HOW INSECTS HELP IN CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION?
POLICE AND SCIENCE UNITED AGAINST THE CRIME
“We speak for the dead to protect the living”
They are not the policemen but they are among the first who are being called to see the crime scene. They are not the profilers but they are those who give the final directions. They do not belong to the law enforcement but they are empowering the law through their daily work in the science field. They are not CSI but they are more legendary than Hollywood brand. They are forensic scientists, always behind the crime investigation and always in fight against the evil.
The forensic science is relatively new discipline but with the ancient practice:“From the 16th century, when medical practitioners began using forensic science to writings in the late 18th century that revealed the first evidence of modern pathology, to the formation of the first school of forensic science in 1909; the development of forensic science has been used to uncover mysteries, solve crimes, and convict or exonerate suspects of crime for hundreds of years.” It tries to enable a good application of the science to criminal and civil laws. The scientific methods what combine the useful elements of the medicine,pathology, chemistry, biology, physics and maths are offering the help to the legal authorities and criminology experts in analyzing the field of brutal and violent crimes. The set of standards recognized by forensics is the part of the modern judicial system and the part of every investigation with the intention to trace the murderer and to solve the murder puzzle. No matter is they do examination of physical evidence or interpretation of data, they are doing the important job and therefore their testimony is an inseparable chapter of the crime investigation projects on local, national or federal level worldwide. The rich variety of forensics disciplines as forensic pathology, psychology, psychiatry, entomology, geology, anthropology, botany, archeology, toxicology,linguistics and forensic DNA analysis make the process of investigation a bit easier and make more possible that the executioner could be found and punished.
Without any doubts, one of the most important daughters of the forensic science is forensic entomology itself. The study follows and research the insects for medical-legal purposes:“Forensic entomology is the study of the application of insects and other arthropods in criminal investigation. Insects or arthropods are found in a decomposing vertebrate corpse or carrion. These insect colonizers can be used to estimate the time of death i.e., time interval between death and corpse discovery, also called postmortem index (PMI), movement of the corpse, manner and cause of death and association of suspects at the death scene. This review is aimed at providing an overview to forensic odontologists on the possibilities of using forensic data based on insects and their larvae morphology, growth histories, species distribution and toxic contents in their tissue in criminal investigation.” The forensic part of this discipline offers the answers which are the area of interests for crime investigation such as the role of necrophagous, insects which typically infest the human remains. It is almost like a miracle what insects can show us only if we know how to decode their language in postmortem field of research. However, the discipline is not only oriented on the postmortem facts, it also can detect the current events and to give us alert about the potential abuse direction:” The diverse applications of forensic entomology include the detection of abuse in children and neglect of the elderly. Published cases exist that detail parents intentionally using wasps and bees to sting their children as a form of punishment. Additionally, entomological evidence has been used to prove neglect and lack of proper care for wounds existing on the elderly under both private and institutional care” The another case could be linked with the car accidents. I found very disturbing the fact that insects are within the top 20 causes of automobile accidents but they are also responsible for causing aircraft crashes because of the obstruction of basic technical instrumentation.
On the other side, insects can affect the blood spatter pattern analysis and that is exactly about what the Forensic Entomology information site writes:“Roaches simply walking through pooled and splattered blood will produce tracking that may not be readily recognizable to the untrained observer. Specks of blood in unique and unusual areas (such as on ceilings) may mislead crime scene technicians unless they are aware of the appearance of blood contaminated roach tracks. Similarly, flies and fleas may also track through pooled and spattered blood. However, flies will also feed on the blood and then pass the partially digested blood in its feces, which are known as ‘flyspecks’. Flies will also regurgitate and possibly drop a blood droplet on a remote surface, which may serve to confuse bloodstain analysis. Fleas feeding on the living pass a large amount of undigested blood (used as the larval food source) on many household surfaces. If a crime occurs in a heavily infested apartment, fecal drops already present would serve to confuse analysts as those droplets would test positive for human blood. Therefore it is important to recognize and properly document the natural artifacts that may occur from the presence, feeding, and defecation of roaches, flies, and fleas. Insects that feed on living, decomposing, or dried vegetable material are submitted to the forensic entomologist in an effort to determine the country or point of origin”
The forensic entomologist who is able to read the hidden language of the insects is one who will help the police to solve the case of murder. That is the most interesting and the most thrilling part of us being interested in this scientific study. The ordinary person has no interests to follow the discoveries from the entomology but when it comes to the CSI manners and adrenalin rushing into the veins of each of us, the bugs seem to be very useful in catching the evil we pretend doesnt exist. But, how those necro bugs can help the police? For forensic scientists, insects do a great job, for the rest of us, they are just showing us how human body is awful after death is occurred.
The British police has reported that insects are helping in solving about 60 hard murders every year. This number is totally accurate. The famous case was the one which included the 17-year-old schoolgirl Shafilea Ahmed. She was found in a Cumbrian river in 2004, just 5 months after her missing was reported. The forensic entomology discovered the bugs in her stomach and traced to the drugs she was forced to taken so the final answer was lead to her parents as killers. The girl was brutally killed for refusing the arranged marriage but the murderers did not believe they will detected just because the bugs told the story from the beginning.
The life of every person is a different but the process of death is the same for all of us. Maybe our souls live forever but the bodies betray first and accept the rules of the postmortem world. Every body starts decomposing very easy after the death occurs so the cells and the enzymes start the autolysis. The special bacteria from our gastrointestinal tract have a task to produce the gases like hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen and the newborn volatile molecules from the decomposed bodies will attract the insects. According to the writings of the scientist Smith from 1986, there are many types of the insects on the postmortem detected body:“i) Necrophagous species feeding on the carrion; ii) Predators and parasites feeding on the necrophagous species: this group also contains schizophagous species which feed on the body first and which become predaceous on the later stages; iii) Omnivorous species feeding on the carrion and other arthropods like ants, wasps and some beetles; iv) Other species like springtails and spiders which use the corpse as an extension of their environment.” It is stated that the first two categories are the most valid for the forensic entomology. All outcome of the crime ground investigation is connected with the role of the Diptera (flies) and Coleoptera (beetles).
In spite of pathology which can’t do much about the dead body longer than 3 days, entomology can give the awaited answers about the time of death even after 72 hours. Just watching and observing the process of insects evolution within the dead body, the time of the dead could be almost precisely given. Depending on the type of environment, the insect’s life within the found body can tell the whole story to those who know how to follow the instructions. For example, in tropical rain forest, the dead body has 5 stages of its own postmortem transformation: 1.Fresh stage (Days 1-2), 2. Bloated stage(Days 2-7) 3.Decay stage (days 5-13), 4.Post-decay stage (Days 10-23) and Remains stage (Days 18-90) The problem is to determine the type of outer environment and then to start with the entomology tolls which will detect the categorisation of insects what are attracted by decomposed body and then their own evolution within the disfigured dead corpes. All together, it seems like a never solving riddle but step by step with the brilliant minds behind the crime investigation scene, the picture become bigger and clearer and definitely has a got chance to take us to the wanted killer.
The discipline of forensic entomology is maybe new by its term but it is very well known in human practice for years. Even the ancient crime solvers tried to analyze the behaviour of the bugs and to discover the demon who committed a brutal act of crime. The importance of the insects for the crime investigation revolution is getting bigger with the new violent crimes on the ground which occur almost every day worldwide. The significant role of the forensic entomologist is something which is not just reserved for the favorite Hollywood thrillers but the alphabet of our modern crime investigation tools. The people who do this job are those who can save lives in the future, together with the law enforcement service. They are all united against the nightmare of social predators among us.