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Investigation of Homicides Interred in Concrete—The Los Angeles Experience

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Decedents interred in concrete present unique problems and investigation of these deaths necessitates a team of forensic specialists. The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner has had five such deaths in the past 18 years. The buried cases needed layer-by-layer excavation to establish the time and cause of death. Metal detectors are often used in this process. X-rays of the interred remains were completed to help with locating the decedent’s position in the concrete. The breaking of concrete in some of the cases required the use of a sledgehammer and later a chisel in a manner that would not damage the remains. Postmortem dismemberment was frequent in our cases. The decedents were all female or prepubescent children, and the perpetrators were closely related to the decedents. While concrete can interfere with determination of postmortem interval, it can also preserve the remains and assist with identification.
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Keywords: forensic anthropology; forensic odontology; forensic pathology; forensic radiology; forensic science

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, 1104 North Mission Road, Los Angeles, CA 90033.

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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