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The Application of Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis to Assess Dumped and Subsequently Scattered Human Remains

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This study utilizes geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analysis (SA) technology to address the problems associated with prediction of location and effective recovery of dumped and scattered human remains in Louisiana. The goals are to determine if a selective bias exists in Louisiana as to where and when human remains are dumped and to assess whether or not geographically specific patterns exist in the dispersal of human remains. We hypothesized that a positive relationship exists between postmortem interval (PMI) and dispersal distance, and that there are negative relationships between PMI and dispersal direction and between dispersal direction and distance. Our results indicate that, in Louisiana, remains are more often dumped in rural areas away from a structure, and are found within ΒΌ mile of the nearest road. For Louisiana, no seasonal bias was found in the analysis of when remains are dumped. Furthermore, with the exception of the relationship between PMI and the shortest distance remains were dispersed, no geographically specific patterns were detected in the analyses of dispersal distance, dispersal direction, and PMI.

Keywords: dumped bodies; forensic anthropology; forensic science; geographic information systems; scattered remains; spatial analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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