Tag Archive: duct tape

 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 @ Wikipedia.com:

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 @ thefreedictionary.com:

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.  



Court documents filed on Tuesday show that the defense experts will have a second chance to examine what is being referred to as key evidence. The lone hair and coffin flies found in Casey Anthony’s trunk will be re-examined by Dr. Tim Huntington. He is one of the experts for the defense team who first reviewed the evidence in July at the Orlando County Sheriff’s Office. Huntington said this is the second step in the process.
As expected in the agreement, defense lawyers agreed to waive any claims about the chain of custody during the process of transport or examinations. If any evidence is damaged or destroyed, the State will still be allowed to present the testimony of their experts to the jury.
Considering the value and friability of the lone hair, I can understand the State’s concern. This is key to their claim that Caylee was in Casey’s car trunk and she drove the car with Caylee’s body in the trunk for an undetermined amount of days.
I don’t have a huge problem with the “lone hair” being found but what concerns me is that the jury has to believe that Casey did such a good job at cleaning the trunk, that only one hair was left behind when there were in fact several other hairs that were found that didn’t belong to Caylee or Casey. What are the chances that Casey was able to remove all but one of Caylee’s hairs since the trunk is said to have been thoroughly cleaned? When I think of one hair, I think it’s more likely a clothing transfer than a dead body physically being in the trunk. For instance the person who was either very near the body or had contact with the body may have picked up a hair on their clothing which found it’s way to the trunk; raises the next question; who besides Casey came near her trunk? It doesn’t exactly rule her out but it doesn’t rule out anyone else who opened her trunk either. I’m thinking this as a way to explain why there isn’t any DNA in the trunk along with this lone death-banded hair. As far as the testing itself, I’ve read there’s usually more than one hair to compare when they do an analysis.

For the amount of days Caylee was in the trunk, I suspect the State experts will calculate this by the unknown odor which the State claims is human decomposition. It’s been reported through documents from the Tennessee Body Farm, the odor value is 2.6 days. This may be hard for the State to prove because this science is still in its early stage and has never been used as evidence in a court of law. I would expect the State experts will use the coffin fly development as a gauge because they may have more value.

In another development, defense attorney Cheney Mason says the duct tape was not placed over Caylee’s mouth as it’s been claimed. I was shocked by this statement.
Of course, the investigators, Dr. Garavaglia and Roy Kronk disagree. They say yes, the duct tape was clearly found over Caylee’s mouth when her remains were found on Suburban Drive. There are photographs taken of the body to prove their statement. I imagine they will still contend the duct tape was the murder weapon which I still find peculiar too.
True, Dr. Garavaglia does explain the duct tape placement in her autopsy report but does not specify Caylee’s exact cause of death. She says homicide due to circumstances. In this report she also noted that there were “no visible signs of soft tissue” on the duct tape which could indicate no skin cells. I think this is impossible when it’s duct tape. Duct tape has been known to preserve fingerprints for years even underwater in some murder cases. Duct tape is a forensic scientist’s favorite type of evidence to examine.
Attorney Richard Hornsby of WESH did make this statement. He said, “you expect some soft tissue” beneath or stuck to the tape. He added that this finding may give Anthony some wiggle room. I don’t believe he thinks this will exonerate Casey Anthony, but possibly be grounds to lessen the charge. In my perspective, if the State can’t prove a murder was committed then they should have charged her with something possibly, easier to prove, felony child neglect. I wonder if the State loses, will they be able to later try her on another offense.



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