Murder-Suicide or Murder-Accident? Difficulties with the Analysis of Cases

Roger Byard, David Veldhoen, Hilton Kobus, Karen Heath

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Homicide where a perpetrator is found dead adjacent to the victim usually represents murder-suicide. Two incidents are reported to demonstrate characteristic features in one, and alternative features in the other, that indicate differences in the manner of death. (i) A 37-year-old mother was found dead in a burnt out house with her two young sons in an adjacent bedroom. Deaths were due to incineration and inhalation of products of combustion. (ii) A 39-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in a burnt out house with her 39-year-old de facto partner deceased from the combined effects of incineration and inhalation of products of combustion. The first incident represented a typical murder-suicide, however, in the second incident, the perpetrator had tried to escape through a window and had then sought refuge in a bathroom under a running shower. Murder-accident rather than murder-suicide may therefore be a more accurate designation for such cases.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1375-1377
    Number of pages3
    JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
    Volume55
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

    Keywords

    • accident
    • arson
    • dyadic
    • forensic science
    • gasoline
    • homicide
    • murder-suicide

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