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Drowning in the bath tub after choking: Unusual death, accident or suicide? Reconstruction of an unusual fall



Drowning in the bath tub after choking: Unusual death, accident or suicide? Reconstruction of an unusual fall



Archiv für Kriminologie 187(5-6): 163-172



A thirteen-year old girl attending a special school who had been suffering from genuine epilepsy for about one year was found dead completely clothed in the full bathtub in the bathroom of her parent's flat. The characteristic features of death by drowning but also signs of strangulation as well as a condition after shackling of the hands were found in the forensic post-mortem examination and autopsy. The putative strangulation instrument was a pair of tights which was floating in the bathwater. The hands were probably tied with the lace of a sneaker. In the further course of events, the inquiries and investigations initially commenced on the assumption of a capital crime gave reason to consider suicide. A reconstruction experiment under comparable external conditions indicates that this is possible. From a forensic-psychiatric point of view, an exacerbative mental crisis situation can be inferred as a final motive from the known personality configuration and the immediate circumstances. The tragic outcome in the final phase appears to have been determined by the additional complication of a provoked grand mal epilepsy attack. All in all, this hypothesis is the most plausible. However, subjective and objective observations do not rule out the possibility of homicide.

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Accession: 039872059

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PMID: 1909522


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