Presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 2006, Seattle, WA, U.S.A.
Suicidal Hanging Resulting in Complete Decapitation––Forensic, Radiological, and Anthropological Studies: A Case Report*
Article first published online: 23 JUL 2007
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Volume 52, Issue 5, pages 1190–1193, September 2007
How to Cite
Dedouit, F., Tournel, G., Bécart, A., Hédouin, V. and Gosset, D. (2007), Suicidal Hanging Resulting in Complete Decapitation––Forensic, Radiological, and Anthropological Studies: A Case Report. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 52: 1190–1193. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2007.00503.x
- Issue published online: 28 AUG 2007
- Article first published online: 23 JUL 2007
- Received 29 Mar. 2006; and in revised form 4 Mar. 2007; accepted 18 Mar. 2007; published ▪ ▪ ▪.
- forensic science;
Abstract: The authors report a case of complete posthanging decapitation. The decapitated corpse lay against a pillar of a road bridge. The head had rolled 5 m from the trunk. The bridge was 7.2 m above the road level. The rope was 3.6 m long, its lower end was 3.6 m from the ground and its diameter was 10 mm. The noose used was a slip knot. Plain X-rays of the skull and cervical spine were obtained. The skull X-rays showed air in the meningeal spaces, in both lateral and third ventricles. The severance plane of the cervical spine was between the third and the fourth cervical vertebrae. No other cervical vertebral injuries were noted. At autopsy, the brain was macroscopically unremarkable except for air in the meningeal veins. The decapitation injuries of the head and the torso corresponded perfectly, without apparent loss of substance. The severance plane was confirmed. Dry bone study was carried out. Except for fractures of the extremities of the spinous processes of the second and third cervical vertebrae, no other bone injury of the spine was seen. The cervical vertebrae displayed numerous osteoarthritic lesions. The traditional hangman’s fracture was not found. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of complete posthanging decapitation with a severance plane between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae.