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DavidZahir
01-06-2010, 06:33 AM
For the sake of a story, I need some details of how to account for a some clues.

Twenty years ago, a man was murdered by being garroted. The body was only found this year, in an urban area. I am assuming that pretty much bones are all that will be left of the body (this will also make the props people happy).

But--what evidence could survive to show the manner of death, specifically that he was garroted?

Thanks in advance!

BillPatt
01-06-2010, 11:51 AM
For the sake of a story, I need some details of how to account for a some clues.

Twenty years ago, a man was murdered by being garroted. The body was only found this year, in an urban area. I am assuming that pretty much bones are all that will be left of the body (this will also make the props people happy).

But--what evidence could survive to show the manner of death, specifically that he was garroted?

Thanks in advance!

It's almost never "just bones". There's usually some of the connective tissue left. Cartilage, tendons, maybe a ligament or two. Somehow, you will have to explain people ignoring the decomposition smell, as well as preventing scavengers from disturbing the body. Now, on to your question.

It depends on the method of garroting. Piano wire (don't forget the handles on the wire!) will leave cutting traces on tendons and ligaments, and probably on the cervical vertabrae. In fact, it will almost sever a head, if pulled hard enough.

Rope and other fibrous garrotes might leave traces in the wound. Skin discoloration won't really matter, as it discolors anyway during decomp. There might be a higher fraction of blood in the tissue that remains, indicating bruising, but that's pretty sketchy.

Then, there's the hyoid bone. From our favorite source, Wikipedia:



Due to its position, the hyoid bone is not susceptible to easy fracture. In a suspected case of murder, a fractured hyoid strongly indicates throttling (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Throttling) or strangulation (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Strangulation). However this is not the case in children and adolescents, where the hyoid bone is still flexible as ossification is yet to be completed.


Hope this helps!

C.M. Daniels
01-06-2010, 12:47 PM
How was the body stored? What temp was it kept at? Was it in a damp or a dry place?

Details like that will make a huge difference in what survives after a long time. If someone mummifies out in the desert, there's all kinds of evidence left. If someone is buried in a warm and damp environment, there might not even be bones left in 20 years depending on soil conditions.

You've got to be more specific about the state of preservation. I might be able to help you when I've got more details. I'm a forensic anthropologist and deputy coroner. I've seen a lot of bodies.

Feel free to drop me a PM if you like.

Happy writing.

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-08-2010, 01:11 AM
For the sake of a story, I need some details of how to account for a some clues.

Twenty years ago, a man was murdered by being garroted. The body was only found this year, in an urban area. I am assuming that pretty much bones are all that will be left of the body (this will also make the props people happy).

But--what evidence could survive to show the manner of death, specifically that he was garroted?

Would picture-hanging wire with two loops in it - and still around what's left of the neck bones or lying near them - be enough of a clue?

If you don't want the bleeding obvious, microscopic exam shows wire strands embedded in one of the neck bones.