Different Mechanisms of Decapitation: Three Classic and One Unique Case History

Authors

  • Inge Morild M.D., Ph.D.,

    1. Section of Pathology, The Gade Institute, The University of Bergen, and Department of Pathology, Haukeland University Hospital, 5021 Bergen, Norway.
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  • Peer K. Lilleng M.D., Ph.D.

    1. Section of Pathology, The Gade Institute, The University of Bergen, and Department of Pathology, Haukeland University Hospital, 5021 Bergen, Norway.
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Additional information and reprint requests:
Inge Morild, M.D., Ph.D.
Section of Pathology
The Gade Institute
The University of Bergen
and Department of Pathology
Haukeland University Hospital
5021 Bergen
Norway
E-mail: inge.morild@gades.uib.no

Abstract

Abstract:  Three classic cases and one exceptional case are reported. The unique case of decapitation took place in a traffic accident, while the others were seen after homicide, vehicle-assisted suicide, and after long-jump hanging. Thorough scene examinations were performed, and photographs from the scene were available in all cases. Through the autopsy of each case, the mechanism for the decapitation in each case was revealed. The severance lines were through the neck and the cervical vertebral column, except for in the motor vehicle accident case, where the base of skull was fractured. This case was also unusual as the mechanism was blunt force. In the homicide case, the mechanism was the use of a knife combined with a saw, while in the two last cases, a ligature made the cut through the neck. The different mechanisms in these decapitations are suggested.

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