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An Aquatic Decomposition Scoring Method to Potentially Predict the Postmortem Submersion Interval of Bodies Recovered from the North Sea

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This study aimed to develop an aquatic decomposition scoring (ADS) method and investigated the predictive value of this method in estimating the postmortem submersion interval (PMSI) of bodies recovered from the North Sea. This method, consisting of an ADS item list and a pictorial reference atlas, showed a high interobserver agreement (Krippendorff's alpha ≥ 0.93) and hence proved to be valid. This scoring method was applied to data, collected from closed cases—cases in which the postmortal submersion interval (PMSI) was known—concerning bodies recovered from the North Sea from 1990 to 2013. Thirty‐eight cases met the inclusion criteria and were scored by quantifying the observed total aquatic decomposition score (TADS). Statistical analysis demonstrated that TADS accurately predicts the PMSI (p < 0.001), confirming that the decomposition process in the North Sea is strongly correlated to time.
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Keywords: aquatic decomposition process; forensic pathology; forensic science; forensic taphonomy; postmortem changes; postmortem submersion interval

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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