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Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2011 Dec;7(4):344-9. doi: 10.1007/s12024-011-9233-x. Epub 2011 Apr 29.

Post-mortem decapitation by domestic dogs: three case reports and review of the literature.

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  • 1University Medical Centre Charité-University of Berlin, Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, Turmstr. 21, Building N, 10559 Berlin, Germany.


Post-mortem animal depredation is not an uncommon phenomenon in routine forensic autopsies. We present three cases of complete post-mortem decapitation by domestic German shepherd dogs. In two cases, the head had been bitten off, defleshed and left lying near the body, while in one case it had been completely devoured by two dogs; only small skull fragments and crowned teeth could be found. Two of the three bodies were putrefied; all dog bite injuries had been inflicted after death. The cause of death was drug toxicity in two cases and fatal hemorrhage from ruptured esophageal varices in one case. These rare injuries due to post-mortem animal depredation are discussed in the light of earlier studies and case reports.

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