Determining the time of death of victims of poisoning

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Summary:

I'm writing a murder mystery that involves poisoning someone but making it seem like they died later than they did. Would an autopsy reveal the real time of death? Or does this depend on the poison used?
Hi everyone

I'm writing a murder mystery in which someone is poisoned at work at around midnight. The killer wants it to seem like the victim died around 8 am the next morning. They leave the body in a room with the heating running to keep the body warm.

Would an autopsy be able to determine the true time of death based on how the poison metabolises? And would this be true for all poisons? For example, arsenic can't break down into something simpler, but could you determine the time of death based on how it reacts with the body postmortem?

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  • #3
BillTre
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At a warmer temperature, rigor mortus would probably set in more rapidly.
I would guess that different poisons would react to different temperatures differently.

A possibly better way to confuse a medical examiner would be to have a a transiently and cryptically elevated or depressed temperature. If the temperature is known, corrections could be made for the different temperature.
Maybe ice that melts and goes down a drain. Or maybe dry ice or liquid N2 if they leave no traces.
However, if they would froze the tissue, it would be obvious.

The second book above get really good reviews and involves how using poisons required the development of forensic medicine for its detection.

Poisons that act at really low doses might be the most difficult to detect.
The Russians like to use radioactivity.
 
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Thanks. I'll check them out.
 
  • #5
Evo
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Summary::
I'm writing a murder mystery in which someone is poisoned at work at around midnight. The killer wants it to seem like the victim died around 8 am the next morning. They leave the body in a room with the heating running to keep the body warm.
Okay, as far as I know, warmth will only hasten decomposition. BUT, read this.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321792#What-happens-in-decomposition?

You'd also need a fast acting poison that won't show up in a routine tox screen.
 
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  • #7
Laroxe
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I don't know about making it seemed they died later than they did but it might be possible to find a poison that would render someone unconscious for some time before death. The trouble is that poisons can be rather unpredictable, people tend to respond differently, that's why in toxicology they use numbers like the LD50 to reflect the dose required to kill around 50% of people.
Attempts to avoid detection of a poison have also become more difficult as the methods have improved, it might be a better idea to try and deceive the investigators by using something the person may have taken themselves or been exposed to by accident. That might involve a lot of work to find something that might suite the bill.
This link might help for the time of death.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549867/
 
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