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Forensic Entomology Helped Convict Vincent Brothers

Forensic Entomology Helped Convict Vincent Brothers

Vincent Brothers was suspected of killing his wife, mother-in-law and three children in California in 2004, but authorities had to prove that his car was indeed in California and not in Ohio where the man lives.

Brothers defense said that he never left Ohio, so he could not have possibly killed these five family members. The two FBI agents knew they had the right person, but they could not prove it until they heard about forensic entomology. They came up with the idea to take the air filter and radiator to Lynn Kimsey at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.

The parts were splattered with bugs. They hoped that Kimsey could tell them what the bugs were and where they come from in the United States. The bugs were identified for their species and geographical location. The prosecution concluded with Kimsey testifying about what insects were found and where they come from. Several insects were only found in the West and one was abundant in California.

The insects were two “true bugs” as they are referred to, a paper wasp and a grasshopper. The insects that they did fine indicated the car was driving to California at night and not during the day. There were no daytime insects on the car parts. This concluded a trail where forensic science proved his guilt, but without it, Brothers may have walked free.

Forensic entomology studies insect to tell where something has been and also how long a body has been in a specific location. The study of insects can also tell how long a person has been dead and the time of year of the death. In this case, insects were on the car parts, but in other cases, the insects seek out the corpse and scientists can tell how long a body laid in that place by the different stages of larvae.

Maggots for instance are horrible to see, but they clean up dead things that lay on the side of the road, such as dead animals. They will also find dead bodies. The maggots can help determine how long the body has been decomposing which can help authorities pinpoint a time of death. This has made it possible to find the last movements of the person and in some cases find out who they were with or where they were depending on any other forensics.

Blowflies usually find the body a few hours after death. Other insects show up and feed before leaving. They leave identifying forensic behind. This can help determine the timeline because every insect comes in a sequence. For instance, one insect feeds on newly dead corpses, then another feeds on a corpse that is dead for two weeks. It is said that each insect prepares the body for the next arrival of insects. 

Forensic entomology is the study of insects, which appear after death or in the cases of Brothers on the car when he drove to the area to kill. Of course, crime scene investigators knew the time of death because of body temperature and insect arrival.