This course does contain graphic images. No violence is depicted. However, images showing changes that occur to the body after death are shown.
This is an intermediate level investigative training course for law enforcement, police, coroners, medical examiners, crime scene, and forensic technicians. This course will walk you through the steps used for determining the time of death and will explore the science and investigative skills you will need to make a proper determination as to a time of death.
There are three legal times of death used in every investigation. Those times are Physiological, Estimated, and Legal. Each of these three times will be discussed and defined as to how they are used in an investigation.
An accurate estimation of the time of death can lead to discovering the identity of the assailant. In criminal cases, it can eliminate some suspects while focusing attention on others. The time of death is not confined to criminal investigations; it can also come into play in civil situations. Insurance payments may depend upon whether the insured individual was alive at the time the policy went into effect or if he died before the policy expired. Even a single day can be important.
In determining a proper time of death an investigator will use several methods, such as environmental changes, witness statements, and scene reconstruction. But most importantly are the changes he or she will observe on the body itself. Post Mortem Intervals or PMI, are the stages a body goes through after death. These are a set of established and known facts that every Body goes through during the decomposition process but can be dependent on weather and physiological factors. These PMI changes will help an investigator estimate time since death. This course will explain those changes and what the investigator will observe as well as what time averages can be placed on each change.
When an investigator arrives on the scene of death there are four things that must be documented and noted as close too immediate as possible. These four critical areas are; locating any witnesses to the death, obtaining an internal body temperature if applicable, observation of any insect activity on or near the body, and initial scene/body photographs. This course will explain the importance of each step and how they are used in the time of death determination process
A widely underused, but highly effective resource in determining time since death is the use of Entomology – the scientific study of insects. Insects are attracted to a body in a pre-determined time frame based upon climate and body location. It is up to an investigator to understand how these insects are used and how to properly preserve the insect activity for analysis. This course will briefly explain what an investigator needs to look for and what first steps he or she needs to do if insects are present.
Determining the time of death is both an art and a science and requires that the medicolegal investigator use several techniques and observations to make his or her estimate. As a general rule, the sooner after death the body is examined, the more accurate this estimate will be.