Suitcase concealment: an interdisciplinary analysis of the taphonomic processes and their effect on PMI estimation
Joseph, Amberlee Skylar
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In homicide cases, suitcases provide concealment and ease of transport of a body and reduce the likelihood of detection. When estimating a minimum postmortem interval (mPMI), it is necessary to understand the taphonomic processes that occur when a body is concealed within a suitcase. In this study, the experimental carcasses consisted of pig (Sus scrofa Linnaeus) heads concealed within either hard shell or fabric suitcases whereas control pig heads were decomposed naturally. All control pigs heads attracted blowflies (Calliphoridae) immediately and mummified within days, whereas the experimental pigs heads had an oviposition delay of approximately 72 hours and decomposed resulting in skeletonization. Differences in the arthropod species present varied between the experimental and control pigs heads. Temperature comparisons revealed significant (p <0.001) differences between the experimental and control pigs heads. How a corpse decomposes when a suitcase is used for body disposal must be considered when estimating the mPMI.