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30.04.2016 | Case Report | Ausgabe 2/2016

Forensic Toxicology 2/2016

Postmortem investigation of 88-cm-long dreadlocks for drugs of abuse: an unusual case report in the northeast of Germany

Zeitschrift:
Forensic Toxicology > Ausgabe 2/2016
Autoren:
Ricarda Kegler, Andreas Büttner, Jörg Nowotnik, Daniel Rentsch

Abstract

A 32-year-old male was found dead on the couch in his flat. Several pieces of paraphernalia for the use of illicit drugs were located on the table in front of his body. The occasional consumption of heroin and cannabis products was known. Toxicological analyses of blood, urine, and of his long (88 cm) dreadlocks were performed after autopsy. General, unknown screenings of femoral vein blood and urine were performed using different extractions, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) or high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection. A possible influence by alcohol was determined by gas chromatography/flame ionisation detection and an alcohol dehydrogenase method. The dreadlocks were washed, segmented in 83 parts (each ~1 cm length) and pulverised using a pebble mill. Quantitative determination of illicit drugs was performed using GC/MS (selected ion monitoring). Investigation of the femoral vein blood resulted in the detection of morphine (71.1 µg/L), 6-acetylmorphine (7.4 µg/L), and codeine (9.8 µg/L). These substances and 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol were also detected in urine. Alcohol concentrations in blood and urine were 2.31 and 3.01  ‰, respectively. Investigation of the segmental dreadlocks revealed concentration profiles for Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (≤0.65 µg/g), heroin (≤0.44 µg/g), morphine (≤1.02 µg/g), 6-acetylmorphine (≤1.13 µg/g), and codeine (≤0.32 µg/g). Strong correlations among morphine, 6-acetylmorphine, and codeine have been observed in the twelve most proximal hair segments. The consumption of heroin increased clearly in this time period. In summary, a discontinuous, long-term, illicit drug abuse and fatal intoxication with heroin and alcohol was verified by the analysis of these very long dreadlocks.

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