Disposal of a Homicide Victim by Dismemberment and Burning

The Contribution of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology in Reconstructing the Crime


  • Julie Roberts Liverpool John Moores University
  • Alison Baldry Lancashire Constabulary




Anthropology, Archaeology, Burnt Remains, cutmarks, reconstruction


Burning can have a profound effect on the appearance of bone and increase its susceptibility to mechanical damage. In criminal cases where there has been a deliberate attempt to dispose of human remains in this way; there is also often a need to distinguish between damage caused by heat, ante-mortem and peri-mortem trauma, and post-mortem damage. This case demonstrates how the forensic anthropologist and archaeologist contributed to a complex investigation where a homicide victim had been dismembered, burned and concealed. The use of archaeological and anthropological techniques at the scene, in the mortuary and the laboratory, provided evidence that enabled the sequence of events surrounding the disposal of the deceased to be reconstructed. The expert witness testimony given in court showed the benefits of employing these skills and assisted in securing the conviction of the offenders who are both serving life sentences.

Author Biographies

Julie Roberts, Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Julie Roberts is a lecturer in Forensic Anthropology at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research interests are focussed on Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), war crimes investigations, and the identification and interpretation of burnt and / or dismembered remains, particularly in relation to the deliberate disposal of homicide victims.

Alison Baldry, Lancashire Constabulary

Alison Baldry is an archaeologist and CSI at Lancashire Constabulary. She has a particular interest in conflict archaeology and is involved with field projects investigating the history and archaeology of the Great Arab Revolt during WWI. More recent research is WWII focused, based in Italy, with the Military History Live archaeology group. This research is a comprehensive field-based investigation of an entire second World War battlefield.


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How to Cite

Roberts, Julie, and Alison Baldry. 2021. “Disposal of a Homicide Victim by Dismemberment and Burning: The Contribution of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology in Reconstructing the Crime”. Archaeological and Environmental Forensic Science 2 (1):39–48. https://doi.org/10.1558/aefs.18070.