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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Odor sensor could help find decomposing bodies

Cadaver dogs searched for more than two days but could not find the body of a young woman who disappeared in 2000 while jogging in a Nashville park.

A day later, a searcher spotted the body in a place the highly trained dogs had been. With the August heat wearing on the 24-year-old's body for three days, it was already too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death.

It's a problem that occasionally punctuates the search for a missing person: search dogs refuse to work or miss the scent they came for, leading to thousands of wasted dollars and manpower. And with the clock ticking to find the woman, Metro officers may have lost their chance to prove whether it was a medical problem or murder.

"Really what should've happened based on their training, is the dogs should have been able to seek the body out due to the decompositional odor,'' said Metro Police Sgt. Pat Postiglione. "In this case, they were not able to do it.'' [Mark Godsey]

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