Anybody know about ToD intervals?

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E G Logan

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I need to have a pathologist (US medical examiner):
A. have difficulty establishing the very recent time of death (for good but lengthy reasons); and
B. set a band for the best estimate of one and a half to two hours, so as to include more than one suspect. I'd like to suggest that's unusual.

Are these two things mutually exclusive? Like, "that's not an unusual band at all. It's pretty average."

Is it actually possible to narrow it this far, given the death is recent?
Can it ever be estimated more closely than that?

Apologies for my huge ignorance here. And thanks for any help. This is fiction but I'd like to get this right – or rather, not wrong.
 
Depending on the temperature of the air and health of the person before dying (a malnourished person or one with already poor blood circulation will rigor mortis faster), the extent of rigor of the body will indicate time of death. Your body will have very little.

Once a person has died, the blood obviously stops moving and gravity makes it pool to whatever parts of the body are lowest. The extent of skin dicolouration at pooling sites is another indicator (in your case to say death was not more recent). If the person is obese, there is much less discolouration as it is hidden by the fat layer.

Level of elasticity of skin. It becomes less elastic as it dries out.

If the time of the person's last meal was known, extent of digestion in gut is an indicator.

Temperature - depends on fat content of body but a dead body loses heat at a rate dependent on their size, age, clothing and health and external temperature, wind factor, so taking their temperature gives an estimate of ToD.

Mouth swab sent to lab. The activity microorganisms change after death (that death smell), those involved in decomposition becoming active.

(My Dad was a pathologist. I'd ask him more, but he's up there with all the dead bodies now).
 
Oh, I should say, the forensic pathologist is more likely to give you a time-band of one to two hours or two to four hours. Or within the last half hour. They are unlikely to give you a range of 1 1/2 to two hours because there are too many factors to take into account to give that accurate an estimation.

If you're dealing with a baby death, they would use a pathologist who specialises in baby-deaths. If you contact the SID charity, they might well be able to put you in touch with one. Pathologists, I've found, are quite happy to talk their trade.
 
If you're dealing with a baby death, they would use a pathologist who specialises in baby-deaths. If you contact the SID charity, they might well be able to put you in touch with one. Pathologists, I've found, are quite happy to talk their trade.
Great. Thanks. I wouldn't have thought of that one. I've only ever come across one, and he was famously horrible and not much of a pathologist either.

One to two hours could be tricky as I need to get all the possibles (4: 2 of whom are present all the time, two visiting) in the picture.

Two to four hours would be perfect, because I need the 2 visitors not to run into one another. The ToD has to be on the vague side because the murder is actually later than supposed, though I can play with the numbers a bit...
 
You could have the body found buried in snow, or partially burned?

As for accuracy, ahem... I check Time and Date.com to make sure that the weather and even the fucking moon phases that I refer to in March and July 2018 are exactly accurate for London and Manchester. Let alone getting the day of the week right and making sure that a passing reference to a football result includes a team that actually played that day. I dork you into a corner.
 
You could have the body found buried in snow, or partially burned?

As for accuracy, ahem... I check Time and Date.com to make sure that the weather and even the fucking moon phases that I refer to in March and July 2018 are exactly accurate for London and Manchester. Let alone getting the day of the week right and making sure that a passing reference to a football result includes a team that actually played that day. I dork you into a corner.
I've got the situation made unclear because the central heating is on the blink, BUT it turns on, or right up, unpredictably and unquantifiably, making the body temperature evidence potentially inaccurate, as you suggest.
This is 20 years ago, so not a modern boiler, BTW, almost held together by chewing gum and string because they can't afford to fix it. I am NOT going to interview a boiler engineer; I'm going to bluff this one.
 
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