A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes

A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes

by M. Lee Goff

Paperback(Revised ed.)

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The forensic entomologist turns a dispassionate, analytic eye on scenes from which most people would recoil—human corpses in various stages of decay, usually the remains of people who have met a premature end through accident or mayhem. To Lee Goff and his fellow forensic entomologists, each body recovered at a crime scene is an ecosystem, a unique microenvironment colonized in succession by a diverse array of flies, beetles, mites, spiders, and other arthropods: some using the body to provision their young, some feeding directly on the tissues and by-products of decay, and still others preying on the scavengers.

Using actual cases on which he has consulted, Goff shows how knowledge of these insects and their habits allows forensic entomologists to furnish investigators with crucial evidence about crimes. Even when a body has been reduced to a skeleton, insect evidence can often provide the only available estimate of the postmortem interval, or time elapsed since death, as well as clues to whether the body has been moved from the original crime scene, and whether drugs have contributed to the death.

An experienced forensic investigator who regularly advises law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad, Goff is uniquely qualified to tell the fascinating if unsettling story of the development and practice of forensic entomology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674007277
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/01/2001
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 500,564
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

M. Lee Goff is Coordinator of the Forensic Sciences Program and Professor of Forensic Sciences at Chaminade University of Honolulu.

Read an Excerpt

From A Fly for the Prosecution by M. Lee Goff

An unusual case from Texas involved the body of a woman found with the mangled remains of a grasshopper in her clothing. At first, nobody paid much attention to the grasshopper, although its parts were collected and preserved as evidence. The police identified several suspects and brought them n for questioning. At the time, 1985, male fashion was making another of its statements by reintroducing cuffs on men's pants. During a search of the suspects, the left hind leg of a grasshopper was discovered in the cuff of one of the suspect's pants. This was the only part of the grasshopper that had not been recovered from the body, and the fracture marks matched perfectly. Despite the defense attorney's assertion that "grasshoppers always break their legs like that," the suspect was convicted of murder.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Honolulu, 1984

1. Beginnings

2. The Bugs on the Body

3. The Pigs' Tale

4. The First Flies

5. Patterns of Succession

6. Cover-ups and Concealments

7. Predators

8. Air, Fire, and Water

9. Drugs and Toxins

10. Coping

11. Testifying

12. Spreading the Word

Epilogue: Summing Up




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