Journal List > Korean J Leg Med > v.38(2) > 1004740

Korean J Leg Med. 2014 May;38(2):73-77. Korean.
Published online May 28, 2014.
© Copyright 2014 by the Korean Society for Legal Medicine
An Unusual Hanging Case Mistaken as Homicidal Strangulation in the Scene of a Fire
Hyo Jung Ahn,1 Aegyung Kim,2 Byungseon Moon,3 and Hongil Ha3
1Department of Pathology, Busan Paik Hospital, Inje University, Busan, Korea.
2Busan Metropolitan Police Agency, Busan, Korea.
3Division of Forensic Medicine, Busan Institute, National Forensic Service, Yangsan-si, Kyoungsangnam, Korea.

Corresponding author (Email: )
Received April 29, 2014; Revised May 13, 2014; Accepted May 13, 2014.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Here, we report an autopsy case of an unusual hanging that was misinterpreted as a case of homicidal strangulation, as th body was found on the scene of a house fire. A 29-year-old unmarried woman hanged herself from the gas pipe using a bath towel. Subsequently, the pipe broke and a fire broke out after an explosion. However, as the initial postmortem investigation revealed the absence of cherry-pink lividity and as a burnt bath towel was found around her neck, this case was misunderstood as a case of arson after homicidal strangulation. The cause and manner of death in this case were finally determined based on the autopsy findings of ligature marks that are typically noted in cases of hanging and the presence of a burnt electric lock and a broden gas pipe that were noted at the suicide scene.

Keywords: Fire Scene; Hanging; Suicide; Ligature mark


Fig. 1
The neck showed a "half of U" shaped ligature mark (a and b). A burnt bath towel was found around the neck (c).
Click for larger image

Fig. 2
The floor plan of Room 403. The victim was found sitting between the foot of the bed and the sliding door of the kitchen. The gas pipe ran horizontally on the inside wall of the kitchen above the sliding door.
Click for larger image

Fig. 3
The detailed plan of the gas pipe on the kitchen (a and b). There was a broken part at a joint ("A") between the gas pipe and the control valve (c).
Click for larger image

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