An autopsy is the examination of a body after death,
which may also be referred to as a post-mortem. Developed largely
in Germany, the process has been refined over years of experience
and scientific development to allow modern investigators to build
a clear picture of the death scene.
The autopsy is performed by a pathologist or coroner
and reveals aspects such as its cause, the weapon/s used (if any
are involved) and the time since death. Permission from the victim's
next-of-kin needs to be obtained when the law does not require an
autopsy to be performed. (Rarely the case when murder is suspected,
as we will assume here) Though autopsies are more often used for
purposes unrelated to crime, they play such a crucial role in murder
investigations, that this field of forensic medicine (and
subsequently, forensic science) has a large impact on where the
investigation should begin.