rss_2.0Scandinavian Journal of Forensic Science FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Scandinavian Journal of Forensic Science Journal of Forensic Science Feed issue: Forensic anthropology and archaeology in Northern Europe (FAANE) – Historical, current and future perspectives Anthropology and Archaeology in Denmark<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the status of forensic anthropology and forensic archeology in Denmark, as well as related information about education, research, and skeletal collections. Forensic anthropologists mainly deal with the examination of unidentified skeletal remains. Some special tasks include cranial trauma analysis of the recently deceased, advanced 3D visualization from CT scanning of homicide cases, and stature estimation of perpetrators using surveillance videos. Forensic anthropologists are employed at one of Denmark’s three departments of forensic medicine (in Copenhagen, Odense, and Aarhus) and have access to advanced imaging equipment (e.g., CT and MR scanning, surface scanners, and 3D printers) for use in both their requisitioned work and their research. Extensive research is conducted on different topics, such as the health and diseases of past populations, age estimation, and human morphology. Research is based on skeletal material from the archeological collections housed in Copenhagen and Odense or on CT data from the recently deceased. There is no full degree in forensic anthropology in Denmark, but elective courses and lectures are offered to students at different levels and to people from different professional backgrounds.</p> <p>Forensic archaeology is a relatively new field of expertise in Denmark, and relevant cases are rare, with only one or two cases per year. No forensic archeologists are officially employed in any of the departments of forensic medicine. Until recently, the Special Crime Unit of the police handled crime scene investigations involving excavations, but with the option of enlisting the help of outside specialists, such as archaeologists, anthropologists, and pathologists. An official excavation work group was established in 2015 under the lead of the Special Crime Unit of the police with the aim of refining the methods and procedures used in relevant criminal investigations. The group is represented by five police officers from the Special Crime Scene Unit, a police officer from the National Police Dog Training center, the two archaeologists from Moesgaard Museum, a forensic anthropologist from the Department of Forensic Medicine (University of Copenhagen), and a forensic pathologist from the Department of Forensic Medicine (University of Aarhus).</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue of forensic archaeology in Lithuania and identification of historical persons<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article presents a brief overview of the development of forensic archaeology in Lithuania. From the beginning of the early 1960s, the disciplines of forensic osteology and anthropology have been intensively developed through extensive work on numerous mass graves left in Lithuania after wars and other social disasters. This has allowed individual researchers and their teams to develop and validate a set of original, population-specific forensic osteological methods. Nevertheless, the term <italic>forensic archeology</italic> is still new in Lithuania. Only over the last few years has a short program of forensic archeology been offered to students of archaeology. The potential application of forensic archaeology in solving legal issues still lacks the interest of law enforcement and governmental institutions. We want to emphasize the importance of close collaboration between different institutions and an interdisciplinary approach to these investigations as a core value in achieving final goals. In addition, the particular importance of international cooperation to properly commemorate the victims of wars is emphasized.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue status and future of forensic archaeology and anthropology in Finland<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this paper we discuss the history and development of forensic archaeology and anthropology in Finland. Current status of the fields and some future prospects are also highlighted. We offer some potential reasons for why so little research related to forensic archaeology or anthropology is conducted in Finland. To set the forensic archaeology and anthropology in Finland into a broader setting, we discuss the awareness of the fields among Finnish archaeologists, anthropologists, and enthusiasts via the results of an online survey conducted in November 2021. In this manuscript we also delve into some inner workings of Finnish law enforcement and voluntary organisations in order to show how forensic archaeologists and anthropologists could fit into criminal investigations in Finland.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Two Mass Grave Sites of WWII POW Camps in Lithuania<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In 2020, archaeological excavations, exhumations, and field research were conducted at two mass grave sites near Zokniai and Armalėnai (Fig. 1) in order to locate, exhume, document, identify where possible, and respectfully bury the human remains. Archaeological field methodology was employed during the excavation and exhumation phases; the visual examination data, supplemented by osteological data obtained using anthropological methodology, was separately recorded for each individual using a standardized format. A total of 1927 individuals were exhumed, documented, and buried. The Zokniai investigation revealed that the burial site originated in late 1941 and contained POWs who were either in transit or performing harsh labour at the airport; many had died from gunshot lesions and mistreatment. The stationary camp inmates at Armalėnai were buried in late 1942 - early 1943, their deaths presumably being the result of exhaustion and disease. Both investigations illustrate how interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeology and anthropology can offer forgotten people greater respect and recognition.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue brothers - the search and identification of the participants of anti-soviet resistance<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article focuses on the history and main activities in the search and identification of Lithuanian partisans, commonly known as the “Forest brothers”. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the search for partisans was chaotic and unprofessional, leading to extensive exhumations without professional provision, and reburial without further identification of the remains. Only after regaining independence, the Lithuanian government supported official surveys and even re-exhumations of the partisans. These new investigations were led by esteemed historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists, and provided results that conflicted with former activities. The overall outcome could be summarized as a division between an “official history” asserted by the Soviet Union, and results coming from a collaboration between forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology specialists. The thorough results and overall conclusions led to two main accomplishments: the identification of partisans, including some prominent figures of this movement, and the manner of death, through the evidence of undocumented torture.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue and implementation of forensic anthropology in Swedish forensic practice<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper presents the ongoing development of forensic anthropology in Sweden. We discuss the background of the discipline, its application, as well as its current and potential development in Swedish forensic practice. Collaboration with osteoarchaeologists in skeletal forensic cases has a long tradition in Sweden. Analyses of skeletal remains are performed ad-hoc, in contrast to analyses of fleshed human remains. While several law enforcement employees are educated in forensic anthropology and/or osteoarchaeology, they are not employed in these fields, and regional variations are evident. Internationally, forensic anthropology has become an autonomous forensic discipline over the past decades, requiring skills beyond mere skeletal analysis. To keep on a par with international standards, it may be time to revisit the concept of forensic anthropology in Sweden. Despite the limited presence of supporting organisational structures and systems, forensic anthropological and hard-tissue-reliant physico-chemical analyses have proven valuable in Swedish forensic practice, especially in cases of personal identification, trauma analysis and search efforts. We argue that Sweden could benefit from making qualified forensic anthropology expertise available in all law enforcement regions, starting to implement and promote forensic anthropology in routine forensic casework and formalising the role of forensic anthropology practitioners.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Danish Court Case Database: a data source in forensic mental health?<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Grey literature complementing evidence from common scientific sources, such as journals, may serve to provide a broader range of evidence, fill in commercial literature gaps and reduce publication bias in research. However, grey literature from legal sources has been used only to a limited extent in forensic mental health research. In this paper, we presented the newly established Danish Court Case Database in the light of forensic mental health. A systematic review was conducted and 15 cases focusing on forensic mental health issues were identified. The cases contained information about indictment, explanations and testimonies and also the court’s decision and underlying reasoning. The different included case types provided a broad range of information about current issues in forensic mental health regulation and the interpretation of Danish law. The database is thus a relevant grey source in forensic research. However, this paper also demonstrated that the database may be improved in terms of its current coverage and ease of use.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue of pulmonary artery aneurysm with eroding thrombus into the airways. A fatal case of suffocation<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>We present a fatal case of hemoptysis following a thrombus-eroding pulmonary artery aneurysm into the left upper bronchus of a 79-year-old male with a history of multiple hospital contacts and examinations due to cough, hemoptysis, and reflux symptoms.</p> <p>A postmortem computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a hyperdense, condensed area in the left lung in relation to the lung hilus. At autopsy, the forensic specialist discovered a large, organized thrombus in a pulmonary artery aneurysm. The thrombus was adherent to the pulmonary artery aneurysm wall with an underlying defect directly communicating to the left upper bronchus. The cause of death was asphyxia due to blood in the airways (i.e., suffocation).</p> <p>The combination of pulmonary artery hypertension, previous pulmonary embolism, and hemoptysis should lead to a particularly thorough inspection of the lungs with a focus on the pulmonary circulation. This case report emphasizes the importance of early detection of patients at risk of pulmonary artery rupture and attentiveness when performing biopsies during bronchoscopy to prevent communication between the artery and the airway. The risk of rupturing an aneurysm should be taken into account when performing biopsies on excrescence intruding into the bronchus in patients with medical histories of pulmonary hypertension, cough, and sporadic hemoptysis.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue between head and neck injuries and helmet use in fatal motorcycle and moped crashes in Denmark<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Motorcycle- and moped crashes are prevalent in motorised societies and carry a significant risk of serious injury. Whereas helmet use has reduced the frequency and severity of head injuries, the association between helmet use and neck injury risk is less clear. In the present retrospective study, we examined the relationship between helmet use and various types of head and neck injuries resulting from fatal motorcycle and moped crashes during a 20-year period. Eighty-three cases were included of whom 56 were analysed in detail based on their confirmed use/non-use of helmet. Intracranial haemorrhage was the most common finding, followed by CNS disruption and skull fracture. There was a significantly lower prevalence of skull vault fractures and epidural haemorrhage in the helmeted cases. Injuries to the brainstem and cervical spine fracture/dislocation were more common in the helmeted cases, although this was likely a function of higher speeds among motorcycle riders rather than an effect of helmet use per se. Further investigation of these findings require additional detailed information regarding the nature and severity of the crash, as well as helmet use and type, in order to assess non-confounded associations with the anatomical distribution, type and severity of observed head and neck injuries.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue parents’ experiences of being informed about autopsy findings after the sudden and unexpected loss of an infant or small child<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Background: Following the sudden and unexpected loss of an infant or small child, the police <bold>usually</bold> request a forensic autopsy. <bold>National guidelines exist for how the autopsy report should be made available for the bereaved parents, but there is limited knowledge whether the guidelines are followed.</bold> This study aims to explore bereaved parents’ experience<bold>s of being informed about autopsy findings.</bold></p><p>Methodology: As part of in-depth follow-up interviews at 13 months post-loss, <bold>24 couples</bold> were asked how they experienced being informed about autopsy findings. Participants’ responses underwent thematic analysis.</p><p>Results: The results show that the <bold>waiting period before the autopsy report was made available was a burden for many parents, particularly those who experienced a delay in the process. Two main themes related to parents’ experiences of being informed when the report was available:</bold> ‘informed in a supportive and caring way’ and ‘difficult or negative experiences’.</p><p>Conclusion: Several factors are described that help parents cope with being informed about autopsy findings<bold>, such as: being informed according to the given timeframe by competent health personnel, face-to-face meetings at the hospital, being able to ask questions and routine follow-up contact. These factors are mostly described in the national guidelines. This study shows that when guidelines were followed, the majority of parents were satisfied with how they were informed. Unfortunately, some parents had negative experiences.</bold> Regular training and continuing education for health personnel <bold>are recommended</bold>.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue from diabetic ketoacidosis in the Eastern part of Denmark in 2016-2018. Beta-hydroxybutyrate as a marker<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by a deficiency in (type 1) or inability to use insulin (type 2). Untreated it can lead to diabetic ketocidosis (DKA) – state with high levels of ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)). This state can be life threatening. Measurement of ketone bodies together with vitreous/urine glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) are therefore essential to diagnose DKA-related deaths.</p><p>All autopsy samples received at our department in the period 2016-2018 for toxicological investigations were analyzed for acetone, BHB, and vitreous glucose (N = 1394). In case of a high level of BHB, HbA1C and urine glucose were measured. Thirty two cases (2.3%) were concluded to be DKA-related deaths. Eleven (34%) of these had no known history of diabetes.</p><p>BHB accounts for the major part of ketone bodies and is directly associated with the acidosis effect. Therefore, BHB is preferred to acetone when evaluating DKA and other ketoacidosis-related deaths. We compared acetone and BHB levels to evaluate if the easy acetone measurement could cover our needs for screening. We found that high BHB levels (&gt;2000 µmol/L) were detected if the acetone cut off was set to 0.01 g/L. But, many samples would have low BHB &lt; 3-500 µmol/L with this cut off, and many samples with raised BHB (500-1,200 µmol/L) would not be detected. We therefore recommend to screen all samples for BHB. In case of a high BHB (&gt;1,000 µmol/L) vitreous/urine glucose and HbA1C must be measured to distinguish DKA from other types of ketoacidosis.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Homicide Injuries: A Swedish Time Trend Study Using the Homicide Injury Scale<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Studies report that the homicide rate has decreased considerably in most Western countries since the 1990s. However, few studies have examined the level of injury in homicides. The injury severity in homicide victims was studied in the Stockholm area using both the Homicide Injury Scale (HIS) and the number of lethal injuries per victim. Cases were included from four periods; 1976-78, 1986-88, 1996-98, and 2006-08. The number of homicides with overkill according to the HIS was significantly higher in 1996-98 compared to 1976-78. Compared with 1976-78, the number of lethal injuries per victim was significantly higher both in 1996-98 and 2006-2008. There are various possible reasons for the changes, including a brutalization of lethal violence or a more effective trauma care. More in-depth analysis of individual cases together with research on victims of attempted homicides is needed to explain these shifts in injury severity.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue anthropological video-based cases at the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen: a 10-year retrospective review<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>In criminal cases where there is a lack of evidence, the authorities sometimes ask our department to make a comparison of a criminal and suspect for possible identification or exclusion. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of 113 such cases analysed by the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006–2016. The aims of the analyses were to assist the authorities in identifying individuals, predominantly due to a suspicion of involvement in criminal activity. The videos comprised surveillance footage showing a criminal committing a criminal act. Based on comparisons of specific parameters, such as face, gait and general body proportions, conclusions were drawn on the plausibly of a suspect being the perpetrator of the crime in the video footage. This paper describes the most typical case: a comparison of one suspect with one criminal committing a robbery. In the majority of cases, the suspect could not be excluded from being the criminal based on the analysis of the video footage.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue deaths: A 25-year retrospective study of medicolegal autopsies<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Background: It is stipulated in the Danish Health Act that any death which could be caused by a mistake, neglect or accident in relation to treatment or prophylaxis should be reported to the police. It is then within the power of the police to request a medicolegal autopsy. Aim: To profile the possible iatrogenic deaths in relation to different characteristics.</p><p>Methods: All cases from 1992 to 2015 registered as doctor’s malpractice were selected. Cases from 2016 were selected based on the autopsy introduction. Included cases were analyzed focusing on different characteristics: type of iatrogenic event, responsible medical professional, place of death, cause of death.</p><p>Results: A total of 275, i.e. 2.5% possible iatrogenic deaths out of a total of 11,143 autopsies were included. The most frequent type of iatrogenic event was negligence (42.2%). Most often a hospital doctor was the responsible party including surgeons (40%) and physicians (13.5%). The three most common causes of death were cardiovascular disease (22.2%), infection/inflammation (17.8%) and hemorrhage (16%).</p><p>Conclusion: The results from this study can contribute to the knowledge of what to be aware of when dealing with the death of a person who has been in contact with the health care system.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Asphyxiation Due to Ligature Strangulation: A Case Report of Suicide<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Introduction: Suicide by ligature strangulation has been rarely reported in literature. This case report was prepared to present this different method of suicide and to discuss the findings of this case in the framework of findings in literature.</p><p>Case: A 37-year old male was found dead in his home where he lived alone, with no signs of forced entry to the house. The body was lying supine on the dining table, with the feet hanging free and the head completely resting on the table. A thick, orange-coloured rope was wrapped three times around the neck and below the table where the head was resting was a 20kg demijohn full of water, with a broken rope with the same features wrapped around the neck of the bottle.</p><p>Discussion and Conclusion: The current case is unique in respect of showing the postmortem findings which could be created following the application of pressure with a force of 20kg on the airway and blood vessels. The necessity is emphasised for detailed examination of the scene to differentiate suicide from murder and of information from before death and from the autopsy to correctly establish the cause of death.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue and autopsy findings in drownings, Department of Forensic Medicine, Aarhus University, 2006-2015<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The purpose of this study was to examine the demographic circumstances and the autopsy findings regarding drowning deaths autopsied at the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Aarhus. The study is based on autopsy reports from the Department of Forensic Medicine in Aarhus, 2006-2015 with drowning as a cause of death. Among the 135 cases of the study, 87 (64.4%) were accidents versus 33 (24.4%) suicides. The study showed, that the majority of the drowned 73,3% were males, especially pronounced in the accidents (81.6% were males). In 60.7% victims, there was a positive blood alcohol analysis, most often in males. Females with positive alcohol analyses did however have the highest mean alcohol blood level (1.65 versus 1.47 per mile). The most frequent place of the submersions was docks (24.4%) and the most frequent time of day was in the evening (18.00 – 23.59; 19.3%) and at night (00.00 – 05.59; 20.0%). The study shows no significant connection between adipocere and type of water (OR=1.21, 95% CI (0.49;2.99), p=0.68), bulging lungs and type of water (OR=1.18, 95% CI (0.52;2.70), p=0.69), lung weight and type of water (z-test, p=0.38) and the amount of pleural effusion and water type (z-test, p=0.16). A significant connection between the presence of pleural effusion and type of water cannot discounted (OR=2.37, 95% CI (1.06;2.44), p=0.02).</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue let the dead help the living—an autopsy-based cohort study for mapping risk markers of death among those with severe mental illnesses<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Background: Forensic autopsy strategies may improve differential diagnostics both post-mortem and ante-mortem and aid in clinical settings concerning preventive efforts for premature mortality. Excess mortality and reduced life expectancy affect persons with severe mental illnesses (SMI) for multi-faceted reasons that remain controversial. Somatic conditions, medical treatment and lifestyle diseases, which are primarily examined in the living, contribute to premature deaths. The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are unclear, though, and the benefits of a focused, standardised autopsy remain unproven. We have developed and implemented an optimised molecular–biological autopsy for deceased persons with SMI. Our aim is to map the occurrence of 1) somatic diseases and organ changes; 2) metabolic syndrome; 3) use and abuse of alcohol, pharmaceuticals and psychoactive substances; 4) pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic factors in the metabolism of pharmaceuticals; and 5) genetic variations (acquired and/or congenital) in sudden cardiac death. Additionally, we hope to contribute to diagnostic treatments and preventive measures to benefit those living with SMI. Methods: SURVIVE: let the dead help the living is a prospective, autopsy-based study on 500 deceased persons with SMI subjected to forensic autopsies under the Danish Act on Forensic Inquests and Autopsy. The autopsies followed an extended, standardised autopsy protocol comprised of whole-body computed tomography scanning, magnetic resonance imaging of the heart and brain and an extended forensic autopsy, including a wide panel of analyses (toxicology, microbiology, genetics, histology and biochemical analysis). Additionally, post-mortem data were linked to ante-mortem health data extracted from Danish national health registers.</p><p>Discussion: The SURVIVE autopsy procedure, including tissue sampling and bio banking, has been shown to be effective. We expect that the SURVIVE study will provide unique opportunities to unravel the mechanisms and causes of premature death in persons with SMI. We also expect that identifying prognostic biomarkers for comorbidities will contribute to prevention of premature deaths and comorbidities in persons with SMI.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue death of a medieval Danish warrior. A case of bone trauma interpretation<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>In 1934 a grave was found in the church ruins of the Cistercian Abbey at Øm in central Jutland, Denmark (founded in 1172, demolished 1561 AD). The grave contained the skeletal remains of an individual lying in a supine position with the head towards the west. The anthropological analysis revealed that the remains belonged to a young male, aged 25-30 years at death and approximately 162.7 cm tall. He had 9 perimortem sharp force lesions, five of which were cranial and four were postcranial, indicating he suffered a violent death in a swordfight.</p><p>This paper presents a detailed analysis and description of the individual lesions and their probable effect on the soft tissue, followed by a suggestion for the most likely order of the blows which caused the lesions, and finally a tentative reconstruction of the battle accompanied by photographs. This case illustrates both that forensic pathology can be very useful when applied to an archaeological case and suggests that the forensic pathologist could benefit from examination of ancient cases when interpreting bone lesions in modern cases.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Profiling of Airplane Wastewater - a New Matrix for Mapping Worldwide Patterns of Drug Use and Abuse<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>There is limited knowledge on the global prescription and consumption patterns of therapeutic (TD) and illicit drugs (ID). Pooled urine analysis and wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been used for local-based drug screening. It is, however, difficult to study the global epidemiology due to difficulties in obtaining samples. The aims of the study were to test the detectability of TD and ID in airplane wastewater samples categorized according to their geographical origin.</p><p>Wastewater samples (n= 17) were collected from long-distance flights and prepared with enzymatic conjugate cleaving followed by either precipitation or solid phase extraction. Aliquots were analysed on various liquid chromatography – mass spectrometers. TDs were grouped according to their Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) codes.</p><p>Identification confidence was assigned to three levels based on variables including detection on multiple instruments and number of targets per compound. A total of 424 compounds were identified across all samples, distributed on 87 unique TD and 2 ID. Two principal components in a principal component analysis separated three clusters of wastewater samples corresponding to geographical origin of the airplanes with therapeutic subgroup ATC codes as variables. Airplane wastewater analysis is useful for identifying targets for WBE and toxicological analysis and explore drug use and abuse patterns.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue