Date of Award

Winter 12-20-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Angelique Corthals

Second Reader

Nicholas Petraco

Third Advisor

Peter Shenkin


Decomposition and burning of human remains are frequently encountered in forensic cases, and pose a challenge at determining an accurate cause of death. At autopsy, macroscopic techniques fail to reach beyond superficial layers of degraded tissue to identify wound morphology that characterizes blunt-force gunshot, and sharp-force trauma. The postmortem damage imparted on tissue with pre-existing injuries, obstructs the external features of trauma. Exploring beyond charred and decayed superficial tissue, histo-morphological patterns of injury are still identifiable as shown in this thesis. With detailed observation to the pattern of tissue disruption- an understanding of the type of trauma imposed can be found. Tissue injuries are exaggerated by thermal effects of burning and degraded by the taphonomic effects. This work aims to explore histomorphological findings of such challenging samples. Together with bone toolmark analysis, the information obtained from tissue trauma morphology can be applied to further develop models that can aid in the identification of trauma type and the tools used to inflict it.

Included in

Pathology Commons



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