Life and Death > Death Details

Murder or Accident?


A woman is shoved down a flight of stairs and dies. Would there be sufficient forensic evidence (severity of injuries, type of injuries, etc.) for investigators to rule out an accidental tumble down the stairs? And be certain it was murder?

Bob P

Dave Freas:

If she was pushed sufficiently violently, there may be palm shaped bruise marks on her back or grasp marks on her arms.

I imagine, too, a lot would depend on the woman.  If she is younger, in good health, not a drug or alcohol abuser, not suffering from any conditions that may have dizziness/vertigo/lightheadedness as a symptom, not taking any meds that might have those as side-effects, they might be more inclined to suspect foul play.  If she's the opposite, they may dismiss it as an accident.

If the investigating officers know the victim and know she's in good health and so on, or if a neighbor/friend/relative can convince them she would never fall down the stairs, they may push the crime lab techs or ME to dig deeper for evidence of what really happened.

Long answer to a short question, but I hope it helps.


Old Bill:
That's a tough one, Bob. Even if your victim fell down the stairs backward I could come up with reasons to justify an accidental fall (while mowing my yard I backed up into our fire fire at the time, thank God...but even knowing it was there, sh*t happens). But like Dave said, if the investigator gets that funny feeling in his/her stomach, then he/she would have to rely on motive and conduct the investigation accordingly.

Good luck with your story,

Old Bill

Thanks Guys.

Bob P

Choco Leche:

Well, by the way the body entered the stage of rigor mortis? Or the fingernails could have the DNA of another person?

Choco Leche  :)


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