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30.08.2019 | Case Report | Ausgabe 4/2019

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology 4/2019

Bizarre use of log splitter: a case of decapitation

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology > Ausgabe 4/2019
Amal Nishantha Vadysinghe, Balachandra Thambirajah
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Decapitation is well-documented as an immediately lethal injury that is encountered in medicolegal autopsies. It can be due to an accident, suicide, or homicide. Literature on decapitation reveals that suicide is committed by decapitation using domestic or industrial tools, such as electric saws and drills, and improvised guillotines. Decapitation can also be the result of railway or other bizarre incidents. In this particular case, a man committed suicide by decapitation using a log splitter. This has not been reported earlier. Death investigation, including a medicolegal autopsy and scene visit, was conducted. The decedent, a man in his late forties, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder approximately five years prior to his death and was being treated for this condition. During the year prior to his death, he had been seeing his physician every two weeks for suicidal ideation. Scene investigation revealed a decapitated male lying beside a jigged and powered log splitter in his yard. The autopsy showed no other injuries or pathological conditions. The cause of death was decapitation and the manner of death was suicide. This is a unique case of decapitation by a log splitter which highlights the importance of scene investigation in order to determine the manner of death.

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