Stages of Exhumation

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Exhumation of a forensic scene must be done meticulously to preserve evidence. Briefly, the steps are outlined here:

A. Exhumation strategies and recovery methods – All logistical details should be worked out before starting groundbreaking – Exaction grid is placed around the site and proceeded through in an orderly manner – Never mark directly on the evidence; always on the container – Record specific information on each photographic exposure including date, time, and personnel involved.

B. Postmortem identification of remains – Bodies and remains are transported to the lab where they are first radiographed before forensic autopsy – Goals of autopsy are identification, documentation of injury, determination of cause and manner of death.

C. Reconstructing crime scene and criminal events leading to death – It must be determined whether assault took place at the grave or if the bodies had been moved to the grave site after death occurred – 3 stages of change after death: early, late and tissue changes.

D. Identifying and prosecuting the criminal – Obtaining physical evidence.

References Lynch, Virginia A. and Duval, Janet Barber. (2006). Forensic Nursing. St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby

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