Forensic Biologists, Geologists and Archaeologists are essential personnel when the discovery of a dead body is made. These professionals play a key role in determining what the cause of death is and how it happened. They are also responsible for gathering evidence that can help law enforcement solve crimes. Forensic biology can be defined as the identification of certain crime scene evidence that can lead to the capture of a suspect. Forensic geology and forensic archaeology are important components of the overall goal of forensic biology.
Forensic anthropologists identify the remains of a dead body and record key characteristics that can lead to a positive identification. Forensic anthropologists are able to determine the sex, race and age of the deceased by examining the bones. Forensic geologists examine soil samples from the crime scene in order to help piece together the events that led to the crime. A team of forensic scientists reported to the scene of a dead body that had been discovered on the outskirts of Manchester. After careful analysis they have determined that the dead body belongs to a female in her mid-twenties and she is most likely of Nigerian descent.
It was also determined that the woman had given birth to at least one child and walked with a limp in her left leg. It was further determined that the woman died from strangulation, stabbing or a combination of the two. Her body had been in the wood for approximately four months before it was found. In order to come to these conclusions, forensic biologists, anthropologists and geologists worked together to determine the characteristics of the dead body as well as the crime scene surrounding her recovery.
Forensic anthropologists are responsible for recovering the bones of the deceased and making a positive identification based on what the bones look like and their other characteristics. In this case, the first determination would be whether or not the bones were human (Shyu 2001). Bodies that are badly decomposed or otherwise unidentified make it hard to come to definitive conclusions regarding whether the bones are human or not (Shyu 2001). Therefore, in order to detect criminal activity, forensic anthropologists must be absolutely certain that the remains are human.
Once the bones are identified as human remains the forensic anthropologist can carefully analyze the bones for other evidence and extract them from the soil. First, it must be determined how many individuals are represented at the crime scene (Shyu 2001). Again, badly decomposed bodies often make this task difficult. Often, a forensic anthropologist must put the bones back together to form a skeleton in order to make a determination regarding the number of people represented at a crime scene.
Second, the forensic anthropologist must make a prediction regarding how long ago the person was killed. After coming to these conclusions, the forensic anthropologist can begin to record characteristics of the remains in order to make a positive identification. In order to come to the conclusions in this case, the forensic anthropologist examined the bones in order to determine sex, race and age of the victim as well as how tall she was, whether she had any identifying features such as injuries as well as the cause and manner of death (Shyu, 2001).
In this way, forensic anthropologists work closely with law enforcement in order to construct a clear picture of what happened to the victim. In this case, the body would be photographed, evidence would be collected and then the body would be moved to the city morgue for careful analysis. At the morgue, the forensic archeologist would begin the examination by looking for possible injuries; in this case stab wounds were found in the bones as well as evidence of strangulation around the neck bones (Mann & Ubelaker 2006).
Measurement of the pubic area would lead to the conclusion that these remains belonged to a female (Mann & Ubelaker 2006). Additionally, the forensic anthropologist would examine the body for facial or head hair that lead to a determination of race (Mann & Ubelaker 2006). In this case the hair evidence led to the determination that the woman was of Nigerian descent. Examining facial features also helps forensic anthropologists make a determination of race. For example, this woman would have had wider nasal openings and subnasal grooves, which are characteristics of black individuals (Mann & Ubelaker 2006).
The measurement of the pubic bone and an analysis of the amount of dental wear lead forensic anthropologists to determine that the woman these remains represent was in her middle twenties (Mann & Ubelaker 2006). If these examinations do not lead to a positive identification then the forensic anthropologist is often asked to create a facial reconstruction in order to make a positive identification (Mann & Ubelaker 2006). The forensic geologist also plays a key role in determining the events surrounding the death of the victim.
Collecting soil samples and examining the landscape around where the remains were found can lead to important discoveries that help lead investigators to piecing together how and when the crime took place. The forensic geologist in this case would need to examine the soil on and around the body to determine whether the victim was killed where she was found or if she was moved from another location (Murray 2005). Further, these soil samples will become essential when compiling a list of possible suspects and analyzing evidence that may coordinate with being in the exact spot where the woman was found (Murray 2005).
The soil can also give important evidence regarding how long the body had been in a certain location (Murray 2005). Working with the forensic anthropologist, a forensic geologist can help determine how long the body had been in the location before it was found. This can help lead to a definitive time of death. Working with investigators, a forensic geologist for this particular case can help discover trace evidence in the surrounding landscape that can be used to make a positive identification of the body as well as find out who killed the woman (Munroe 2003).
The soil collections taken from this crime scene have the potential to lead to the discoveries of other trace evidence such as hair samples of DNA that can lead to possible suspects in the murder (Munroe 2003). The discoveries made by forensic geologists are often important in order to make a case stand up in court (Munroe 2003). The local geology is analyzed in order to plot the nature of human contaminants (Munroe 2003). In this case, the forensic geologist will analyze the soil on and around the body and reference what human contaminants were found.
This evidence can help forensic anthropologists come up with positive identification as well as help investigators compile a list of potential suspects. Further, the use of a forensic geologist in this case can produce trace evidence that may be vital in finding out who the female remains belong to as well as who killed her (Munroe 2003). For example, the geologic evidence collected in this case may tell investigators where the woman had been prior to her death as well as provide evidence towards who she was with and what they were doing.
When the remains of this young Nigerian woman were found in the woods outside of Manchester, it became the responsibility of many people working together to find out who she is and what happened to her. The initial analysis by the forensic anthropologist provided important evidence that may eventually lead to a positive identification. Determining that the remains were human led to the discovery that the victim was a young female who had given birth to at least one child and walked with a limp in her left leg.
These important details can be given to the public to help make a positive identification. At the same time, the forensic geologist gathered soil samples and other pieces of trace evidence that will allow investigators to piece together what happened to the young woman just prior to her death as well as what led to her murder. Ultimately, this evidence will allow investigators to track down her killer. Mann, Robert W & Ubelaker, Douglas H 2006, The Forensic Anthropologist, Crime and Clues. Available from: <http://www.
crimeandclues. com/forensicanthropologist. htm> [14 February 2009]. Munroe, Richard 2003, Forensic Geology, Forensic Geology. Available from: <http://www. munroegeo. ca/> [14 February 2009]. Murray, Ray 2005, Collecting Crime Evidence from Dirt, Raymond C. Murray. Available from: <http://www. forensicgeology. net/science. htm> [14 February 2009]. Shyu, David 2001, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Biology. Available from: <http://www. bxscience. edu/publications/forensics/articles/anthropology/r-anth01. htm> [14 February 2009].