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Comparative analysis of bones, mites, soil chemistry, nematodes and soil micro-Eukaryotes from a suspected homicide to estimate the post-mortem interval

Szelecz, I., Lösch, S., Seppey, C. V. W., Lara, E., Singer, D., Sorge, F., Tschui, J., Perotti, M. A. and Mitchell, E. A. D. (2018) Comparative analysis of bones, mites, soil chemistry, nematodes and soil micro-Eukaryotes from a suspected homicide to estimate the post-mortem interval. Scientific Reports, 8. 25. ISSN 2045-2322

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-18179-z

Abstract/Summary

Criminal investigations of suspected murder cases require estimating the post-mortem interval (PMI, or time after death) which is challenging for longer periods. Here we present the case of human remains found in a Swiss forest. We have used a multidisciplinary approach involving the analysis of bones, soil chemical characteristics, mites and nematodes (by microscopy) and micro-Eukaryotes (by Illumina high throughput sequencing). We analysed soil samples collected beneath the remains of the head, upper and lower body and “control” samples taken a few meters away. The PMI estimated on hair 14C-data via bomb peak radiocarbon dating gave a time range of 1 to 2 years before the finding of the remains on site. Cluster analyses for chemical constituents, nematodes, mites and micro- Eukaryotes revealed two clusters 1) head and upper body and 2) lower body and controls. From mite evidence, we conclude that the body was likely to have been brought to the site after death. However, chemical analyses, nematode community analyses and the analyses of micro-Eukaryotes indicate that decomposition took place at least partly on site. This study illustrates the usefulness of combining several lines of evidence for the study of homicide cases to better calibrate PMI inference tools.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:70230
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group

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