Home Uncategorized First “murder-solving” lab will help in investigations

First “murder-solving” lab will help in investigations

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It may sound horrible, but researchers can learn a lot from a dead body decaying slowly. The research facility will help researchers understand how human remains
decompose, and will assist police with homicide investigations and
missing persons cases.
Image: Wade Laube/UTS
In Texas, the world’s largest decomposition lab teaches
researchers and police about the process of human decomposition, and
helps forensic scientists to piece together the mysterious conditions
that bodies are often found in – and you can see it in action below. But
despite the benefits of these types of facilities, none currently exist
in the Southern Hemisphere.
Now the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Science has announced it
will be establishing a facility early this year on the outskirts of
Sydney, in collaboration with the police. The lab will be using donated
cadavers to study human decomposition in the flesh, so to speak. They’ll
also be trying to establish a “scent” profile of a decomposing human
body that they can provide to police dogs to assist with body detection.
This practice is known as taphonomy – the study of organic remains
from the time of death to the time of discovery. And in today’s
turbulent world, it’s more important then ever for researchers to
improve search and recovery techniques, and understand what happens to
the human body under unfortunate circumstances.
“Improvement in
the training and application of these techniques can considerably
enhance the success of victim recovery teams and lessen the impact on
families and the community following mass disasters and other unnatural
deaths,” said Glenn Wightwic, UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor in Research.

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In
addition to police investigations, UTS’s facility for taphonomic
experimental research will also help researchers to better understand
how to find hidden grave sites and study archaeological finds, including
bones and artefacts, as well as understand how textiles and fibres
degrade.
Of course, establishing this type of lab isn’t without its challenges.
“The scientists and police involved in this research are confronted
by death on a regular basis and understand the moral and ethical
significance of working with human cadavers, just like doctors and
medical students,” said Shari Forbes, who will be leading the lab.
“This
type of research is conducted with the utmost respect for the donor and
compassion for the families involved, recognising the invaluable
contribution they are making to society,” she added.
In the lead
up to the launch of the lab, Forbes and her team are already studying
the decomposition of pig carcasses, which is similar to the process of
human decomposition.

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