Author(s): Cavard S, Alvarez JC, De Mazancourt P, Tilotta F, Brousseau P,
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Abstract The identification of X bodies is an everyday preoccupation in forensic pathology. This retrospective analysis studied all methods of identification and characteristics of unidentified bodies arrived in the Department of Forensic Medicine and Pathology (University Hospital R. Poincaré, Garches, France) during a 6-years period (2003-2009). The aim was to determine the identification methods used during all the forensic investigations, but also to study causes and manner of death in this sample of the population. A total of 9.1\% of all autopsies were on X cadavers (217 cases out of 2384). On this total, only 134 of them have been included in our series after exclusion of archaeological and animal samples, but also of unidentified individuals or incomplete data available. Almost 28\% of them have been identified with molecular biology (DNA), 23\% with odontological examination, 7.5\% with fingerprinting and 6.7\% with autopsy data. Manner of death was mainly suicide (40.3\%) especially by asphyxia following drowning, then accidental death (17.9\%) especially consecutive to multiple trauma after traffic accident, acute carbon monoxide intoxication or carbonization in a fire. A total of 11.9\% natural deaths were found (50\% of them being of cardio-vascular origin) and 11.2\% of homicides (with the use of firearm in a third of them). For 18.7\% of X cadavers, the mode of death was undetermined. 46.4\% of all unidentified bodies in our series were only identified by the police investigations, using physical recognition (direct or with photographs) or personal effects or identity documents in close relationship with the body. Our study highlights the fact that quite half of all unidentified bodies are inhumed with an identity not scientifically proved. Bodies which remained unidentified after all investigations represent 10.2\% of X cadavers (if we consider a group of 176 cases composed of our study sample of 134 cases plus 24 subjects identified just before the autopsy and the 18 cases which remained unidentified) and 0.8\% of all autopsies performed in the department. Copyright Â© 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Forensic Sci Int
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Biomechanics