In order to write this article, I had to buckle down, harden up and remove myself emotionally from the thought that this article is referencing the decomposition of an almost 3 year old beautiful child named Caylee Marie Anthony.  Focusing on my objective to get to the truth was a task.  Her mother Casey Anthony is accused of killing her daughter Caylee and blatantly slapping duct tape across her delicate little mouth, stuffing her in a garbage bag and leaving her to rot in an empty lot ¼ of a mile away from her backyard playhouse.  This is the horrific crime that has been told to us over and over again by the media circuits and in the autopsy report.  I do not believe it.  I do not believe duct tape was over her mouth before she died. 

My objective is to dispute the news reports and to provide another possible scenario. If in fact the duct tape was stuck to the mandible as reported by Dr. Garavaglia then I think it was placed directly on the bones of the skull no sooner than 3-4 weeks after Caylee died. 

 Here goes..  

Imagine 65% polyester cotton blend, industrial strength Henkel brand duct tape covering the mouth of a small human being. A young human being has a skin surface near the lips that is very delicate along with the slight but present fuzz-like hairs that has been covered tightly by duct tape in 3 strips of 4 to 6 inch duct tape.  The tape is wrapped around so taunt that it extends to the back of the head over the hair of the back of the skull.

During the various stages of decompositional process organic material is broken down into a simpler form.  The science which studies decomposition is generally referred to as taphonomy from the Greek word taphos, meaning tomb.

The 5 stages of human decomposition are Fresh, Bloat, Active Decay, Advanced Decay and Dry/Remains.

During the Fresh stage, immediately after the heart stops pumping the body goes through 3 stages. Livor mortis, the discoloration of the skin, rigidness called rigor mortis and then  algor mortis.  Since the heart has stopped, chemical changes begin and cells lose their structural integrity.  This is called autolysis.  During autolysis blisters may appear at the surface of the skin Imagine at this point that the human being’s skin under the duct tape is blistering and the tape is beginning to loosen as the tape loses its tackiness.

The Bloat stage is an accumulation of gases within the body cavity causes the distention of the abdomen and giving an overall bloated appearance. The gases produced also cause natural liquids and liquefying tissues to become frothy.  As the pressure of the gases within the body increases, fluids are forced to escape from natural orifices, such as the nose, mouth, and anus, and enter the surrounding environment. The build up of pressure may also cause rupturing of the skin.

 Imagine at this point, the body is distended and frothing from the orifices as fluid is being forced out of the mouth and may also cause rupturing of the skin. At this point the duct tape would be either pulling tighter against the skin or possibly because of the frothiness near the mouth the tape is continuously losing its ability to stick. 

Active decay is characterized by the period of greatest mass loss. This loss occurs as a result of both the voracious feeding of maggots and the purging of decomposition fluids into the surrounding environment.  I’m trying to imagine what has happened to the duct tape during this stage. Is it possible that the duct tape is still stuck onto skin that is blistered, bloated and partially liquefied?

Advanced Decay is characterized as part of decomposition that is largely inhibited during this stage due to the loss of readily available cadaveric material is no longer there. Insect activity is also reduced during this stage.  I wonder what has happened to the duct tape at this stage? Is it still sticking to the cadaver when cadaveric material is no longer there? 

During the Dry/Remains stage, all that remains of the cadaver at this stage is dry skin, cartilage and bones which will become dry and bleached if exposed to the elements. If all soft tissue is removed from the cadaver, it will be referred to as completely skeletonized, but if only portions of the bones are exposed, it will be referred to as partially skeletonized.  This is the last stage where the body could possibly be a complete skeleton. It seems logical to me that the duct tape would no longer be stuck to the bones of the facial area and only adhering to the hair of the head.



When I found this chart although it’s related to the foul smelling odor of decomposition, I thought it might be useful in determining how long would the facial skin and duct tape survive in the heat of a Floridian summer.  I noted at 4 weeks the soft tissue begins to liquefy and the face becomes unrecognizable. 

Putrefaction as defined @

Putrefaction is the decomposition of animal proteins, especially by anaerobic microorganisms, described as putrefying bacteria.  Decomposition is a more general process. Putrefaction usually results in amines such as putrescine and cadaverine, which have a putrid odor. Material that is subject to putrefaction is called putrescible.

Putrefaction as defined @

Decomposition of organic matter, especially protein by microorganisms, resulting in production of foul-smelling matter. 

Brief description of putrefaction of a human body with respect of time of death.

  • 2–3 days: Staining begins on the abdomen. The body begins to swell, owing to gas formation.
  • 3–4 days: The staining spreads and veins become discolored.
  • 5–6 days: The abdomen swells with gas (produced by the bacteria that decompose the body), and the skin blisters.
  • 2 weeks: The abdomen becomes very tight and swollen.
  • 3 weeks: Tissues begin to soften. Organs and cavities are bursting. The nails fall off.
  • 4 weeks: Soft tissues begin to liquefy, and the face becomes unrecognizable.

The exact rate of putrefaction is dependent upon many factors, such as weather, exposure and location. Thus, refrigeration at a morgue or funeral home can retard the process, allowing for burial in three days or so following death without embalming.

The University of Tennessee‘s Forensic Anthropology Facility is a body farm made in 1981 to study human putrefaction. Several others have been built since.

I mentioned the fuzz-like hair and tauntness of the tape over the skin as a reminder that the duct tape when examined by the FBI had no traces of DNA.  Duct tape that has been placed over dry bone may not have been a good source for DNA as opposed to skin cells where DNA is normally found.   This could explain why there is no DNA on the duct tape.

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Related article:

Source: Human Decomposition

Reminder of the Frye Hearing Wednesday, March 23rd thru March 25th.