People committing suicide can be very creative. Wrapping detonating (det) cord around the neck is a novel method that can result in decapitation.

Detonating cord consists of:

(1) a flexible outer tube of textile or reinforced plastic

(2) luminal explosive (usually PETN = pentrite = pentaerythritol tetranitrate)


An explosion involving PETN travels at 6400 meters per second so different lengths of the cord will seem to explode simultaneously.


Wrapping det cord around a structure one or more times allows for precision cutting of the structure.


Site evaluation:

(1) Since the det cord is consumed the use of det cord may not be initially considered unless spare det cord is at the scene.

(2) Residue analysis will show evidence of pentrite.

(3) The person should have a history of access to explosives.

(4) Skin and tissue adjacent to the line of decapitation will show evidence of burn or blast injury.


Det cord decapitation could also be:

(1) used as a means of homicide

(2) used to cover up strangulation

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