Deceased Male in Bath
Although this is the second out of three posts that involves a death I must add that we don't deal with these discoveries every day!
We don't know when we turn in for work at 0700 what the day will present. We can, however, expect certain jobs on a regular basis. Burglaries, TOMV (Theft of Motor Vehicle) as well as TFMV (Theft From Motor Vehicle) and assaults. We photograph injuries for certain levels of assaults, I will cover this in a future post. Every now and then, probably a few times a week, we will also attend a house or other building that has been used for the cultivation of Cannabis. We call these Cannabis Factories. This list in not definitive and we'd attend most scenes if there was a requirement for forensic recovery.
I want to share my experience of a discovery of a male who had been deceased for somewhere between 10-12 months.
The male lived alone in a local authority owned property. The male was not elderly and well below 50.
He was discovered by bailiffs acting on behalf of the local authority, who had attended the property to evict the tenant for non payment of rent.
They found out why he hadn't paid it.
There was a mass of envelopes and flyers, mainly junk and overdue bills, nothing personal. There were a number of handwritten and hand delivered debt collection notices.
The Police will often attend incidents of unexplained deaths. CSI will attend, normally we are the first to enter the scene, and we will work with CID to determine the cause of death.
When both CSI Girl and I arrived we put on gloves (I've always got a pocket full!) and a full body suit.
When we walked in I could smell the decomposition.
The property was a maisonette and had one living room, one bedroom, a kitchen and small bathroom. There was no furniture in the living room, not even a TV, something many of us consider a necessity.
The male had died whilst in the bath.
Decomposition or putrefaction is the gradual breakdown of dead organic matter and the release of elements and compounds into the environment. In the human body, decomposition usually starts immediately but isn't noticeable for a few hours.
The energy and water suppliers had cut the supply to the address. The toilet had no water in it, it was just lined with brown staining. With no heating, the property was noticeably colder than outside. This meant that although decomposition had occurred, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
The male was on his back with his knees bent slightly, like some taller people do in the bath. The stopper was in but most of the water had seeped down the plughole. There was about 3 inches of bodily fluids, a dark brown colour, in the bottom of the bath.
It stank, I had a mask but chose not to wear it. I got use to it after a few minutes.
There were hundreds of dead flies in the house. There were also little brown marks on the windows and sills. These marks were transfer from the body caused by the flies landing on the male and moving away again. Entomology can assist to establish an estimate to the time of death but only really within a number of hours rather than months. Certain insects will appear before others and these insects go through certain cycles.
A police surgeon attended the scene to pronounce the male as deceased. A medical practitioner needs to do this and strangely the male was pronounced deceased at the time of the examination, but had clearly been dead a long time.
The male's neighbours didn't really know him. It appears that he'd lived there for about 3 years, but never really spoke to anyone else. No one missed him either.
My next blog will discuss some of the chemical treatments used to find fingerprints on items unsuitable for powdering.