Medico-legal evaluation of deaths due to decapitation


KUMRAL B., BUYUK Y., Gundogmus U. N. , SAHIN E., SAHIN M. F.

ROMANIAN JOURNAL OF LEGAL MEDICINE, vol.20, no.4, pp.251-254, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.4323/rjlm.2012.251
  • Title of Journal : ROMANIAN JOURNAL OF LEGAL MEDICINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.251-254

Abstract

Decapitation of bodies is a rare event in the civilian setting and is reported to account for approximately 0.1 % of medico-legal autopsies. Suicidal decapitation is a very rare method of self-destruction. In suicidal decapitation, the favored method is the one involving trains. Other encountered methods are decapitation in suicidal hanging, vehicle-assisted ligature suicide. Though being encountered rarely decapitation by guillotine was also reported. In this retrospective study, in order to depict characteristic features of deaths with decapitation, we presented the findings of fatalities with decapitation over a 10-year period in a medico-legal autopsy series in Istanbul, Turkey. A total of 36270 forensic autopsies were performed over the period of the study and in 19 cases, the bodies were found to be decapitated (0.05 %). The age range of decapitated bodies was 18 to 71 years (average 39,1 years), with a male to female ratio of 13/6. There was only one case of suicide and the way used for suicide was a mechanism like guillotine. In this case, a guillotine-like device designed by male victim had been used for deliberately decapitating the body. The age of the suicide case was 41 years. There was no female suicide case. There were 13 deaths of accidental origin. 6 vehicle crashes and 7 train-pedestrian accidents. The age range of individuals died in accidents was 26 to 68 years (average 36.8 years) with a male to female ratio of 11/2. During the study period the number of the homicide cases with decapitation was 5. The age range of homicide cases was 18 to 71 years (average, 45.2 years), with a male to female ratio of 1/4. There were multiple traumas in other body parts of the bodies of homicide cases together with decapitation. In majority of homicide cases, multiple stab wounds were detected. Decapitation level of vertebrae was at the level of 3-4 cervical vertebrae in 9 cases and different levels at cervical region in other cases.