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Random Forensic Terms for Your Next Crime Novel

Rushali is a Tourism and Hospitality Management graduate. Takes interest in criminal psychology.



Adipocere or grave wax is a layer of gooey product of decomposition of soft tissue due to moisture. These are found commonly in bodies subjected to water immersion or laid in wet graves. This layer serves as a form of preservation for the bodies protecting the layer of injuries, helping determine the cause of death in case of homicides. This stage of decomposition also allows for identifying fingerprints.

Livor Mortis

Livor Mortis or Postmortem Hypostasis is in the simplest terms, the pooling of blood in the body in the direction of gravity. This is the last stage among the four stages after death. This could be used to indicate foul play in certain cases. The inconsistency in lividity could indicate if the body had been moved from one place to another after a few hours of the crime.


Dactyloscopy is another name for fingerprint identification. Postmortem dactyloscopy is done in various ways. With the traditional ink and paper method, fingers are smeared with dactyloscopic ink and pressed onto paper by forensic technicians. Another methods is the use of adhesive tape which was used in the case of stiff or bent fingers. But for corpses that have been long decomposing, these methods could prove useless. Chemical treatment of amputated fingers by elastening them was another method along with removal of epidermis.

Cadaveric Spasm

Cadaveric spasm or death spasm is an instantaneous rigor mortis observed right after the death of a person. This is said to be the result of violent deaths or had intense muscular activity or struggle before their deaths. It could also be a result of violence or intense emotions.

Petechial Hemorrhage

The occurance of a petechial hemorrhage could indicate murder by strangulation. These are tiny red dots caused by the leaking of blood form capillaries in the eyes. This is a result of intense pressure on the veins in the head and the obstruction of airways. The hemorrhage alongside facial congestion could strongly indicate death by asphyxia.

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