Forensic entomology is the use of the study of insects and arthropods to solve a crime. Law enforcement officers use this form of investigation to solve homicides. A body attracts insects from the early stages of decomposition. These insects may lay eggs in the body leading to an increase in the population of the insects. Forensic scientists study the population of the insects and the developmental stages of the larvae (Iancu 107). The information gathered from the insects offers the postmortem index, change in position of the corpse, and the cause of death of the victim. When forensic experts are invited to collaborate in a homicide investigation, they should consider the application of forensic entomology to improve the chances of solving the crime.
A scientist must understand the morphology of the insects and their development behaviors to be competent in using them to estimate the time, manner, and cause of death, place of death. The earliest recorded incident of using insects in a homicide investigation was in the 13th century in China. A farmer was murdered and his body left in a field. The murder weapon was a sharp object (Iancu 109). All the suspects were forced to place their sickles on the ground. Only one of the sickles attracted blowflies. This observation led the murderer into confessing to the crime. Forensic entomology was used in landmark case in France in the 18th century. A skeletonized skull of a child was found in a house and the occupants accused of the crime. Forensic entomology absolved the occupants of that crime. Megnin and Yovanovich studies of the insect succession on corpses formed the basis of the modern science of forensic entomology.
Very recently, forensic entomology was used to resolve a crime that involved Kevin Neal. Neal reported that his two step children were missing on July 9, 1997. The bodies of the children identified by the small skulls were later found decomposed in a cemetery near his home. the study of the distribution of the blow flies on the bodies revealed that the children had been asphyxiated. There were no signs of bullet or knife injuries.
Neal was incarcerated for a different crime a short time after his step children disappeared. When questioned regarding their deaths, he used his incarceration as an alibi. Forensic experts used recent weather data and their knowledge of the life cycle of blow flies to estimate when the children had been killed. Various species of blowflies prefer different states of decomposition. Some of them were missing in the analysis placing the time of the death of the children as earlier than July 9 and no later than July 14 (Mcmillan par 4). This was way before Neal was incarcerated for another crime. This glaring forensic evidence was used to convict Neal for the murder of his stepchildren and was sentenced to life.
Forensics has become a critical part of law enforcement, especially when it comes to homicide investigations. Forensic entomology is part of forensics that uses insects to investigate homicides. It has enabled law enforcement to make convictions that it would not have without it. Additionally, it has been used to exonerate persons that have been wrongly accused of committing homicides. The primary role that the presence or absence of the insects in the corpse play is to determine the time the victim died and indicate the possible cause of death.
Iancu, Lavinia, et al. “Using Bacterial and Necrophagous Insect Dynamics for Post-Mortem Interval Estimation during Cold Season: Novel Case Study in Romania.” Forensic Science International (Online) 254 (2015): 106-17. Accessed 12 Nov. 2018. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1831309378/640CB2970EAD4F9CPQ/1?accountid=1611
Mcmillan, Candace. “10 Ways Creepy-Crawlies Helped Solve Heinous Crimes – Listverse.” Listverse, 2014. Accessed 12 Nov. 2018. https://listverse.com/2014/11/19/10-ways-creepy-crawlies-helped-solve-heinous-crimes/