Anthropology

Anthropology
Open Access

ISSN: 2332-0915

+44-1993-227344

Abstract

Recognition of Atypical Burn Patterns and Pre-cremation Blunt Force Trauma Observed on Human Remains in Two Forensic Cases in the United States

Joan A Bytheway, Nicole C Larison and Ann H Ross

The normal burn pattern of bone color in humans described and illustrated by Symes and colleagues from unintentional fires was compared to the burn patterns seen in two forensic cases from Texas and North Carolina that involved the intentional burning of two victims. Heat altered bone exhibits a range of colors (e.g. white, blue-grey, black, and yellow) from the highest to the lowest exposure of heat. In the Texas case, atypical burn patterns were evinced by an asymmetrical burn pattern on the skull and lower body as well as by the predominantly calcined upper body with a charred lower body. The thermal pattern seen on the body of the North Carolina victim was consistent with a longer heat exposure to the trunk and left side of the body. In both cases, thermal damage did not obscure per mortem blunt force trauma. The atypical burn patterns were diagnostic of intentional fires and contributed to the reconstruction of the events of the crime.

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