Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 678–679 | Cite as

On the usability of skull maceration in fatal head injuries caused by axes

  • Benjamin OndruschkaEmail author
  • Jan Dreßler
  • Niels Hammer
  • Rexson Tse
  • Ronny Bayer
Letter to the Editor

We read with great interest the recent case report by Handlos et al. [1], investigating fatal chop injuries from an axe. We want to present the investigative approach we took on a murder-suicide case with similar injury patterns.

A young, initially unidentified female was found dead in public on a snowy winter day. She was found in a ditch next to the side of a road. Numerous severe injuries, partially involving smooth wound margins, were grouped on the head and both hands. During the scene investigation, accidental injuries (such as injuries caused by a rotary snow plough) or homicidal injuries (such as placing the head in a milling cutter with body dumping) were raised as possible differentials. Subsequent identification revealed the deceased worked at a landfill site in close proximity to the place where she was found.

During forensic autopsy, the head was found to have more than 40 chop injuries grouped in three regions; the crown and occipital region (Fig.  1a), the left ear...



The authors would like to thank Miss Dipl.-Ing. Simone Schulz for her skillful preparation techniques, and the public prosecution office for approval to publish this information.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Handlos P, Uvíra M, Dokoupil M, Marecová K. Axe injury pattern in homicide. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2019.
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    Nikolić S, Zivković V. Attempted suicide with an axe: a hanged waiter with multiple healed chop wounds to the crown of the head. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2013;9:117–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Johnson CP, Melmore SA, Johnson O, Campbell RS, Dunn A. Life threatening chop injuries to the head: optimising injury interpretation using three dimensional computerized tomography (3DCT) reconstruction of pre-treatment imaging. J Forensic Legal Med. 2014;28:1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Ondruschka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jan Dreßler
    • 1
  • Niels Hammer
    • 2
  • Rexson Tse
    • 3
  • Ronny Bayer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of Forensic Pathology, LabPLUSAuckland City HospitalAucklandNew Zealand

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