Research Day

Ligature Strangulation Using Cable Ties: 5 Cases

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INTRODUCTION: Asphyxial deaths are related to decreased oxygen delivery to tissues. Such deaths can result from neck airway or blood vessel compression. Ligature strangulation involves neck compression by a ligature wherein the decedent's body weight does not contribute to the compressive force.

PURPOSE: This report describes 5 deaths in which plastic cable ties were secured around the neck for the purposes of producing ligature strangulation.

RESULTS: Cases 1 and 2 were the victims of a double homicide. The adolescent male victims were killed by an adult family friend who subsequently killed himself by hanging. Case 3 was an alcoholic man who was found dead in his home with two cable ties bound securely around his neck. Cases 4 and 5 were the victims in a homicide-suicide scenario in which a 46-year-old man killed himself and his 6-year-old son within the compartment of an automobile, using multiple volatile hydrocarbons, including gasoline. They were both found decomposing, with cable-ties loosely secured around both of their necks. Presumably, the cable-ties were placed as a potential "back-up" mechanism in case the intoxication did not result in death.

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Cable ties (zip ties, lock ties, tie wraps) provide a relatively quick and simple means of encircling and tightening a ligature device around an object or group of objects. Although suicidal cable-tie ligature strangulation has been reported in the forensic literature,1-3 the use of cable-ties in homicidal ligature strangulation has only been reported in the German literature.4 The presentation serves to highlight these unusual cases.

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