You arrive on the scene and you can’t even begin to describe how brutally awful it looks. There’s blood everywhere; the musty air smell is unbearable and is consumed with flies and a sense of death. You look around to see if there is a body, there must be a body with a smell as dreadful as that. Then you see him, or it, at this moment you can’t even distinguish what “it” is. The body or lack thereof has gone through tremendous changes not even looking human anymore and there is bugs; bugs everywhere within the rotting skin and body. You are the homicide detective or the coroner, either way it is vital to know how long this body has been here. This is where the process of death comes in. Where determining time of death is an educated guess and the following will explain how this process works and how the human body undergoes countless changes the minute someone is officially deceased.
Of all forensic questions, time of death is one of the most difficult to answer and there is a whole variety of techniques that are used. However, it is important to note that all cases are not the same, and the methods used to determine time of death can not be applied routinely to any case. By definition, death begins when the heart stops beating. Deprived of oxygen, a cascade of cellular death commences, it begins with brain cells and finishes with the skin cells. Death is therefore a process, rather than an event (www.deathonline.net/index.cfm). Once the heart stops beating and/or the lungs stop breathing the body’s cells can no longer receive supplies of blood and oxygen. Blood than begins to drain from capillaries in the upper surfaces, which makes the body pale
and collects in the blood vessels in the lower surfaces, causing the body to darken. The cells cease aerobic (which is organisms or tissues that are able to function only with
free oxygen) respiration and are unable to create the energy molecules that are needed to maintain normal muscle...