This poster documents the first incidence of forensic entomology being used in the investigation of a human death scene involving burned corpses in Thailand. In April 2000, the charred remains of two male humans tied together with rope were discovered in a forested area 50 km from downtown Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The extent to which these corpses were burned was Level #4 of the Crow-Glassman Scale. Specimens of insects collected from the corpses included larvae of the dipteran species Chrysomya megacephala (F.), Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart), Chrysomya nigripes Aubertin (family: Calliphoridae), Hydrotaea (=Ophyra) spinigera Stein (family: Muscidae), Sargus sp. (family: Stratiomyidae) and four unidentified flesh fly larvae (family: Sarcophagidae). Larvae and adults of the beetle, Dermestes maculatus De Geer (Coleoptera: Dermestidae) were also included. The third-instar larvae of C. rufifacies were the oldest of the fly larvae collected; and based on their age and the temperatures that prevailed in Chiang Mai during April 2000, the minimum postmortem interval (PMI) for these corpses was ca. six days. However, the presence of the dermestid beetle larvae along with the Hydrotaea and Sargus fly larvae, all give evidence that the PMI may have been longer than six days. These particular species usually invade unburned corpses after the blow fly phase of arthropod succession is completed or nearly so (e.g., 4 months PMI in a mummified human corpse in Thailand). Burning of the corpses that were the subject of the current investigation may have altered their state to the point where these non-blow fly species of insects came to associate with the corpses earlier that what is considered to be normal. Additional research is needed to ascertain the effects of various levels of burning on the succession of arthropods subsequently coming to associate with carrion so treated in Thailand.
Species 1: Diptera Calliphoridae Chrysomya (blow fly)
Keywords: Forensic entomology, Burned corpses
The ESA 2001 Annual Meeting - 2001: An Entomological Odyssey of ESA