A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes

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Harvard University Press, Sep 1, 2001 - Science - 240 pages
The forensic entomologist turns a dispassionate, analytic eye on scenes from which most people would recoil--human corpses in various stages of decay, usually the remains of people who have met a premature end through accident or mayhem. To Lee Goff and his fellow forensic entomologists, each body recovered at a crime scene is an ecosystem, a unique microenvironment colonized in succession by a diverse array of flies, beetles, mites, spiders, and other arthropods: some using the body to provision their young, some feeding directly on the tissues and by-products of decay, and still others preying on the scavengers.

Using actual cases on which he has consulted, Goff shows how knowledge of these insects and their habits allows forensic entomologists to furnish investigators with crucial evidence about crimes. Even when a body has been reduced to a skeleton, insect evidence can often provide the only available estimate of the postmortem interval, or time elapsed since death, as well as clues to whether the body has been moved from the original crime scene, and whether drugs have contributed to the death.

An experienced forensic investigator who regularly advises law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad, Goff is uniquely qualified to tell the fascinating if unsettling story of the development and practice of forensic entomology.


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A fly for the prosecution: how insect evidence helps solve crimes

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This is a lively and informative firsthand account of forensic entomology in the United States. Goff (entomology, Univ. of Hawaii, Manoa) is a consultant to the Medical Examiner of Honolulu. He is ... Read full review

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User Review  - aputel - LibraryThing

This is my favorite book on forensic entomology. Written by one of the top experts in the field. Read full review


The Bugs on the Body
The Pigs Tale
The First Flies
Patterns of Succession
Coverups and Concealments
Air Fire and Water
Spreading the Word
Summing Up

Drugs and Toxins

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Page 213 - ... entomologists practicing today. References Aldrich, JM, 1916. Sarcophaga and Allies in North America. Thomas Say Foundation, LaFayette, IN. Bergeret, M., 1855. Infanticide, momification du cadavre. Decouverte du cadavre d'un enfant nouveau-ne dans une dheminee ou il setait momifie. determination de 1'epoque de la naissance par la presence de nymphes et de larves d'Insectes dans le cadvre et par 1'Etude de leurs metamorphoses. (Homicide of a new-born child found in a chimney and its natural mummification....
Page 213 - Catts, EP, and NH Haskell, eds. 1990. Entomology and death: A procedural guide. Joyce's Print Shop, Clemson, SC Coe, M.
Page 3 - I measured the length of each of the maggots in one of the lots, and used the average of these lengths to give me some idea of their stage of development. Then I preserved them in ethyl alcohol. I put the other sublot of maggots into a rearing chamber to complete their development to the adult stage.
Page 6 - Oahu, completion of development from egg to maggot to pupa and finally to adult usually requires 1 1 days. Since the only evidence of this species on the body was the empty pupal cases, discarded when the flies reach adulthood, I was confident that all Chrysomya maggots maturing on the body had completed development before it was discovered.
Page 213 - Catts, EP, and ML Goff 1992 Forensic Entomology in Criminal Investigations. Annual Review of Entomology 37:253-272. Catts, EP, and NH Haskell 1990 Entomology and Death: A Procedural Guide.
Page 216 - Quantifying statistical uncertainty in succession-based entomological estimates of the postmortem interval in death scene investigations: A simulation study. American Entomologist 42:106-112.
Page 6 - Oahu, they begin to arrive between 8 and 1 1 days after the onset of decomposition, and during decomposition studies I have gathered larvae comparable in size to those collected from this case beginning on day 19. The remaining species I collected, including the Histeridae and Staphylinidae found in the soil, were consistent with a postmortem interval of 19 to 20 days but did not yield more precise information.
Page 6 - Chrysomj'a rufifacies, egg laying can begin quite soon after the adult females reach the body and will continue, under Hawaiian conditions, for approximately the first 6 days following death.
Page 213 - Determination de 1'epoque de la naissance par la presence de nymphes et de larves d'insectes dans le cadavre et par l'etude de leurs metamorphoses. Annals of Hygiene and Legal Medicine 4:442-452.

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