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Time of Death Estimation

At the University of Tennessee At Knoxville, a two-and-a-half-acre field is dedicated to the study of human remains. The Body Farm has made important contributions to estimating the time factors involved in suspicious deaths. The field has provided valuable information in the field of forensics. Forensic Science allows investigators to unmask the secrets of a crime scene. In criminal cases involving a victim, it is crucial that all evidence be gathered to help solve the crime. One of the most important factors is establishing the time in which the crime occurred. A medical examiner will examine the victim and estimate the time of death based on a variety of changes to the body following death.
The medical examiner is the most important individual in an investigation involving a victim. The medical examiner is usually a physician specializing in forensic pathology, the study of structural and functional change in the body because of injury. The medical examiner can determine if the cause of death is natural, accidental, suicidal, or homicidal. This is after the body has been looked over at the morgue, the scene of the crime or the location of death. The responsibility of the medical examiner to conduct an autopsy, examine medical evidence, study the victim's history, and put together all the information in a report to be turned in to the proper authorities.
The medical examiner can determine the time of death by a variety of changes to the body. The most common factor to determine the time of death is rigor mortis. Right after death the body begins to stiffen. The average amount of time for this to begin is two to three hours. The stiffness shows up in the face, lower jaw, and neck and after twelve to eighteen hours spreads throughout the body. Rigor mortis can last up to thirty-six hours before the body begins to go limp again. The most utilized time of death indicator is known as Ocular. Th

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