What Bite Mark Evidence Leaves Behind at a Crime Scene

There has been a considerable amount of controversy surrounding criminal cases with bite mark evidence.  It is true that it isn’t an “exact” science, but it can be helpful in to exclude or include a suspect who could have inflicted the bite.

Investigators should be vigilant if they see anything that resembles a bite mark on a victim, especially in a rape or homicide.  Human bite marks are used as a weapon of anger, passion, control and destruction on a victim.  Even if the bite mark can’t be identified, it still holds value to the behavioral pattern of the perpetrator.  This could hold the key to unlocking the case and shouldn’t be underestimated. 

For example, one of the most famous cases was for Ted Bundy.  This key piece of evidence led to the conviction based on the bite marks left on Lisa Levy who he had attacked at the sorority house at Florida State University.  Bundy’s teeth marks were very distinct in their imprint.

This type of impression evidence can be left in the skin of a victim, but also can be in food, chewing gum, and other miscellaneous items, such as pens and pencils. There are distinct features and characteristics in the dental structure, such as distance and angles between teeth, missing teeth, fillings, dental work, and unique wear.

There are limitations because skin is elastic and easily distortable.  Time, movement, and pressure can affect the results of bite mark evidence.  There are many changing natures to the body and many times forensic dentists wait until the lividity stage (pooling of blood) allowing for the details to become more visible for photographs and documentation.  The evidence left by a biter is based on pressure that caused the distinct wound.  It is divided into three basic categories: clear, obvious, and noticeable.

There are seven types of forensic terms used to describe the type of bite mark left on a victim:

Abrasion – a scrape on the skin.

Artifact – when a piece of body part is removed through biting.

Avulsion – removing of skin through biting.

Contusion – a bruise.

Hemorrhage – a profusely bleeding bite wound.

Incision – a clean, neat wound.

Laceration – a puncture wound.

 
Jennifer Chase
Award Winning Author & Criminologist
 

About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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