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Genetic Identification by Using Short Tandem Repeats Analysis in a Case of Suicide by Self-incineration: A Case Report

Margiotta, Gabriele MD*; Gabbrielli, Mario MD*; Carnevali, Eugenia BS; Alberti, Tommaso MD*; Carlini, Luigi MD; Lancia, Massimo MD; Bacci, Mauro MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 172–175
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000101
Case Reports

Suicide by self-incineration is an uncommon method of suicide in the western world in contrast with Asian countries, where this type of suicide is more common. If there is a lack of witnesses, genetic analysis for identification is mandatory, especially when anthropologic or dental identification is barely significant.

The authors report a case of self-incineration of a 55-year-old white man, which occurred near Siena, Tuscany, Italy.

The recovered bones were classified according to the Crow-Glassman scale and assigned to category 5 (the highest extent of combustion according to this scale). Therefore, because of the extent of the bone damage, analyzing the residual soft tissue around the pelvic bones was the only way to reach a genetic identification.

The authors report this case to emphasize that even if the highest level of burn injury to human body is reached, an accurate analysis of the findings may lead to a genetic identification. In these cases, an efficient cooperation among police, fire experts, and forensics is necessary, especially because it is the only way to determine if the modality of death was accidental, suicidal, or homicidal.

From the *Section of Legal Medicine-University of Siena; †Section of Legal Medicine - University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.

Manuscript received January 15, 2013; accepted January 9, 2014.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Massimo Lancia, MD, University of Perugia, via del Giochetto snc, 06126 Perugia, Italy. E-mail:;

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.