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£42 MEBICAL JURISPRUDENCE
it occurring within three to fifteen days after death in bodies drowned in
the Hooghly or buried in the damp soil of Lower Bengal. I have observed
adipocere taking place in seven to thirty-five days after death in bodies sub-
merged in wells or buried in shallow graves. Professor Powell33 records
its formation in three days and twenty-two hours after death in the body
of a healthy male buried in a gravelly and sandy soil.
Of twelve cases of adipocere which came under my observation during a period of
six years between 1918 and 1923, I quote the following typical cases : —
1 On February 26, 1922, a report was made at Police-Station Malihabad, Lucknow
District that Ramadhin, Brahmin, 55 years old, resident of Ramgarh, was missing. On
the 2nd April the body of the said Ramadhin was found in a well in village Hamirpur.
Post-mortem examination was held on the following day. The body was well preserved.
There was no disagreeable smell. The eyeballs had been disintegrated and the teeth
loosened. Saponification had taken place in the soft tissues of the trunk, scrotum, penis
and extremities. There was an incised wound, measuring four inches by two inches,
across the right side of the neck cutting the larynx below the thyroid cartilage, and the
fifth cervical vertebra. The brain was liquefied. The lungs were decomposed and dis-
integrated to a small black mass. The abdominal fat and mesentery were saponified.
The liver appeared to be undergoing saponification. The spleen was reduced to almost
a liquid mass. The kidneys were reduced to a small putrefied mass, but the bladder was
normal and empty.
2. The body of Musammat Jasoda, a girl of 4 years, was taken out of a well on the
26th March 1923. On examination externally the buttocks were found saponified and
internally the mesentery and omentum. The girl was robbed of her silver ornaments
and thrown into the well about 10 days ago.
Pathological Examination.—In these cases pieces of saponified tissues, viz. muscle,
mesentery, omentum, and liver, were sent to the Pathological Department of the King
George's Medical College for section cutting and examination. Dr. Mukarji, Reader in
Pathology, furnished me with the following report: —
"Microscopically the tissues appeared to be yellowish-white, disintegrated masses.
Under the microscope no definite structure was seen, but masses of circular crystals
and round bodies about three times the diameter of a red blood cell were detected.
"When treated with xylol most of the above were dissolved leaving a hazy round outline.
In all probability the round bodies consisted of neutral fat and soap."
Chemical Analysis.—The following results of analysis were obtained in the labo-
ratory of Mr. D. N. Chatter] i, Chemical Exarniner for the United and Central Provinces
Case No. 1:
Pieces of saponified muscle, mesentery, fat and liver were removed from -the body
and placed in a bottle with rectified spirit. These were forwarded for chemical analysis.
The fatty substance got completely dissolved in the alcohol.
The total amount of fatty substance recovered from the alcohol at the time of
analysis in November (about seven months after the post-mortem examination) was 63
grammes. It was practically soluble in ether, and contained only traces of mineral
matter. The other tissues on analysis were found to contain—
Ash 5.6 per cent.
Ethereal extract 53.4 per cent.
The quantity of unsaponified matter in the fatty substance recovered from the
preservative spirit and the other tissues was 2 per cent.
Soap was present, but in a very small quantity ; this soap was probably a lime
soap. Most of the adipocere consisted of free fatty acids, viz. stearic and palmitic acids.
No ammonia was present. The ash from the tissues contained lime, soda and potash
Case No. 2:
Pieces of saponified buttock and mesentery were sent for chemical analysis pre-
served in rectified spirit
The following is the result of analysis made in July 1923:—
The total amount of fatty matter which was dissolved in the alcohol was 23.4 per
cent. It contained only 0.2 per cent of mineral matter and 0.5 per cent of unsaponi-
fiable matter. The results of the analysis of the tissues are:—
33. Brit. Med. Jour, VoL I, 1917, p. 842.