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Multidisciplinary Investigation of an Unusual Apparent Homicide/Suicide

Harding, Brett E. MBA*; Sullivan, Linda M. BS; Adams, Susan BS; Middleberg, Robert A. PhD; Wolf, Barbara C. MD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 208-212
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318221ba71
Case Reports

The investigation of deaths of individuals whose bodies are decomposed, mummified, or skeletonized is particularly difficult for medical examiners and medicolegal death investigators. Determination of the cause and manner of death in such cases frequently requires consultation with experts in a variety of disciplines in the forensic sciences and necessitates correlation of the autopsy results, scene investigation, medical and social history of the deceased, and laboratory studies. The authors report an unusual case of an apparent homicide/suicide involving 2 individuals and a canine that went undetected for almost 4 years. Determination of the cause and manner of death in these cases involved a multidisciplinary, intercontinental investigation and necessitated the performance of toxicologic studies on specimens not commonly analyzed. These cases illustrate the importance of the multidisciplinary approach to medicolegal death investigations and the necessity of considering nontraditional sources of potential information and specimens for laboratory analysis in selected cases.

From the *Office of the District 21 Medical Examiner, Fort Myers; †Wuesthoff Reference Laboratory, Melbourne, FL; and ‡National MedicalServices, Willow Grove, PA.

Manuscript received March 3, 2008; accepted March 20, 2008.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Barbara C. Wolf, MD, Office of the District 5 Medical, Examiner, 809 Pine St, Leesburg, FL 34788. E-mail:

© 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.