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An Atypical Gunshot Wound from a Home-Made Zip Gun—The Value of a Thorough Scene Investigation

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Zip guns and the atypical gunshot wounds they produce are rare in forensic pathology. Because of this, investigators and forensic pathologists may be unfamiliar with their construction, appearance, and the wounds associated with them. A 43-year-old mechanic, with a history of depression was found dead in a washroom stall at work with an atypical gunshot wound of the head. Upon initial investigation, no weapon was found at the scene. Due to the nature of the scene, and the unusual characteristics of the wound, the manner of death was at first thought to be a homicide. Subsequently, a simple zip gun, which had been overlooked during the scene investigation, was discovered by a co-worker while he was cleaning the stall. Examination of the wound revealed evidence of contact range firing. A markedly deformed bullet was recovered from the head, consistent with the use of the home-made gun. These findings, along with further police investigation and review of the past medical history, indicated that the manner of death was a suicide.
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Keywords: atypical gunshot wound; forensic science; scene investigation; zip gun

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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