Every cell in the human body consists of material known as DNA. This is what makes it possible for physical traits in a family to be carried over generations. The genome represents the entire set of genes in an individual. A major part of the genome is similar throughout the human population. However, there are differences in the genetic makeup. This is what makes it possible for every individual in the world to possess a unique DNA pattern. In terms of Crime Scene Investigation and forensic science, it is the DNA pattern that allows for DNA profiling to be done.
Due to all the possibilities that it offers, DNA technology is an exciting phenomenon in today’s forensic science. In the identification of dead bodies that are unidentified, DNA is widely used. No matter what the condition of the corpse upon being found, it is through DNA that an estimate can be made regarding the likely cause and time of death. DNA analysis is performed by a medical examiner that is an expert and is part of the CSI Crime Scene Investigation team. Forensic scientists also make use of DNA technology for coming up with conclusions regarding death.
DNA plays an important role in case of dead bodies being found submerged in water. When this happens, there is increased saponification in the body due to excess of water resulting in decomposition transformation of fat tissues in the body. This happens because after a certain time, the cell starts to rupture. When the body is found submerged in water, the Crime Scene Photographer takes photos of the scene, the body of water and the body. The medical examiner then takes the body to the lab for a detailed analysis about the probable time of death through changes in the body tissue.
The state of the dead body, upon being found, depends upon a few factors. These include the impact of the water current on the body, its chemical composition, whether or not there is industrial waste present in it, and the body having fallen prey to the marine animals and insects. All these are factors that lead to tissue loss in the body. All of this can be analyzed through detailed DNA analysis. Finding the time of death helps Crime Scene Investigators by providing a timeline for the crime’s occurrence.
From the tissue, the medical examiner can estimate how much time passed before the discovery of the corpse. In addition, it can also be estimated as to whether victim drowned or was killed before the body was disposed of in the water. Even when years have passed before the body is found, conclusions can be drawn after running DNA analysis on bone and muscle samples. When Crime Scene Technicians along with the rest of the team members discover the body and the DNA analysis has been run on the corpse, the identification details can be compared from crime cases and missing person’s cases from that particular timeline.
While sometimes DNA evidence remains stable in the water, there are times when the body becomes so damaged and decomposed that the analysis of DNA does not successfully yield any results. Some of the conditions in which there is a likelihood that the DNA will remain stable are if the water is rich in minerals like calcium and sulfates, carbonates and magnesium and also if the water has an anaerobic environment. This means that there is absence of oxygen, which means there will be less damage to the body because of lesser oxidation. Ponds also portray attributes that are less damaging to the DNA. In most of the cases, bodies discovered from water have the DNA preserved as compared to other scenarios when DNA evidence is damaged and contaminated.
There are some rather difficult cases in which cause of death becomes hard to guess in a Crime Scene Investigation. In such circumstances, an analysis of the DNA of the skeletal remains can yield conclusive results. Forensic anthropologists perform this. This is extremely useful also in cases that are reopened after years of a person’s death. This means that significant decomposition has occurred to the buried body. In these circumstances, the bones are analyzed for checking if the cause of death was a trauma to the bones. The exact level of decomposition can also be known through scanning electron microscopy. DNA analysis and trace analysis are also performed on the bones to know cause and time of death. In the dense bones, like teeth, DNA is preserved even after the other parts of body have decomposed.
In some extreme crimes and brutal killings in which different body parts were buried in different locations, with the help of DNA, it has become possible to compare with the previous remains of DNA on these parts and tell whether or not they belong to the same body. After fatal accidents and attacks when body parts are found spread over a scene, DNA of these parts can be compared with those of family.
DNA Analysis of human remains is a great method for deducing crime scenes, but one that involves extreme levels of technicalities and complexities.
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