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74   ITC

International Training Conference & Expo



North Carolina

April 23-28 2023


Gone With or Without a Trace: The Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College Case Study

Thursday, April 27, 2023 (3:15pm - 3:00pm) (Ballroom 1)

On September 26, 2014, forty-three male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College disappeared after they were forcibly abducted in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Since the disappearance, one question remains to be answered: Is it possible to incinerate 43 human bodies piled on a rock pyre as described by the defendants who were arrested in this case? In this presentation we will discuss the findings as reported by a Group of Fire Experts and provide an in-depth analysis of the amount of fuel necessary to incinerate multiple human bodies. 

The student will learn:  

  1. How to evaluate known incident data for hypothesis development.  

  2. To understand how bodies burn in different configurations such as in a crematorium, open field, and/or pyre funerals.

  3. Understand how heat transfer occurs in pyre fires.  

  4. Understand how a human body burns from ignition to full cremation.  

  5. The contributions of rendered subcutaneous fat as a sustaining fuel source.  

  6. To develop appropriate field tests for non-traditional fire scenes.


James Quintiere

Over 50 years in fire research, 20 at NIST and 22 at U of Maryland where he is current Prof. Emeritus in Fire Protection.  Has over 200 published articles and reports, plus two books authored and another co-authored.  One book, The Principles of Fire Behavior, grew out of teaching for the ATF, and is intended for the investigator.  He has tried to bring science to fire investigation through his investigative work and teachings. 


Ricardo Torres

Ricardo Torres is the CEO and Chief Fire Investigator with Forensic Investigations Group Global in Mexico. Ricardo received an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice from South Texas College in McAllen, Texas. He started his career as a volunteer firefighter in Pharr, Texas. He previously worked as a Deputy State Fire Marshal for the State of Texas where he investigated numerous fires with local, state and federal fire investigators. He now leads a team of fire investigators in Mexico and Latin America and has been the lead investigator on several high profile and complex incidents including the ABC Daycare fire in Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico where 49 toddlers and infants perished in June of 2009. 


Elayne Pope

Dr. Elayne Pope is a Forensic Anthropologist who researches how the human body burns with applications to fatal fire casework. Dr. Pope is a forensic consultant at Fatal Fire Forensics LLC ( She received her doctorate from the University of Arkansas in 2007 for “The Effects of Fire on Human Remains.” Dr. Pope has been a researcher and instructor for the San Luis Obispo Fire Investigation Strike Team (SLO FIST) Fatal Fire Death Investigation Course since 2008 where human cadavers are utilized to recreate fatal fire scenes ( using structures, vehicles, and outdoor fire environments. Dr. Pope specializes in the analysis of traumatic injury and its implications for fatal fire investigations along with examining burn patterns of individual casework. Her training courses examine how the human body is an important type of physical evidence from fatal fire scenes and the value of evidence preservation for fatal fire casework.  

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