Estimation of the postmortem interval based on the human decomposition process

H. T. Gelderman*, C. A. Kruiver, R. J. Oostra, M. P. Zeegers, W. L. J. M. Duijst

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Postmortem interval (PMI) estimations which are used as evidence in Dutch court are sometimes solely based on the experience of the forensic physician without a scientific background. The aim of this study was to investigate the degree of agreement between forensic physicians and their PMI estimations.

Fifteen cases were selected from 1534 external postmortem investigations. Photographs of the human remains were presented to 89 forensic physicians in the Netherlands with the instruction to estimate the PMI based on their experience, knowing the remains were found indoors and in which season. Data analysis was conducted by using an interclass correlation (ICC) and Spearman's rank correlation coefficient.

This study shows a poor correlation (ICC = 0.254) between the PMI estimations of the 89 forensic physicians. It is therefore not advised that PMI estimations based on experience be used as evidence in court.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-127
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Volume61
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Keywords

  • Postmortem interval
  • Time since death
  • Decomposition
  • Human taphonomy
  • Dutch court
  • HUMAN CADAVERS
  • HUMAN REMAINS
  • DEATH
  • TIME
  • BODY
  • RELIABILITY
  • RATES
  • SOIL
  • ATP
  • SUCCESSION

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