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Helpful Definitions

General Information

Case Type: 

In the field: Case is entered at the time of the death investigation
Retrospective: Case is entered from a retrospective death report file
Longitudinal: Case is entered from outdoor/human decomposition research facility 

Test: For new users who want to get familiar with the survey before submitting real cases

Date of Discovery: The date the body was discovered. May be different from the date of death. 

For longitudinal cases only (from human decomposition/outdoor research facilities)-this is the date of observation


Date of Death: First select how accurate the date of death is, then select the actual date, when estimated to have died, NOT the date when pronounced dead

Date Last Known Alive: First select how accurate the date last known alive is, then select the actual date. You have the option of entering text, such as 2 days prior, 3 weeks prior, etc.

Location of discovery: If you want to drop the pin on your current location, please select the icon highlighted by the red arrow, as illustrated. If you are not allowed to disclose the exact location of the body, please enter a nearby location (close to the scene or local office responding) 


F: Female

M: Male

Another sex (drop-down option to enter details)


Body Size Estimation: Based on best assessment classify body size as emaciated, normal, or obese

Emaciated: extreme lack of body fat; extremely thin; lack of muscle tone 
Moderate: average or typical presence of body fat 
Obese: presence of extreme body fat; extremely overweight 


Presence of clothing: 

Fully Clothed: upper body and lower body (including limbs) covered; unclothed body wrapped in blankets or fabric sheets 

Partially Clothed: either upper body, lower body, or abdominal area covered 

Deposition Site Type: Description of context where body was discovered

Characteristics of Decomposition Select all that apply

Fresh- Livor Mortis Absent: Skin may be tight and grey in color. There is not yet pooling of the blood in the body​

Livor Mortis Unfixed: Gravitational settling of blood in the body causing dull pink to dark purple patches to appear on skin. If pressure is applied, skin can turn white or “blanch”. When pressure is removed, blood will return to pooled location. Lips may be pale and eyes may have a sunken appearance


Livor Mortis Fixed: Blood coagulates causing dull pink to dark purple discoloration of the skin. At this point, coagulation prevents blanching when pressure is applied. Lips may be pale and eyes may have a sunken appearance


Fresh-Rigor Mortis Absent: Muscle stiffening has not yet set in

Rigor Mortis Partial: Muscle stiffening has accrued in the small muscles of the face and jaw

Rigor Mortis Full: Complete muscle stiffening

Body intact but rigor mortis has passed: Muscle stiffening has dissipated


Corneal clouding: The cornea of the eyes are opaque/cloudy 


Drying of fingertips, lips, and/or nose: Lips, nose, and fingertips are significantly dry and shriveled, may be brownish in color 

Greening of the abdomen: Green discoloration of abdominal skin, starting in right lower quadrant 

Skin Bullae/Slippage: Sloughing of the skin from the body in any location; for hands, skin may entirely slough off, resulting in "degloving". Formation of bullae may be visible as blisters

Skin discoloration: Any discoloration due to postmortem/decomposition changes; not to be confused with the coloration due to livor mortis. Presents as green and blue to black discoloration on the skin

Marbling: Darkening of the blood vessels. Presents as greenish-black streaks on the skin

Bloat: Swelling of the abdomen, trunk, limbs, face due to gaseous by-products of microorganisms. Tongue may protrude

Purging: Decomposition fluids exit through natural orifices (eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc.) accompanied by foul odor. Potential black discoloration. Tongue may protrude

Adipocere (Saponification): "Grave Wax." The grayish-white substance formed from subcutaneous body fat. Observed on or around the body and may be paste-like, hardened, or crumbly

Abdominal Caving: The caving in of the abdominal area after bloat has occurred

Liquid decomp: General decomposition fluids on and around the body (excludes moisture from surrounding environment)

Desiccation/Mummification: Widespread preservation of skin or tissue that lacks moisture and is extremely dried out

Exposed Bone with Moist Tissue: Moist tissue and bone exposure as the result of the decomposition process (excludes moisture from surrounding environmental context—e.g., body found in water or precipitation)

Exposed Bone with Desiccated Tissue: Dry tissue is present and bone can be seen

Bone with Grease: Exposed bone may appear yellowed, glistening, and sticky. Tissue may be present

Dry Bone: Moisture is not present on surface of bone. Desiccated tissue and tendons may remain

Weathered Bone: Flaking or roughening of bone surface as the result of exposure to the environment/elements

Burned: Evidence of postmortem burning on the body 

Embalmed: Artificially preserved through postmortem chemical injection into the body. Mostly encountered in exhumation cases 


Other Decomp: You have the option of entering any other characteristics of decomposition not included above 

Insect Characteristics Select all that apply

Fly Eggs: Small white or yellow specks often seen around eyes, nose, mouth, genitals, or wounds

Larva: Maggots in any stage of development - often resembles grains of rice

Pupae: Hard or hollow black pellets located around the body in soil or other surrounding material

Adult Flies: Common fly often with iridescent or dark grey bodies observed in close proximity or on the body

Beetles: Any type of beetle observed on the body

Ants: Any type of ant observed on the body. Small, red marks may be observed on the skin of the body, especially if fire ants are present

Other Insect Activity: Insect or insect activity present that are not classified above

Vertebrate Characteristics Select all that apply

Rodent Activity: Parallel striations are commonly observed on the cortical bone or trabecular bone removed from joint ends to create a pedestal

Carnivore Activity: (dogs, foxes, bears, raccoons, etc.) Commonly associated with puncture marks and/or crushing, particularly on the ends long bones. Also, disarticulation of the limbs may be commonly observed

Vultures: Evidence of vulture activity which may be associated with rapid skeletonization, fractures inside the eye orbits, and/or rib fractures

Other Scavenger Activity: Modification of remains by other animals not described above

Estimating PMI 

This allows you to determine the calendar date or range corresponding to an accumulated degree day (ADD) or total body score (TBS) determined from published/currently available methods based on the mean daily temperature of the nearest weather station.

The application automatically compiles information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to locate the nearest weather station and calculate the mean daily temperature until it reaches the accumulated degree days entered, thus providing you with an estimated PMI and corresponding calendar date. The calendar date is based only on temperature data and not on the information entered about the case (to read more about how this project strives to improve upon current methods, click here).

If TBS (Megyesi et al., 2005) is selected, the application uses a modified formula by Smith et al. (2023): ADD=10^(0.00155*TBS*TBS+1.81) * 10±2.00*0.201.

GeoFOR aims to provide you with PMI estimates in a simpler and faster format. You will soon receive an email with the requested results. 




Megyesi, M. S., S. P. Nawrocki, et al. (2005). "Using accumulated degree-days to estimate the postmortem interval from decomposed human remains." Journal of Forensic Sciences 50(3):


Smith, D. H., Ehrett, C., Weisensee, K., & Tica, C. (2023). Commentary on: Megyesi MS, Nawrocki SP, Haskell NH. Using accumulated degree‐days to estimate the postmortem interval from decomposed human remains. J Forensic Sci. 2005; 50 (3): 618–26. doi: 10.1520/JFS2004017

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