the significance of macrophages and hemosiderin requires understanding the histology of infant dura. Samples of grossly unremarkable dura taken from 17 pediatric autopsies were identified and histologically confirmed to lack subdural neomembrane. CD68 immunostaining and Prussian blue staining was performed. The CD68-positive cells per high-power field were quantified, and the presence of iron-containing cells was recorded. CD68-positive cells were present in all cases, even in the dural border layer. Iron-containing cells were identified in 59% of cases, and in the dural border layer in 29%. Therefore, CD68-positive and iron-containing cells can be present in pediatric dura without neomembrane or macroscopic subdural hemorrhage, and this requires consideration when estimating the age of a subdural hematoma.
       
  • Sex Estimation from Human Cranium: Forensic and Anthropological Interest
           of Maxillary Sinus Volumes
    • Abstract: Sex estimation is a key objective of forensic science. We aimed to establish whether maxillary sinus volumes (MSV) could assist in estimating an individual's sex. One hundred and three CT scans were included. MSV were determined using three-dimensional reconstructions. Two observers performed three-dimensional MSV reconstructions using the same methods. Intra- and interobserver reproducibility were statistically compared using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) (α = 5%). Both intra- and interobserver reproducibility were perfect regarding MSV; both ICCs were 100%. There were no significant differences between right and left MSV (p = 0.083). No correlation was found between age and MSV (p > 0.05). We demonstrated the existence of sexual dimorphism in MSV (p 
       
  • Application of 3D Laser Scanner to Forensic Engineering
    • Abstract: In the case of building collapses and overturned structures, a three-dimensional (3D) collapse or overturn model is required to reconstruct the accident. As construction sites become increasingly complex and large, 3D laser scanning is sometimes the best tool to accurately document and store the site conditions. This case report presents one case of a structure collapse and one case of an overturned crane reconstructed by a 3D laser scanner. In the case of structural collapse of a prefabricated shoring system, a 3D model reconstructed all the members successfully, a task that is nearly impossible using a scale such as a tape measure. The reconstructed prefabricated shoring system was verified through a structural analysis through comparison with the construction drawings to investigate faults in construction. In the case of the overturned crane, the jib angle and other major dimensions were successfully acquired through 3D laser scanning and used to estimate the working radius. As a result, the propriety of the working radius with the given lifting load was successfully determined.
       
  • The Accuracy and Applicability of 3D Modeling and Printing Blunt Force
           Cranial Injuries
    • Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine the factors affecting the accuracy of 3D models and 3D prints of cranial blunt force trauma, to evaluate the applicability and limitations of modeling such injuries. Three types of cranial blunt force lesions were documented (hinge, depressed, and comminuted) using three forms of surface scanning (laser, structured light scanner, and photogrammetry) at two different quality settings (standard and high). 3D printed models of the lesions were produced using two different materials (a gypsum-like composite powder called VisiJet® PXL and an acrylic engineered composite plastic called VisiJet® M3 in crystal colour). The results of these analyzes indicate the prints in this study exhibit some statistically significant differences from the actual bone lesions, but details of the lesions can be reproduced to within 2 mm accuracy.
       
  • Sudden Unexpected Deaths Due to Intracranial Meningioma: Presentation of
           Six Fatal Cases, Review of the Literature, and A Discussion of the
           Mechanisms of Death
    • Abstract: Deaths due to meningiomas are routinely diagnosed in clinical practice because this neoplasm tends to present with the typical progression of neurological deficits. On the other hand, sudden unexpected deaths due to meningiomas are rarely described in the literature. The study presents six fatal cases of previously undiagnosed intracranial meningiomas from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office from 1998 to 2014. The most common explanation of the mechanism of sudden death due to intracranial neoplasms is a rapid increase in intracranial pressure produced by the mass effect of the neoplasm. Other mechanisms of death include acute intracranial and intratumoral hemorrhage, and benign neoplasms that grow in the vicinity of vital centers altering neural discharge in autonomic pathways leading to cardiac suppression or lethal arrhythmia. Forensic pathologists must keep in mind that sudden unexpected death caused by intracranial meningiomas, although extremely rare, may be encountered in the forensic setting.
       
  • The Physical Effects of Contact and Close-Distance Gunfire on Sweatshirt
           Fleece
    • Abstract: Powder stippling caused by the impact of propellant particles during close-distance gunfire has been previously described on skin and solid objects only. Additionally, radial tearing has been described as clear evidence of a contact-distance shot, requiring no further testing. Patterns of discrete perforating holes (referred to here as “stippling perforations”) and other physical damage on sweatshirt fleece fabrics were prepared. Using the firearm and ammunition in this study, stippling perforations were observed to a maximum muzzle-to-target distance of 35 cm (10 inches). In addition, radial tearing and disintegration were present (and often more extensive) at greater than contact distance. The presence of stippling perforations could augment muzzle-to-target distance estimates generated using the Griess test, or allow distance estimates when the Griess test is not feasible. Unlike what has been previously reported, testing on the original evidence (or similar substitute) is warranted when physical damage is used to estimate shooting distance.
       
  • A Molecular Method to Detect Wound Cells in Bloodstains Resultant of Sharp
           Force Injuries for Crime Scene Reconstruction
    • Abstract: Previous research by the authors on an animal model showed that bloodstains can contain additional information about their somatic origin in the form of wound cells. Bloodstains produced by a gunshot wound to the head were distinguished from bloodstains produced by a gunshot wound to the chest by testing the stains for a brain microRNA marker. In this study, the effectiveness of the technique was examined on blood drops shed externally from a stab wound to the liver of rat carcasses. Specifically, investigations were conducted on the liver microRNA marker, rno-mir-122-3p, with the QIAGEN miScript System, and PCR analysis. Between the two stabbing methods used, 67% of the scalpel blades and 57% of the blood drops tested positive for rno-mir-122-3p; however, other samples tested negative giving inconclusive results as to the wound-of-origin. The amount of the liver cells in the bloodstains appeared to be related to the extent of trauma.
       
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences and Criminal Extremity: New Evidence for
           Sexual Homicide
    • Abstract: Adverse childhood experiences are associated with a wide range of behavioral, health, and psychiatric deficits and have recently been used to study the development of serious offending careers. Unfortunately, this research paradigm has largely ignored forensic populations. This study utilized the adverse childhood experiences framework to examine the associations between exposure to violence, victimization, and total adverse childhood experiences on sexual homicide using a sample of 616 incarcerated adult male sexual offenders from Canada 85 of whom committed sexual homicide. Epidemiological tables of odds revealed that a gradient of adverse childhood experiences was associated with sexual homicide, but that the most significant risks were for offenders who had the most extensive abuse histories. In adjusted models, exposure to violence, victimization, and total adverse childhood experiences increased the odds of sexual homicide by 334%, 249%, and 546%, respectively. These effects intensified in models adjusted for childhood enuresis, cruelty to animals, parental abandonment, deviant sexual behaviors, poor self-image, and sexual problems to 559%, 326%, and 849%, respectively. The adverse childhood experiences framework is a systematic way to organize the criminogenic developmental sequela in sexual homicide.
       
  • High-Resolution Melting (HRM) of Hypervariable Mitochondrial DNA Regions
           for Forensic Science
    • Abstract: Forensic strategies commonly are proceeding by analysis of short tandem repeats (STRs); however, new additional strategies have been proposed for forensic science. Thus, this article standardized the high-resolution melting (HRM) of DNA for forensic analyzes. For HRM, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from eight individuals were extracted from mucosa swabs by DNAzol reagent, samples were amplified by PCR and submitted to HRM analysis to identify differences in hypervariable (HV) regions I and II. To confirm HRM, all PCR products were DNA sequencing. The data suggest that is possible discriminate DNA from different samples by HRM curves. Also, uncommon dual-dissociation was identified in a single PCR product, increasing HRM analyzes by evaluation of melting peaks. Thus, HRM is accurate and useful to screening small differences in HVI and HVII regions from mtDNA and increase the efficiency of laboratory routines based on forensic genetics.
       
  • An Objective Measure of Splitting in Parental Alienation: The Parental
           Acceptance–Rejection Questionnaire
    • Abstract: Both clinicians and forensic practitioners should distinguish parental alienation (rejection of a parent without legitimate justification) from other reasons for contact refusal. Alienated children—who were not abused—often engage in splitting and lack ambivalence with respect to the rejected parent; children who were maltreated usually perceive the abusive parent in an ambivalent manner. The purpose of this study was to assess the usefulness of the Parental Acceptance–Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ) in identifying and quantifying the degree of splitting, which may assist in diagnosing parental alienation. Results showed that severely alienated children engaged in a high level of splitting, by perceiving the preferred parent in extremely positive terms and the rejected parent in extremely negative terms. Splitting was not manifested by the children in other family groups. The PARQ may be useful for both clinicians and forensic practitioners in evaluating children of divorced parents when there is a concern about the possible diagnosis of parental alienation.
       
  • An Evidence-Based Forensic Taxonomy of Windows Phone Communication Apps
    • Abstract: Communication apps can be an important source of evidence in a forensic investigation (e.g., in the investigation of a drug trafficking or terrorism case where the communications apps were used by the accused persons during the transactions or planning activities). This study presents the first evidence-based forensic taxonomy of Windows Phone communication apps, using an existing two-dimensional Android forensic taxonomy as a baseline. Specifically, 30 Windows Phone communication apps, including Instant Messaging (IM) and Voice over IP (VoIP) apps, are examined. Artifacts extracted using physical acquisition are analyzed, and seven digital evidence objects of forensic interest are identified, namely: Call Log, Chats, Contacts, Locations, Installed Applications, SMSs and User Accounts. Findings from this study would help to facilitate timely and effective forensic investigations involving Windows Phone communication apps.
       
  • Estimating Biological Characteristics With Virtual Laser Data
    • Abstract: Laser scanning technology is increasingly being used in forensic anthropological research to obtain virtual data for archival purposes and post hoc measurement collection. This research compared the measurement accuracy of two laser scanners—the FARO Focus3D 330X and the FARO Freestyle3D—against traditionally obtained (i.e., by hand) control data (N = 454). Skeletal data were collected to address a novel question: the ability of laser scanning technology to produce measurements useful for biological characteristic estimation, such as sex and stature. Results indicate that both devices produced measurements very similar to control (c. 3-mm average absolute error), but also illuminate a tendency to under-measure. Despite these findings, the virtual data produced sex and stature estimates that varied little from control-produced estimates, signifying the usefulness of virtual data for preliminary biological identification when the skeletal elements are no longer available for physical analysis.
       
  • Clinical Characteristics of Fatal Methamphetamine-related Stroke: A
           National Study
    • Abstract: The study aimed to determine the clinical characteristics of fatal methamphetamine-related stroke in Australia, 2009–2015. There were 38 cases, 60.5% male, with a mean age of 40.3 years. In no case was there evidence that this was the first time methamphetamine had been used by the decedent, and 52.6% had known histories of injecting drug use. The stroke was hemorrhagic in 37 of 38 cases. In 21.1% of cases, the stroke was purely parenchymal and, in 18.4%, involved purely the subarachnoid space. A ruptured berry aneurysm was present in 31.6% and in 68.8% of initial subarachnoid hemorrhages. There was evidence of systemic hypertension in 8 of 25 cases in which full autopsy findings were available. With increased use of methamphetamine, there is a high probability of increased hemorrhagic stroke incidence among young people. In cases of fatal hemorrhagic stroke among young cases presenting to autopsy, the possibility of methamphetamine use should be borne in mind.
       
  • The Difficult Task of Diagnosing Prostate Cancer Metastases on Dry Bone
    • Abstract: The interpretation of pathology on skeletal remains is mandatory for implementing the biological profile and for disease recognition. Prostate cancer is one of the most common tumors, with a high preference for the skeleton as a primary site of metastasis. Its diagnosis on bone is however still ambiguous, due to its “osteoblastic” and resorptive manifestation. This study investigates distribution and appearance of prostate cancer metastases on dry bone on six known cases (selected from the Milano Cemetery Skeletal Collection) and one healthy individual. A macroscopic inspection was performed highlighting the abnormalities observed, describing location, shape, dimension, and aspect. A great amount of proliferative and mixed lesions was noticed, but also cases of pure lytic lesions were displayed. The multiple appearances of the manifestations observed display the difficulty in correctly identifying such a pathology, but also the potential and advantages provided by investigating a study sample with known antemortem history.
       
  • Fatal Myocarditis Following Treatment with the PD-1 Inhibitor Nivolumab
    • Abstract: Therapeutic antibodies targeting the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) pathway function as immune checkpoint inhibitors, allowing the immune system to recognize tumors which otherwise escape immune surveillance. However, these agents can also elicit an autoimmune response by inhibiting the ability of non-neoplastic tissues and regulatory cells to suppress the immune system. Here we present a fatal case of active myocarditis in a 55-year-old man with non-small-cell lung cancer which occurred following monotherapy with the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo). He presented with acute right-sided heart failure and died 1 day after admission. Postmortem examination revealed multiple gelatinous lesions in the myocardium of the interventricular septum and the bilateral atria and ventricles which had microscopic features diagnostic of myocarditis. Subsequent studies failed to identify an infectious cause. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are an increasingly common addition to anticancer regimens and they should be considered in the evaluation of acute myocarditis.
       
  • A Study on the Estimation of Postmortem Interval Based on Environmental
           Temperature and Concentrations of Substance in Vitreous Humor
    • Abstract: A method to determine postmortem interval (PMI) based on environmental temperature and the concentrations of vitreous humor (VH) molecules were explored. Rabbit carcasses were placed in a chamber at 5, 15, 25, or 35°C, and 80–100 μL of VH was collected with the double-eye alternating micro-sampling method every 12 h. A Roche DPPI biochemical analyzer was used to measure the concentrations of six substances in VH samples. The interpolation function model and mixed-effect model were employed for data fitting to establish equations for PMI estimation. The concentrations of K+, P, Mg2+, creatinine (CRE), and urea nitrogen (UN) exhibited an upward trend with increasing PMI in all temperature groups, while the concentration of Ca2+ showed a downward trend. Validation results using K+ and Mg2+ ions revealed that the mixed-effect model provided a better estimation than the interpolation function model using the data from our experiment. However, both models were able to estimate PMI using temperature and VH molecule concentrations.
       
  • Rare Death Via Histamine Poisoning Following Crab Consumption: A Case
           Report
    • Abstract: Histamine poisoning (scombroid food poisoning) is a toxicity syndrome that results from eating spoiled fish. To date, however, few poisoning (or mortality) cases have been reported in relation to crab consumption. Here, we describe a very uncommon case in which a 37-year-old woman and her 14-year-old son ate cooked crabs (Scylla serrata), resulting in the death of the female. Samples of vomitus, food residue, liver tissue, gastric content, intestinal content, and cardiac blood were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Toxicological analysis revealed that histamine concentrations were very high in the cooked crab (47.08 mg/100 g) and intestinal content (22.54 mg/100 g). Comparing our toxicological results, police investigations, and family member statements, it can be assumed that the decedent ingested spoiled crabs, and by excluding other causes of death, lethal intoxication with histamine poisoning was confirmed.
       
  • Homicide Rates in Lithuania
    • Abstract: Homicide rate in Lithuania between 2004 and 2013 decreased and reached an average of 6.7 per 100,000 people in 2013. The data regarding forensic autopsies of intentional homicide victims were obtained from the State Forensic Medicine Service. Spearman's correlation test was used to assess trends in the homicide rates. A significant correlation was observed between homicide distribution and the following variables: Lithuania's gross domestic product (r = −0.85, p = 0.003), the number of alcohol intoxication cases of victims (r = 0.97, p < 0.05). After regression model adjustments, these variables remained significantly associated with the homicide distribution (p < 0.05). 73% of victims were men, with a mean age of 45.5 ± 15. Alcohol intoxication was present in 58% of victims. 66% of homicides were carried out indoors, 57% in urban area. The presented findings help decide which prevention programs may be the most effective in homicide rate reduction.
       
  • Implications of Pseudologia Fantastica in Criminal Forensic Evaluations: A
           Review and Case Report
    • Abstract: Pseudologia fantastica, a psychological phenomenon that has been described in the literature for at least a century, is an understudied and poorly understood entity. Sometimes referred to as pathological lying, pseudologia fantastica involves disproportionate fabrication that may be present for many years or a lifetime. In a forensic context, it can significantly complicate the evaluation of capacity to stand trial and, in certain jurisdictions, criminal responsibility. We review the current literature regarding pseudologia fantastica and present a case to highlight the clinical and forensic challenges it may create. We specifically discuss the complications that pseudologia fantastica may have on the assessment of a defendant's rational ability to consult with an attorney, a required element of capacity to stand trial. In addition, we discuss the implications of pseudologia fantastica in the evaluation of criminal responsibility.
       
  • The Appearance, Taste, and Concentrations of Zolpidem Dissolved in Still
           Water and Carbonated Beverages
    • Abstract: Zolpidem is a sedative that could be used to drug victims, but its suitability to dissolve in drinks is unknown. In this small study, we added either crushed or whole tablets of zolpidem hemitartrate to carbonated beverages or still water to observe how this affected the taste and appearance. Also, concentrations were measured by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry at different time intervals. Two crushed tablets (20 mg) in cider (250 mL) lead to a maximum concentration of 84 mg/L zolpidem base after 30 min, while the corresponding concentration after adding fifteen tablets (150 mg) was 467 mg/L. There was little change in taste, but froth and turbidity were observed when adding high doses to carbonated beverages. Carbonated beverages spiked with 20 mg of crushed zolpidem hemitartrate tablets reached concentrations that could cause impairment. Spiking with 150 mg could possibly be lethal if several mouthfuls were ingested.
       
  • Preliminary Data on the Role of Emotional Intelligence in Moderating the
           Link between Psychopathy and Aggression in a Nonforensic Sample
    • Abstract: This short report presents preliminary data on the role of emotional intelligence (EI) in moderating the relationship between psychopathy and aggression in a nonforensic sample. A sample of 109 volunteer men was administered the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R), the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire, and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso emotional intelligence Test in individual sessions. Correlation and moderation analyzes showed that, at low levels of EI (in terms of strategic ability to understand and manage one's own and others’ emotions), people scoring high on the total PPI-R and impulsivity dimension seemed to be both reactively and proactively aggressive. By contrast, at high levels of strategic ability, the relationships between psychopathy and aggression were no longer significant. These preliminary results encourage further investigation into the role of EI ability in mitigating aggressive outcomes in psychopathic subjects.
       
  • Fatal Fat Embolism After Penis Enlargement by Autologous Fat Transfer: A
           Case Report and Review of the Literature
    • Abstract: Fat embolism is an incidental finding in cases of long bone fractures or other trauma, but it is also associated with liposuction and autologous fat transfer, a procedure where fat from liposuction is injected back into the same patient's face, breast, buttocks or penis. We here present a case of sudden death by fat embolism in a healthy young male, caused by a simple penis enlargement procedure, in which fat was injected into the penis shaft. We suggest that the risk of fat embolization might be higher when pretraumatized tissue is subjected to fat injection, like in this case, where a penis elongation was performed before the fat injection.
       
  • Commentary on: Lockhart JJ, Satya-murti S. Diagnosing crime and diagnosing
           disease: bias reduction strategies in the forensic and clinical sciences.
           
    •  
  • Authors' Response
    •  
  • Commentary on: Gibbons J, Mojica A, Peele M. Human electrical muscular
           incapacitation and effects on QTc interval. J Forensic Sci
           https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.13490. Epub 2017 April 17
    •  
 
 
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