The forensic entomology evidence

Case 1: California vs. Westerfield This court case involved the kidnap and murder of Danielle van Dam, a 7-year old girl from San Diego, California (Ryan 1). The crime occurred on February 1, 2002, when the girl disappeared sometime in the evening from their home and was discovered by her parents to be missing the next morning. The parents called 911 in order to report the missing child and the body of Danielle was discovered three weeks later. The suspect in the case was David Alan Westerfield, whose residence was approximately two houses away.Initial search of the residence of Westerfield showed that his clothes were stained with blood that was positively identified to be of Danielle’s. In addition, Westerfield’s home computer contained files of child pornography. The case involved forensic entomology techniques that involved the collection of maggots from the body of Danielle. The victim was discovered in a state of decomposition and it was important that the time of death of the child was established based on the forensic evidence that was provided by the developmental stage of the maggots.The forensic entomology evidence was provided by David Faulkner, a researcher of the San Diego Natural History museum. Faulkner was able to scientifically prove that the time of death of the victim was some time between February 12 and 23, suggesting that Danielle was still alive for the next few weeks since her abduction. The rate of decomposition of the victim’s body was pronounced because it was left exposed in a nearby park and thus the heat increased the rate of decay.The suspect, Westerfield, was convicted for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of the 7-year old girl, Danielle van Dam and the penalty imposed was life imprisonment. Source: http://www. courttv. com/trials/westerfield/071702_ctv. html Case 2: Murder of a girl in Kaohsiung County, Taiwan This report described the forensic entomological evidences of a court case involving the murder of an undisclosed female victim in Kaohsiung County, Taiwan (Pai 795). The body of the female victim was discovered in a sugar cane plantation on August 29, 2003.Positive identification of the victim was done by the parents. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) typing was performed for provide additional proof for the positive identification of the body. The victim was last seen on August 27, according to friends. The body was found to be burnt and decomposing, with maggots present in different areas. Forensic entomological assessment indicated that the maggot species was Chrysomya megacephala and were of the second instar developmental stage. A less number of maggots were at the third instar stage.Based on the developmental stages of these insects, the time of death of the victim was estimated to be around 50 hours before the discovery of the body in the sugar plantation field. The suspect in the case admitted his responsibility in the killing, saying that he killed the victim 46 hours before the body’s discovery. The suspect was convicted for the murder of the young lady. Source: http://ajws. elsevier. com/ajws3/abstract. asp? art_id=2944&art_journals=12 Case 3: Homicide case in Germany The court case involved a German high-profile homicide case that needed the support from forensic entomology (Benecke 55).Two insect species were employed in analyzing the time of death of the victim. The ant species, Lasius fuliginous, is known to produce a specific stain that may mark any places that this insect has been subjected to pressure. The homicide case thus involved finding ant stains in the shoes and clothes of the victim. In addition, the maggots of the blow fly species Calliphora spp. was analyzed to determine the approximate time of death of the victim. These two species were checking in both the victim’s body and the suspect’s shoes and correlations were established that the suspect was indeed present at the site of discovery of the body.The information gathered from the maggots’ developmental stages positively correlated with the time that the suspect was last seen together with the victim. The forensic entomological evidence was accepted in court and the suspect was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. This is one of the earliest reports that describe the use of forensic entomological data in court cases of homicide. This medico-legal support may provide credible evidence that could prove that a criminal was indeed part of an unlawful incident.Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/10489592? ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 4: Three homicide cases in Bari, Italy This report described the use of forensic entomological data in examining three homicide cases that occurred in the southern city of Bari, Italy (Introna 211). For all three cases, insects were collected from the victim’s body, which was situated in an open space. The cases involved determination of time of death of the victims.In addition, the environmental parameters were also considered in the estimation of time of death, including the temperature at the time of discovery of the bodies, as well as the humidity of the area. The amount of rainfall was also noted. The developmental stages of the maggots were determined and this information facilitated in the calculation of the approximate time of death of the victims of these cases. The three homicide cases involved the analysis of larval stages of the insect species Saprinus aeneus, Chrysomya albiceps, Sarcophaga carnaria, Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis, Protophormia terraenovae and Calliphora vicina.Entomological analysis defined the time of date of the victims of each of the cases, regardless of the manner of killing that was involved. One of the cases also included burning of the body, yet the presence of the insects provided reliable and credible information on the time of death of the murder victims. The information gathered from the analyses of these cases was brought to court and treated as crime scene evidence materials. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/9456548? ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez.Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 5: Homicide case in Chiang Mai, Thailand This report describes the employment of forensic entomological data in the court case involving a homicide that occurred in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Sukontason 162). The body of the victim was discovered in a state of decomposition. The time of death of the victim was based on the collected maggots of the blow fly species Chrysomya rufifacies, which was observed to be infesting one of the legs of the corpse.The larval developmental stage of the maggot was determined and this information was correlated with temperature of the scene of the crime. Analysis of the larval stage indicated that the victim was killed 6 days before the time of discovery of the body. The authors of the report indicated that there was a need to further analyze this particular fly species because the city is known to harbor a huge number of flies in the area and thus it would be difficult to examine and cross-examine the court case if the evidence is singly based on the larval stages of the blow fly.The court case thus needed more information with regards to the biology and survival of this particular blow fly, since this insect species is known to dominate the city regardless of environmental locations and conditions. The report is also the first court case in Thailand that involved forensic entomological data in the investigation of a homicide case. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/11813652? ordinalpos=6&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 6: Six homicide cases in New York, USA This report describes the employment of forensic entomological data in three homicide cases that occurred in New York City. All six criminal cases involved analysis of the maggots that were present in the decomposing bodies of the murder victims (Benecke 798). These maggots are generally found in particular developmental stages and the information gathered from these insects may help in the calculation of the time of death of the homicide victims.The information on the postmortem interval may then be submitted in court for further investigation. One interesting angle that the report described is that one case involved maggots that fell off from the decomposing body and hide underneath the corpse and into the carpet or wooden floor. The maggots then re-emerged at the scene of the crime three months after the discovery of the body. At the same time, the maggots only emerged when there was a need to renovate the area where the crime happened. Another case involved maggots that were collected from a mummified corpse.In another homicide case, the bacterial species Serratia marcescens were isolated from the gut of the larvae of the maggots of Muscina stabulans, thus provided not only postmortem invterval information but also the condition of the victim during the time of death. In another case, the presence of larvae of Parasarcophaga argyrostoma also provided information whether the victim was situated outside during the time of his death. These forensic entomological data were used in court trials for the corresponding homicide cases. Source: http://www. ncbi.nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/9670502? ordinalpos=7&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 7: Homicide case involving a floating corpse in Chiang Mai. Thailand This court case involved the use of entomological data to support the forensic investigation of a corpse that was discovered floating in water in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Sukontason et al. , 2005). It should be understood that majority of forensic entomological investigations involve bodies that have been discovered in open land areas.This report is the first homicide case that has been documented to involve a watershed corpse. Two insect species were collected from the surface of the body, namely Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies Macquart. Postmortem estimation showed that the victim was killed 7 days prior to the discovery of the body. In addition to around 16 stab wounds, the specific species of blowflies were considered as important insect species that could be employed for forensic investigations. The evidence collected from this case was submitted to court and treated as evidence.However, the authors indicated that there is a great need to conduct additional investigations in order to consider the effects of hydration on the ecological conditions of the corpse that harbor support for the survival of these insect species. The court case is still being investigated to date due to the lack of forensic evidence that would lead to a conviction that is beyond reasonable doubt. The legal importance of these two fly species was described in associated with its use in crime scene investigations. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/16519397?ordinalpos=8&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 8: Homicide case in Manoa, Hawaii Forensic entomological analysis was employed in a court case involving a homicide that occurred in Manoa, Hawaii (Goff 1176). The fly species that was collected from the body of the victim was Hermetia illucens, from the Class Stratiomyidae. The particular fly species is known to generate winged maggots and the developmental stage of these flies were assessed in order to determine the approximate time of death of the victim.Analysis of the instar developmental stage of the stratiomyid indicated that the victim was murdered approximately 14 to 18 months prior to the discovery of the body. The police reports were then checked for any reports of missing persons during that time. The court case is still under investigation because there is still a need to further identify the victim. The body was discovered kept is a box made of metal. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/9397565? ordinalpos=13&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 9: Homicide of a 32-year old Thai male in Chiang Mai, Thailand This court case involved the discovery of the corpse of a 32-year old male in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The corpse was found to be in a state of decomposition, where maggots from Parasarcophaga argyrostoma were found to be growing on the body (Sukontason 95). This particular insect species is an indicator that the corpse had been exposed to the environment for some duration of time. Analysis of the developmental stages of the larvae indicated that the corpse was at its third instar.The interesting part of this case was that scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was employed as a tool in visualizing the features of the larvae based on the surface characteristics these larvae. The postmortem interval was thus based on the number and configuration of the larval papillae on the head region of the larvae. In addition, the shape of the spines was also considered in the estimation of the time of death of the victim. The size of the tubercles that were positions around the head of the larvae was also assessed. All these information were used for the identification, assessment and estimation of the death of the victim.Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/12754575? ordinalpos=12&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 10: Homicide case of a Thai male in Chiang Mai, Thailand This court case involved the murder of a 32-year old male in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The corpse was found to be in a state of decomposition, where maggots from Hemipyrellia ligurriens, were found to be growing on the body (Sukontason 877). This particular insect species is regarded as a forensically important fauna in Thailand and other neighboring Southeast Asia countries.Analysis of the developmental stages of the larvae indicated that the corpse was at its first to third instar stages. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was employed as a tool in visualizing the features of the larvae based on the surface characteristics these larvae. The postmortem interval was thus based on the number and configuration of the larval papillae on the head region of the larvae. In addition, the shape of the spines was also considered in the estimation of the time of death of the victim. The size of the tubercles that were positions around the head of the larvae was also assessed.All these information were used for the identification, assessment and estimation of the death of the victim. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/18568445? ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 11: Three homicide cases from Victoria, Australia The homicide cases involved three corpses collected from independent crime scenes. The three cases were needed to be assessed in terms of time of death as well as the manner of killing of the victims (Archer 264).The cases described in these three homicides considered possible routes of contamination of maggots that originated from decaying bodies of other animals that may be present at or nearby the scene of the crime. In the three homicide cases, the presence of decaying animal carcasses provided confusing and misleading estimates in the time of death of the murder victims because it was difficult to demonstrate that the larvae collected from the blow fly pupae were indeed surviving on decaying material on the victims’ corpses.The analysis of soil samples collected from the surrounding area where the corpses were found also serve as important sources of additional information that could further support their calculations on the time of death of the murder victims. The homicide case is also serves as an important reference to other forensic entomological investigation because it provides a new viewpoint on how to investigate a crime scene because there is a great possibility that contamination may occur from other decaying carcasses or other organic material within the same area of investigation. Source: http://www. ncbi.nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/16244885? ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 12: Homicide case of a boy in Brazil This homicide case involved the abduction of a young boy from his residence. The body of the boy was found after 42 days of searching (Pujol-Luz 477). The corpse was in a state of decomposition, with maggots feeding on the body. The maggots were collected and analyzed for forensic information regarding the homicide case. The maggots were of the fly species Hermetia illucens, which is known to be a detritus feeder.Calculation of postmortem invterval was generated based on the developmental stages of the soldier-fly maggots. Forensic entomological analysis resulted in an estimation of killing to be approximately 42 days, since the length of oviposition was established to be 24 to 25 days. In addition, the soldier-fly larvae develop into adult flies within 25 days. The entomological investigation thus shows that the boy was killed right after his kidnapping. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/18366584? ordinalpos=19&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 13: Massive homicide case in Rondonia State, Brazil This is an interesting homicide case which involved the murder of 26 men from Rondonia State, Brazil (Pujol-Luz 1151). The bodies of these men were discovered in a clearing in the rainforest and were found to be in a state of decomposition. Maggots were collected from each of the corpses and were analyzed in terms of developmental stages. The maggots were larvae of the fly species Paralucilia fulvinota, of the Class Calliphoridae. This particular fly species is endemic to the country and can be found in different habitats across the land.The larvae were left to develop in the laboratory and the duration of this development was noted to take place for a total of 168 hours. This duration of development from maggots to pupae and eventually to adult flies were then employed to estimate for the time of death of the 26 men. Based on these calculations, the forensic evidence showed that the men were killed 5 days before the bodies were discovered in the rainforest. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/17018098? ordinalpos=24&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 14: Homicide cases in Oahu Island, HawaiiSeveral homicide cases were analyzed in terms of forensic entomological data. A novel approach was employed through the involvement of computer software that allowed a more standardized approach in determining the developmental stages of the maggots that were collected from the corpses that were discovered at the scene of the crime (Goff 223). The cases showed that the time of death of the victims were almost the same, of 4 to 5 days prior to the discovery of the bodies. This information suggested that the victims were killed almost during the same day and were left in different areas of the city.The homicide cases also provided significant differences in the degree of decomposition of the corpses and this may be due to the humidity and temperature of each of the areas where the bodies were discovered. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/3177351? ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 15: Homicide case in Oahu, Hawaii This homicide case involved the discovery of a corpse in Oahu Island, Hawaii (Goff 609). The body was found to be in a state of decomposition and the maggots of different insect species were identified.Forensic entomological analysis showed that the maggots belonged to the species Philonthus longicornis, Piophila casei and Chrysomya rufifacies. Each of the species were classified based on the developmental stages of whether larval or pupal and the specific instar. An additional five insect species were also analyzed to provide more information on the case. An estimate for the time of death was generated, but it was determined that the estimation was not definitive and thus the case was unsuccessful in terms of convicting the suspects associated with the homicide. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/2066736? ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 16: Homicide cases in Southeastern region of Spain Homicide investigations for a number of cases were coupled with forensic entomological analysis in order to determine the time of death of the victims (Arnaldos 58). In addition, the most common insects were identified for future reference purposes. A number of insect species were thus identified and considered to be important for forensic purposes. Among these species were Phaenicia sericata, as well as Calliphora vicina.The other dipterans of significance for analysis were Chrysomya albiceps and Musca domestica. Coleopterans were also identified to be useful in forensic studies, such as the dermestids and the staphylinids. The formicids were also determined to be important insect species because they easily thrived in a wide range of habitats, as influenced by the omnivorous mode of nutrition. These information were applied to current cases in the city and the information they gather was employed in estimating the postmortem interval of the bodies. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/15734111?ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 17: Homicide case with only skeletal remains This is an interesting homicide case because only skeletal remains were found in the scene of the crime (Komar 792). The case is also more complicated because it was difficult to determine whether a sexual assault occurred when there are no tissues that could be examined to prove such occurrence. This forensic entomological investigation showed that insects may damage a corpse and the same extent of damage may mimic characteristics of sexual assault.In addition, a corpse that is infested with maggots may show some degree of bloating and this may also be observed in a corpse that did not contain maggots but was subjected to sexual assault. This case thus provides an example that extreme caution should be exerted when investigating a crime scene evidence. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/9670501? ordinalpos=28&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 18: Homicide with decapitation in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaThis homicide case involved the murder of man through decapitation in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (Anderson 947). The victim was reported to be missing for 13 days and was then found with his severed. The presence of pupae of Calliphora vomitoria on the body of the victim was collected. The pupae were specifically located in the region where the decapitation was performed. Forensic entomological analysis indicated that insects appeared on the severed region of the body 8 days before the discovery of the human remains.The estimation for time of death was thus established to occur eight days before the discovery of the corpse and that the killing was performed 3 days after the man was reported to be missing. The forensic evidence based on the insect larvae was later used as evidence in court. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/9304851? ordinalpos=12&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 19: Homicide in Norway This homicide case is situated in Norway and it involved the discovery of a body that was in a state of decomposition.The maggots collected from the corpse were identified to be of Cynomya mortuorum. The developmental stage was established to be at the third instar. Some dead larval flies were also observed around the oral opening of the body. Estimation of time of death of the victim was thus estimated to be 7 months prior to the finding of the corpse. The entomological evidence was submitted to the police and used as evidence in the court trial. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/11457614? ordinalpos=15&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Case 20: Three homicide cases in Venice, Italy Three homicide cases were investigated in Venice, Italy (Turchetto 28). All three corpses were found to be in a state of decomposition, with maggots present on the bodies. The maggots were collected and brought to the forensic laboratory for further analysis. The fly species was identified to be Hermetia illucens and this species is known to survive on detritus or decomposing matter. Estimation of time of death of the victims were performed and submitted to the police authorities. The same evidence was used in the court hearings.The insect species were also analyzed in terms of growth, proliferation and development. Source: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/11457605? ordinalpos=19&itool=EntrezSystem2. PEntrez. Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel. Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel. Pubmed_RVDocSum Works cited Anderson, G. 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