Friday, October 4, 2013

Let’s Talk Lividity

Lividity, also known as livor mortis, is the result of blood settling where a dead body comes to rest. It can play a vital role in a murder investigation and provide investigators with an approximate time of death.

Here are some questions and answers I’ve gleamed from my research.

What does it look like?
It presents itself as a purplish discoloration on the skin.

Where does it form?
The blood settles in response to gravity. For example, if the body is lying on its back it will undoubtedly show in the shoulders and back of the legs.

What prevents lividity from showing?
It will not show where the body is in direct contact with a hard surface but “the impression against the skin displays itself as an indentation surrounded by gravity-pulled blood”.

When does lividity start?
It starts within 20 minutes of death and typically fully develops within 4-5 hours. “Maximum lividity occurs within 6-12 hours.”

Does lividity disappear?
It depends on the condition of the body and the environment but lividity will disappear in 10-12 hours.

What determines intensity of coloring?
It depends upon the amount of hemoglobin in the blood.  (For the full science on hemoglobin, click here.)

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Jennifer Chase ; )