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Dr. Sumit Seth,is a career diplomat,member of prestigious Indian Foreign Service.He happens to be the youngest post-graduate of Forensic Medicine in India.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

?..Interesting, Unbelievable True Forensic Case.

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.

Here is the story:
On March 23, 1994....... the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus, and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide....
He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.
"Ordinarily, " Dr Mills continued, "Someone who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide." That Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.
The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously, and he was threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr.Opus. When one intends to kill subject "A" but
kills subject "B" in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B."
When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded.
The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr.Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.
The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident..
It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.
Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.
Now comes the exquisite twist... Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.
The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

A true story from Associated Press, (Reported by Kurt Westerville)

Sunday, November 23, 2008



B. Plucking hairs
C. Persistent pushing of head into vomit
D. Beating on soles





Explanation: Typically embalming fluid contains a mixture of formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and other solvents. The formaldehyde content generally ranges from 5 to 29 percent and the ethanol content may range from 9 to 56 percent.

Embalming fluid is injected into the arteries of the deceased during embalming. Many other bodily fluids may be drained or aspirated and replaced with the fluid as well. The process of embalming is designed to slow the decomposition of the body.

Chemicals and additives

Potential ingredients include:

a. Preservative. 18%-35% mixture of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde or in some cases phenol which are then diluted to gain the final index of the arterial solution. Methanol is used to hold the formaldehyde in solution. Formalin refers specifically to 37% aqueous formaldehyde and is not commonly used in funeral embalming but rather in the preservation of anatomical specimens.

b. Water Conditioner. These are designed to balance the "hardness" of water (the presence of other trace chemicals that changes the water's pH or neutrality) and to help reduce the deceased's acidity, a by-product of decomposition, as formaldehyde works best in an alkaline environment. Additionally, water conditioners may be used to help "inactivate" chemotherapy drugs and antibiotics which may bind to and render ineffectual the preservative chemical.

c. Cell Conditioner. These chemicals act to prepare cells for absorption of arterial fluid and help break up clots in the bloodstream.

d. Dyes. Active dyes are use to restore someone's natural colouration and counterstain against conditions such as jaundice as well as to indicate distribution of arterial fluid. Inactive dyes are used by the manufacturer of the arterial fluid to give a pleasant color to the fluid in the bottle, but does nothing for the appearance of the embalmed body.

e. Humectants. These are added to dehydrated and emaciated bodies to help restore tissue to a more natural and hydrated appearance.

f. Anti-Edemic Chemicals. The opposite of humectants these are designed to draw excessive fluid (edema) from a body.

g. Additional Disinfectants. For certain cases, such as tissue gas, specialist chemicals normally used topically such as Dis-Spray are added to an arterial solution.

h. Water. Most arterial solutions are a mix of some of the preceding chemicals with tepid water. Cases done without the addition of water are referred to specifically as "waterless". Waterless embalming is very effective but not economically viable for everyday cases

i. Cavity Fluid. This is a generally a very high index formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde solution injected undiluted directly via the trocar incision into the body cavities to treat the viscera. In cases of tissue gas phenol based products are often used instead.

Now what is meant by HUMECTANT??

A humectant is a hygroscopic substance. Examples of humectants include glycerine, propylene glycol and glyceryl triacetate. Others can be polyols like sorbitol, xylitol and maltitol, or polymeric polyols like polydextrose or natural extracts like quillaia, or lactic acid or urea. Lithium chloride is an excellent humectant but is toxic.

Although glycerine is itself not a germicide and has no preservative quality, it does increase the germ killing power of other chemicals, probably because it is an excellent solvent for disinfecting chemicals; its good solvent ability makes it an efficient carrier for the chemicals. Glycerine is also a good lubricator and is hygroscopic. If retained in tissues, it helps to prevent dehydration.

AND REGARDING PHENOL, REFERENCE FROM "Page number 124 & 125 of Embalming By Robert G. Mayer, Jacquelyn Taylor"

Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenol was one of the most commonly found components of both arterial and cavity fluids manufactured in the early days of the fluid industry. Today, it is used chiefly in cavity fluid formulations. Phenol is a coal-tar derivative that is a colorless crstalline solid. Upon exposure to strong light or metallic contamination, it darkens and assumes an amber or reddish brown appearance when in solution. The potency of phenol is not impaired to any great extent when such change occurs.

Phenol penetrates the skin very readily and is very rapidly absorbed by protein structures. Phenol and phenolic derivatives are good germicides. In addition, they assist formaldehyde in forming insoluble resins with albumins. Generally, their use in embalming fluids is confined to cavity fluids because they tend to produce a "putty gray” tissue. Formulations containing these compounds are often used as bleaching agents to lighten discolorations on the skin surface. The solution either is applied as an external pack or is injected subcutaneously with a hypodermic syringe.





Monday, August 04, 2008

Bullet to have "fingerprints"

U.K. researchers are developing a coating for bullet casings that sticks to the hands (or gloves) of anyone handling it and is very difficult to remove. The idea is to give each bullet a "fingerprint" that can be traced to a given crime.

Today, cops rely on generic gunpowder, primer and lubricants getting on the shooter's hands and clothing when a bullet is fired. Such techniques can tell when someone has fired a gun, but can't tie a shooter to a specific bullet casing.

The new coating is made from chemicals infused with nano-sized particles 30 microns in diameter (one micron is one millionth of a meter).

Read More

Friday, July 25, 2008

Virtual Autopsy

The term "autopsy" ("autos" means "self", "opsomei" means "seeing with eyes"), was adopted by medical sciences and is used as a synonym for the dissection of human (and animal) bodies. As implicated by the word itself, in fact even today, the autopsy procedure is a subjective method, and in the conventional forensic investigation process the description of the autopsy results is based on descriptive linguistic techniques. As it is a goal of the virtopsy project to eliminate the subjectivity of "autos" the term "virtopsy" was born, including the two terms "virtual" and "autopsy" but deleting "autos".

Virtual Autopsy was born from the desire to implement new techniques in radiology for the benefit of forensic science. There have been great improvements in MSCT and MRI technology, increasing both contrast and resolution and offering possibilities of 2D and 3D reconstruction.

The aim is to establish an observer independent, objective and reproducible forensic assessment method using modern imaging technology, leading to minimally invasive "virtual" forensic autopsy.

Benefits of Virtual Autopsy

Uniform Documentation of Findings:

The present-day descriptive, subjective protocolling of autopsy findings can be replaced by a uniform and observer-independent, objective radiological documentation. This will substantially increase the quality of the evidence presented in court by experts. Quality control and expert supervision become possible, as well as forensic "telemedicine" consultation.

• Increased Understandability:

The availability of 2D and 3D Reconstructions will impressively improve the clarity and, consequently, the understandability of future experts' evidence. This will play an important role in the acceptance of the evidence.

Alternative for cultures where conventional autopsy is forbidden

Virtual autopsy will allow for medico-legal examinations in cultural circles where a conventional autopsy is stigmatized or even forbidden. Last but not least, the method could be useful in the examination of highly infectious bodies.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

With H'ble Health Minister Dr. Ramadoss

Presenting "Review Of Forensic Medicine" to H'ble Union Minister For Health and Family Welfare Dr.Anbumani Ramadoss

AIIMS MD Entrance Exam May 2008

Q.1Corpus delicti is meaning? (Page 1)
A .Essence of crime
B. Inquest into death
C. Body of victim
D. Post-mortem examination

Ans is A.Essence of crime

Q.2Irresistable sexual desire in a male is otherwise known as?
(Page 103-104)


Ans is C.Satyriasis

Q3 In asphyxia structure to be open last is?
(N.B to obtain bloodless field neck is opened last.)


answer b.neck


Q4.Finger print bureau was 1st established in ? (Page 18)

a India
b UK
d Poland

Ans a) India

AIIMS November 2007

AIIMS No. 2007 Forensic Medicine Questions:

1. Telefona:
A. Plucking hairs
B. Beating on both ears
C. Persistent pushing of head into vomit
D. Beating on soles


1.TELEFONO consists of repeated slapping of the sides of the head[over the ears] by open palms of the assailant .this may cause rupture of ear drums.
2..FALANGA (also known as falaka or bastinado)
In this canes/rods are used to beat on the soles of the feet , which is very painful and debilitating. Aseptic necrosis may occur. also hyper pigmentation is seen along lines of injury.

3.SUBMARINO[also known as latina] Victim suffers forced immersion of head in water often contaminated with feces/urine until suffocation.
4.DRY SUBMARINO is tying a plastic bag over the head up to the point of suffocation.
5.SAW HORSE forced straddling of a bar, forcing the victim to sit on a Rod like one sits on horse back, leading to perineal/scrotal hematoma.
6.CATTLE PROD[electric shock] here a magnetic device delivering high voltage may be used in which burns may not be found on skin, but it causes severe pain.
7.BLACK SLAVE here a heated metal spear like object, is inserted into anus .causing rectal/ perinea burns.

2. Primary impact injury most commonly involved is:

A. Head
B. Neck
C. Abdomen
D. Legs

3 type of injury which pedestrians may suffer.
1)Primaryimpact: These are caused when first part of the strikes the vehicle.In the typical case, the vitim is struck by the front of the vehicle and sustains so called bumper injury on legs

2)Secondary impact injuries: These are injuries cause by further impact by the the vehicle
3) Tertiary impact injuries (Secondary injuries) These are injuries caused when the victim striking objects such as the ground)

3.In death due to asphyxia, last to be opened is:
(Ref page no 86)

A. Thorax
B. Abdomen
C. Head
D. Neck

4. In tandem bullet the number of bullets fired are:
(Ref page no.66)
A. 1
B. 2
C. 3
D. None

5. All of the following are included in grievous hurt except:
(Ref page No. 68)

A. Abrasion on face
B. Loss of one kidney
C. Loss of one testis
D. Loss of one eye

All India Pre PG Exam January 2008

Corporobasal index is used to determine:
(Ref. Page 7)
A. Race
B. Sex
C. Age
D. Stature

Which of the following is not a death due to suffocation:
(Ref. Page 83)
A. Burking
B. Gagging
C. Throttling
D. Choking

On postmortem examination, contusion of neck muscles is seen along with fracture of Hyoid Bone. The most probable cause of death is:
(Ref. Page 87)
A. Manual Strangulation
B. Drowning
C. Burking
D. Smothering

Expanded Lungs may sink due to:
(Ref. Page 117)

A. Atelectasis
B. Putrefaction
C. Mouth to mouth respiration
D. Alcoholic fixation Meconium aspiration

The reagent used to detect presence of Vaginal Cells on the penis of an accused in a rape case is:
(Ref. Page 144,by exclusion)

A. Lugol’s iodine
B. Phenophthalein test
C. Orthotoluidine test.
D. Benzidine

Vaginal cells can not be seen with the naked eye, but can be detected by a test. These cells turn Brown when exposed to the vapors of Lugol's iodine.

Mechanism of labour in abortion stick is due to:
(Ref. Page 152)

A. Stimulation of uterine contraction
B. Oxytocin present in the stick
C. Prostaglandins present in the stick
D. All of the above

An example of Polychlorinated hydrocarbon is:
(Ref. Page 181)

A. Parathion
B. Malathion
C. Diazinon
D. Endrin

A middle aged man from West Bengal presents with paraesthesia of hands and feet, hyperkeratosis, lines in the nails and rain drop pigmentation in the hands. The most likely causative toxin for the above mentioned symptoms is:
(Ref. Page 183)

A. Lead.
B. Arsenic
C. Thallium.
D. Mercury.