Dead Men Do Tell Tales: Location, Recovery and Testing of Human Remains

Jackie Smith, Forensic Science, W.A. Hough HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This curriculum unit explores advanced material in forensic anthropology, pathology and toxicology. Detection of unmarked graves by various techniques is discussed followed by a practical exercise in grave excavation. The unit then turns the focus to determining postmortem drug levels in body tissues. The pharmacokinetics of drugs in the body is explored in detail. Once the processing of drugs in the body before death is understood, the unit moves to postmortem drug testing and the problems that postmortem redistribution of drugs in the body pose to determining antemortem drug levels. The concept of lethal dose is introduced and explored through lab work. Finally, the unit addresses how to calculate drug and alcohol levels in the body as well as the toxicity of substances in the body.