BIANCA HANGANU, ANDREEA ALEXANDRA VELNIC, VALENTIN PETRE CIUDIN, DRAGOS CRAUCIUC, CAMELIA LIANA BUHAS, IRINA SMARANDA MANOILESCU, LAURA GHEUCA SOLOVASTRU, BEATRICE GABRIELA IOAN THE STUDY OF NATURAL SAPONIFICATION PROCESSES IN PRESERVATION OF HUMAN CORPSES The natural course of evolution of the human body after death includes autolysis, putrefaction and skeletonization. Under specific environmental conditions, the body may bypass this natural path, leading to preservation, such as saponification (adipocere), lignification, mummification or refrigeration, comprising the entire body or being limited only to some parts of it. All these preservation processes have a chemical substrate, and the identification of their components may be useful in many forensic circumstances, such as clandestine activity and identification of victims in mass disasters, when pentanoic, butanoic, hexanoic acid, butanoic acid-butyl ester, hexanoic acid-ethyl ester, indole, dimethyl disulphide may be used to train human remains detection dogs. The authors present the case of a 73 years old woman who was found dead in a sewage collection basin 4 months after her disappearance in July. The autopsy revealed a mixture of cadaveric processes, some parts being disintegrated, with putrefaction and skeletonization, while other parts were preserved by saponification: areas of adipocere were found on the neck, thorax and the anterior part of the abdomen. In some instances the saponification of the corpses makes identification possible and preserves violence marks, but the combination with putrefaction burdens these goals. The identification in this case was possible using the teeth formula, keeping in mind that tooth and bones are the most resistant to putrefaction. Even though saponification makes difficult the estimation of postmortem interval, investigations of its chemical composition may be useful in this direction, as the epicoprostanol-cholesterol ratio proved to increase with the increasing of postmortem interval.
Keywords: saponification, death, environment, chemical processes, preservation