CJ 370-01: Crime Scene Investigation II
Unit 5 Assignment
Purdue University Global
Unit 5 Assignment
It is a sad thing to say but there are a lot of murders in the world, and sometimes the body may be disposed of by the killer. It may take months or longer for the body to be discovered, and there are many things that can happen to a body that is dumped in the woods. For example, there can be animals that feed off of the body, the body can start decomposing as well. There are a lot of identifying methods that are available to detectives, but sometimes all that is left of a deceased body may be teeth and bones. This paper will discuss some of the methods that can be used when the only thing that is present to identify the body is just teeth and bones.
If a body is dumped in the woods there are many things that can impact the body, such as the temperature, and this can impact the decaying process of the body. Forensic odontology is focused on the teeth and oral structures that is used for identification of a body. The different forensic odontology techniques aid in the identification of human remains in such incidents as terrorists’ attacks, airplane crashes, fires, earthquakes and the list goes on and on (Balachander, Aravindha, Babu, Jimson, Priyadharsini, & Masthan, 2015).
If there is dental evidence present it can be compared with the ante-mortem records to determine identification. Dental structures are the hardest and the most protected structures of the body. Features such as variations in the shape and size of the teeth, restorations, missing teeth, wear patterns, color and position of the teeth is great information because each person has a unique identity. If there is no ante-mortem records to be compared to, the teeth can aid in determining the age, sex, and race, habits and occupations, and this information can help in identifying the body (Fisher, & Fisher, 2012).
A forensic dentists can make a positive identification sometimes using only one tooth. If there are no dental x-rays available a digital photograph can be taken of the teeth to compare it to a smile in a photograph of when the person was alive. Dental examinations are sometimes the key to identifying a person through certain characteristics in the make-up of the teeth. The enamel is the hardest substance within the body, and it takes longer for it to decay (Wright, 2010). Identifying a person with no dental records can be hard to do. But things such as broken or missing teeth or gold crowns might be recognized by the friends or family members of the deceased person. The forensic dentist can learn things about the person for example if he or she was a smoker, because this will impact the teeth. It may also, determine the occupation of the person such as a tailor may put pins and needles in their mouth resulting in chipped teeth.
Once the bones of a deceased person have been discovered, they are sent to a medical examiner’s office or laboratory to be examined. It is noted where the bones were found, and the bones may have to be cleaned before the examination can take place. The anthropologist will try to provide a physical description of the person based on these factors, gender, age at death, race and height (Caplova, Gibelli, DeAngelis, Mazzelli, Sforza, & Cattaneo, 2018).
The pelvis is the most reliable for determining the sex of skeletal remains. The female pelvis is built to offer the space for the birth canal. The skull can be used to determine the sex of the person , because as the female goes from puberty to adulthood her skull retains many of the prepubertal traits such as smoothness and gracility. The skull of a male shows more robustness and larger muscle attachment areas. If the skull and pelvis are not available to determine sex from long bones and other parts of the skeleton, morphology is a more accurate feature than size in determining the sex (Caplova, et al., 2018).
When it comes to determining the age of a deceased person using bones, the most reliable means to estimate age in a child is the development and eruption of the teeth. The skull, is the most diagnostic for determining the race of the person. The most common way to estimate the height from the skeletal remains is to use equations that were developed for this reason by measuring the lengths of long bones. Normally the femur or tibia is measure to determine the height of the person as well (Caplova, et al., 2018). The trauma that is available from skeletal remains are divided into three categories which are antemortem, perimortem, and postmortem. The antemortem trauma determines what injuries happened when the person was alive, perimortem are injuries that were received at or about the time of death and the postmortem trauma is what was sustained after death such as from the environment or animals, or insects, all of this provides great and useful information.
One of the hardest questions for a forensic anthropologist is to estimate how long the skeletal remains have been at the location in which they were discovered. The estimate of the time since death can possibly be narrowed down to the number of missing persons when compared to the unknown victim. It can also be determined if the bones belong to a human or an animal. It may also be necessary for the anthropologist to make x-rays of the bones as well, this is another method that can provide helpful information (Caplova, et al., 2018).
This paper has discussed different ways in which a deceased body can in fact be identified using only teeth and bones. Whenever a person kills someone, they may think that even though they have hidden the body that it will never be found. There is no such thing as the perfect crime, and hopefully at some point and time the remains will be discovered, and with all of the new technology that is available the body can possibly be identified. The bones and the teeth of a person can provide some helpful clues when it comes to identifying their body. Fingerprints is also a great method for identifying a deceased body, but sometimes all that is left of a person is just their teeth and bones. The teeth of each person is different because no two people have the same structure of their teeth, it is better when there are previous dental x-rays but sometimes there is none. Both the teeth and bones of a person can determine things such as their gender, race, age, and height, and these are important things when it comes to identifying a deceased person.
Balachander, N., Aravindha Babu, N., Jimson, S., Priyadharsini, C., & Masthan, K. M. K.
(2015). Evolution of forensic odontology: An overview. Journal of Pharmacy & Bio allied
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Caplova, Z., Gibelli, D. M., DeAngelis, D., Mazzelli, D., Sforza, C., & Cattaneo, C. (2018).
Personal identification of deceased persons: An overview of the current methods based on
physical appearance. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 63(3), 662-671.
Fisher, B. A. J., & Fisher, D. R. (2012). Techniques of crime scene investigation. (8th ed).
Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis Group CRC Press.
Wright, J. D. (2010). Criminal investigation: Evidence, clues, and forensic science. (2nd ed).
St. Paul, MN: Parragon Incorporated.