Time of Death Calculator for Forensic Medicine
Refer to the text below the tool for more information about determining time since death.
Time of death can be estimated from body and ambient temperature based on an equation by Glaister.
Time since death = (98.6 °F – Body temperature in °F) / T
Where T = 1.5 if Ambient temperature < 32°F and 0.75 if Ambient temperature ≥ 32°F
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Steps on how to print your input & results:
1. Fill in the calculator/tool with your values and/or your answer choices and press Calculate.
2. Then you can click on the Print button to open a PDF in a separate window with the inputs and results. You can further save the PDF or print it.
Please note that once you have closed the PDF you need to click on the Calculate button before you try opening it again, otherwise the input and/or results may not appear in the pdf.
Time since Death Explained
The time period in hours from death to when a body is found can be estimated from body and ambient temperature based on an equation by Glaister and one by Henssge.
Time since death = (98.6 °F - Body temperature in °F) / T
Where: T = 1.5 if Ambient temperature < 32°F and 0.75 if Ambient temperature ≥ 32°F
Caution must be exerted when the formula is used if body has been subjected to repeated extensive climatic changes, there is suspicion that the place where the body is found is not the same as place of death or there is a suspicion of death by hypothermia.
The equation above is based on the observation of Algor mortis, which means that after death, the body loses (or gains) heat progressively until it becomes in equilibrium with the surrounding environment.
Forensically, the time of death can be described in three ways:
- Physiological time of death – when the body ceased to function;
- Estimated time of death – estimate based on available information (i.e. body and ambient temperature);
- Legal time of death – time at which body is found or person declared dead.
Another method of estimating time of death is linked to the installation of rigor mortis, which is the natural process that starts to install roughly 2 hours after death and first occurs in the smaller muscles such as those in the face and neck and then covers the entire muscles of the body, as they become larger. Rigor mortis method works in the first 36 to 48 hours.
Madea B. Methods for determining time of death. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2016; 12(4):451-485.
Zilg B, Bernard S, Alkass K, Berg S, Druid H. A new model for the estimation of time of death from vitreous potassium levels corrected for age and temperature. Forensic Sci Int. 2015; 254:158-166.
Henssge C, Madea B, Gallenkemper E. Death time estimation in case work. II. Integration of different methods. Forensic Sci Int. 1988; 39(1):77-87.
Henssge C, Madea B. Estimation of the time since death in the early post-mortem period. Forensic science international 144.2. 2004; 167-175.
Published On: July 29, 2020 · 12:00 AM
Last Checked: July 29, 2020
Next Review: July 29, 2025