The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

The differential burn patterns in a hanging specimen compared to a specimen positioned on the surface


Department of Anthropology, University of Montana

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Forensic anthropologists can analyze burn patterns on a victim’s body to infer about the position of the body during a fire. The analysis of burn patterns in relation to position around time of death can potentially provide information to investigators about the events surround an individual’s death. This study seeks to examine the similarities and differences in the direction of burn patterns on a body that is hanging up compared to a body lying flat on the floor. This study found that there were differences in burn patterns between the two specimens. The specimen hanging up exhibited a black charring pattern that covered over 90 percent of the body. The floor specimen exhibited a different discoloration pattern, from tan, to dark brown, to a light grey color on the exposed surface. The surface lying against the floor exhibited little to no discoloration and exhibited an outline on the body that was reflective of its position lying against the floor. These findings are important because the floor specimen is consistent with what previous scholars have found in relation to the severity of burn patterns in individuals that have been positioned on the surface. The specimen hanging up exhibited a significantly different pattern that makes it possible to distinguish it from the floor specimen. These findings can be useful for investigators because they could potentially use this information to determine if a body was originally placed in the position it was recovered in.

None. I haven't been awarded any funding to attend conference.

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