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Mafia informants fail acid test

Pigs suggest criminals exaggerate when claiming to dissolve murder victims' bodies in minutes

11:18am, February 24, 2011

CHICAGO — Contrary to claims made by informants within the Sicilian Mafia, sulfuric acid will not dissolve a corpse in minutes, a new study finds. The research, reported February 23 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, was part of a wider effort to test claims about the mafia’s “lupara bianca,” or “white shotgun” murders, wherein the subject is known to be dead but a body is never found.

Experiments conducted on partial pig carcasses, a widely accepted stand-in for human bodies, showed that it takes days to melt flesh in sulfuric acid. Adding water to the acid speeds up the process, dissolving muscle and cartilage within 12 hours and turning bone to dust within two days, suggesting that the technique could render a corpse completely unrecognizable.

“But it is impossible that they completely destroyed a corpse with acid,” said study coauthor Massimo Grillo of the University of Palermo in Italy.

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