Orensic Pathology Case Study: Can You Stomach This?”

At 6:30 PM, 2 men break into the house of a store manager, while the family is having dinner. The wife is taken as a hostage and taken by the intruders, who demand that the husband go to the safe of the business and take out the days proceeds–probably about $25,000.00.

The plot goes badly, the money is never transferred, and the woman is found dead in a field the next afternoon at about 16:00.

Autopsy shows the stomach to be full of partly digested food material. The question arises as to time of death. The physical findings indicate death about 8 hrs previously, and, in fact, a subsequent witness reports he saw her alive in the van at about 07:00 that same morning.

What factors may account for the food material which showed little evidence of digestion, and no evidence of gastric emptying?

What is the potential for error if physiological variation from normal are not taken into consideration?