Main content area

The relationship between cadaver, living and forensic stature: A review of current knowledge and a test using a sample of adult Portuguese males

Cardoso, Hugo F.V., Marinho, Luísa, Albanese, John
Forensic science international 2016 v.258 pp. 55-63
medicine, males, regression analysis, necropsy, forensic sciences, descriptive statistics, adults, Portugal
The use of cadaver length and forensic stature as a proxy for living standing height has not been scrutinized in detail. In this paper we present a brief review of the current knowledge on the relationship between cadaver, living and forensic stature; assess the magnitude and nature of the differences between these three measures of stature; and investigate the potential impact of these differences in forensic contexts. The study uses a sample of 84 males who were autopsied in 2008 at the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (Porto, Portugal), where stature data were collected from three different sources: cadaver stature was obtained from the corpse prior to autopsy, living stature was obtained from military conscription records and forensic stature was obtained from national citizenship identification card records. Descriptive statistics, ANOVA and linear regression are used to analyze the data. The results show that cadaver stature is the highest measure, followed by forensic and by living stature, and the difference between cadaver and living stature is greater than expected (4.3cm). Results also show considerable individual variation in the differences between the three measures of stature and that differences decrease with stature, although only slightly. This study has shown that the difference between cadaver and living stature is greater than previously thought and suggests that previously reported correction factors are a minimum rather than a mean correction. Forensic stature is likely to be incorrectly estimated and can jeopardize identification if methods estimate living rather than forensic stature.