An Unusual Pattern of Decomposition Associated with Suicidal Electrocution in a Bath

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Abstract

A 51-year-old man was found dead face down and partially submerged in a bathtub alongside two hairdryers. The hairdryers had continued to work, as the victim had bypassed the electrical board of the house prior to dropping them into the water. This had resulted in death due to electrocution, with subsequent heating of the bath water causing marked putrefaction and softening of the immersed body parts. The back and feet, which were not submerged, were preserved. The degree of anterior decomposition was not in keeping with the postmortem interval; however, regional decomposition with sparing of the back and feet provided a clue at autopsy as to the sequence of events. Individuals with training in, or knowledge of, electrical circuitry are capable of modifying domestic wiring so that safety switches and/or fuses can be bypassed ensuring that electrical devices will continue to function even while under water.

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