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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2009 Dec;30(4):386-90. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181c0e777.

Reconstruction of the weapon in a case of homicidal decapitation.

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  • 1Department of Forensic Pathology, University of Foggia, Ospedali Riuniti, Foggia, Italy.


Decapitation as homicidal mode of death is relatively rare. In most cases of decapitation, the differentiation between the modes of death might be difficult to some extent, particularly in cases where essential investigative elements, like the decedent's head and the weapon, are unavailable. Our report concerns a case of homicide by decapitation without any further mutilation of the victim, where only the combination of autopsy results, histologic findings, and engineering technical reconstruction allowed us to identify with certainty the mode of death as vital decapitation. The technical reconstruction of the alleged weapon allowed the identification and the discovery of the hand saw used by the murderer to decapitate the victim.

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