Title

Testing Different Search Methods for Recovering Scattered and Scavenged Remains

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Publication Title

Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal

Volume

41

Issue

4

First Page

209

Last Page

213

DOI

10.1080/00085030.2008.10757178

Abstract

Vertebrate scavengers are primary mechanisms for scatter and disarticulation of human remains in rural habitats. Because recovery of the body can be hampered by the degree of scatter due to scavengers, the methods used to search for body parts will influence how much is found and the length of time taken to recover the body. We compared the frequency of scavenging by vertebrates in two different habitats, a deciduous forest and a tall grass meadow, and measured the time taken to search for scattered remains within a designated search area using four methods. Freshly killed 23 kg pigs were placed in either a forest or tall grass meadow habitat, and scavenging by vertebrates was observed over a 5–6 day period. Subsequently, the link, line, zone, and spiral methods were used to search for remains within a 21 m2 search area. Three of 5 pigs in the forest and 4 of 5 pigs in the meadow habitat were scavenged by a variety of vertebrates. Mean time to search the designated area around each pig differed between the forest and the meadow, but not by search method. Mobility within each habitat likely explains the difference in search times, and also accounts for some of the variability between search methods.

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