A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes


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A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Harvard University Press Pages: 240 Illustrations and other contents: 12 line illustrations Language: English ISBN: 9780674007277 Categories: , , ,

The forensic entomologist turns a dispassionate, analytic eye on scenes from which most people would recoil–human corpses in various stages of decay, usually the remains of people who have met a premature end through accident or mayhem. To Lee Goff and his fellow forensic entomologists, each body recovered at a crime scene is an ecosystem, a unique microenvironment colonized in succession by a diverse array of flies, beetles, mites, spiders, and other arthropods: some using the body to provision their young, some feeding directly on the tissues and by-products of decay, and still others preying on the scavengers. Using actual cases on which he has consulted, Goff shows how knowledge of these insects and their habits allows forensic entomologists to furnish investigators with crucial evidence about crimes. Even when a body has been reduced to a skeleton, insect evidence can often provide the only available estimate of the postmortem interval, or time elapsed since death, as well as clues to whether the body has been moved from the original crime scene, and whether drugs have contributed to the death. An experienced forensic investigator who regularly advises law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad, Goff is uniquely qualified to tell the fascinating if unsettling story of the development and practice of forensic entomology.

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"Irresistible... Goff [is] a marvellously vivid and clear explainer of his science... [His] tales can be riveting." - Atul Gawande, New York Times Book Review; "Goff takes you into the world of the forensic entomologists: the intrepid band of insect experts around the world who turn their intimate knowledge of creepy crawlers to the service of police work... A fascinating read... Goff seems like just the sort of gifted storyteller you'd want to have a drink with - but, perhaps, not dinner." - John Schwartz, Washington Post Book World

Author Biography

M. Lee Goff is Coordinator of the Forensic Sciences Program and Professor of Forensic Sciences at Chaminade University of Honolulu.