Body Bags

body_bagsBagging the body is important. Anyone who has taken our homicidal drowning class has heard that mantra. No one in law enforcement or death investigation would dream of dragging a body 30 feet, let alone hundreds of feet, without bagging it. Yet think of how many departments put a rope around a floater and drag it hundreds of feet or even a couple of miles without bagging it. Yes, the body may have been floating for miles without a bag – but dragging is different than floating. Dragging can result in more lost evidence than merely the action of floating. Additionally, you never hear a death investigator say “oh, this body has been laying here exposed to the elements for weeks, so what’s the point of bagging it to take it out of the woods to the van.”

So let’s talk about bagging bodies. The first step is to have a good mesh water body bag. If anyone wants more info about the one we recommend please contact me directly at The second step is to set the bag up so it is ready to use it underwater in blackwater, in current, etc.

If you are using a clam shell bag:

1. unzip it and lay it out flat.
2. roll one side the half way point and duct tape it in three places to hold it in place. The duct tape will easily come off when you need to unroll it.
3. Fold it in half lengthwise twice.
4. fold it like a tarp twice so you end up with a square with all the straps sticking out to one side.
5. secure it closed with one piece of duct tape

First practice blindfolded on land, then in water. put the bag between you and the decedent with the straps pointing towards you – place it midpoint of the decedent at the waist. unfold the bag so it sits along side the decedent. then unfold it towards you and kneel on it as you go to keep it on the bottom. Roll the body onto the half of the bag you are kneeling on as you back up slowly. then undo the duct tape and roll the other half of the clam shell over the body. kneel on it to keep it closed as you close the zipper.

Oh yes, put a large zip tie on each zipper tab so it is easy to find and pull with thick gloves on. You can then cut one of the zip ties so that it can be re-used and thread it through to secure the zipper closed to prevent it from accidentally opening and maintain good chain of custody. Doing this with a zip ties is something we have all divers practice in our rapid deployment search and rescue/recovery class – they do it blacked out with small to regular zip ties.

Now that this is written I realize it sounds pretty confusing. It really is very simple, I apologize for making it sound so complicated. So, I will work on taking a series of photographs to demonstrate it and will post them.

Bagging the hands with bags made of bridal mesh can be done as well. I have had a couple of students who made such bags and they appear to work well. Could do that with the feet as well if it seems appropriate.

Have a great, safe day,

Andrea Zaferes
POB 594, Shokan NY 12481
(845) 657-5544, Fax (845) 657-5549
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Author: Andrea Zaferes

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