The Accelerating Effects of Burning on Carrion Decomposition


  • Nina Caserio Texas A&M University
  • Jackie Wenzlaff
  • Tom Caligiuri
  • Diana Luevanos
  • Alex Lubrano


In some homicide cases, the victim's body is burned. There is little data that suggests that burned organic tissue decomposes at a faster rate than unburned tissue. This experiment used chickens to test if the burning of tissue had a faster decomposing affect than unburned tissue. Decomposition rate was examined through how many insects were on the carcasses in different amounts of sunlight. It was determined that a burned carcass, where there is some sunlight, decomposes faster than an unburned carcass. This information could be used to determine the time of death of a victim that was burned after death. 


Byrd, J. A., and J.H. Castner. 2010. Insects of Forensic Importance, pp. 39-126. In J. A. Byrd and J. H. Castner (eds.), Forensic Entomology: the Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations, 2nd Ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Gruenthal A., Moffatt C., Simmons T. 2012. Differential Decomposition Patterns in Charred Versus Un-Charred Remains. J Forensic Sci. Vol 57, No. 1. doi: 10.1111/j.1555-4029.2011.01909.x

Spitz W.U. 2006. Thermal Injuries, pp. 747-782. In W.U. Spitz (ed.), Spitz and Fisher's Mediocolegal Investigation of Death. 4th Edition. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, IL.