Aconitine involvement in an unusual homicide case
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We describe a homicide complicated by an aconitine poisoning, which was initially thought to be a strangulation case. Routine toxicological analyses demonstrated only a small amount of alcohol in the blood and the urine. The case could not be clarified until 5 years after the event. A new element in the investigation made the wife the prime suspect, and finally, after thorough interrogation, she confessed her crime. She had mixed a decoction of three plants of Aconitum with red wine. Additional toxicological analyses, using the liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) technique demonstrated 810 ng/ml of aconitine in urine, 6.5 ng/g in liver and 1.3 ng/g in the kidneys. Even though aconitine poisoning is still rare in Europe, it should be taken into account in suicides and homicides, particularly in unclarified cases.
KeywordsAconitine Intoxication Homicide Strangulation LC-MS-MS
The authors gratefully thank Mr. Ben Claes and Mr. Peter Clauwaert of the Belgian Federal Police (Department of Technical and Scientific Police-Forensic Facial Imaging) for the drawing presented in Fig. 2. The authors would also like to thank Mr. Etienne Vandeventer for the pictures presented in Fig. 1. Finally, the authors render thanks to Mrs. Thérèse De Vuyst and Mrs. Isabelle Cornelis for their assistance in preparing the manuscript.
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