An Improved Equation for TBS and ADD: Establishing a Reliable Postmortem Interval Framework for Casework and Experimental Studies.

Colin Moffatt
Tal Simmons
Jeanne Elizabeth Lynch-Aird

Abstract

Megyesi et al.'s (J Forensic Sci, 2005, 50, 618) paper was important to forensic anthropology as it introduced a quantitative framework for estimating time since death in human cadavers, based upon physical appearance by way of scoring on a novel scale. However, errors concerning rounding, temperature scale, and incorrect use of a statistical regression model render their predictive formula unusable. Based upon only their more reliable data, a more appropriate regression model to predict accumulated degree days (ADD) from total body score (TBS) is presented. The new model is also a superior fit (r(2)  = 0.91) and produces markedly narrower confidence intervals than the original, which also allowed impossible, negative ADD values. Explanations of the shortcomings in the original analysis and calculations are presented, which it is hoped will help forensic scientists avoid making similar mistakes.