How insects can trap a killer

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iol scitech aug 12 silence of the lambs

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In Silence Of The Lambs, Agent Stark used entomologists to track killer Buffalo Bill.

London - Evidence from flies and maggots is helping police solve up to 60 murders a year. In a development with echoes of the TV series CSI, detectives are regularly using entomologists – insect experts – alongside forensic officers and psychological profilers to crack major cases.

Police need to know when a victim died to create an accurate picture of their final movements and build a stronger case against a suspect.

But if a victim has been dead for more than two or three days pathologists struggle to provide an accurate time of death.

Entomologists can work out a time of death because a body starts to decompose, attracting flies. These lay eggs that hatch into maggots.

By observing the insect life on a body and in its immediate surroundings, entomologists can establish a minimum time that a person has been dead.

Forces across the country are using experts from the Natural History Museum to help solve cases. Entomologist Martin Hall has helped on around 160 cases. He said: “When I arrive at a scene I’ve got to work out what a fly is trying to tell me.”

Evidence from insects has helped in high-profile cases including that of Shafilea Ahmed, 17. Her body was found in a Cumbrian river in 2004, five months after she went missing. Last year her parents were jailed for life for her murder.

Entomology has other crime scene uses. The stomach contents of bugs found on burnt or decomposed bodies can reveal what drugs the victim took and even their DNA. - Daily Mail

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