Pieces of glass have been used to cut wrists and throats and to slash people. They have been used in both homicides and suicides. Occasionally, an accidental death will be caused by glass. The authors have seen a number of cases in which an intoxicated individual knocked out a pane of glass with a hand or fist. In the process, as the arm went through the glass, or when it was pulled back, a jagged projection of glass cut the arm, inflicting a deep wound and severing a major vessel, with resultant exsanguination (Figure 7.29).
Psychotic individuals may use edged weapons to mutilate either themselves or others. Mutilation usually involves the genitalia, ears, or nose. Non-psychotic individuals may mutilate as a warning, in revenge, or to collect souvenirs (usually ears). Husbands occasionally mutilate the genitalia of cheating wives. Sexual mutilation of prostitutes occurs, though rarely.
In bodies in which there is prolonged immersion in water, the water can leach out the blood in both stab and incised wounds, giving an almost postmortem appearance to these wounds, suggesting that they were inflicted after death rather than before (Figure 7.30).
In both incised and stab wounds, one should always examine the clothing to see if there are defects corresponding to the wounds. This is to rule out an individual's being stabbed or cut and then the body dressed.
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