Corpse dismemberment: A case series. Solving the puzzle through an integrated multidisciplinary approach

J Forensic Leg Med. 2020 Aug:74:102005. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2020.102005. Epub 2020 Jul 7.


The finding of corpse parts poses several challenges for the forensic pathologist presenting implications for identification, diagnosis of death and determination of wounds vitality. Further interpretative difficulties in cases of cadaveric dismemberment derive from the scarcity of tanatochronological parameters useful to estimate the post-mortem interval (PMI) and the absence of uniform investigative protocols in the different centres of forensic pathology. The present study proposes an investigation protocol for the cadaveric dismemberment through the discussion of a case series. The study group consisted of cases in which the dismemberment was performed after the murder. For all cases, a study protocol based on crime scene investigation, post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT), autopsy, toxicological, histological, immunohistochemical and genetic investigations was implemented. In particular, the standardised use of radiographic study before the autopsy allows all to have information that can guide the forensic pathologist during the autopsy. The use of immunohistochemistry allows an assessment of the vitality of the lesions possibly involved in the determinism of death, as well as of the surfaces of dismemberment, representing a tool of considerable utility for forensic purposes. The genetic investigations allow the identification of the victims, while the toxicological ones highlight the possible abuse of substances. The implemented protocol presents a demonstrated usefulness in improving diagnostic accuracy in corpse dismemberment cases.

Keywords: Corpse dismemberment; Forensic pathology; Immunohistochemistry; Post-mortem computed tomography; Post-mortem techniques; Wounds vitality.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autopsy
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism
  • Corpse Dismemberment*
  • Female
  • Forensic Pathology / methods*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Genetic Testing
  • Homicide
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-15 / metabolism
  • Lewis X Antigen / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tryptases / metabolism
  • Whole Body Imaging


  • Interleukin-15
  • Lewis X Antigen
  • Tryptases