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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222350 Find in a Library
Title: Odor Analysis of Decomposing Buried Human Remains
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:53  Issue:2  Dated:March 2008  Pages:384-391
Author(s): Arpad A. Vass Ph.D.; Rob R. Smith B.S.; Cyril V. Thompson M.S.; Michael N. Burnett Ph.D.; Nishan Dulgerian M.S.; Brian A. Eckenrode Ph.D.
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, VA 22135
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study listed and ranked the primary chemical constituents that produced the soil-surface odor associated with the decomposition of human remains buried in shallow graves.
Abstract: The study found that, for the most part, human decompositional end-products are not unique in the chemical world; however, test sample maximums were always higher than the corresponding maximums of control sites. The true value of the list of surface compounds at burial sites lies in determining which compounds will be present at what time during the decompositional process; their relative abundance; and, most importantly, their relative ratios compared with the other compounds on the list at similar times. It is anticipated that at least three different sets of standards could be developed to test the various phases of burial decomposition. The next step in this study will be to develop/modify analytical instrumentation that can detect a significant proportion of the 30 compounds in the specified range of concentrations and chemical groupings. In addition, dogs trained in human-remains-detection could be tested to determine their alerting responses to these 30 compounds individually and in combination ratios specified in the Decompositional Odor Analysis (DOA) Database. Success in this research will allow for the further development of analytical tools, methodologies, and portable sensors calibrated for burial detection. This will assist investigators in rapidly, cost effectively, and accurately locating clandestine burial sites. The study, which was conducted at the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility, used triple sorbent traps to collect air samples in the field. Samples were collected below and above the body and at the soil surface in burial sites of four individuals over a 4-year span. The burials were 1.5-3.5- feet deep. Samples were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. 2 tables, 3 figures, and 21 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Chromatography; Death investigations; Forensic sciences; Homicide investigations; Homicide victims; Investigative techniques; Location; Mass spectroscopy; Tennessee
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