Plastic waste sacks alter the rate of decomposition of dismembered bodies within

Scholl, Kassra and Moffatt, Colin (2017) Plastic waste sacks alter the rate of decomposition of dismembered bodies within. International Journal of Legal Medicine . pp. 1-7. ISSN 0937-9827

Full text not available from this repository.

Official URL:


As a result of criminal activity, human bodies are sometimes dismembered and concealed within sealed, plastic waste sacks. Consequently, due to the inhibited ingress of insects and dismemberment, the rate of decomposition of the body parts within may be different to that of whole, exposed bodies. Correspondingly, once found, an estimation of the postmortem interval may be affected and lead to erroneous inferences. This study set out to determine whether insects were excluded and how rate of decomposition was affected inside such plastic sacks. The limbs, torsos and heads of 24 dismembered pigs were sealed using nylon cable ties within plastic garbage sacks, half of which were of a type claimed to repel insects. Using a body scoring scale to quantify decomposition, the body parts in the sacks were compared to those of ten exposed, whole pig carcasses. Insects were found to have entered both types of plastic sack. There was no difference in rate of decomposition in the two types of sack (F1,65 = 1.78, p = 0.19), but this was considerably slower than those of whole carcasses (F1,408 = 1453, p < 0.001), with heads showing the largest differences. As well as a slower decomposition, sacks resulted in formation of some adipocere tissue as a result of high humidity within. Based upon existing methods, postmortem intervals for body parts within sealed sacks would be significantly underestimated.

Repository Staff Only: item control page