Document Detail

Philemon and Baucis syndrome: Three additional cases of double deaths of married couples.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23415164     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
The simultaneous death of two people is immediately considered as a suspect. However, this feeling is reinforced when the individuals are spouses. In these situations, criminal and forensic investigations are required to establish whether or not the deaths were homicidal in nature. Despite many descriptions of simultaneous deaths being present in the literature, the simultaneous death of two spouses from natural causes is poorly described with Ciesiolka et al., Department of Legal Medicine in Gießen (Germany), being the only ones to have reviewed two case reports involving these circumstances. The scarcity of this type of information in the literature renders the task of claiming natural simultaneous death as the final outcome of an investigation difficult. We would like to report three additional cases with the aim of better describing this type of event. In all three cases, the bodies were those of a married couple in their 80s. The bodies were discovered in the same room. In each case, the death of one of the spouses could be attributed to natural cause; however the death of the other spouse could not be determined with certainty, and shared several similarities in all cases: simultaneity in death; a pre existing cardiovascular disease/disorder; a certain degree of fragility and dependence on the other spouse whose death could lead to acute psychological stress. Intense psychological disorder could trigger acute coronary or rhythmic disorders. The mechanisms by which brain activity influences cardiac electrophysiology are now known to take place via the autonomic nervous system mediation. This brain activity could provide an explanation for the death of the individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, who underwent significant stress upon occurrence of the death of their partners. The death of these individuals, which took place at the same place and time as their deceased spouses, can be attributed to natural causes: the Philemon and Baucis syndrome.
Y Delannoy; G Tournel; F Dedouit; R Cornez; N Telmon; V Hedouin; D Rouge; D Gosset
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-2-12
Journal Detail:
Title:  Forensic science international     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1872-6283     ISO Abbreviation:  Forensic Sci. Int.     Publication Date:  2013 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-2-18     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7902034     Medline TA:  Forensic Sci Int     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Institut de Médecine Légale - Faculté de Médecine, Université Lille Nord de France - CHRU de Lille, place de Verdun, 59045 Lille Cedex, France. Electronic address:
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