In DepthForensic Science

Pyre experiments cast doubt on students' fate

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Science  16 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6305, pp. 1191-1192
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6305.1191

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In September 2014, 43 university students disappeared in Guerrero state in southern Mexico. The Mexican government has maintained that a drug cartel murdered the students and burned their bodies at a trash dump. New experiments using pig carcasses as a proxy for human bodies cast doubt on that theory of the crime. José Torero, a fire scientist at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, in Brisbane, Australia, incinerated up to four pig carcasses at a time and determined that the inferno necessary to consume 43 bodies could not have occurred at the dump. His results suggest than Mexican investigators should look elsewhere to solve the mystery of the students' fate.

  • * in Mexico City