The offspring of flies may actually be doing the work of detectives, and not even know it.
10 years ago, NBC12 showed you VCU forensic toxicologists mixing maggots that had been feeding on pureed pork - laced with a drug.
They called it a maggot milkshake. They were trying to find out if you could figure out what kinds of drugs a person had in their system when they died... from the bugs that were feeding on the decomposing body.
"It's a legitimate question to ask, because oftentimes remains are found that are predominantly skeletonized," said VCU professor and forensic toxicologist Michelle Peace. She is now training the next generation of forensic scientists, all while making sense of her research on bugs and drugs.
"It's the old adage that are moms tells us, you are what you eat," said Peace.
Bodies left outside in the elements deteriorate quickly. And it's true - the bugs that soon take over could help detectives discover what the victim was doing just before death. What drugs were in the system, what poisons?
"If the larvae are consuming tissues, and those tissues on the body contain a drug, well then that drug will then be in a maggot," said Peace.
A lot's changed on campus in 10 years. Forensic science is now a department at VCU with around 450 graduate and undergraduate students in the program. The research here has grown. Matthew Goldstein is a first year grad student trying to pull DNA out of trace amounts of evidence like saliva, or the tiniest of blood spatters.
"It's not at all what you see on TV, whenever my friends, I tell someone I'm in forensic science they go 'oh, CSI?' I'm like 'ahhh, short answer yes, long answer, not at all,'" said Goldstein.
Forensic scientists are already using insects to help figure out time of death in dead bodies - someday bugs, such as maggots, may be able to say so much more.
Peace is working to publish the research on maggot milkshakes next year.
Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >
Savannah Nash celebrated her 16th birthday last week. She died Thursday when her car slammed into a semi while she was texting during her first time driving by herself.More >
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:09 AM EDT2013-05-18 14:09:50 GMT
A train derailment was reported near the Bridgeport and Fairfield city lines Friday night. Few details have been released on the derailment, but the incident was reported around 6:30 p.m. in the area ofMore >
Dozens of passengers and employees were among those injured when two Metro-North trains collided near a station in Fairfield Friday night.More >
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I first saw the headline early Tuesday on Real Clear Politics, a political news site where I generally start my morning. It's not where I expect to see a story on breast cancer.
Wednesday, May 15 2013 2:57 PM EDT2013-05-15 18:57:11 GMT
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well. An Arizona bakery was featured on Friday's episode of the Gordon RamseyMore >
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well.More >
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:58 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:58:37 GMT
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Thursday, May 16 2013 3:45 PM EDT2013-05-16 19:45:11 GMT
Police arrested a Toronto woman, who was trying to get into the charity polo match in Greenwich where Prince Harry was playing.According to police, Wen Qi, 36, was trying to enter the Conyers Farms PoloMore >
Police arrested a Toronto woman, who was trying to get into the charity polo match in Greenwich where Prince Harry was playing.More >
South Korea says North Korea has fired three short-range guided missiles into its eastern waters. Pyongyang routinely test-launches such missiles.More >
North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into its eastern waters on Saturday, a South Korean official said. It routinely tests such missiles, but the latest launches came during a period of tentative diplomacy...More >
Friday, May 17 2013 5:19 PM EDT2013-05-17 21:19:20 GMT
CSP arrive in Trumbull after a body was found Friday morning
A body was discovered along a road on the Bridgeport and Trumbull town lines Friday morning, according to police.No other information was released.Refresh this page and watch Eyewitness News for updatesMore >
State police said they are investigating the discovery of human remains in a wooded area near the Bridgeport/Trumbull town lines Friday morning.More >