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Criminal Investigation: Time of Death

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The time of death relates directly to whether the suspect could have been at the scene and to the sequence of multiple deaths. It is also important to the victim's family in settling insurance claims and Social Security and pension payments (Orthmann and Hess, 2012).

A body with a gunshot wound to the head has been found in an apartment. The room temperature is 72 degrees and the blood on the body and near the body has dried. From the information provided, can investigators estimate the time of death? The body is completely stiff in both the small and large muscle groups. No noticeable decomposition has taken place.

Why do changes happen to the human body after death?
How long does it take for the body to show rigor mortis?
How long after rigor mortis is fixed before it dissipates?
What are the changes that a body undergoes immediately after death?
What further changes does the body undergo three hours after death?
What further changes does the body undergo 24 hours after death?
Discuss how knowledge of this information helps in a criminal investigation.

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Solution Preview

Why do changes happen to the human body after death?

The changes are biological changes that are caused by all the gases, fluids, and compression in the human body that initially results in stiffness or rigor mortis but shortly thereafter involves decomposition if the body isn't frozen within 72 hours of death.
How long does it take for the body to show rigor mortis?

Approximately 3-4 hours.

How ...

Solution Summary

The time of death in a criminal investigation are analyzed. Why changes happen to the human body after death is determined.

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