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Toxicological Analysis in Tissues Following Exhumation More Than Two Years after Death (948 Days): A Forensic Perspective in a Fatal Case

  • Autori: Giuseppe Davide Albano , Stefania Zerbo, Corinne La Spina, Mauro Midiri, Daniela Guadagnino,Tommaso D’Anna, Roberto Buscemi and Antonina Argo
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2023
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • Parole Chiave: exhumation; forensic; postmortem interval; proteomic analysis; sudden cardiac death
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Exhumations are performed in accordance with a court order and are crucial instruments in the investigation of death allegations. When a death is thought to be the result of drug misuse, pharmaceutical overdose, or pesticide poisoning, this process may be used on human remains. However, after a protracted postmortem interval (PMI), it might be difficult to detect the cause of death by looking at an exhumed corpse. The following case report reveals problems associated with postmortem drug concentration changes following exhumation more than two years after death. A 31-year-old man was found dead in a prison cell. Onan inspection of the place, two blister packs, one with a tablet and the other empty, were taken and kept by the police officers. The evening before, the deceased would have taken cetirizine and food supplements consisting of carnitine–creatine tablets. No relevant autopsy findings have been observed. The toxicological analysis was performed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and was negative for substances of abuse. Proteomic analysis was positive for creatine detection and negative for other drugs (clarithromycin, fenofibrate, and cetirizine). The presented case shows the methods, the findings, and the limitations of toxicological analysis in an exhumation case with a long postmortem interval (PMI).