Analysis of Experimental Wood Chipper Trauma on Bone




Domenick, Kenneth

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In the literature and research relating to human corpse dismemberment and mutilation, there are few studies focusing on wood chipper induced trauma. Most of what is known about wood chipper trauma is based on a handful of documented cases in which wood chippers were used for dismemberment. In pop culture media such as movies, television, and the internet, body disposal via wood chipper is portrayed as a quick and effective method of getting rid of a body and eliminating evidence while avoiding detection. This thesis addresses these shortcomings by providing thorough case reviews and a preliminary study on wood chipper induced trauma. Several case studies are analyzed in which wood chippers were used in criminal cases to dispose of bodies. From these we learn that when wood chippers are used to dispose of human remains and that small potentially difficult to recover bone fragments are produced. Furthermore, a laboratory experiment was designed to test the trauma produced when domestic pig (Sus scrofa) limbs were inserted into a home model wood chipper. Results show that bone fragment sizes range from 45 mm to less than 1 mm. Many of the larger fragments have one or two cuts with those cuts creating fragments with consistent diameters. This wood chipper also produced bone alterations including square, V-shaped, and W-shaped kerfs that were dissimilar to other types of sharp force trauma. Some of these defects may be class characteristics associated with this model of wood chipper while others may be individual characteristics due to wear-related defects of the specific wood chipper used. This thesis will assist the forensic community by providing information regarding trauma that can expected to be observed following dismemberment via wood chipper thereby facilitating event reconstruction, victim identification, and conviction of perpetrators.



Wood Chipper, Anthropology, Bone, Trauma, Forensic, Dismemberment