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Researching into crossbow shooting and pathology here is what I discovered.
The crossbow has been used as a means of death in suicides, almost always in males.
The weapons used can be high-performance precision crossbows with telescopic sights and hunting bolts.
The parts of the body involved are often the facial/head and thorax. The bolt can remain in the body. However if the killer removes the bolt and advanced decomposition takes place this can alter the wound patterns making it more difficult to determine the type of weapon used. (My pathologist in the Inspector Andy Horton novels, Dr Gaye Clayton, would I'm sure, be able to fathom this out. Read below an extract from SHROUD OF EVIL)
Examination of crossbow injuries can be difficult because they are similar to other incised wound patterns for example a sharp force such as a knife or a gunshot wound.
The external morphology is strongly dependent on the type of tip used. Multiple-bladed hunting broad heads produce radiating incised wounds, whereas conical field tips produce circular to slit like defects.
Read the extract from SHROUD OF EVIL. Inspector Andy Horton is in the mortuary with the forensic pathologist, Dr Gaye Clayton
‘There’s clinical data that confirms a victim might have the ability to act and survive for a period of time after being shot. He can even remove the bolt from his body – not a good idea, because he won’t know what internal damage has been caused and he could make matters worse. Your victim might have done this after the killer fled, or the killer himself might have retrieved the bolt after the victim fell.’ She headed into the small office behind the mortuary. Horton followed her, finding his pulse unwilling to settle back to normal.
‘But someone removed the bolt because as you and Superintendent Uckfield saw, it wasn’t in the body. A removed bolt alters the wound patterns, so too does rapid decomposition, which thankfully in this victim doesn’t apply, but if he hadn’t been found when he had then it would have been impossible to determine what had killed him.’
‘Unlucky for the killer that the body was washed up on the shore.’ Or was it?