Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 September 2018
When human remains are found, apart from helping explain the cause of death and determining the extent of any injuries, forensic pathologists are usually requested to determine the identity of the deceased and how much time has elapsed since his death. In the Czech Republic, the criminal liability for murder is set to a statute of limitations of 20 years. In our pilot study, tissue samples of human remains from two decedents were radiocarbon (14C) dated to estimate the date of death. In agreement with published literature, we have confirmed relatively short carbon turnover time in hair, nail, and bone fat. Therefore these samples are the most appropriate for determining date of death. Other samples, such as teeth (collagen and carbonate form) and collagen isolated from bone samples, which exhibit relatively long carbon turnover time, can be used to reduce ambiguity of dating results and to indicate some interfering influences. Given the possibility of processing multiple sample types, we also propose brief guidelines for comparing and interpreting the results of individual analyses.