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Homicide by Poisoning

Finnberg, Amanda MD*; Junuzovic, Mensura MD*; Dragovic, Ljubisa MD; Ortiz-Reyes, Ruben MD; Hamel, Marianne MD, PhD; Davis, Joseph MD, PhD§; Eriksson, Anders MD, PhD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 - p 38–42
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31823d2977
Original Articles

By studying the number and method of homicidal poisoning in Miami-Dade County, Florida; New York City, NY; Oakland County, Michigan; and Sweden, we have confirmed that this is an infrequently established crime.

Several difficulties come with the detection of homicidal poisonings. Presenting symptoms and signs are often misdiagnosed as natural disease, especially if the crime is committed in a hospital environment, suggesting that an unknown number of homicides go undetected.

In the reported cases analyzed, the lethal agent of choice has changed over the years. In earlier years, traditional poisons such as arsenic, cyanide, and parathion were frequently used. Such poisonings are nowadays rare, and instead, narcotics are more commonly detected in victims of this crime.

From the *Section of Forensic Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; †Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office, Pontiac, MI; ‡Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, New York, NY; and §Miami-Dade County, Medical Examiner Department, Miami, FL.

Manuscript received March 18, 2011; accepted September 26, 2011.


The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Anders Eriksson, MD, PhD, Section of Forensic Medicine, Umeå University, PO Box 7616, SE-907 12 Umeå, Sweden. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.