Author M. Lee Goff, a professor of entomology at the University of Hawaii, said he believes that his field will always represent a relatively small percentage of cases. Since most bodies are recovered quickly, the medical examiner can estimate time of death without assistance. Goff, for instance, handles only about 15 to 20 cases a year, and, with Hawaii's low homicide rate, much of the work comes from other places - Florida, Tennessee, Nevada, even Europe and Central and South America.
Before disturbing the body, Goff swept the area with an insect net to collect samples. Once these had been placed in containers, the body was unwrapped from the brown blanket, which had been sealed shut at both ends by elastic bandages. Another layer was discovered: The body was also wrapped in a white blanket. There were no obvious signs of trauma.
But there were plenty of signs that the elaborate choreography of decomposition was underway. Goff found blowfly eggs as well as pupae - the casings from which mature flies emerge - on the outer and inner blankets. He found predatory hister beetles feeding on the blowfly maggots, who already had fed and were moving away from the corpse. On the body itself, there were more maggots and pupae.