Forensics Death Investigation: Time Since Death - Accident or Murder?? No Prep!

Grade Levels
9th - 12th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Google Drive™ folder
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Forensic Death Investigation! This resource will teach your students what happens to a body after death, and then give them a chance to practice their skills! Includes everything your students need to determine the time since death of our victim - Zelda Smith. She was found by her boyfriend in what appears to be a tragic accidental death....but maybe not?

This is a print-and-go activity! No prep needed, great for a sub! It can be used as a stand alone activity, or part of an Autopsy or Death Investigation Unit - an intro or for review!

Resource includes:

  • Teachers guide
  • Clues in Death student guide - Paper and Digital option! provides information about Rigor Mortis, Livor Mortis, Body Temperature changes after death, Appearance of the Eyes, and Digestive Contents. Everything they need to know to solve the case.
  • Police and Autopsy report - Paper and Digital option! students use this information to determine both time since death, time since last meal, and the possibility of foul play
  • One page student sheet (front and back) with questions and a time line that guides students to determine the time since death. Paper and Digital option!
  • Full answer key!

Some of the questions your students will consider:

  • How long between Zelda's last meal and her death?
  • What does the location of Livor Mortis tell us about the body? Has it been moved?
  • Does the blood evidence match what you would expect to see?

The story line of the activity is inspired by the Weird Al song, Albuquerque. In the song, Albert (Al) meets Zelda outside of a Donut Shop in Albuquerque NM. In the song they get married and have two kids. He later divorces her when she asks if they should join the Columbia Record Club (he is not ready for that kind of commitment!). In the song, Al then gets a job at the Sizzler. These names and places are woven into the crime investigation. It is rare that a student has heard the song, but I sometimes play it in class while they are working, just for fun.


Need more Forensics Death Investigation resources?

  • Forensics Death Investigation: Notes, Activity and Review - Interactive Google Slides teaches your students about Time Since Death, Manner and Cause of Death, and the job of the Medical Examiner. Includes an activity and Google Form review questions. The resource can be 100% digital, and no prep.
  • Estimate Time Since Death - NO PREP! Everything your students need to learn what happens to a body after death, and then use those skills to estimate when Zelda died. Was it accidental death, or murder??
  • Secrets of the Body Farm Video Guide - a fun documentary that students always enjoy! The Body Farm, located in TN, is home to a few dozen donated bodies, where Forensic Scientists go to learn about human decomposition. 
  • Autopsy Report Activity! There are many ways to use this resource in your class to reinforce learning about autopsies, entomology, cause of death, and time since death. Digital and Print options!
  • Forensics Stages of Decay: Learn the five stages of decomposition to determine the time since death (post mortem interval). A great addition to your Forensics Death Investigation unit! This  is designed to be a student independent activity, no direct instruction is needed!
  • Forensic Autopsy Medical Examiner Terms: Notes + Activity: Teach the terms used by Forensic Pathologists / Medical Examiners when they perform an Autopsy! Interactive Google Slides, Printable Notes and Hands on Activity!
  • BUGS! Forensic Entomology Notes + Activity: Students learn how to measure maggots to determine the time since death! Digital activity - no prep!
  • BONES! Forensic Anthropology Death Investigation: Notes + Activity: Teach your students how to be Forensic Anthropologists! Learn to read bones and determine gender, height and age. Then solve a Missing Person Case!


More Forensic Science Topics!

**Stay Curious!**

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
50 minutes
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