Thursday, November 26, 2020

Local ‘body farm’ to allow Australian researchers to study decomposing human corpses

Must read

The Bowraville Murders – Australia’s Unsolved Serial Killing

For the past three months, The Australian’s crime reporter Dan Box has been looking at an unsolved serial killing in Bowraville. Three children, all...

3,000-year-old fingerprints found on ancient Egyptian coffin lid

Researchers at Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum in the UK have found 3,000-year old fingerprints on the lid of an Egyptian coffin. "The fingerprints were left by craftsmen who...

Police appeal for help to identify mystery victim dredged from Maribyrnong River

THREE limbs found in the Maribyrnong River since Thursday all belonged to the same person, police believe - and they now have a number...

Human remains decompose in B.C. waters in less than four days

Human remains lost in deep waters off the B.C. coast decompose at a much faster rate than previously thought, suggests a new Simon Fraser...
Michael Whyte
Crime Scene Officer and Fingerprint Expert with over 7 years experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Latent Print Analysis. The opinions or assertions contained on this site are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as those of any professional organisation or policing body.
- Forensic Podcast -

An American-style “body farm” will be made available to Australian researchers for the first time to allow them to study decomposing cadavers.

A new secure facility will be built on a patch of land owned by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The facility will be set up in an undisclosed location in the Hawkesbury Region on the outskirts of Sydney. It will be the first of its kind outside of the United States, where so-called body farms have been used for decades.

Until now, Australian researchers have had to rely on data from body farms in the US. Forensic experts said they would now be able to conduct local research to assist Australian police investigations.

The project has been led by Professor Shari Forbes from UTS who studies the scents of decomposing human bodies to assist police officers training cadaver dogs. She said American data had given Australian researchers a picture of how bodies began to degrade over time.

“It’s through their research that we’ve realised the importance of the environment in terms of understanding decomposition processes,” she said.

But Professor Forbes said much of the American data was not relevant to the Australian climate.

“We can’t really extrapolate the data from America, it’s not as useful to police and forensic services here,” she said.

Professor Forbes also used the corpses of pigs to assist her research, but said it was not clear how accurate that data was, either. “At the moment, we’re still not sure that pigs are the best model,” she said.

“This will actually help prove or disprove whether or not pigs can be used as a model of decomposition.

“We’re very fortunate that the people who donate their body to science are giving us an invaluable resource by allowing us to actually conduct this research.”

The important contribution for us will be providing a better insight into ageing a grave but also how to search for a body, how to locate human bodies and how to recover them in a variety of different environments.

Victoria Police chief forensic scientist Dr Bryan Found Cadavers donated to UTS will be placed on the land, and dozens of researchers – including anthropologists, archaeologists and entomologists – will be able to use the facility. Dr Soren Blau, a senior anthropologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, said it could be challenging for forensic experts to determine exactly how long a body had been decomposing.

“These questions have been very difficult to answer, there’s many variables that are involved,” she said.

She said the development of the new facility would be extremely useful to many different types of researchers studying Taphonomy – the study of remains from the time of death until discovery. The Chief Forensic Scientist at Victoria Police Dr Bryan Found said the research would influence the way crime scenes were studied.

“The important contribution for us will be in such things as providing a better insight into ageing a grave but also how to search for a body, how to locate human bodies and how to recover them in a variety of different environments,” he said.

Work will begin on the new facility in 2015.

Source: ABC News

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article

Trees and shrubs might reveal the location of decomposing bodies

Plants could help investigators find dead bodies. Botanists believe the sudden flush of nutrients into the soil from decomposition may affect nearby foliage. If...

Are Detectives discounting the associative value of fingerprints that fall short of an identification in their investigations?

Every day, Fingerprint Experts in every latent office across the globe examine fingermarks that they determine to fall short of an identification....

Using the NCIC Bayesian Network to improve your AFIS searches

This National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) Bayesian network is based on the statistical data of general patterns of fingerprints on the hands...

DNA decontamination of fingerprint brushes

Using fingerprint brushes across multiple crime scenes yields a high risk of DNA cross-contamination. Thankfully an Australian study has discovered a quick and easy way to safely decontaminate fingerprint brushes to prevent this contamination risk and allows the brushes to be safely reused even after multiple cleaning cycles.

Detection of latent fingerprint hidden beneath adhesive tape by optical coherence tomography

Adhesive tape is a common item which can be encountered in criminal cases involving rape, murder, kidnapping and explosives. It is often the case...