The effects of caustic chemical agents on bone: a descriptive methodology
Zell, Nicholas Anthony
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An increasing number of homicide cases exhibit various methods of concealment by the perpetrator to destroy cadaveric evidence. While many of methods used have been extensively studied and described in the literature, one such method has not: the use of caustic chemicals such as acid to destroy the body of the victim. Previously described by journalists and popular media, there has been little written in the scientific literature on the subject. The aim of the proposed study is to provide a groundwork on which further studies can be completed to better understand the process of accelerated decomposition due to the presence of caustic agents acting on the cadaver and particularly the skeleton. Several bones were exposed to six different chemical agents that are readily available to the public at-large in order to simulate actual situations that may occur in the commission of homicide concealment. During the study, the bones were examined for specific structure changes at both macroscopic and microscopic levels. The effects of each compound are described with specific guidelines for expected results after a given time of exposure. Additionally, a photographic atlas (see Appendix) summarizing the changes has been included.
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