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Forensic Sci Int. 2009 Jul 1;188(1-3):e17-9. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.03.027. Epub 2009 May 1.

Ignition of a human body by a modest external source: a case report.

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  • 1Centre Universitaire Romand de Médecine Légale, site de Genève, 9 Avenue de Champel, 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland.


A case of sustained combustion of a human body that occurred in 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland, is presented. The body of a man was discovered at home and found to have been almost completely incinerated between the knees and the mid-chest, with less damage to the head, arms, lower legs and feet. His dog was also found dead just behind the house door. The external source of ignition was most likely a cigarette or a cigar. The chair in which the man had been sitting was largely consumed while other objects in the room exhibited only a brown oily or greasy coating and were virtually undamaged. Toxicological analyses carried out on the blood from the lower legs showed low levels of desalkylflurazepam. Alcohol concentration was 1.10 per thousand, carboxyhaemoglobin levels were 12% and cyanide concentration was 0.05 mg/L. Toxicological analyses carried out on the dog's blood showed carboxyhaemoglobin levels at 65%.

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