Homicidal asphyxia by pepper aspiration

J Forensic Sci. 1986 Oct;31(4):1475-8.


As punishment for lying, the foster mother of a five-year-old white male poured pepper into his throat. He immediately became dyspneic, then apneic, and was pronounced dead about 1 h later. At autopsy, the main stem and several smaller bronchi were occluded with pepper. Mechanisms of asphyxia by pepper include mechanical obstruction of the tracheobronchial tree and mucosal edema caused by the irritant effect of volatile oils in pepper. This rare circumstance represents the second reported fatal case of pepper aspiration and the third reported case overall.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Asphyxia / etiology*
  • Asphyxia / pathology
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Condiments*
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Homicide*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation
  • Male