Stab Wounds from Weapons Other than Knives

When an individual is stabbed with an implement other than a knife, the stab wound may have a characteristic appearance because of the unusual nature of the weapon. Because ice picks are no longer common household objects, ice pick wounds are rarely seen nowadays. Ice picks produce small, round, or slit-like wounds that can be easily missed or confused with wounds caused by .22-caliber bullets or shotgun pellets (Figure 7.8). A single ice pick wound might be missed on a cursory examination of a body, especially if there is little or no external bleeding (Figure 7.18).

If a victim is stabbed with a barbecue fork, there will be clusters of two or three wounds, depending on the number of prongs on the fork (Figure 7.9A). Each of the stab wounds will be equally spaced, as are the prongs of the fork. Perforation of the skin with a kitchen fork is generally not possible. The authors have seen only one death due to a stab wound with a kitchen

Stab Wound
Figure 7.6 Tearing at squared-off margin of stab wound from single-edged knife produced by back of blade's lacerating skin.

Figure 7.7 Patterned abrasions around stab wounds due to single-edged knife with guard. (A) Symmetrical marking at superior and inferior margins. (B) Knife plunged in a downward angle with guard mark at squared off margin (continued).

Fork Stabbing WoundKnife Wounds ChestFatal Stab Wounds
Figure 7.7 (Continued) Patterned abrasions around stab wounds due to single-edged knife with guard. (C) Knife plunged upward with guard mark on inferior margin of stab wound. (D) Oblique stab wound with guard mark on inferior margin.

fork (through the chest wall into a lung), though they have seen numerous attempts. What one sees is a pattern of three or four (depending on the number of prongs) abrasions or superficial penetrating wounds of the skin caused by the prongs of the fork (Figures 7.9 B,C).

The authors have seen fatal stab wounds inflicted with pens, pencils, broken pool cues, etc. In one case, an individual was stabbed on the left side of the neck with a ballpoint pen. The pen perforated skin, muscle, and ligaments; penetrating into the spinal column at the atlanto-occipital junction, and perforating the spinal cord (Figure 7.10).

The appearance of stab wounds made with scissors depends on whether the scissors were open or closed at the time of stabbing (Figure 7.11). If closed, the tip of the scissors splits rather than cuts the skin, producing a linear stab wound with abraded margins. If the screw holding the two blades is not flush but protrudes, it can produce an angular laceration in the mid portion of one of the skin margins. If the two blades are separated, two stab wounds will be produced with each stab.

Shotgun Wound The Chest
Figure 7.8 Elderly individual with multiple ice pick wounds of chest originally believed to be shotgun pellet wounds.
Ice Pick Wound
Figure 7.9 (A) Stab wound with barbeque fork (continued).

Stab wounds with screwdrivers may show very characteristic configuration if the weapon is a Phillips screwdriver. In such instances, the X-shaped point of the blade will cause a circular wound with four equally spaced cuts and an abraded margin (Figure 7.12 A, B). A standard-blade screwdriver will produce a slit-like stab wound with squared ends and abraded margins

Stab Wound
Figure 7.9 (continued) (B and C) Superficial stab wounds caused by kitchen fork.

(Figure 7.12 C). Thus, one cannot be absolutely sure whether a wound has been produced by a screwdriver or by a knife with a narrow, dull blade, plunged in up to the guard.

Stab wounds inflicted with a broken bottle tend to occur as clusters of wounds of different sizes, shapes, and depths (Figure 7.13 A, B). The stab wounds are sharp edged but ragged and there are differences in the depth of penetration for the individual wounds. Most fatal stab wounds with broken bottles are homicides, occasionally suicides, and, rarely, accidents (Figure 7.13 C). In one case, an individual died when he fell on a broken bottle. The broken end penetrated into the right side of the neck, severing a major vessel.

Multiple Stab Images
Figure 7.10 Stab wound of neck from ballpoint pen with perforation of spinal cord at atlanto-occipital junction.
Knife Wound Shape Knives
Figure 7.11 Suicide. Multiple stab wounds with scissors.
Carbon Monoxide Suicide
Figure 7.12 (A and B) Stab wounds with Phillips screwdriver.

Figure 7.12 (C) Stab wounds from traditional screwdriver C

Stab wounds caused by swords and lances are virtually unheard of in the U.S. The authors have encountered only one, a sword wound. Occasionally, one sees deaths caused by arrows or crossbow bolts. These are, in a way, stab wounds. The appearance of the wound depends on the arrowhead. Target arrows have pointed conical ends. They produce circular entrance wounds in the skin similar in appearance to bullet wounds. Hunting arrows have from two to five knife-like edges (four or five are the most common). The wounds produced are cross-like or X-shaped with the four-edged arrowhead. The margins of the wound appear incised, without abrasions.

Figure 7.13 (A and B) from broken bottle.

Stab wounds

Glass Stab WoundBroken Bottle Death
Figure 7.13 (C) Sliver of glass perforating stemum and aorta. Deceased fell through glass door.

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  • hildibrand
    What are ice pick wounds?
    8 years ago
  • Heli
    Is an arrowhead wound a stab wound?
    1 year ago
  • alice marchesi
    Does an ice pick stab wound leave an eliptical mark?
    1 month ago

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