Unusual Death of a Transvestite: Identification of Crime Weapon and Survival Time

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The authors report a case of a transvestite found murdered near his automobile with several lacerated contused wounds to the face and cranial fractures. Autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a serious head trauma with subdural and subarachnoidal hemorrhages. In order to identify the crime weapon, a scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used which revealed metallic residue on the skin fragments with the same molecular composition of the car paint. As for survival time, antibody anti-beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) was applied to brain fragments and brainstem tissue, allowing for axonal varicosities (which form 2 to 3 h following death) to be observed under the optic microscope. So, by using SEM we understood that the fatal cranial-encephalic lesions were the result of the victim’s head being repeatedly struck against the car door while anti-betaAPP led to the understanding that the time elapsed between injury and death was less than 2 to 3 h.

Keywords: SEM; beta-APP; forensic science; immunohistochemistry; metallic fragments; survival time; transvestite homicide

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01102.x

Affiliations: Section of Legal Medicine, University of Bari, Pizza Giulio Cesare, n. 11, Bari 70125, Italy.

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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