Category Archives: zJournal articles

The quest for justice on MH17

APJ: Australian Police Journal – Volume 70, June 2016, Pages 80-85;

Police work without crime scene or court – The release or a 279 page report by the Dutch Safety Board, concludes that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down by a warhead and missile system model which, analysts say, is held by the Russian security forces.

Little has been revealed of the interior of a daunting, parallel criminal investigation, which includes a significant AFP contingent.

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In search of MH17

APJ: Australian Police Journal – Volume 70, June 2016, Pages 76-79;

A text message woke AFP Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) specialist Dr Simon Walsh on the morning of 17 July, 2014. It had happened before, many times in fact – and he was used to it – but this time was different. In a half-waken state he stared at the screen of his mobile phone. ‘Passenger plane shot down with a missile in Ukraine. Over 200 deceased’.

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Australia launches its first body farm

APJ: Australian Police Journal – Volume 70, June 2016, Pages 54-59;

In February 2016, the University of Technology, Sydney officially opened Australia’s first ‘body farm’. Until earlier this year, human decomposition facilities (the preferred description for body farms) only existed in the USA. While the data produced by these facilities was invaluable for demonstrating how a body goes through the process of decomposition, it was not directly applicable to the process of decomposition in Australia.

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Estimating the postmortem interval of human skeletal remains by analyzing their optical behavior

International Journal of Legal Medicine First Online:04 June 2016

The aim of this study was to figure out a new practically applicable method to distinguish between historical and recent human skeletal remains. Therefore, the optical behavior of bone cross sections was investigated using the combination of two methods: a modification of an already established test (UV-induced fluorescence) and a new method (490 nm-induced fluorescence). We evaluated the areal extent of fluorescence of 30 bone cross sections with known postmortem interval (PMI) using ultraviolet light and 490 nm light. For analysis, the areal extend of fluorescent surface was determined using photos of the samples and an image editing software. The results prove that there is a correlation between PMI and the areal extent of fluorescent surface in both tests. Furthermore, the combination of both methods is a good indicator to distinguish within the forensic relevant post mortem interval between PMI < 30 years and PMI > 30 years.

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Evaluation of macroscopic changes and the efficiency of DNA profiling from burnt teeth

Science & Justice Available online 16 June 2016

Identification of human remains subjected to incineration is extremely challenging. Our study evaluates the macroscopic changes and efficiency of DNA profiling in burnt teeth under controlled temperature and time conditions. 28 teeth were exposed to temperatures between 100 and 700 °C for a duration of 1–15 min. Two non-burnt teeth were used as control. Macroscopic changes were evaluated and recorded. DNA was extracted using a silica-based methodology. Efficiency of DNA profiling was assessed through Quantitative PCR for STRs. Burnt teeth reached chalky white appearance at 400 °C 5 min and fractures were observed from 300 °C 10 min. Amplification of STRs was very low from 300 °C and 1 or 5 min. In contrast, the housekeeping gene, GAPDH, was amplified in all combinations of temperatures and times. Although it is possible to amplify the housekeeping gene at high temperature, DNA profiling is difficult to obtain, probably due to small size of these regions making them more prone to degradation.

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Medicolegal aspects of PMA-related deaths

Legal Medicine Available online 6 June 2016

Unlike amphetamine, amphetamine-like substances accessible on the drug market are less expensive and more easily available; they also produce hallucinogenic effects expected by the users. Such properties render them more attractive as compared to amphetamine. On the other hand, the knowledge of the toxicity of these compounds is very limited, what in consequence generates problems that create ever-expanding research areas, including analytical, clinical and medicolegal issues, thus leading to development of systemic databases. An example here is paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA), which appeared on the drug market in recent years as a result of creative inventiveness of producers of psychoactive substances, who aimed at PMA replacing the popular ecstasy (MDMA) as a less expensive and more available product. It is more potent than MDMA, but has a slower onset of action, which encourages users to take more. The problem is illustrated in the present paper by three fatal cases involving PMA, which were comprehensively investigated taking into consideration case histories, pathological and toxicological findings obtained with the use of LC-MS-MS method. In blood samples taken from all the three victims, very high concentrations of PMA were found (in the range of 10-27 mg/l) and thus the cause of deaths was determined as overdoses of PMA with the underlying mechanism of acute cardiorespiratory failure.

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Health Physics – Contents Pages

Table of Contents  |  Volume 111 Issue 1 July 2016

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