A Guide to Death Scene Investigation
Technical Update: These pages reflect a 2011 update to the original 1999 publication Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator. These revisions were the result of a collaborative effort to present the most up-to-date information about the issues confronting
death investigators today.
Follow Agency Policies!
Actions taken following these guides should be performed in accordance with department policies and procedures and federal
and state laws.
Jurisdictional, logistical or legal conditions may preclude the use of particular procedures contained herein.
Local death investigators must do their best to find answers for families who have lost loved ones. Death investigation requires
strict adherence to guidelines. Investigators must search for clues that identify a death as natural, suicide or homicide.
In the case of homicide, investigators must carefully collect evidence to help identify suspects and convict murderers.
These pages present a revised and updated edition of NIJ's "Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator," which
was originally released in 1999.  This update is the result of a collaborative effort to present the most up-to-date information about the issues confronting
death investigators today. The death investigator is the eyes and ears of the forensic pathologist at the scene. It is hoped
that these guidelines, reflecting the best practices of the forensic community, will serve as a national standard.
Call in Help!
For potentially dangerous situations, such as biological weapons or radiological or chemical threats, contact the appropriate
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Date Modified: June 16, 2011