Estimation of the time since death in decomposed bodies found in Australian conditions

Jarvis Hayman, Marc Oxenham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes a new method for estimating time since death (TSD) in individuals found between 0 and 14 days subsequent to death indoors. The method is retrospective and involved (1) access to autopsy (and other) reports held by Australia’s National Coronial Information System (NCIS); (2) selection of cases in the NCIS that included detailed descriptions of the degree of decomposition of various body organs as well as reliable information on TSD; (3) development of a systematic and quantitative way of scoring the degree of decomposition in body organs (the total body decomposition score, or TBS); (4) development of models to accurately estimate TSD from determinations of TBS; and (5) testing of these models. A series of Australian State and Territory as well as winter and summer season specific models for estimating TSD were generated. These models, particularly those based on TBS, are accurate to within several hours to half a day of death in most instances. While these models are regionally specific, the methodology can be used on any appropriate data set to generate TSD estimation equations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Journal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • death indoors
  • organ decomposition
  • postmortem interval


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimation of the time since death in decomposed bodies found in Australian conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this