Reduction of Fleshed Sus scrofa domesticus Remains Using a Wood Chipper: Skeletal Trauma and Distribution Patterns
MetadataShow full metadata
Wood chippers are machines intended for the reduction of wood and brush into small chips for the purpose of disposal. Although uncommon, these machines have been used as tools of homicide concealment through mechanical reduction of human remains following dismemberment. In light of this use and limited prior research, it is important for forensic anthropologists to understand the mechanisms of skeletal trauma and distribution patterns. In this study, Sus scrofa domesticus remains were utilized as a proxy for human remains and fed through a small commercial wood chipper. Observations following reduction included a large amount of associated hard and soft tissue with small bone fragments being embedded in large swatches of skin and muscle tissue. Skeletal trauma includes a wide array of macroscopic and microscopic sharp-blunt force trauma characteristics resulting from contact with the blade and the feed roller. This research provides experimental evidence of sharp-blunt trauma characteristics caused by wood chippers, a distribution pattern expected from a disc-type wood chipper reduction, as well as natural and human-enacted methods of concealment. This study should be considered when searching for dispersed remains resulting from cases of suspected wood chipper reduction.