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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 165767 Find in a Library
Title: Septic Tank Burial: Not Just Another Skeleton in the Closet
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:41  Issue:5  Dated:(September 1996)  Pages:887-890
Author(s): E O Lew; B G Bannach; W C Rodriguez
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 4
Type: Report (Technical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: When it was discovered that backed-up toilets in a duplex house were caused by a skeleton in the septic tank, the challenge was to recover and examine the skeleton and determine the cause and manner of death.
Abstract: Tenants of the duplex house complained to the landlord that their toilets had been backing up for a week. The complaints initiated a search for the septic tank which was located about 5 feet from the north wall of the house. The discovery of a body in the septic tank required innovative solutions by the police and the medical examiner. Almost the entire skeleton was recovered, and the skeleton had features consistent with a white adult male. Radiographs disclosed tiny radiopaque fragments embedded in the medullary trabeculae around multiple cortical defects in several bones. Projectile fragments recovered from clothing further supported a conclusion that death was due to multiple gunshot wounds. A forensic odontologist documented enough matching points of comparison between distinctive features in the skull and the teeth to establish identification with reasonable medical certainty. Main aspects of the septic tank system are summarized, including functional theory, physical design and components, and use and maintenance. Basic principles applicable to the excavation and examination of human skeletal remains are discussed, and a general approach to victim identification is described. 6 references and 2 figures
Main Term(s): Science and Technology
Index Term(s): Bone analysis; Crime Scene Investigation; Criminal investigation; Criminalistics; Criminology; Death investigations; Dental analysis; Evidence identification; Forensic anthropology; Forensic medicine; Forensic sciences; Police; Victim identification
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