What Are Some Cases That Forensic Entomology Has Been Used to Solve?

Insects have been used to solve many crimes, including a 1991 “Ken and Barbie” murder and a 1997 murder of two young children. Forensic entomology is the study of insects primarily for medico-legal purposes. The primary purpose of carrying out a forensic entomology study is to estimate the time since death, states the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Udemy, an online education platform, cites a few 1990s cases in which forensic entomology was used to investigate death. In the so-called “Ken and Barbie” murder that took place in Canada in 1991, a forensic entomologist was able to narrow down the possible time of death from 15 days to just four days. The time frame helped identify the two murderers, Udemy states. The Ohio case of Kevin Neal, who was convicted of killing his two stepchildren, hinged on a forensic entomologist’s testimony of the presence or absence of certain bugs at the crime scene.

There are many cases in which the life circle of a fly has helped investigators solve a murder case. Insects can act as informants, and can tell a lot about a crime. As the body decomposes, insects colonize it in a sequential manner, PBS’ Nature describes.