First report of Heleomyzidae (Diptera) recovered from the inner cavity of an intact human femur

Francesco Sessa, Elena Varotto, Martina Salerno, Stefano Vanin, Giuseppe Bertozzi, Francesco M Galassi, Francesca Maglietta, Monica Salerno, Fabiola Tuccia, Cristoforo Pomara, Pietrantonio Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


One of the main characteristics of the Mafia of Gargano is their use of ritual murders: they shoot their victims in the face and then conceal the corpses in the numerous natural ravines present in the Gargano area. Skeletal remains are often recovered in a poor state of preservation under particular conditions related to the environmental situation. Humidity, temperature and environmental contaminants could be considered very important for forensic examinations and are strictly related to the bone preservation status. One of the most important analyses is the identification of the victim: the success rate is linked to the condition of the bones.

During military investigations in the Gargano area, several bones were recovered and analyzed in a karst ravine about 30 m deep. The forensic examination highlighted the presence of fly puparia from an intact human femur. The colonization of the inner bone cavity by a species of the Heleomyzidae family is described for the first time. Puparia, despite not being identified at the species level, are described and illustrated and their potential role in the degradation of the victim's DNA is discussed. This work increases our knowledge about the effects of Diptera in the taphonomic process underlying the need of a multidisciplinary approach to skeletal investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-7
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Forensic entomology
  • Heleomyzidae
  • Forensic genetics
  • Forensic investigation


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