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An Encyclopedia of
History, Methods, and Techniques

William J.Tilstone, Kathleen A. Savage, and Leigh A. Clark

Santa Barbara, California • Denver, Colorado • Oxford, England

Copyright © 2006 by ABC-CLIO

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior permission in
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Tilstone,William J.
Forensic science : an encyclopedia of history, methods, and techniques / William J.Tilstone,
Kathleen A. Savage, and Leigh A. Clark.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-57607-194-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 1-57607-592-3 (ebook)
1. Forensic sciences—Encyclopedias. 2. Forensic sciences—History.
3. Criminal investigation—Encyclopedias. 4. Criminal investigation—History. I. Savage, Kathleen A.
II. Clark, Leigh A. III.Title.

HV8073.T55 2006
363.2503—dc22 2006001140

10 09 08 07 06 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This book is also available on the World Wide Web as an e-book.Visit for details.

130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911
Santa Barbara, California 93116–1911

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Manufactured in the United States of America.

Introduction, 1

ABO Blood Groups, 67 Associative Evidence, 83

Abortion, 68 Automated Fingerprint Identification System
Accelerant Residues, 68 (AFIS), 84
Accreditation, 70 Automobile Examination, 85
Acid Phosphatase, 71 Autopsy, 85
Admissibility of Scientific Evidence, 71
Age Estimation, 72 Barbiturates, 87
Alcohol, 72 Battered Baby Syndrome, 87
Amelogenin, 76 Benzidine, 87
American Board of Criminalistics Bite Marks, 88
(ABC), 76 Black Powder, 88
American Society of Crime Laboratory Blood, 88
Directors (ASCLD), 76 Blood Grouping, 89
American Society of Crime Laboratory Blood Spatters, 90
Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Bloodstain Identification, 90
Board (ASCLD/LAB), 76 Bombs, 91
Ammonium Nitrate–Based Explosives, 77 Bradley, Stephen, 92
Ammunition, 77 Bulbs (Automobile, Examination of in
Amphetamines, 79 Accidents), 92
Andrews,Tommie Lee, 79 Bullets, 93
Anthropology, 80 Bundy,Ted, 94
Antibody, 80 Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, and Firearms
Antigen, 81 (BATF), 95
Antiserum, 81 Burns, 95
Arson, 81
Arson and Explosives Incidents System California Association of Criminalists
(AEXIS), 82 (CAC), 97
Asphyxia, 82 Cannabis, 97
Assault, 83 Carbon Monoxide, 99

ii Contents

Casts, 100 Ecstasy, 131

Cause of Death, 100 Ejaculate, 132
Chain of Custody, 100 Electrical Injuries, 132
Charred Documents, 101 Entomology, 132
Clandestine Drug Laboratories, 101 Erased Writing, 133
Class Characteristics, 101 Ethics, 134
Cocaine, 101 Exclusion of Paternity, 135
Color Tests, 102 Exhumation, 136
Combined DNA Index System Expert Testimony, 136
(CODIS), 104 Explosions and Explosives, 137
Comparison Microscope, 104 Eyewitness Testimony, 139
Contact Gunshot Wounds, 104
Controlled Substances, 105 Falls, 141
Corroborative Evidence, 105 Feces, 141
Counterfeit Currency, 105 Fibers, 142
Crack Cocaine, 106 Field Sobriety Tests, 145
Crime Laboratories, 107 Fingernail Examination, 146
Crime Scene, 107 Fingerprints, 147
Criminalistics, 107 Firearms, 154
Cyanide, 108 Footwear, 160
Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX), 108 Forensic Quality Services, 161
Forensic Science, 161
Databases, 109 Fracture Matching, 162
Date Rape, 111 Frye Rule, 163
Daubert Ruling, 111
Death, 114 Gacy, John Wayne, 165
Dental Records and Disaster Victim Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), 166
Identification (DVI), 116 Gas Chromatography, 167
Digital Evidence, 116 Gasoline, 168
Digital Imaging, 116 Genetic Markers, 168
Disaster Management, 116 Geology, 169
Distance Determination (Firearms), 117 Glass, 169
DNA Databases, 118 Glue Sniffing, 171
DNA in Forensic Science, 118 Gm and Km Typing, 173
DNA Population Frequencies, 120
Document Examination, 122 Haigh, John George, 175
Drowning, 127 Hair, 175
Drug Enforcement Administration Hallucinogens, 181
(DEA), 127 Handwriting, 183
Drugfire, 128 Haptoglobin, 184
Drugs, 128 Hashish, 184
Duffy, John, 129 Hay, Gordon, 184
Dyadic Death, 129 Headlight Filaments, 185
Dynamite, 129 Heroin, 185
Contents iii

High Performance Liquid Chromatography Mengele, Josef, 213

(HPLC), 186 Methadone, 214
Hitler Diaries, 187 Methamphetamine, 214
Human Leukocyte Antigen Methanol and Methanol Poisoning, 216
(HLA), 188 Microcrystal Tests, 217
Microscope, 218
Identification, 189 Microspectrophotometry, 219
Identity, 190 Morphine, 220
Inceptive Evidence, 190
Indented Writing, 190 Napalm, 221
Individual Characteristics, 190 Narcotics, 221
Infrared Spectroscopy, 191 National Crime Information Center
Ink, 192 (NCIC), 222
Integrated Automated Fingerprint National Integrated Ballistic Information
Identification System (IAFIS), 193 Network (NIBIN), 222
Integrated Ballistic Identification System National Tracing Center (NTC), 223
(IBIS), 194 Nitrocellulose, 224
Irving, Clifford, 195 Nitroglycerin, 224

Jewelry, 197 Objective Test, 225

Jennings,Thomas, 197 Odontology, 226
Opium, 229
Kerosene, 199
Khat, 199 Paint, 231
Kicks, 200 Pan Am 103, 233
Knife Wounds, 200 Parentage Testing, 234
Kumho Tire Ruling, 200 Pathology, 234
Phencyclidine, Phenylcyclhexyl, or
Latent Prints, 201 Piperidine (PCP), 235
Lead Bullets, 201 Phenotypes, 236
Lead Poisoning, 201 Physical Evidence, 236
Lewis Blood Typing, 202 Pitchfork, Colin, 237
Lie Detector Test (Polygraph), 202 Poisoning, 238
Likelihood Ratio, 204 Poisons, 238
Locard’s Exchange Principle, 205 Polymerase Chain Reaction
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (PCR), 241
(LSD), 206 Population Genetics, 241
Probability and Interpretation of
Maggots, 207 Evidence, 242
Magic Mushrooms, 207 Propoxyphene, 243
Marijuana, 208 Psilocybin, 243
Markov, Georgi, 209 Psychiatry, 243
Mass Disaster Victim Identification, 209
Mass Spectrometry (MS), 212 Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis, 245
iv Contents

Ramirez, Richard, 247 Taggants, 269

Rape, 247 Teeth, 269
Red Cell Enzymes, 249 Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC), 270
Refractive Index, 250 Time of Death, 271
Restriction Fragment Length Time since Intercourse, 272
Polymorphisms (RFLP), 251 Tire Tracks, 273
Romanov Family, 251 Tool Marks, 274
Ruxton, Buck, 253 Toxicology, 275
Trace Evidence, 275
Safe Insulation, 255 Trinitrotoluene (TNT), 276
Saliva, 255 Typewriting and Printing, 276
Scientific Evidence, 256
Semen Identification, 257 Ultraviolet (UV) and Visible
Serial Number Restoration, 258 Spectrometry, 279
Serology, 258 Urine, 280
Sexual Offenses, 259 USS lowa, 283
Shoe Examination, 260
Skeletal Remains, 261 Validation, 285
Smokeless Powder, 263 Vollman, John, 286
Soil, 264
Species Identification, 264 World Trade Center Bombing, 287
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), 266 Wounds, 288
Suicide, 266
Sweat, 267 X-rays, 291

Bibliography, 293
Index, 299

This is the story of forensic science.The book “I have found a reagent which is precipitated
provides a historical and technical frame of by haemoglobin and by nothing else.” In fact,
reference for the interested lay reader looking reliable identification of a stain as blood and
for increased general knowledge or more detail the invention and application of precipitin
on specific applications or famous cases. tests in forensic science are separate discov-
Forensic science is difficult to define eries that were not made until the turn of
precisely. Broadly speaking, it is the applica- the century.
tion of scientific techniques and principles Applications are wide-ranging, too. Environ-
to provide evidence to legal or related inves- mental and wildlife enforcement, control of
tigations and determinations. Some things are dog and horse racing, immigration documen-
obvious, such as DNA typing or the identifi- tation, and parentage testing are all generally
cation of drugs.These involve the use of spe- accepted as employing forensic science but
cialized scientific equipment, and the testing clearly do not fit the image of the scientific
is conducted by personnel with science sleuth.
degrees. Others are less obvious. For exam- The late Stuart Kind (1925–2003), who
ple, the detection of fingerprints at a crime was one of the key figures in British forensic
scene is usually conducted by police officers science in the second half of the twentieth
who do not have science degrees, and recent century, wrote eloquently about the “scientific
court cases have questioned whether there investigation of crime.” However, he was
is a true scientific principle underlying the considering the principles that would result
discipline. in successful police investigations, not the
Although it may seem odd to associate fic- work of the forensic science laboratory. Kind
tion directly with science, particularly forensic published his thoughts in The Scientific
science, the influence of Sir Arthur Conan Investigation of Crime (Forensic Science Ser-
Doyle, via his fictional character Sherlock vices) in 1987.The book is no longer available
Holmes, in popularizing the use of science for for purchase, but some libraries may have
the solution of crimes cannot be underesti- copies.
mated. He introduced his many readers to Despite the uncertainty about what it is,
the usefulness of fingerprinting and firearms forensic science is catching the public imagina-
examination and questioned document exam- tion as never before.There are several reasons
ination and serology sometimes even before for this.Without a doubt, one is the consider-
they were familiar to real-life detectives. For able popularity of the “CSI” television shows.
example, in his first novel, A Study in Scarlet Although they have some technical flaws
published in 1887, Holmes tells Dr. Watson from a scientific perspective, they capture the

2 Forensic Science

excitement of the scientific sleuth without essentially parasitic. As we shall see, other
being bogged down with obscure and hard- than some aspects of fingerprinting, ballis-
to-grasp technical issues. Moving from tics, and questioned document examination,
mass-media entertainment to social signifi- it has depended on discoveries in other fields.
cance, DNA testing has been so successful The importance of the Industrial Revolution
that its applications are familiar to most lay- to forensic science is not that it was a time of
people. Its power to exonerate the wrongly absolute advances in science, but that it was a
convicted and to identify literally thousands time characterized by the application of sci-
of offenders who would otherwise have gone ence to real-life problems. It was a period of
free is far beyond what could have been imag- ingenuity and inventiveness, and many of the
ined as recently as the mid-1980s. (See DNA highly specialized instruments used in today’s
in Forensic Science.) Mainstream press forensic science laboratories contain compo-
articles about cases solved by DNA testing nents that are by-products of that era.
have played their part in the popularization of The history therefore begins in the late
forensic science. nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
Unfortunately, another emerging theme in with an account of a wide range of general
media coverage of forensic science that has and specific milestones, mainly from Europe.
made the subject front-page worthy is not so The period between approximately 1930 and
positive. Flawed procedures and less-than- 1980 saw the United States become a signifi-
acceptable testing methods by laboratory per- cant center of development, as it still is today
sonnel have been the subject of many reports. at the start of the twenty-first century when
Cases worked in laboratories in many states forensic scientists are using methods and exam-
and in federal agencies—including the FBI— ining materials that were not even thought of
have been critically questioned, and the previ- a generation ago.
ously solid foundation of forensic science has
been severely shaken. “The world’s history is the world’s
The common thread that runs through all judgment.”
of this—the imprecision in definition, the —Friedrich von Schiller, Lectures, May 1789
stunning successes, the popularity of entertain-
ment shows based on such an arcane subject, Many essays on the history of forensic science
the investigative journalism—is the growth (such as the review by Douglas M. Lucas pub-
of science and its role in society.There can be lished in the newsletter of the American
no forensic science without there first being Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and
science. There can be no developments in available through their website at http://
forensic science until the fundamental refer to ancient
research has produced novel techniques and Roman and Chinese examples of practices
applications. There is nothing to catch the that might be viewed as forensic science.
public attention, unless the writers, readers, These are anecdotal, and there was no such
and viewers have at least some degree of thing as “science,” far less a forensic variant, in
comfortable understanding with the subject those days. Indeed, the earliest history of
matter. It is the aim of this work to provide forensic science is really the story of foren-
that understanding. sic medicine. Medicine and law have been
The story is told chronologically, starting closely related since the earliest days of
with the few known examples from early recorded history. Even with the most prim-
times. However, significant progress was only itive of aboriginal tribes, these functions
possible because of the wide range of discover- were often integrated with religion in the
ies in many and varied fields of science during person of the priest who was physician,
the Industrial Revolution. Forensic science is judge, and spiritual leader combined. The
Introduction 3

earliest documented code of law, promulgated were converted into useful products. The
by Hammurabi, king of Babylon around 2200 birth of applied science to service the needs
BC, contained laws governing the practice of of the Industrial Revolution also provided
medicine, while in Greece, Hippocrates the base from which forensic science grew to
(460–355 BC) showed how medicine could eventually become identifiable as a separate
influence legal matters by discussing the discipline of science and medicine.
lethality of wounds. In ancient Rome, after
Julius Caesar was murdered in the Forum in “The brightest heaven of invention . . .”
44 BC his body was examined by a physician —Shakespeare, King Henry V, Chorus, 1
who subsequently opined that only one of the
twenty-three wounds was fatal. In the sixth Europe during the Industrial Revolution was
century AD, the emperor Justinian recog- indeed “the brightest heaven of invention” and
nized the special position of the expert wit- provided the tools needed for science to solve
ness (which persists to this day) when he crime as well as responding to the needs of
declared that physicians were not ordinary economic development. Most of the inven-
witnesses but rather persons who gave judg- tions and discoveries linked to the Industrial
ments rather than testimony. In Italy in 1209 Revolution were in the fields of physics and
Pope Innocent III appointed doctors to the chemistry.The ultraviolet spectrophotometer,
courts to perform autopsies for the purpose the workhorse of the forensic chemistry labo-
of establishing the nature of various types of ratory in the early and mid-twentieth century,
wounds, and Italy, notably at the University depended on Johann Ritter’s discovery of
of Bologna, became the first country in ultraviolet radiation in 1804. The UV spec-
which legal medicine was recognized as a trophotometer is used to identify organic
specialty. chemicals, and the first working model was
Around 1250 AD, a classic Chinese work, the UV spectrograph invented by Walter
the Hsi Yuan Lu (translated approximately as Noel Hartley in London in 1877. Hartley
“Instructions to Coroners”), was first pub- collaborated with Adam Hilger to produce
lished, while in the Western world in 1507, a commercial instrument in 1907. However,
the Bamberg Code in Germany required that the instrument was cumbersome to use and
medical evidence be presented in all cases required manual comparison of spectra
of violent death. These provided a legal basis recorded on photographic plates. The first
for the practice of forensic medicine and working spectrophotometer was invented by
were the precursors of legislation regulating Arthur Hardy working at MIT in the early
modern coroners and medical examiners. 1920s. Hardy used cesium photocells to
Ambrose Paré (1510–1590) in France was detect the spectra. Although he commercial-
probably the first true practitioner of forensic ized his invention together with the General
medicine, following in the footsteps of the Electric Company in 1930, the first “work-
great anatomist Andrea Vesalius (1514– horse” UV spectrophotometer was the
1564).The first systematic course of lectures Beckman DB, invented by Arnold Beckman
on legal medicine was instituted at the in 1941.
University of Leipzig in 1642 and the first Joseph von Fraunhofer was interested in the
medico-legal journal was published in Berlin dark lines he observed in light from the sun.
in 1782. His research led to the invention of the spec-
The Industrial Revolution of the nine- trograph, around 1814.Various forms of inor-
teenth century gave birth to many scientific ganic spectroscopy have been used by forensic
discoveries and inventions, driven by a thirst chemists throughout the twentieth century
for knowledge but more importantly by a mar- for the identification of metals in glass. The
ket economy in which scientific discoveries chemist Robert Bunsen (1811–1899) and
4 Forensic Science

Gustav Kirchhoff (1824–1887), a physicist their invention, the mass spectrometer and
trained at Königsberg, met and became nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer
friends in 1851 when Bunsen spent a year at (see Mass Spectrometry) also depend on
the University of Breslau, where Kirchhoff the electromagnet, as do other modern scien-
was also teaching. Bunsen was called to the tific instruments.
University of Heidelberg in 1852 and he The polarizing microscope is widely used
soon arranged for Kirchhoff to teach at in forensic science laboratories in the charac-
Heidelberg as well. Bunsen’s most important terization of soils, drugs, and fibers (see
work was in developing several techniques Drugs; Fibers; Soil). The technique was
used in separating, identifying, and measur- made possible by the invention of the Nicol
ing various chemical substances. He also prism, by William Nicol in Edinburgh in
made a number of improvements in chemical 1828. Nicol (frequently incorrectly spelled
batteries for use in isolating quantities of Nichol) found that a prism created from two
pure metals—including one known as the pieces of Iceland spar resulted in the polar-
Bunsen battery. He created the Bunsen ization of the beam of light that passes
burner for use in flame tests of various metals through the crystal.The impact of the inven-
and salts: Its nonluminous flame did not tion was considerable—for example, even
interfere with the colored flame given off by today many laboratories use microcrystal
the test material.This line of work led to the tests (see Microcrystal Tests) to deal with
spectroscope.When an element, for example the great volume of drug cases submitted by
sodium, is introduced into a Bunsen burner law enforcement agencies.
flame, radiation at one or more wavelengths Elsewhere, the science of optics was being
that are characteristic to the material advanced by the work of Giovanni Battista
burned is emitted. This is called the emis- Amici in Italy around 1827. Amici’s interest
sion spectrum of the element. In the case of in optics ranged from the celestial (a minor
sodium, it results in the flame turning a planet and a crater on the dark side of the
bright orange color. It was Kirchhoff who moon are named in his honor) to the micro-
suggested that similarly colored flames scopic. Probably the most significant of his
could possibly be differentiated by looking inventions as far as forensic science is con-
at their emission spectra through a prism, cerned is the oil-immersion lens. Invented by
thereby identifying the specific wavelengths him in 1840, the technique revolutionized
emitted.When he shone bright light through high-power optical microscopy by minimizing
such flames, he found that the light was the optical aberrations that severely limited
absorbed at wavelengths (the absorption the magnifying power. Every forensic biolo-
spectrum of the element) that corresponded gist today who identifies human sperm in
to the wavelengths of the bright, sharp lines samples from a rape victim is using a tech-
characteristic of the emission spectra of the nique traceable to Amici’s work.
same test materials. Various derivatives of Nineteenth-century inventions include
the spectroscope were used throughout the several that are the objects of forensic science
twentieth century to characterize materials investigation, rather than instruments to
such as soils, paint, and glass in crime labo- assist investigations. Samuel Colt invented the
ratories by identifying the metallic elements revolver in 1836, Richard Gattling patented
that they contained. the machine gun in 1862, Alfred Nobel
In 1825 William Sturgeon invented the invented dynamite in 1866, and Sir James
electromagnet and so laid the foundation Dewar and Sir Frederick Abel invented cordite
for electronic communication using micro- in 1889.This is the same Dewar who in 1892
phones and loudspeakers. Although it was invented the dewar flask. More familiar by its
more than a hundred years later before generic name of vacuum flask, dewars are
Introduction 5

used in several applications where liquid or Cluedo. If so, this may be the first instance
nitrogen is required, such as the scanning of a real murder where the butler actually
electron microscope (SEM). did it!
Henry Goddard depended on good sense,
“By a set of curious chances . . .” a good eye, and the good fortune that the
—W. S. Gilbert, The Mikado mold defect was large enough to see without
aids. It was nearly 100 years later that the fun-
The same principles of applied science that damental tool of the firearms examiner, the
underpinned the discoveries and inventions comparison microscope (see Comparison
made by nineteenth-century researchers Microscope), was invented. The inventor
laid the foundations for the scientific charac- was one Calvin Goddard (1891–1955), a
terization of evidence right through to the medical doctor from the Johns Hopkins med-
present day. Careful observation, rational ical school. (The two Goddards are not related
thinking, and awareness of surrounding cir- in any way.)
cumstances have consistently proved to be Fingerprints were the result of even
at least the equal of technological advances greater coincidence. An Englishman working
in their value to forensic science. This is in India, a Scot working in Japan, a Croatian
certainly true of firearms and fingerprint working in Argentina, and a knight of the
examinations. The story surrounding the realm and relative of Charles Darwin working
establishment of their foundational princi- in England were independently laying the
ples involves more than one “set of curious basis for the most significant of all techniques
chances” or coincidences. used by forensic scientists to establish identity.
The first recorded case of a successful (See Fingerprints; Latent Prints.) The
investigation of a murder, applying the very physiologist Johan Purkinje, who gave his
scientific processes of careful observation, name to the specialized muscle fibers
rational thinking, and awareness of surrounding (Purkinje fibers) essential for the functioning
circumstances, was in 1835. Henry Goddard, of the heart, described the basic ridge pat-
a Bow Street runner (an early London police terns of fingerprints in 1823. However, he
officer) solved a murder by identification of did not show any awareness of their unique
the source of the fatal projectile. There are nature. That was left to two Britons working
several accounts of the case; none of them abroad. In 1858 William Herschel (1738–
name the victim or the accused, and one 1822), a senior civil servant working in
reports the event as a staged burglary. Bengal, India, required people to “sign” for
However, the account by Hamby and Thorpe their pensions by leaving their fingerprint. In
is from a credible source (Hamby and Thorpe 1880 Henry Faulds (1843–1930), a Scottish
1999). The most likely reconstruction is that physician working in Japan, published an arti-
a servant shot and killed his employer. cle in the scientific journal Nature, which is
Goddard was able to identify the source of the first recorded suggestion that fingerprints
the projectile (a ball shot) by matching an could be used for identification. Perhaps both
imperfection on it to one on the mold that were aware of the practice of their country-
the servant used to make his shot. Goddard man, the gifted naturalist and engraver
also was able to trace paper wadding involved Thomas Bewick (1753–1828). Bewick used
in the shooting to paper in the possession of an engraving of his fingerprint, which he
the servant. As an aside, the servant seems to called “his mark,” to sign his wood carvings.
have been employed as a butler, a position It was just ten years later that Sir Francis
frequently featured in detective fiction from Galton (1822–1911), working in England,
the United Kingdom and one of the suspect proposed a scientific classification system of
characters in the popular board game Clue fingerprints, still recognized today. At the
6 Forensic Science

same time, on the other side of the world in

Argentina, the determination of the Croatian
immigrant Juan Vucetich (1858–1925)
resulted in the first major success of finger-
printing.Vucetich developed a more extensive
classification based on Galton’s system.
Introduced to the Buenos Aires police force
in September 1891, his system resulted in the
identification of twenty-three felons. He was
able to identify a woman by the name of
Rojas who had murdered her two sons and
cut her own throat in an attempt to place
blame on another.
It is amazing that Herschel, Faulds,
Galton, and Vucetich, working in relative iso-
lation and in locations that span the globe,
produced such a compelling body of evidence
that established the discipline of fingerprint-
ing. Their work spans barely forty years in a
time of no faxes, no air transportation, not
even worldwide radio. (It was not until 1910
that the radio telegraph was used to prevent
the murderer Dr. Hawley Crippen from flee- Alphonse Bertillon, a French police employee in the 1800s,
ing English justice on the SS Montrose, bound who identified the first recidivist based on his invention of
for Quebec.) anthropometry. (Courtesy of the Universite de Lausanne
The way that events fell into place to create Institut de police scientifique et de criminologie)
fingerprinting as the premier forensic sci-
ence tool for individualization makes it easy reconstruction. This is not so with finger-
to forget the controversy that surrounded prints, and inevitably anthropometry lost
the subject in the late 1800s. It was by no out. The principles were sound, however,
means straightforward, as there was a signifi- and anthropometry is enjoying a resurgence
cant movement for forensic identification to today as security systems are being devel-
be based on anthropometry. This was quite oped to screen transportation passengers
understandable, as anthropometry—the against databases of known terrorists.
measurement of physical characteristics—is
an objective and quantifiable translation of “Turning to Poison . . .”
how we recognize one another. The leading —Keats, “Ode on Melancholy”
pro-ponent of the anthropometric school was
Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914). Bertillon’s The problems presented by poisons and poi-
system, which used physical characteristics sonings have plagued medicine and the law
such as ear shape, was highly regarded and for centuries. The use of drugs has been a
promoted in the 1880s and 1890s. It had sev- source of comfort to the sick but also a
eral successes, and he deserves recognition source of despair to victims of their misuse.
as the father of forensic criminal identifica- Opium has been used for therapeutic pur-
tion. The problem with anthropometry, of poses since at least the eighth century BC and
course, is that it leaves nothing at the scene knowledge of it passed directly from one
of the crime and is only useful if there are ancient civilization to another, primarily in
reliable witnesses capable of an effective Egypt, Byzantium (Syria), and Persia (Iran).
Introduction 7

The early Greeks were familiar with poisons discipline. And although there was a long way
and there are references to Ulysses and to go, improved living conditions meant that
Hercules anointing their arrows with serpents’ unexplained deaths were more obvious. The
venom. In 339 BC Socrates was executed by history of arsenic poisoning illustrates all
poisoning with hemlock.As with other forms three factors.
of art, the art of poisoning blossomed during Arsenic (see Poisons) itself is a gray metal
the Renaissance. Poisons initially were of veg- and not particularly toxic. In contrast, its
etable origin (hemlock, aconite, and opium) oxide, known as white arsenic, is very poi-
but arsenic, corrosive sublimate (mercuric sonous. It works by disrupting the digestive
chloride), lead, and chloroform gradually system, and so its symptoms are very similar
appeared. to those of many pre-twentieth-century
Judging from the ancient Romans, the common diseases of the intestine, such as
Borgias and Medicis in Renaissance Italy, and cholera. Add to this its ready availability as a
the French School it is clear that eliminating medicine (treating syphilis), a rat poison (and
rivals by poisoning had a long and successful there was ample need for that), an ingredient
history in love and in politics prior to the sci- of tonics, a component of green dyes in wall-
entific advances of the nineteenth century. papers, and a component (with vinegar and
Indeed, the French School of poisoners, which chalk) of a mixture that women took to whiten
originated with the marriage of Catherine de their complexion, then there is little wonder
Médicis to the future King Henry II of France, that it became the top choice for the poisoner,
had become so prolific by the end of the six- and earned the nickname “inheritance powder.”
teenth century that it was normal for the Until the work of the Scottish chemist
death of anyone of standing in Paris at that James Marsh (1794–1846), it was not possible
time to be considered a poisoning.Two things to confirm the traces of arsenic that remained
characterized the heyday of the poisoner. in the body of the deceased. Marsh’s first
Living conditions were generally poor, which encounter with arsenic was in 1832 when he
meant that early and unpleasant death from was a witness at the trial of James Bodle, who
disease was hard to differentiate from delib- had been charged with the murder of his
erate poisoning, and poisons were impossible grandfather by administration of arsenic in his
to detect in the body of the victim. Evidence coffee. Marsh conducted what at that time
of poisoning was purely clinical and circum- was the standard test for arsenic. Hydrogen
stantial until 1781 when Dr. Joseph Jacob sulfide was bubbled through a solution and if
Plenck (1739–1807), a professor of surgery arsenic was present it would react to form a
in Vienna, published the statement, “The yellow precipitate of arsenic sulfide. The test
only certain sign of poisoning is the chemical proved positive when applied to samples
identification of the poison in the organs of from the body of the deceased, but by the
the body” (Elementa medicinae et chirurgiae time of the trial, the precipitate had decom-
forensic, 1781 cited by Jaroslav Nemec, posed and there was no physical evidence to
“Highlights in Medicolegal Relations,” present to the jury, who acquitted Mr. Bodle.
National Library of Medicine, http:// The result motivated Marsh to produce a, better forensic test for arsenic, which he did
even though at that time there were very few in 1836. The test starts by treating samples,
chemical tests for poisons available. for example of blood or decomposed tissue
By the nineteenth century, chemistry was from a corpse, with zinc and sulfuric acid,
beginning to produce analytical methods of which results in conversion of any arsenic in
sufficient sensitivity and specificity to detect the sample into the gas arsine. The Marsh
poisons in the blood. Medical schools were apparatus then directs the gas through a
recognizing forensic medicine as a special heated tube, which decomposes it into arsenic
8 Forensic Science

and hydrogen, and then onto a cold glass In the second half of the nineteenth century,
surface where the metallic arsenic condenses forensic toxicology slowly began to develop in
and forms a black mirror. The mirror is sta- North America. Initially, analyses for poisons
ble and the glass plates can be preserved as were conducted on an intermittent basis by
evidence. individual professors of chemistry or pharma-
Inevitably, the invention of the Marsh test cology at the request of investigating officials
was soon followed by challenges. In 1840, on a case-by-case basis. An early example of
Marie Lafarge was tried for the murder of her this was in Canada in 1859 when Professor
husband by poisoning him with arsenic. The Henry Holmes Croft (1820–1883), professor
circumstantial evidence was compelling—it of chemistry and experimental philosophy in
was not a happy marriage, Marie was known to the University of Toronto, testified at the trial
have purchased white arsenic ostensibly as a rat of a physician for the murder of his wife that
poison, and the family maid testified that she he found eleven grains of arsenic in her stom-
had seen Marie sprinkle white powder on her ach.This early example of forensic toxicology
husband’s food. The Marsh test gave negative emphasized the fact that, although tests for
results on body samples. Mateu Orfila inorganic poisons were available, tests for veg-
(1787–1853) testified at the trial that the etable poisons were also needed. The doctor,
Marsh test was unreliable if used by unskilled as he was about to be executed, confessed to
personnel, and further, that when he had the murder but said he had used morphine for
applied the test correctly, it detected traces of the deed.
arsenic in body samples. Marie was found The trend toward specialization in toxi-
guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. cology began near the end of the nineteenth
The growing availability of analytical century with the emergence of Sir William
methods for detecting metallic poisons Willcox (1870–1941) at Guy’s Hospital in
around the middle of the nineteenth century London and the most prominent of the early
made them less popular as poisons, and prac- American toxicologists, Dr. Rudolph August
titioners of that art turned their attention to Witthaus (1846–1915).Witthaus had studied
the alkaloids that were being isolated from chemistry at Columbia University in New
plants (morphine from opium, strychnine York and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He became
from nux vomica, quinine from cinchona, professor of chemistry and physiology at New
nicotine from tobacco, and atropine from York University in 1876 and published one of
belladonna). These were considered to be the earliest American books on chemistry and
undetectable in human organs. In 1850 this toxicology in 1879.
began to change with the development by As a result of the limitations of the inves-
Jean Servais Stas (1813–1891), professor of tigative systems at that time, requests for
chemistry at L’École Royale Militaire in analyses for poisons were often an after-
Brussels and a former student of Orfila, of a thought and frequently the toxicologists had
method for the extraction of nicotine from the additional challenge of having to work with
the organs of a murder victim. Stas was exhumed organs. It was not until Dr. Charles
somewhat fortunate in that the murderer had Norris (1868–1935) established the medical
poured vinegar down the victim’s throat after examiner investigative system in New York
death and the acidity of the vinegar made the City that improvement in toxicological
nicotine soluble in water. Stas’s procedure (as service began to occur. Dr. Norris recruited
modified by Friedrich Julius Otto, professor Dr. Alexander O. Gettler (1883–1983), a
of chemistry at Brunswick in 1856) is based pathological chemist at the Bellevue
on the differing solubilities of many drugs in Hospital, to establish a toxicology laboratory
acids and bases and, with further modifica- for the chief medical examiner’s office in
tions, is still in use today. 1918. Born in Austria, Dr. Gettler was raised
Introduction 9

on the lower east side of Manhattan Island Galton (1822–1911), each of whom became
and educated in the New York City public famous for contributions to the new disci-
school system. He received a BS degree from pline of forensic science.
the College of the City of New York in 1904 Orfila and Gross stand out from the others
and his PhD from Columbia in 1912. There because of their writings. Each authored an
was no model for Gettler to follow when he authoritative text that became the standard
set up the toxicology laboratory for the chief reference work in the field, Orfila’s for toxi-
medical examiner, so much of his early work cology, Gross for what we would now call
was of a groundbreaking nature. criminalistics (see Criminalistics). Interest-
Virtually all of the early analytical metho- ingly, Gross was a lawyer, and his book
dology was based on wet chemistry and Handbuch fur Untersuchungsrichter als System der
microscopic procedures that required large Kriminalistic (Handbook on Criminalistics for
samples—500 grams of tissue was the typical the Examining Magistrate, first published in
starting point as contrasted with the 1 or 2 1893) was written to describe what the inves-
microliters of blood that is the norm today tigator could expect from forensic science.
using sophisticated instrumental techniques. Early warnings of the problems that the
In addition to his innovative analytical proce- cult of the expert were to bring to forensic
dures, Gettler’s principal contribution to science were already evident in the respect
modern forensic toxicology was his superb accorded to Orfila in the Lafarge case. The
teaching. In 1935 he started a graduate problem of the expert personality being more
course in toxicology at New York University visible than expert science would be seen
that he continued until his retirement in again and again right up to the present day.
1959. His graduates went on to become an
outstanding “second generation” of American “For the red blood reigns . . .”
forensic toxicologists who started laborato- —Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale iv, ii
ries across the country, thus spreading
Gettler’s influence. The nineteenth century was the time for
forensic chemistry and toxicology, but the
“Experto credite.” dawn of the twentieth century saw the foun-
—Virgil, Aeneid, xi, 283 dational discoveries for the identification of
blood. Blood, the bright red mark of violent
The nineteenth century gave birth to the crime, had bedeviled forensic science for cen-
“expert.” For the first time, individuals were turies: shed in copious amounts by victims,
making a name for themselves as sources of obvious to the naked eye, but completely
expertise in forensic matters. The Spanish silent as to the origins of stains on the cloth-
toxicologist Matthieu (or Mateu) Orfila was ing or body of suspects and witnesses. Any
perhaps the earliest and greatest of them all. forensic scientist schooled in the practice of
Published in 1814, his “Traite des poisons tires forensic serology today will give the same
des regnes mineral, vegetal et animal, ou toxicolo- response to the question, “How do you go
gie general ” (Thesis on poisons of animal, about identifying blood?” Testing is conduct-
vegetable and mineral origin, or general tox- ed in the sequence presumptive or screening
icology) did more than establish forensic test, then confirmatory test for blood, fol-
toxicology as a legitimate scientific disci- lowed by species testing, and finally by
pline, it was the first time in the history of grouping. However, the science did not
science that someone earned recognition for develop in the same measured way (and DNA
being a forensic expert. Orfila was followed testing has short-circuited the traditional
by the Austrian Hans Gross (1847–1915), sequence). A flurry of activity in the late
Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914), and Francis nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
10 Forensic Science

simultaneously established the basis of most including Leone Lattes, to develop the forensic
of the scientific tests that were the mainstay applications. Landsteiner had separated blood
of forensic serology in the second half of the samples into red cells and serum and shown
twentieth century. that some of the sera could cause cells to
Most of the classic work on blood identifica- clump together, or agglutinate. He used the
tion depends on some form of immunological reaction to classify blood as type A, B, AB, or
reaction. Immunology can be traced back O. The cells from type A blood agglutinated
to the late nineteenth century and the work with the serum from type B or type O blood;
of Paul Ehrlich (1854–1915). His work on cells from type B agglutinated with serum
immunology resulted in Ehrlich sharing the from type A or O; cells from type AB agglu-
1908 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine tinated with serum from type A or B; and
with Ilya Mechnikov (1845–1916). A series cells of type O did not agglutinate with
of publications between 1885 and 1891 on serum from either type A or type B persons.
what he called the “side chain reaction” estab- The problem is that Landsteiner’s classifi-
lished the chemical nature of the reaction cation depends on the reaction of cells with
between antigens and antibodies. A genius the corresponding antiserum (see Anti-
and prolific researcher, Ehrlich has had his serum). Red blood cells are destroyed in
work remembered in the many reagents and stains, and so there is nothing to see when an
reactions named after him. Two of them, extract of the stain is mixed with antiserum.
Ehrlich’s reagent and Ehrlich’s reaction, are The problem was solved in 1915, by Leone
still used today in forensic biology to screen Lattes, working in the Institute of Forensic
evidence samples for feces. Ehrlich was a pro- Medicine in Turin, Italy. Lattes realized that
lific researcher in many fields and is credited although the cells in the stain were destroyed,
with coining the expression “magic bullet” to the antibodies would still be active and he
describe drugs that can target and kill specific introduced the idea of reverse grouping
disease-causing organisms. whereby bloodstains were characterized by
Ehrlich was working at a time that saw identifying the antibodies present.Although a
major advances in immunology arising from great advance in its time, the Lattes test has
research in several European centers. The drawbacks. It is not particularly sensitive and
most important for forensic science was the weak stains may give false results due to
work of Karl Landsteiner (1868–1943) on undetectable amounts of antibody in the
blood groups. Landsteiner completed his extracts.This compounds the problem that it
illustrious career in the United States, but it is not scientifically valid to call an AB type
was while he was an assistant at the University because the characterization depends on the
Department of Pathological Anatomy in absence of reaction (there being no antibody
Vienna that he published (1901) his work on to agglutinate test cells). It would take more
ABO blood groups. He was awarded the than half a century before a sufficiently reli-
1930 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine able technique for typing bloodstains was
in recognition of this outstanding research. developed.
Landsteiner’s research made safe blood trans- It might have taken forensic science a long
fusions possible; it was the start of work that time to translate Landsteiner’s research into a
ended with successful tissue matching and routine and reliable test, but other discoveries
thus organ transplants. And it allowed foren- in immunology being made at the same time
sic scientists to conclude whether or not a had a more rapid impact on forensic biology.
bloodstain found on an accused could have In 1901—the same year that Landsteiner pub-
come from the victim. lished his research on ABO blood groups—
Landsteiner’s research was all devoted to the research of Paul Uhlenhuth (1870–1957)
clinical applications, and it was left to others, laid the foundation for the identification of the
Introduction 11

species of origin of bloodstains. Uhlenhuth’s Rugen. Their mutilated bodies were found in
work can be traced back to the research of the woods. A man seen near where the bodies
the Belgian Jules Bordet (1870–1961), win- were found turned out to be Tessnow. He was
ner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in physiology or questioned and asked about brown stains on
medicine for his discoveries in immunity. his clothing. Once again he explained the stains
While working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris as being from wood dye. However, a magis-
between 1894 and 1901, Bordet showed that trate recalled his name as being associated with
vaccination produced a specific antibody and the Lechtingen murders and discussed the
demonstrated a range of responses when an case with a friend, Ernst Hubschmann.
antibody was mixed with protein antigens. Hubschmann had heard of Uhlenhuth’s work
One of these was the precipitation of a col- and arranged for Tessnow’s clothing to be
loidal complex—the precipitin reaction. The sent to him for testing. The tests identified
value of the finding is that it offered a tool seventeen stains of human blood, totally dis-
that gives a visual indication of an antigen- proving Tessnow’s story. Tessnow was duly
antibody reaction. Thus, if an extract of a tried and convicted.
bloodstain is mixed with a solution contain- The Tessnow case began with the assump-
ing an antibody for a protein that is present tion that the brown stains on Tessnow’s clothing
in the extract, it will result in a visible reac- could be blood—but the first and second
tion, namely formation of an insoluble com- steps of the sequence from screening to typing
plex that precipitates out of solution. were missing. At least one specific test for
Uhlenhuth used this research as the spring- blood was available in 1898. Ludwig Teich-
board to investigate what happened when mann had shown in 1853 that hemoglobin
proteins from one species are injected into could be converted to hemin, which forms
another. Specifically, he injected egg white characteristic crystals in the presence of
into rabbits, and found that serum taken halides.Teichmann’s reagent used a solution of
from the rabbits would form a precipitate potassium chloride, iodide, and bromide in
when mixed with extracts of chicken tissues. glacial acetic acid. It was the combination of
Forensic scientists were quick to see the identifying hemoglobin or a chemical deriva-
potential of the research, and it was used in a tive together with the specificity of the crystals
case the very same year of Uhlenhuth’s dis- formed that made the Teichmann test a
covery (1901). There are several accounts of benchmark in forensic serology for many
the Tessnow case; one of the more readable is years.The same basic principles were used by
found in Colin Wilson’s book Written in Blood, Masaeo Takayama when he introduced a
Book 3, The Trail and the Hunt (New York: somewhat more reliable test in 1912. Taka-
Warner Books, 1989). Two small girls failed yama showed that mixing an extract of blood
to return home from school in the village of with pyridine results in a chemical reduction
Lechtingen, near Osnabruck in Germany. A of the hemoglobin and the formation of
carpenter, Ludwig Tessnow, had been seen in feathery pink crystals.
the woods where their bodies were later The history of the first step—screening—
found and he was questioned by police. His is less certain. Somewhere in the period
clothes bore dark brown stains that could between 1818 (when hydrogen peroxide was
have been blood but that he claimed resulted discovered by Louis-Jacques Thenard) and the
from spills of wood stain. They did indeed mid-nineteenth century, people became aware
look exactly like the marks produced by the of the peroxidase-like activity of hemoglobin.
stain that he used. He was released. All this In 1863 Christian Schonbein advocated using
took place in 1898, and things settled down the observation of frothing when hydrogen
until three years later, when two young peroxide is applied to a possible bloodstain as
school boys went missing on the island of a presumptive (or screening) test. This was
12 Forensic Science

not at all a reliable process.The first reported body of knowledge accompanied by a research
screening test for blood was that of Oskar agenda that identifies it as a valid discipline
and Rudolf Adler, who found that the new within science. For example, the writer was
chemical benzidine, synthesized by the informed by a senior officer in the National
Merck Company in 1904, was converted into Science Foundation (NSF) in 1996 that the
its colored oxidized form when exposed to NSF had no funds to support research in
hydrogen peroxide and even minute traces of forensic science “because it was applied and
blood. Unfortunately, benzidine is highly car- not truly a branch of science.”
cinogenic. A safer and reliable screening test, There is, however, a valid trail of funda-
and one that is still used, is the Kastle-Meyer mental research in other disciplines that lays
test, which replaces benzidine with phe- the foundation for the testing that makes
nolphthalein. Hemoglobin exhibits peroxi- forensic science today such a powerful tool in
dase activity, that is, it converts hydrogen the administration of civil and criminal jus-
peroxide into water. It will therefore oxidize tice. The discoveries of Ritter, Sturgeon,
the colorless reduced form of phenol- Nicol, Kirchoff, Bunsen, Marsh, and other
phthalein in the reagent into its pink oxidized chemists have already been mentioned, but it
form. was biology and medicine that were creating
There are many variants of these screening what academic presence there was for matters
tests, but almost all depend on the conversion forensic.
of a colorless compound to its colored, oxi- Leone Lattes deserves credit for his re-
dized form by the peroxidase activity of search, but it is worth noting that the work was
hemoglobin and the presence of hydrogen conducted in continental Europe, where med-
peroxide. All of them are sensitive, and none ical specialists were trendsetters in recognizing
are entirely specific. For example, the origi- “forensic” as a viable discipline within a larger
nal work in the “Dingo Baby” case in 1982 in body of knowledge. The first ever academic
Australia, which claimed to have found blood course in forensics was in the University of
on the car of the Chamberlains, was found to Leipzig, where forensic medicine was taught as
be flawed. Exhaustive testing conducted long ago as 1642.There was a department of
some ten years later during a Royal Com- forensic medicine in the University of Paris in
mission hearing found no blood and indicated 1794. What may have been the world’s first
that the earlier tests might have been false forensic science laboratory, the Institut de
positives due to copper in the soil around the medicine legale de Paris, was established
crime scene. there in 1868. The University of Lyon was
one of the first academic institutions that rec-
“The True University of These Days Is a ognized forensic medicine as a subject. Andre
Collection of Books” Lacassagne (1823–1924) was appointed to
—Thomas Carlyle, “Heroes and Hero the post of professor of legal medicine in
Worship Lecture V.The Hero as a Man of 1880. Lacassagne had a varied career includ-
Letters” ing military service. He is recognized as being
one of the first to show the correlation be-
The history of a body of knowledge can usu- tween markings on a bullet and the rifling
ally be constructed around its development in inside the barrel of the weapon from which it
universities and the publication of research in was fired.
the forms of books and journals. This is not This landmark observation illustrates the
the case for forensic science because it hardly eclectic atmosphere of the early practition-
features in any academic environment right ers in forensic medicine. A few years later,
up to the end of the twentieth century, and another French doctor, Victor Balthazard
the literature is scant. There is no coherent (1872–1950), followed suit. Balthazard was
Introduction 13

professor of forensic medicine at the Sor- In 1917 he took up the position of principal
bonne, in Paris. He conducted research on a medico-legal expert in Egypt where, in addi-
surprisingly wide range of topics, including a tion to his expertise in forensic medicine, he
complex statistical evaluation of the effects of also became an expert in the emerging field of
a second impairment on a patient already suf- forensic ballistics. In 1925 he published the
fering from a separate impairment. However, first edition of his Textbook of Forensic Medicine
it seems that his main interest was in physical based largely on his experience in Egypt. He
evidence and the evaluation of how distinct returned to Edinburgh in 1927 to succeed
features have to be to allow conclusions of Littlejohn and held that chair until his retire-
identity to be drawn. He published a paper on ment in 1953. In the midthirties, Smith was
the statistical basis of fingerprint identification among the first of the medical specialists to
in 1911. The previous year he had published realize the importance of other disciplines in
the first expert treatise on human hair identi- forensic science. His autobiography, Mostly
fication. Balthazard was busy in another field Murder, was published in 1959.
of physical evidence and conducted several In England, developments in forensic sci-
studies on bullets and firearms between 1909 ence came a bit later. The most prominent
and 1913. He was probably the first to show early name was that of Alfred Swaine Taylor
that each gun imparts a unique pattern on a (1806–1880), who became professor of med-
projectile fired from it due to manufacturing ical jurisprudence at Guy’s Hospital Medical
and wear impressions. School in 1834. Taylor was a prodigious
Meanwhile, Scotland was setting the pace author and his Principles and Practice of Medical
in the English-speaking world. Andrew Jurisprudence, first published in 1865 and con-
Duncan (1744–1828) lectured on forensic tinuously revised and updated by other
medicine at the University of Edinburgh authors, is still recognized as a standard work.
in 1789, and his son became the first holder The next giant in forensic medicine in
of a professorship that included the word England was Sir Bernard Spilsbury (1877–
forensic when he was appointed Regius 1947). Dr. Spilsbury received his medical
Professor in 1807. training at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical
Dr. William A. Guy (1810–1855) was School in London and from 1902 until his
appointed to professor of medical jurispru- death in his laboratory at University College
dence at Kings College, London, in 1838. in 1947, devoted his life to pathology and his-
Guy had a distinguished career that included tology. He was not considered to be a great
publication of his text Principles of Forensic innovator but rather was a practical man with
Medicine in 1844. The University of Glasgow keen powers of observation. After becoming
followed with the appointment of Dr. R. a Home Office pathologist in 1908, he
Cowan (1796–1841) as its first professor of dominated forensic medicine in England for
forensic medicine in 1839 and the creation of almost forty years and convinced Scotland
its own Regius Chair in forensic medicine, Yard detectives of the importance of having
with the appointment of Dr. John Glaister the specialist at murder scenes. In the
(1856–1932) in 1889. Glaister senior was courtroom he seemed able to exert a spell
succeeded by his son, who held the chair over judges and juries. His reputation was
from 1931 until 1962. not based on his writings, because he wrote
The most widely known of the Edinburgh virtually nothing, but rather on his vast
school is probably Sir Sydney Smith (1883– experience of over 25,000 cases during his
1969). Born in New Zealand to English par- career.
ents, Smith received his MD from Edinburgh Following Spilsbury in London, a small
in 1914 where he studied under Professor group of forensic pathologists dominated the
Henry Duncan Littlejohn (1828–1914). scene in England. They were led by Professor
14 Forensic Science

Keith Simpson (1907–1985) at Guy’s Hospital high-quality forensic science in the United
and Professor Francis Camps (1905–1972) at States.
the London University Hospital. Dr. Milton Helpern (1902–1977), a
In North America, the earliest indication native-born New Yorker, took the foundation
of forensic medicine is in records of autopsies established by Norris and built the structure
carried out by one of the explorer Samuel de for a world-renowned center for service, re-
Champlain’s surgeons early in the seven- search, and training. A graduate of Cornell
teenth century at a settlement in what is now Medical School, Helpern studied pathology
the Canadian province of New Brunswick. In at Bellevue Hospital under Norris and joined
the United States, the early English settlers the Medical Examiner’s Office in 1931 where
brought English law and the coroner system he served as its chief until his death. He was
with them, and inquests were held as early as responsible for training many young patholo-
1635 in New England. gists who went on to establish medical exam-
Edinburgh also influenced academic forensic iner’s offices across the United States. An
medicine in the United States. Born in New indication of his stature is the fact that he was
York City, James S. Stringham (1775–1817) referred to by everyone as “The Chief,” even
studied medicine at the University of by those who never worked for him.
Edinburgh from which he graduated in 1799. Back in Europe, the nonmedical sciences
On his return to the United States he held were starting to develop some form around the
various positions before being appointed same period. And, just as with Norris and the
professor of medical jurisprudence at the OCME, a key figure in the history of forensic
Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons science was responsible for establishing one of
in 1813. Another Edinburgh graduate, the earliest centers of excellence, but not in a
Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), lectured on university. The figure was Edmond Locard
medical jurisprudence in Philadelphia and and the institution was the Laboratoire de
was one of the signers of the Declaration of Police Scientifique, or Police Scientific
Independence in 1777. The first North Laboratory.
American textbook was Elements of Medical Locard was born in France in 1877 and died
Jurisprudence, a 900-page, two-volume work in Lyon in 1966. He obtained his doctorate in
written by Theodoric R. Beck (1791–1855) 1902 and went on to work with Lacassagne at
and published in 1823 at Albany, New York. the University of Lyon. Locard broadened his
More than 100 years after Stringham’s forensic knowledge by spending some time
appointment, Dr. Charles Norris (1868–1935) with Bertillon and became interested in
was appointed the first chief medical examiner identification. He moved from forensic med-
to the City of New York in 1918. Norris was icine and the university to science and the
at the time a physician at the Belleview police force in Lyon in 1910, setting up what
Hospital Center, which had been affiliated became the official police laboratory in
with the Columbia College of Physicians and 1912. Locard realized that dactyloscopy, or
Surgeons since 1860. It is tempting to pos- fingerprinting, was the best approach to
tulate a linkage through the college’s history identification. He made several significant
to Stringham, but perhaps this is just another contributions to the new science of finger-
of forensic science’s coincidences. Although printing and first used it successfully in a case
not strictly a university, the Office of the in 1910.
Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), which Locard can justifiably claim to be the first
Norris led, made significant contributions true forensic scientist. He was concerned
to forensic medicine research and service about the scientific principles behind his
development under several leaders and work.Thus he was the first to set down rules
was a key factor in the growth of organized, for the application of Galton points, or points
Introduction 15

of identification such as bifurcations (see that it is impossible for a criminal to perform

Fingerprints) for definition and the obser- an act of violent crime without leaving some
vation of detailed minutiae in a fingerprint trace of his or her presence. He also repeatedly
necessary to establish identity. He is credited asserted that the microscope was a powerful
with establishing the concepts of poreoscopy weapon to characterize the debris deposited
(the pattern of pores in a fingerprint) and on the clothing of people as they move
edgeoscopy (the shape or contour of the edges through different environments. It is thus rea-
of the ridges in a fingerprint), which are the sonable that the concept is named after him.
basis of what today’s fingerprint examiners Locard’s reputation is also based on some-
term ridgeology or the study of the unique- thing he did write, his extensive treatise on
ness of the ridges in a fingerprint, and are the forensic science Traité de criminalistique, pub-
basis of modern approaches to fingerprinting. lished in parts between 1931 and 1935. Locard
His tripartite rule set three levels of inter- was fifty-eight when the last part of the treatise
pretation: more than twelve Galton points in was published. It was his last personal contribu-
a sharp and clear print is enough for finding tion to forensic science.
identity. The conclusion that could be drawn Bragging rights for the first university
from a print with eight to twelve points department of forensic science probably
depended on other factors, and no reliable belong to the University of Lausanne in
conclusion could be drawn from fewer than Switzerland. The forensic program in the
eight points. School of Forensic Science and Criminology
Locard is best known for the principle can trace its history to 1902 and Professor
identified by his name: the Locard exchange Rudolphe Archibald Reiss. Reiss, who was
principle. In summary, this principle holds born in Lausanne in 1876 and died in Belgrade
that every contact leaves a trace. Locard’s in 1929, was yet another of the pioneers of
principle is behind all trace evidence, which forensic science who had worked with
depends on comparing traces of materials Bertillon. He established a forensic photo-
found on a suspect with bulk material from graphy course at the university around the
the scene of the crime. The reasoning goes turn of the century and developed it into a
that the various contacts between the per- full forensic science program in 1909. His
petrator and objects at the scene will result in forensic science work includes a review of the
a transfer of materials between the two on Paris police (1914) and several manuals of
each contact. forensic science techniques and photography
There are several things wrong with published in Lausanne and Paris between
Locard’s exchange principle. First, and most 1905 and 1914. Reiss’s contributions to
practical, is that it is not always possible to forensic science ended in 1914 because of his
establish a reliable association between the devotion to another cause, investigation of
object making the contact and the material war crimes committed against the Serbs. He
transferred to it.Traces may be lost with time reported on “The atrocities committed by the
and movement of the perpetrator away from Austro-Hungarian army during the first inva-
the scene. The materials exchanged may not sion of Serbia” in 1915. He is honored by a
be sufficiently unique, either alone or in statue in Belgrade.War crimes, genocide, and
combination, to provide reliable evidence of similar atrocities have existed as long as war
contact, and the techniques used to make the and conflict and are still with us.Although his
comparisons might not be capable of suffi- report did not deal with any highly technical
cient discrimination. issues, it is the first time that a forensic scien-
The second problem is that Locard never tist was involved. Today, the special skills of
said that every contact leaves a trace.What he forensic medical and scientific teams are reg-
did say, in several ways in his publications, was ularly incorporated into such investigations.
16 Forensic Science

there was a growing general awareness that

ammunition could be linked to the gun from
which it was fired by means of markings on
shell cases and projectiles. It was not yet a
sound science, however, and there was a near
miscarriage of justice in NewYork State in the
Stielow case in 1915. Stielow was convicted of
the murder of his employer and his employer’s
housekeeper. Evidence at trial included testi-
mony that the fatal bullets had been fired from
a gun found in Stielow’s house. There were
several doubts surrounding the whole investi-
gation and the attorney general conducted an
investigation while Stielow awaited execution.
One of his special investigators, Charles E.
Waite, reexamined the firearms evidence
together with a microscopy expert, Dr. Max
Poser. They proved that the bullets could not
have been fired from Stielow’s gun, and
Stielow was pardoned and released.
The first significant institution devoted to
firearms examination was the Bureau of
R.A. Reiss, a professor at the University of Lausanne in the Forensic Ballistics in New York. The bureau
early 1900s and a pupil of Alphonse Bertillon, set up one of was formed by Waite, together with Calvin
the first academic curricula in forensic science. His forensic Goddard, Philip Gravelle, and John Fisher in
photography department grew into Lausanne Institute of 1925. Fisher had invented the helixometer
Police Science. (Courtesy of the Universite de Lausanne for examining the interior of gun barrels in
Institut de police scientifique et de criminologie) 1920, and the group perfected the firearms
comparison microscope. However, Goddard
Brave New World was the doyen of the group.
—Aldous Huxley, 1932 Goddard’s history encompasses notorious
cases and major forensic science institutions
The foundations of forensic science were laid beyond the Bureau of Forensic Ballistics. The
in Europe in the late nineteenth and early first of the notorious cases was that of Nicola
twentieth centuries, but the United States Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Sacco and
was where most advances took place in the Vanzetti were tried and convicted of robbery
following fifty years. and murder in 1921. The evidence included
After the pioneering work of Lacassagne testimony on examination of weapons and
and Balthazard, the field of ballistics, or fire- ammunition that may have been involved in
arms examination, is dominated by American the crime. However, the Sacco-Vanzetti case
contributions (see Firearms). Various re- had become a cause célèbre largely due to
ports, such as an article, “The Missile and the social and political circumstances—media
Weapon” by Dr. Albert Llewellyn Hall pub- attention consistently referred to the Italian
lished in the Buffalo Medical Journal in 1900, background and anarchist political affiliations
and the official report “Study of the Fired of the accused. Both sides vigorously pursued
Bullets and Shells in Brownsville,Texas, Riot” their cases, including reexamination of the
included in the annual report of the chief of firearms evidence. One of the original de-
ordnance, U.S. Army in 1907, show that fense experts was Albert H. Hamilton—the
Introduction 17

examiner whose prosecution evidence had could be made.Things were different when it
been discredited in the Stielow case. There came to associating an individual with a fired
is some evidence to assert that Hamilton was gun, other than through the weapon being in
the first forensic “hired gun”—that is, he was the possession of the individual. Gunshot
ready to manipulate his story to fit the residue tests (see Firearms) are used for that
requirements of the side that employed him. purpose. When a gun is fired, the various
However, the trial judge found him to be not components of the primer and propellant in
reliable, and his testimony probably damaged the ammunition produce a gaseous cloud of
the Sacco-Vanzetti defense. residues, including nitrates, that escapes from
A committee appointed to review the case the gun and can condense on the hands and
in 1927 engaged Goddard. His tests concluded clothing of the person firing the weapon.
that one of three shell cases recovered from One of the earliest tests for these residues on
the scene had been fired from a gun owned by skin was the paraffin test. This test recovers
Sacco. The defense experts (not Hamilton) surface contaminants from the hands by
present during Goddard’s examinations applying a film of warm paraffin wax and peel-
agreed, as did further retesting conducted in ing it off. The wax is then treated with
1961 and 1983. The guilty verdict was con- diphenylamine, which reacts with nitrates
firmed, and Sacco and Vanzetti were executed to give a blue color. The test was introduced
on August 23, 1927. to the United States in 1933 by Teodoro
Goddard’s second notorious case was the Gonzales of Mexico City. Although not very
St.Valentine’s Day Massacre. The case is part reliable—it can give false positive and false
of American folk history as an illustration of negative results—the paraffin test was to be
the gangster era. On February 14, 1928, a used for some fifty years.
group of hit men from Al Capone’s criminal Part of the reason for the longevity of the
gang gunned down seven members of a rival paraffin test is that there was nothing better
gang in Chicago. The gang turned up in a fake to replace it. It was not until 1958 that H. C.
police car, with three of them wearing police Harrison and R. Gilroy introduced a color-
uniforms. Even in those violent days, the imetric test for antimony, barium, and lead on
killing of seven people in a public place by hand swabs. These metals are typically found
gunning them down with over 70 rounds in ammunition primers. If anything, the
from machine guns was a headline-grabbing Harrison-Gilroy test was even less reliable
case. The magnitude and flagrant nature of than the paraffin test, but it did produce a
the crime, together with allegations of police focus on alternate procedures. Instrumental
involvement, led to a rapid and thorough methods for detection of residues of the three
response by the authorities. Goddard was metals were a considerable advance. Today, it
engaged to conduct an examination of the is widely accepted that the combination of
firearms evidence. He showed that the kill- scanning electron microscopy (to identify the
ers had used a 12-gauge shotgun and two characteristic particles) and energy dispersive
Thompson submachine guns. He further tested x-ray analysis (to identify the elements present
all the Thompson submachine guns used by in the particles) is the method of choice.This
the police and showed that none of them was method was introduced into routine use by
involved in the killings. In contrast, he found the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science
positive matches to guns found in the home Laboratory in London, England, in 1968.
of one of the suspects. Although he already had an assured repu-
The physical tests used by Goddard had tation from his technical expertise and his
been developed to the point that a confident position in the Bureau of Forensic Ballistics,
conclusion associating a bullet or shell case Goddard had more to contribute to the
with the weapon from which it had been fired development of forensic science in America.
18 Forensic Science

Goddard’s work in the St. Valentine’s Day assure that. One of those—the polygraph
Massacre led to the next phase of his associ- (see Lie Detector Test)—was invented at
ation with forensic science institutions. Berkeley and is almost uniquely associated
Through the foreman of the investigating with forensic science in the United States.
grand jury, he was asked to establish a crime The polygraph makes simultaneous record-
laboratory to serve the citizens of Chicago.The ings of the pulse rate, blood pressure, breathing
foreman, Burt A. Massee, guaranteed financial rate, and perspiration (skin resistance) of the
support. The result was the creation of the test subject.The core of the instrument is the
Scientific Detection Crime Laboratory at measurement of pulse rate. In fact, the name
Northwestern University near Chicago in polygraph was first given to an invention of the
1930. Goddard served as its director until Scottish physician James Mackenzie (1853–
1934. Goddard also advised the FBI when it 1925) to simultaneously measure arterial and
set up its laboratory in 1932 and the army venous pulses. Mackenzie published his work
when it established its Tokyo crime laboratory in 1902. A Berkeley medical student, John
in 1948. Larson, adapted Mackenzie’s polygraph to
Goddard’s Scientific Detection Crime make the first “lie detector” in 1921.The basis
Laboratory in Chicago was not the first crime of Larson’s work was that lying induces some
laboratory in America. That honor goes to degree of stress, even at a subconscious level,
California and August Vollmer (1876–1955). and that the stress will result in involuntary
Vollmer was appointed chief of police in changes in one or more of the physiological
Berkeley in 1909. He was an energetic inno- parameters measured.The apparatus was fur-
vator who had the vision to see how advances ther developed over the next year or two by
in science and technology could be applied to Larson’s associate, Leonarde Keeler. However,
public safety. His leadership included pio- the Frye decision of 1923 (see Frye Rule)
neering systems of fingerprint and handwriting made it clear that the courts were less than
evidence, use of the polygraph, and the appli- convinced of the validity of the research.
cation of forensic science to investigations. Notwithstanding the Frye case and other con-
He is variously reported as having established troversies as to its reliability, the polygraph is
a crime laboratory in Berkeley around 1910, a widely established tool used in civil and
but it is most likely that there was no physical criminal investigations in the United States.
entity but rather a range of activities carried Berkeley itself is most widely recognized
out from around 1907, probably in conjunc- within the forensic science community for its
tion with scientists at the University of illustrious history as a center of academic
California at Berkeley. Vollmer understood excellence.Vollmer may have planted the seed,
the value of training and created a police but it was Paul Kirk (1902–1970) who was
academy in his department, with lectures responsible for forensic science flourishing
from visiting scientists included in the cur- there. Kirk was a gifted and industrious scien-
riculum. Vollmer was appointed chief of tist who was associated with Berkeley from
police in Los Angeles in 1923, and the history 1927. He is credited with using his skills and
of the Los Angeles Police Department knowledge to convert the “art” of microchem-
Scientific Investigation Department records istry into the science of trace chemistry. He
that he established a crime laboratory soon created a new branch of science, criminalistics
after his appointment there. On his retire- (from Gross’s kriminalistik), and established
ment, he created a program in police sciences it as a credible academic discipline. Kirk
at the University of California at Berkeley. believed that the fundamental distinguishing
The university at Berkeley merits recog- characteristic of criminalistics is individual-
nition in any historical account of forensic ization or identity, a concept of great merit
science. Vollmer’s interests alone would and typical of his high scientific standards.
Introduction 19

It is sad that this account of the contributions Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, written in
to forensic science in the United States and 1883, identifies a murderer from his finger-
throughout the world that came from the San prints, and a later book (Pudd’n Head Wilson)
Francisco Bay area has to close by recording contains a courtroom scene in which finger-
that the forensic science program at Berkeley printing is debated. This was before Galton’s
has not been able to compete with the pure classification and not all that long after
sciences for available funding.What could and Herschel and Faulds.
should have been a model program in an ideal In real life, some U.S. institutions were
location has closed, despite the leadership of among the first users of fingerprinting. In
Dr. George Sensabaugh. quick succession from 1902 to 1905, the New
York Civil Service Commission, the NewYork
“The American system of rugged State Prison service, the Leavenworth State
individualism . . .” Penitentiary, and the U.S.Army all introduced
—Herbert Clark Hoover, campaign speech, fingerprinting as a means of identification.
New York, 1928 In 1905 the Department of Justice formed
the Bureau of Criminal Identification in
Paul Kirk was certainly in the right place to Washington, D.C., to provide a central col-
assert that identification is the purpose of lection of fingerprint cards. Two years later,
forensic science. The history of the Inter- the bureau was transferred to Leavenworth
national Association for Identification (IAI), State Penitentiary. In 1924 an act of Congress
records that amalgamated the bureau and the Leaven-
worth collections into the FBI’s Identification
On August 4, 1915, Inspector Harry Division.
H. Caldwell of the Oakland (California) Meanwhile, the case history of finger-
Police Department’s Bureau of printing was being written with some
Identification wrote numerous letters memorable events. The story of Will and
addressed to “Criminal Identification William West perhaps goes a little way to
Operators” asking them to meet in explain why Leavenworth Penitentiary fea-
Oakland for the purpose of forming an tures so strongly in the history of finger-
organization to further the aims of the printing in the United States. Will and
identification profession. A group of William West were unrelated, but were
twenty-two men met and, as a result, the both incarcerated in Leavenworth at the
International Association for Criminal same time—roughly between 1903 and
Identification was founded in October 1909. They were both of similar build and
1915, with Inspector Caldwell as the the Bertillon records used by the prison to
presiding officer.” (Cited from record the identity of inmates on the basis of physical characteristics such as ear shape
were sufficiently close that they could have
Today, the IAI is a prestigious professional been mistaken one for the other. Leaven-
association with more than 5,000 members in worth was one of the first institutions to
the United States and worldwide. Its member- use Bertillonage for this purpose and one of
ship and professional development activities the first to convert to fingerprinting. It
encompass a wide range of applications, but appears that Will was indeed mistaken for
fingerprinting is one of the core subjects. William, either at the time of admission or
The story of fingerprinting in the United in a subsequent but uncertain criminal
States is one with curious beginnings that investigation, and that he was only cleared
echo Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, because one of of involvement in the crime because of the
the first references to it is in a work of fiction. fingerprint records.
20 Forensic Science

However, the story of the two Wests is as murder. Jennings was tried and convicted.
close to Mark Twain’s fiction as it is to reality. Jennings appealed his conviction to the Illinois
In fact, there is no account of mistaken iden- Supreme Court on the basis of the admissibil-
tity or other supporting evidence anywhere ity of the fingerprint evidence. The court
in the Leavenworth records.The truth is that found that “there is a scientific basis for the
the staff at Leavenworth included some system of fingerprint identification, and that
extremely farsighted and able officers, par- the courts are justified in admitting this class
ticularly Major Robert. W. McClaughry of evidence; that this method of identification
(1839–1920), who were pioneers in creating is in such general and common use that the
reliable identification records systems and courts cannot refuse to take judicial cognizance
ready to implement and evaluate new tech- of it” (People v. Jennings, 96 N.E. 1077 [1911]).
niques as they became available. McClaughry This case established the admissibility of fin-
was the first person to introduce Bertillonage gerprint evidence for the first time in U.S.
into the United States, in 1887.At the time he courts. Other states and the federal govern-
was warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary ment quickly followed suit in admitting fin-
and he persuaded the Warden’s Association of gerprint evidence in court, and it remained
the United States and Canada to adopt the unshaken and unchallenged as the gold stan-
system in the same year. dard of identification for 100 years.
His son, M. W. McClaughry, was his The responses of so many parts of the justice
records clerk at Leavenworth at the time of system to the advances in chemistry, biology,
the West fable.The younger McClaughry had and physics that were taking place support
attended the World’s Fair in St Louis in 1904 Kirk’s perception of forensic science being
and there met Sergeant John K. Ferrier of about identification. “What is it?” and “Who is
Scotland Yard, London, England. Ferrier had it?” readily merge into “Who did it?” and “How
given a course of instruction on fingerprint- did they do it?” Questioned document exam-
ing at the fair and McClaughry junior was one ination (see Document Examination) is
of his students. As a result, and still in 1904, often regarded as more of a subjective art than
Major McClaughry was granted permission objective science. Its practitioners will soundly
to introduce fingerprinting for identification defend its objective basis and certainly no one
of inmates and had Ferrier conduct a course would question the scientific validity of the
of instruction at Leavenworth that year. The chemical and physical tests used to character-
West fable is a wonderful account of what ize the materials used in creating documents:
fingerprinting can do, but the credit must paper, ink, printers, copiers, and so on.
go where it belongs, to Ferrier and the The issue of authenticity of writing is as old
McClaughrys. as writing itself. Thus, the Justinian Code of
Indisputably true and significant is the case Roman law in the year 539 recognized that
of People v. Jennings, which trial took place there were “experts” in handwriting analysis
in 1911. One night in September 1910, a and required that they be sworn, presumably
Mr. Clarence Hiller was awakened by his wife, in an attempt to ensure some reliability in the
who believed that there was an intruder in procedure. But the story of QDE as an orga-
the house. He went to investigate and dis- nized discipline within forensic science is
turbed an armed burglar, who shot and killed essentially a story of the twentieth century,
him after a struggle. Later that night, police and one with a considerable American content.
questioned Thomas Jennings and found that It can be said that modern QDE began in
he was injured and also was carrying a loaded 1910 when Albert S. Osborne (1858–1946)
revolver. His fingerprints were on record. published Questioned Documents, a book that is
Comparisons showed they were a match for still recognized as authoritative on the
four prints recovered from the scene of Hiller’s examination of handwriting and traditional
Introduction 21

documents. Osborne probably did more than advances until the 1980s, when techniques
any other one person to advance the subject, for examination of writing materials, indented
including founding the American Society of impressions, and laser- and bubble-jet copy
Questioned Document Examiners in 1942. and print media were developed. Until then
Despite the work of Osborne and others, the discipline advanced case by case, and
there remains some suspicion about the reli- some of those raised more questions than
ability of QDE.This is in part due to confusion they answered.
with what is known as graphology, which is We will begin with the kidnap and murder
the process of drawing conclusions about the of Bobby Franks in the affluent suburb of
character of a writer based on her or his Kenwood, near Chicago. Bobby was picked
handwriting. Apart from its confusion with up in a car on his way home from high school
graphology—which has no scientific founda- in 1924. When he had not returned home
tion whatsoever—QDE has some problems by dinnertime, his parents started a search,
associated with the fact that it absolutely thinking he may have been with a friend. But
obeys the falsification principle (see Daubert then they received a phone call that Bobby
Ruling). Falsification was proposed by the had been kidnapped. They received a type-
eminent scientific philosopher Karl Popper written ransom demand the next morning.
(1902–1993) as a fundamental principle of They notified the police, but at the same time
science. In summary, no amount of testing as they were considering their response to the
can ever absolutely prove a scientific law to kidnappers’ demands, a dead body found a
be true, because there may always be alter- little distance away was identified as Bobby’s.
native explanations for a phenomenon that Eventually suspicion centered on two young
would lead to the same experimental results men, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold.
or observations. However, one well-designed Both were well educated and from well-off
experiment that produces a result contrary to families.They had alibis that appeared strong.
a law establishes it as false, or “falsifies” it. To Leopold owned a typewriter, but it was
be accepted as “scientific,” therefore, a theory excluded as the source of the ransom note.
must be capable of testing and falsification. By chance, police found that he had used
In a way, the principle of falsification is the another, portable, machine to type notes from
basic principle of questioned document exam- a law study group to which he belonged.
ination. Returning to the Justinian Code of Comparison of pages of notes with the ran-
Roman law, we find it expresses “hatred for som demand showed them to be identical.
the crime of forgery,” and the question behind Leopold and Loeb were tried and convicted.
all QDE cases is “is this document authentic or There were many reasons why this became a
has it been forged (falsified)?” We only need headline case: The families were affluent and
to look at a selection of our own signatures to well-connected; the crime was presented as
see the problem that arises—each is unques- a cold-blooded intellectual exercise pursued
tionably authentic, but none is identical to by two privileged youths; and the defense
any of the others.The examiner has to make a was represented by the legendary Clarence
judgment call as to whether differences are Darrow. Publicity dogged the case even after
due to natural variation or to falsification. sentencing—Richard was murdered in prison
Osborne’s book addresses this well, but it and the accused assassin (against whom there
remains a difficulty. False claims made by un- was considerable evidence) was found not
qualified examiners and exacerbated by cir- guilty.
cumstances are another matter. The Bobby Franks case is significant to
Questioned document examination re- forensic science as it established the accept-
mained an experience-based craft with little ability of typewriter examination as evidence.
new by way of technology or scientific The story illustrates a different point also,
22 Forensic Science

namely that much of forensic science evidence handwriting evidence was not seriously chal-
depends on leads produced by careful investi- lenged in any of them.
gation by police officers (and, as was the case Possibly the most valuable of the countless
here, investigative journalists). challenged wills that document examiners
Sometimes the two merge with the have testified on would be that of Howard
telling evidence reported by the laboratory Hughes. Innovator, billionaire, and ultimately
being more a matter of everyday common- recluse, Howard Hughes died, apparently
sense than specialized knowledge. Such was without leaving a will, in 1976. Before long
the situation in the 1928 contested will of there were lots of documents purporting to be
James Biddle Duke (the same family whose the true will of Howard Hughes, the most
endowments established Duke University) notorious being the “Mormon” will. The doc-
where no less than 107 people were fighting ument purported to be a holographic will,
for shares in the multimillion-dollar estate. that is, handwritten by Hughes. It was found
One family submitted a copy of what they on a desk at the headquarters of the Mormon
claimed to be the family Bible with birth Church, in Salt Lake City. This was not in
dates of the children inscribed in it in 1887 itself a surprise, as many of Hughes’s aides
and 1889. The entries purported to have toward the end of his life were Mormons.
been made at the time of each birth, but What was a surprise was that the will left
examination of the printed book showed it one-sixteenth of the estate to a Utah gas sta-
to be copyrighted in 1890, and so the claim tion operator, Melvin Dummar. Because the
was invalidated. purported will was three pages long, there
The Franks and Duke cases are typical of was an ample volume of material for doc-
those where the authenticity or writer of a ument examiners to study. Their unanimous
document is a central issue—ransoms or wills. conclusion was that it was a forgery, a view
Document examination was one of three upheld by the Las Vegas court.Yet again, other
items of evidence central to a front-page case material buttressed the questioned document
just four years after the Duke case, when examiner’s investigation and its conclusions.
Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped from For example, investigators were able to
the family home in New Jersey. A handwrit- develop a fingerprint on the envelope in
ten ransom note was found at the scene. The which the will was found, and it was a match
case soon became one of murder with the dis- to Dummar.
covery of the child’s body. Eventually suspicion The results of the investigation of
fell on Richard Bruno Hauptmann, an illegal Dummar leads us to another document case
German immigrant. The handwriting on the involving Howard Hughes. Mr. Dummar was
ransom note was compared to samples from a college student at the time. The college
Hauptman by several document examiners, library contained a copy of the book Hoax:
including Albert Osborn. They all concluded The Inside Story of the Howard Hughes-Clifford
that the note had been written by Hauptman. Irving Affair (Stephen Fay, Lewis Chester, and
The ransom note was one of three planks of Magnus Linklater, Viking Press, NY, 1972).
the prosecution case; the others were tracing Mr. Dummar’s fingerprints were found on
of special bills used to pay the ransom and the the book. Hoax tells the story of Clifford
physical nature of a ladder found at the scene, Irving and how he almost succeeded in selling
part of which could be traced to timber at a fake biography of Hughes. As well as telling
Hauptman’s home. Like many cases involv- the story of the hoax, the book contains illus-
ing celebrities, the trial and conviction of trations of the handwriting of Howard
Hauptman did not end the public interest. Hughes. It is clear how it suggests the idea of
There were many subsequent essays writ- forging a will and provides writing examples
ten and investigations conducted, but the to copy.
Introduction 23

The hoax itself was well assembled. Irving just over ten years later, to the somewhat sim-
claimed that Hughes, who at that time (1971) ilar case of the Hitler Diaries. In April 1983
was a recluse who did not make public the German magazine Der Stern paid almost
appearances, had engaged him to write the 10 million marks for a sixty-two-volume col-
biography. He forged letters from Hughes to lection that purported to be the diaries of
support the claim, and obtained a contract Adolph Hitler. Linguistic and historical
with the McGraw-Hill publishing company. experts vouched that the content was authen-
The contract required Hughes’s signature, tic, and document examiners vouched that
which Irving duly forged, too. Irving and his the diaries matched an example of Hitler’s
friend and partner Dick Suskind claimed to handwriting that they were given. The histo-
be collecting taped interviews with Hughes, rians were wrong. More extensive examina-
but in reality were inventing the biography tion showed the material to contain errors,
from whatever material they could find. This and indeed the errors pointed to the source
included the manuscript of a biography of of the fake content.The handwriting experts
Hughes held by an old friend of Irving’s, were right—the various samples had indeed
Stanley Meyer. The material in the manu- been written by the same person, just not
script allowed the conspirators to present Adolph Hitler. In fact, the diaries were forg-
enough material to McGraw-Hill for the pub- eries, and the so-called authentic sample of
lisher to announce the forthcoming book in Hitler’s writing was itself also a forgery.
December 1971. Further testing showed that the materials
Close associates of Howard Hughes re- were anachronistic. The paper contained
sponded quickly that he had not authorized additives that were not introduced until
the biography and had not provided any 1954, and the ink was less than a year old and
material for it. However, the journalist Frank of a type not available at the supposed time
McCulloch, a media authority on Hughes, the diaries were written.
vouched strongly for the validity of the manu- The explanation is simple. Examination of
script. It was at this point that the docu- writing materials can identify chemicals and
ment examiners became involved, with the processes that provide objective evidence that
Osborne name as prominent as ever. Paul and inks or papers do or do not share characteristic
his brother Russell Osborne examined properties. Handwriting comparison is much
authentic writing of Howard Hughes together more subjective, and detection of forgery
with the questioned writing. They reported often relies on the presence of features that
that the fluidity and speed of writing result from the process of forgery. For
throughout the considerable volume pre- example, a forger usually draws a signature
sented to them led them to be certain that the and will pause to compare the drawing with
known and questioned material was written the original.This gives rise to hesitancies and
by the same hand. Things were looking good pen lifts in the forgery that are telltale signs
for the schemers. But Mr. Hughes was not of a forged signature. Freehand forgery pos-
amused, and on January 7, 1972, he broke sesses none of these and requires a sufficient
fourteen years of silence to speak to jour- volume of writing possessing sufficient char-
nalists, denouncing Irving’s claims. By the end acteristics to allow a determination of origin
of the month, Irving and his coconspirators to be made.
confessed. The Hitler diaries were free-form, and
If Hughes had been dead or had chosen not during the first round of examination the
to speak out, the hoax would have succeeded. examiners were fooled by the fluidity of the
Document examination was certainly at the writing and the apparently authentic script
core of this case and did not come out of it at for the time period. Irving’s hoax almost suc-
all well. Searching for an explanation takes us ceeded also because of the fluidity of the
24 Forensic Science

forged writings, and because he had made a to correlate blood alcohol and amount of
credible facsimile of the real thing. alcohol consumed). He was the first scientist
This brings us full circle and back to to develop a reliable test sufficiently sensi-
Osborne’s 1910 treatise. Authentication of tive to permit the measurement of the
handwriting is indeed possible. Brian Found’s amount of alcohol in blood using a sample as
proficiency testing research in Australia shows small as a drop.
that you do not even have to have many years Widmark’s papers describe his contacts in
of experience to get it right—but conversely, 1931 and 1932 with E. P. Sanford, the head of
even with many years of experience you can the research division of the Department of
get it wrong. All of the advances in the field Justice’s Bureau of Prohibition (see the article
have been in the technologies applied to writ- by R. Andreasson and A. Jones in the Journal
ing materials, although reliable computer of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 20, pp. 207–208,
analysis of handwriting is close to being a 1996). Sanford had first contacted Dr.Walter
realistic proposition at the beginning of the Miles of the Institute of Human Relations
twenty-first century. at Yale University. Miles was a prolific re-
searcher and writer, with an interest in aging
“We have drunken of things Lethean.” and color vision, as well as alcoholism. His
—Swinburne, Hymn to Proserpine, 1866 works include reports for various military
committees and a collection of sermons.
Greed may be the motive behind much of the Miles in turn recommended that Sanford
work of the document examiner, but Douglas write to Widmark.
M. Lucas opined that the forensic scientist According to Andreasson and Jones,
would have comparatively little to do were it Sanford wrote to Widmark on July 22, 1931,
not for alcohol and sex (American Society of requesting assistance with the problem of
Crime Laboratory Directors, October 2003, testing for drunkenness: “Such tests in our
see various states vary from smelling the offender’s
The two often come together in the investi- breath to making him walk a chalk line, but
gation of rape, when the victim and/or the no scientific test apparently is applied.” The
perpetrator may have been under the influ- letter from the Department of Justice con-
ence of alcohol. Alcohol is covered in the tinued: “We are particularly anxious to know
headwords, as is rape, but the United States what the alcoholic content of the blood must
has a very special place in the history of a rela- be before a person can be described as being
tively modern offense involving forensic under the influence of alcohol.”
science and alcohol—that of drunk driving. That question could not be answered in
There were enough automobiles on the 1931, because the required data did not exist.
roads of America by the early 1930s to raise Sanford had further communications with
concerns about drunk driving. The country Widmark on his new method. Andreasson
was approaching the end of the Prohibition and Jones record that Widmark sent him a
era, and the Bureau of Prohibition in the manuscript to submit to the Journal of the
Department of Justice took on the task of American Medical Association, and that it was
investigating the question of alcohol impair- rejected. The Widmark method was adopted
ment of driving ability.At that time, the leading by many European countries, all of which
authority on the relationship between drink- went on to establish legal limits for blood
ing, blood alcohol levels, and their effects was alcohol and driving. The principle that the
the Swedish scientist Dr. Erik Widmark levels of a drug in blood reflect the level of its
(1889–1945).Widmark’s name is still associ- effect is well established.Widmark’s work gave
ated with the topic today through the researchers and public safety officers a tool to
Widmark factor (a mathematical factor used answer Sanford’s question, but research and
Introduction 25

development in the United States was to Harger, Borkenstein, and Indiana University
become focused on the indirect and less precise remained at the center of developments in
area of breath testing. breath testing and alcohol-induced driving
The first breath-testing instrument to be impairment for the next twenty years. Until
used by police was the Drunkometer, invent- very recently, the nationally accepted limit
ed by Dr. Rolla N. Harger and introduced to for drunk driving was 0.10 gram alcohol per
New Year’s revelers by the Indiana police on 100 milliliters of blood (or the breath equiv-
December 31, 1938. Yet again, a develop- alent). The 0.10 limit originated at a 1958
ment in forensic science was associated with conference at Indiana University, led by
more than one person. At the same time that Harger and others from the department.The
Harger was constructing the Drunkometer, conference expressed the opinion that 0.05
Dr. Glenn C. Forrester was busy in St Louis, percent was a reasonable threshold level and
Missouri, developing his Intoximeter. that most people would show impairment at
Forrester incorporated a company under that 0.10 percent.
name in 1945, and Michigan began using the Practical confirmation of the opinion, and a
Intoximeter in 1947. reliable answer to Sanford’s question, had to
Harger was a professor at Indiana wait until 1964 and the Grand Rapids study,
University with an active research interest directed by Borkenstein. The team measured
in the biochemistry of alcohol, and his blood alcohol levels in drivers involved in
Drunkometer included tables to convert road accidents and in a control group that
breath readings to the equivalent in blood. matched in all regards other than the acci-
The relationship between Harger, Indiana dent.They produced quantitative data relating
University, and the Indiana State Police flour- likelihood of causing an accident and blood
ished, and by 1948 the university had an alcohol level. The odds do indeed begin to
active teaching program on breath-alcohol increase at 0.05 percent and are around five
testing, sponsored by the National Safety times higher at 0.1 percent.
Council. Faculty included Lt. Robert F. Andreasson and Jones imply in their inter-
Borkenstein (1912–2002) of the Indiana State esting historical note that the failure of the
Police. Journal of the American Medical Association to
Borkenstein had no formal qualifications, publish Widmark’s paper resulted in the
but avidly embraced the science and tech- United States not adopting direct measure-
nology associated with the measurement and ment of alcohol in blood and instead relying on
public safety applications of breath-alcohol the somewhat less accurate and more variable
testing. So much so, that in 1954 he was re- breath testing. However, the breathalyzer
sponsible for the invention of the Breathaly- gave law enforcement a powerful tool that
zer.A logical development of the instruments was economical and effective. The European
of Harger and others, the Breathalyzer was countries that were leaders in blood testing
the first truly portable and reliable breath- now all use breath analysis as the primary
testing device. It was to become the “Hoover” enforcement tool.
of the field, widely adopted, and eventually Modern advances have been directed to
the name became synonymous with any making breath testing more reliable. Some
breath-testing device. jurisdictions have legislated direct breath levels
Borkenstein went on to become head of of alcohol, which takes away any argument
the Indiana State Police crime laboratory. He centered on the reliability of the conversion
received an AB degree from Indiana Uni- from breath to blood. Modern instruments
versity in 1958 and joined the faculty of the are much more specific and are fast enough to
university’s Department of Forensic Studies permit duplicate testing. For example, the
in the same year. testing is not affected by ketones in the breath
26 Forensic Science

Edmond Locard first suggested 12 matching points as a positive fingerprint identification. He also published L’enquete
criminelle et les methodes scientifique, in which appears a passage that may have given rise to the forensic precept that
“every contact leaves a trace.” (Courtesy of the Universite de Lausanne Institut de police scientifique et de criminologie)

of diabetics, the instruments recognize the research, teaching, and service programs.They
presence of alcohol from mouth washes or shared something else—they were forging
regurgitation of stomach alcohol, and they partnerships between law enforcement inves-
will not return a reading unless a reliable tigators and university scientists.
breath sample has been given. It should be possible to trace a lineage from
the pioneers to today’s leaders, but it is not,
“Our little systems have their day” despite the American Academy of Forensic
—Tennyson, In Memoriam, 1850 Sciences being able to list eighty forensic science
programs in U.S. universities and colleges.
The half century between 1920 and 1970 can There are no significant partnership services.
be regarded as the golden years of forensic sci- There are only three significant journals pub-
ence. Bertillon, Locard, Vollmer, Goddard, lishing refereed papers in forensic science, and
Kirk, Borkenstein, and others were creating a only one of these is American. And every sig-
new branch of science and establishing its nificant advance for the last fifty years prior to
Introduction 27

2005 has come from someplace other than a her daughter was afraid to go out, her son
forensic science laboratory or university pro- was beset with guilt that the rapist had used
gram.The analysis of DNA came from medical his baseball bat to intimidate his mother.
research, as did advances in toxicology; auto- Only the apprehension of the rapist could
mated firearms and latent print analysis came bring peace; and as long as he was free, his
from private industry; the techniques used in threat hung over Debbie. Months became
trace and drug chemistry came from the world years but nothing changed—time was not a
of pure and applied chemistry; and there is healer. Then, on July 26, 1995, Rob came
nothing new in questioned document exami- home with the news that a scientist in the
nation.We are back where this history began, Virginia State Laboratory had obtained a
with developments in forensic science depend- DNA match between Debbie’s assailant and
ing on discoveries in other fields of science. an entry in the state database. The rapist had
Today’s story of forensic science is the been jailed just a few months after the attack,
story of its case successes and failures, the and Debbie and her family had endured six
story of its institutionalization, and the story needless years of fear.
of human frailty. Debbie’s story illustrates several points about
No case illustrates the success of modern forensic science. First, it is a reminder that
forensic science better than that of Debbie forensic science is about people—principally
Smith. Debbie has had the courage to tell her victims and their families. It shows that while
story and moved all those who have heard it. society and the justice system rightly have an
On May 3, 1989, she was alone in her house expectation that scientific evidence is fault
in Williamsburg, Virginia, attending to rou- free, there is more to the “right” answer than
tine household chores. She had to go outside one that is accurate. Timeliness matters too;
to check the laundry drier vent and when she Debbie and her family suffered for six years
came back inside, left the door unlocked as she before obtaining closure. Finally, there are
knew she would be going right back outside lessons to be learned from the factors that
with trash. In the fleeting moment available, made resolution possible. Yet again, the sci-
a masked man entered the house, forced her ence behind the case did not originate in the
outside into a wooded area, and repeatedly forensic field, but the pure knowledge would
raped her at knife-point. Debbie would have been of no value without the organized
always remember his dreadful parting words: response of the forensic science community
“Remember, I know where you live and I will in the United States to develop standardized
come back if you tell anyone.” Debbie Smith systems that in turn permitted the imple-
is married to a police officer, and her husband mentation of databases (see Combined
Rob was asleep in the house after a spell on DNA Index System (CODIS); DNA
nights. Debbie ran home and told him what Databases; DNA in Forensic Science).
had happened. Rob insisted that she report That organization had to be created from
the rape and go to a hospital for examination. the ground up. In a way, the story of the
She did, and found the experience almost as organization of forensic science paused after
violating as the crime itself. the time of Vollmer, Goddard, and Reiss in
Debbie’s life was ruined. She could not the United States and Europe. The value of
escape the horror and relived the rape every the forensic laboratory was clear in both
day. She had no will to keep going and only regions by the mid-1930s, and law enforce-
the thought of the impact on her husband and ment agencies were enthusiastic in embracing
two children kept her from suicide. The the new tool. They did so by creating their
happy family home became a place of fear and own service, either as a dedicated laboratory
guilt. Rob was devastated that he, a police within the law enforcement agency or by
officer, had not been able to protect his wife, contracting with others, such as university
28 Forensic Science

departments. We saw an example of both “metlab” as it was affectionately known, there

when discussing Borkenstein, the develop- is no doubt that the amalgamation produced a
ment of the Breathalyzer, and the role of the critical mass that enhanced service delivery in
Indiana State Police. In general, however, later years.
agencies in the United States went down the In particular, the FSS was extremely active
“own service” path, while European countries and effective in implementing DNA testing. It
either developed national laboratories or launched the world’s first national DNA data-
services associated with universities. base in 1995. The subsequent success of the
The European approach is best illustrated FSS DNA database has far exceeded expecta-
by the story of the Scotland Yard crime labo- tions, and it is only now that the U.S. CODIS
ratory and the Home Office Forensic Science database is approaching its effectiveness.
Service. Scotland Yard, or more correctly the (Note that the DNA match in the Debbie
London Metropolitan Police, investigated Smith case was in the local state database and
how it could introduce training in forensic there was not even a nationally agreed set of
science as long ago as 1929. At that time, standard tests in the United States then.) The
police forces in England used contractors annual report issued in 2004 (available online
to perform their scientific tests. The interest at
of Arthur Dixon (1881–1969), assistant sec- inside/about/docs/NDNAD_AR_3_4.pdf)
retary in the Home Office, resulted in the shows that there is a better than 40 percent
establishment of the Metropolitan Police chance of an immediate match between a
Laboratory, within the Police College at profile from a scene and information in the
Hendon, in 1935. Regional laboratories database.The success is not cheap—the annu-
funded by the Home Office followed. The al cost of labor and testing is £182 million
Metropolitan Police laboratory moved from (over $300 million).
Hendon to police headquarters in 1965 and The ability to fund the database and the
again in 1974 when the host agency relocated ability to convert research and development
to the Lambeth district in London.The Home into a uniform set of scientific and opera-
Office laboratories came under a common tional conditions were critical success factors
administration following the Police Act of in implementing the U.K. database. There is
1964 and the Home Office Central Research no doubt that the speedy and effective imple-
Establishment (CRE) was created as part of mentation of the database is a testament to
the service in 1967. The CRE was located at the value of having a single national forensic
the United Kingdom’s Atomic Weapons science service. (Note that strictly speaking
Research Establishment in Aldermaston, as the FSS covers only the countries of England
part of the transition of the facility to peace- and Wales; the countries of Scotland and
ful purposes. It became a world leader in Ireland have their own legal systems and their
forensic science research and information own forensic science laboratories. However,
dissemination. In 1991 the Home Office re- there is a high degree of coordination be-
engineered the Forensic Science Service as an tween them and the much larger FSS.)
executive agency that was required to oper-
ate under strict economic guidelines, includ- “All men are liable to error: and most
ing recovery of costs through charging users men are, in many points, by passion or
for services. The CRE was an early casualty interest, under temptation to it.”
and was closed down. In 1996 events turned —John Locke, “Essay on the Human
full circle and the Metropolitan Police Understanding,” 1689
Laboratory was integrated into the Forensic
Science Service (FSS) agency. Although many Size and coordination do not guarantee suc-
lamented the loss of independence of the cess in every sphere, and the steady advance
Introduction 29

of forensic science in the United Kingdom was Preece’s attorney put it to Clift that the test
rocked in the 1980s by the discovery of flawed results in the vaginal swab could have come
testing by one of the most senior analysts in from the body fluids of the deceased.This was
the FSS, Dr. Alan Clift. General concerns precisely the view held by the FSS experts
about the quality of Clift’s work had led to a who had reviewed Clift’s work and by inter-
detailed review of his files. One of the most national experts called on behalf of Preece at
important was the case of John Preece who the appeal.
had been convicted of rape and murder some Clift’s response was that he had not raised
ten years earlier, largely on the basis of the the matter in his testimony at the trial that
evidence produced by Clift. The case itself the blood group results could have been from
began with the discovery of the body of a the deceased because no one had asked. He
young woman by the roadside in northern further claimed that in his experience the
England. The clothing of the victim, along magnitude of the reaction he had seen in the
with samples collected postmortem, were test was only found with the blood group
sent to the FSS laboratory in Preston where chemicals in semen and would have been
they were examined by Clift. He confirmed much less if it had been due to the material in
that the victim had been raped and reported the vaginal secretions. The defense produced
that the assailant was an A secretor (see ABO a series of witnesses, including colleagues
Blood Groups). Police investigations cen- who had worked alongside Clift in 1973, all
tered on John Preece, a truck driver, and of whom said that his theory was totally
samples of body fluids were taken from him wrong, and that, if correct, it was of such
for typing. He was an A secretor. Clift had significance that it should have been pub-
also collected fibers from the clothing of the lished for the benefit of the forensic serology
deceased and matched these to sources in community. The three appeals court judges
Preece’s truck. Clift prepared a report for the not only agreed with that view, they found
Lancashire police and Preece was charged that Clift had erred to such an extent that
with the rape and murder. However, further they considered him discredited as a witness
police inquiries showed that the crime had and reversed the conviction of Preece with-
been committed in Scotland and the body out examining any of the other evidence.
dumped in England. Eventually, the trial was They also made an explicit comment on the
held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1973. Clift’s “no one asked me” excuse.The judges were of
report was submitted to the prosecution in the view that the body of knowledge of fact and
Scotland, and pursuant to Scottish law, copies interpretation lies with the expert witness, that
were made available to the defense. There Clift—not the defense—therefore had the
was little questioning of the scientific evi- responsibility to inform the court of the pos-
dence at trial and Preece was convicted. sible limitations on his interpretation of the
The internal FSS review identified several blood-grouping evidence.
areas of concern in Clift’s work and testimony. The case illustrates clearly the dangers that
The review findings resulted in the Scottish come from reliance on a single expert, no
courts instigating an appeal of the 1973 ver- matter what his or her history is. There is no
dict. Most of the appeal hearing centered on doubt that the cult of the expert grew as
the blood group tests, on Clift’s interpreta- forensic science grew. Mention was made
tion of the results, and on the responsibilities earlier that Orfila was possibly the first exam-
carried by the expert. Specifically, the origi- ple of a professional forensic scientist whose
nal testing had shown that the deceased was opinion was sought because of his reputation.
also a group A secretor. Clift had not revealed Fortunately, Orfila’s reputation as a scientist
this in his evidence nor had the defense was justified, but that was not so with many
explored the possibility.At the appeal hearing, others. Alan Clift was highly regarded by the
30 Forensic Science

investigators for whom he worked. He was Territory police continued their investiga-
also active in professional circles and well tions, including the work on the car, and in
regarded by his peers. In essence the weakness November 1981 the supreme court of the
in his work was that he became a one-man Northern Territory squashed the findings
show, proud of his successes and ready to and ordered a second inquest. In February
back his personal judgment without being 1982 the coroner reported that a prima
checked by peers. facie case had been made out for the in-
This is a pattern that, sadly, has been found volvement of Lindy in the disappearance of
in other places, including the United States Azaria, and she was eventually charged,
and Australia. One of the most notorious tried in September/October 1982, and con-
forensic science debacles of modern times is victed. Appeals were heard in February 1983
the so-called dingo baby case from Australia. and February 1984, and rejected on each
Michael and Lindy Chamberlain were camping occasion. In February 1986, a jacket that was
with their ten-week-old daughter, Azaria, at said to have been worn by Azaria at the time of
Ayers Rock in the central Australian outback her disappearance but not found during the
in August 1980. Early in the night of the seven- investigation was discovered by a tourist at
teenth, Lindy cried out that a dingo—a wild Ayers Rock. This was enough to reopen the
dog—had seized Azaria and run off with her. case, and a judicial enquiry (Royal Commission)
A subsequent coronal inquest agreed. opened in May 1986.
If true, this would have been the first The case commanded public attention
recorded instance of a dingo taking a human. right from the start. Ayers Rock is a mystical
Police doubted the mother’s story and their site with sacred connotations for the
skepticism was partly responsible for a second Aboriginal populations of Australia. The
inquest into the disappearance of Azaria.There Chamberlains were Seventh-Day Adventists,
was no eyewitness evidence of any note, but a which added to the mystical overtones. Truth
substantial amount of scientific evidence was and fantasy became intertwined, such as the
being amassed. The body of Azaria was never story that Azaria means “sacrifice in the
found, but there were many physical objects wilderness,” when in fact it means “spared by
subjected to testing to re-create the possible Jehovah” or “helped by God.” As well as the
events. These included the tent, the bedding, public fascination with the case, there was a
Azaria’s clothing, and the Chamberlains’ car. continuing undercurrent of concern in the
Damage to the blanket from Azaria’s bed and scientific community about the quality of
on her clothing was reported as more likely to much of the laboratory work that was pre-
have been caused by scissors than dog teeth. sented to the coroners’ inquests and at trial.
Scissors found in the Chamberlains’ car were The public and scientific pressures were con-
reported to be stained with fetal blood. (Fetal siderable and, together with the discovery of
blood contains a somewhat different form of the jacket referred to above, led to a royal
hemoglobin from that found in adult blood, commission being set up under Justice Trevor
and the fetal hemoglobin persists for some Morling to review the circumstances that led
months after birth.) Investigations conducted to the convictions of Lindy and Michael
at the time of the child’s disappearance found Chamberlain. By then, just about everyone in
blood that could have come from her in the forensic science in Australia had had some
tent. Examination of the family car a year later involvement in the case.The New South Wales
resulted in a report that there was fetal blood Department of Health Forensic Biology
found in several places in the Chamberlains’ Section, the Forensic Biology section of the
car, including the wheel arch. The original Institute of Medical and Veterinary Sciences in
inquest held in December 1980 found that South Australia, and the Northern Territory
Azaria had been taken by a dingo. Northern Forensic Science Laboratory had worked for
Introduction 31

the police. Academics at the University of quite stressful, with many sleepless nights.
New South Wales and the Australian National The investigation odds are therefore on the
University in Canberra had been involved in version of events involving human interven-
the pressure for retrial. Morling secured the tion rather than canine.The inquiry therefore
services of the Victoria Police Forensic centers on using the silent witness of forensic
Science Laboratory, the only major facility science to test that hypothesis.
with no prior involvement, to review earlier Some of the obvious options to be studied
reports and records and to conduct new were:
examinations of the physical evidence. The key evidence differentiating the two
The review was thorough and compelling. options is that relating to the car and to the
Practically all of the expert evidence presented clothing. The coroner and the trial jury heard
previously and that went to paint the from forensic biologist Joy Kuhl, from the
Chamberlains as guilty was flawed. Morling New South Wales Department of Health, that
concluded that the strength of the evidence she had found human fetal blood on a pair of
presented at trial had been so damaged that it scissors in the possession of the Chamberlains;
was unsafe to let the conviction stand. on hinges, brackets, and bolt holes around the
If we strip away the air of mystique that front seats and the carpets of the car; and in the
surrounded the Chamberlain case from the form of a spray such as would be formed from
start, it becomes an excellent vehicle to show arterial blood spurting from a wound, under
how forensic science can go horribly wrong. the dash. Dr. Ken Brown, a dentist at the
The most simple description of events, from University of Adelaide who had an interest in
a police point of view, is as follows: forensic science, testified that the damage to
A baby disappears from a family on a the clothing could not have been caused by
camping vacation. The disappearance clearly dog bites.This was supported by a British uni-
involves violence, as there is considerable versity pathologist, Dr. James Cameron, who
blood spread around the inside of the tent. went further and showed the jury marks on
Tests that were never disputed show the the clothing that he said were blood imprints
blood could have been that of the missing from a small—human—hand.There is hardly
baby. The most likely possible explanations any wonder that the trial verdict was guilty.
are that a dingo seized the baby, as claimed by However, the work conducted at the
the mother, or that the mother killed the Victoria Forensic Science Laboratory during
baby and, aided by her husband, disposed of the royal commission painted an entirely
the body. The police are skeptical about the different picture. The records of the tests
dingo option as this has never happened conducted at the time of the investigation did
before. On the other hand, mothers have not support the strong conclusions drawn.
killed their babies, and there is some anecdotal Retesting did not confirm that any of the
evidence that Lindy was finding baby Azaria material in the car was blood, and certainly

Table 1 Evidence
Evidence Lindy murdered Azaria Dingo carried her away
Car Baby blood stains, as the car would almost certainly No blood
have been used to take the body away for disposal.
Requires confirmation of blood and of presence of
fetal hemoglobin.
Bedding and cloting Damage faked to look like tooth marks. Damage caused by dog incisor and
canine teeth
Inside tent Extensive blood Extensive blood
32 Forensic Science

not fetal. The spray pattern was caused by he really should have known better.The greater
paint treatment during the manufacture of concern is that right from the start there was
the car. The positive screening test was most skepticism about his “bloody handprint.” Even
likely due to chemicals in the soil and dust when he tried to trace the outline for the
that permeated the vehicle. Sufficient doubt jury, they had problems seeing it. However,
existed about the conclusions of Brown and they had no problems being impressed by his
Cameron that the damage could not have impressive resume and were ready to accept
been caused by a dog to result in that evi- that the doctor knew best.
dence being discounted. Most damaging of The case is a wonderful illustration of a quite
all, the alleged bloody handprint—which had obscure philosophical question about forensic
always been less than compelling as a mark science: Is it an inductive process or a deductive
made by a hand—turned out not to be one? If it is inductive, the scientist conducts
bloody either. tests, makes observations, and draws conclu-
What went wrong? Joy Kuhl was a very ex- sions. If it is deductive, the scientist knows
perienced biologist. Ken Brown was a respect- what to expect in the specified circumstances
ed teacher and researcher. James Cameron’s and conducts experiments to see if the predict-
resume was so lengthy that the coroner’s hear- ed events or properties can be demonstrated or
ing set aside the normal procedure of reading discounted. The essential difference between
it out during qualification of the witness. the two approaches is that the deductive
Looking back, we can see two fatal flaws. approach is buttressed by a solid framework
Firstly, the “dingo did it” hypothesis was always that governs the expectations. It may be funda-
going to present a challenge. The reason the mental chemical properties of a substance as
police and prosecution authorities were so with identification of drugs or a database of
skeptical about it was because it had never thousands of observations as with firearms or
been known to have happened before. But fingerprints, but the framework is sufficiently
because it had never happened before, there reliable to make the selection and application
was no recorded history of what to expect, of tests and the conclusions drawn reliable.
and the scientists had to break new ground all No such framework exists in the inductive
the way as they tried to figure out what might approach. Indeed, the results are what go to
have gone on and subject their ideas to testing. eventually permit a reversal of principle and
Second, Joy Kuhl was not in any way break- the work to become deductive.
ing new ground. However, she was working in Many of today’s critics of standards and
tantalizing circumstances. Many of her tests practices in forensic science (e.g., Saks 2002)
gave results that today would be regarded as argue that knowledge of events will lead to
inconclusive and therefore not reportable. bias in the scientist, albeit unconscious bias.
Unfortunately she chose not to take that con- They would like to see all tests conducted
servative approach and proceeded to report without the scientist having any information
findings from results that did not justify the about the circumstances of the case. In other
strength of her reported conclusions. If you words, the work should be done from an
are brought up in a working environment that inductive perspective. The Chamberlain case
places a premium of squeezing every possible provides strong support for that view.
piece of information from the material sub-
mitted, and not one that is driven by quality “[T]hey are good servants but bad masters.”
assurance procedures, then the Chamberlain —L’Estrange, Aesop’s Fables, no. 38
case was not a happy place to be—not for
Lindy and not for Joy Kuhl either. Some critics take the “unconscious bias” argu-
The final comment on Chamberlain is on ment to the limit and claim that anyone
the evidence of Cameron. It can be argued that working within a police department and
Introduction 33

whose regular activity is conducting tests of Zain’s former supervisors and subordi-
requested by the investigators and prosecutors nates regarded him as “proprosecution.” The
must become tainted.The story of Fred Zain report further states: “It appears that Zain
fits that mold. It is a story that shares some- was quite skillful in using his experience and
thing with Chamberlain, namely reports that position of authority to deflect criticism of
promoted the police case but that indepen- his work by subordinates.” Holliday com-
dent review showed were flawed. It is very mented that Zain’s supervisors may have
different from Chamberlain in that the flawed ignored or concealed complaints of his mis-
evidence all came from just one person but conduct, and that the laboratory operating
covered many cases. procedures undoubtedly contributed to an
The essentials of what was wrong with Fred environment within which Zain’s misconduct
Zain’s work are contained in an opinion of the escaped detection.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, The report was the end of the line for Fred
filed in November 1993 (No. 21973 “In the Zain. The investigation into his work arose
matter of an investigation of the West Virginia because of a separate West Virginia review of
State Police Crime Laboratory, Serology one of his cases. Glen Woodall had been con-
Division”).The court accepted a report of an victed of two instances of sexual assault in
investigation into Zain’s work conducted by a 1987.The evidence linking him to the victims
panel of peers. Their report found many came from Zain’s report that the blood types
instances that they described as acts of found in the semen were identical to those of
misconduct by Zain, including: (1) overstating Woodall.A postconviction action on behalf of
the strength of results; (2) overstating the fre- Woodall resulted in DNA testing that showed
quency of genetic matches on individual pieces that the semen could not have been his, and
of evidence; (3) misreporting the frequency of he was released in 1992.
genetic matches on multiple pieces of evi- Reinforcement, if any were needed, came
dence; (4) reporting that multiple items had from a second case covering the same time
been tested, when only a single item had been period. Jack Davis had been found guilty of
tested; (5) reporting inconclusive results as the murder of a Texas woman, Kathie Balonis.
conclusive; (6) repeatedly altering laboratory Zain testified that blood under the body of
records; (7) grouping results to create the the victim was that of Davis. There were no
erroneous impression that genetic markers witnesses, and the prosecution case centered
had been obtained from all samples tested; (8) on the blood grouping. Davis was convicted
failing to report conflicting results; (9) failing and escaped receiving the death penalty by
to conduct or to report conducting additional just one juror vote.The case was reopened in
testing to resolve conflicting results; (10) 1992 to hear a claim of prosecutorial miscon-
implying a match with a suspect when testing duct, and it then came out that Zain had
supported only a match with the victim; and mixed up the samples and the blood was not
(11) reporting scientifically impossible or that of the accused.The conviction was over-
improbable results. turned.
The opinion raises concerns, not only At the time of the West Virginia Supreme
because it identifies wrongdoing by the indi- Court of Appeals hearing, Fred Zain was the
vidual scientist that had major consequences chief of the Serology Section of the West
for many people—the wrongly convicted and Virginia State Police Crime Laboratory. He
the victims who now have to face the fact that had risen to that position on the basis of thir-
their assailants are still at liberty—but because teen years of highly regarded work. He was
of the question, “How could the system have regarded as an excellent witness and as the
allowed this to happen?” Judge Holliday serologist who could be depended on to find
addressed this to a degree, noting that many the evidence. He was much sought-after and
34 Forensic Science

in 1989 he moved to Bexar County,Texas, as before DNA tests showed that blood on his
chief of physical evidence in the medical pants identified by Gilchrist as being from the
examiner’s laboratory. Zain was dismissed in victim was from someone else.
1993, because of a question about his role in Many of the questioned findings of Gilchrist
a case in which evidence had disappeared. A related to her work on hair identification. Hair
subsequent internal investigation of at least comparisons (see Hair) are traditionally con-
180 cases in which Zain had been involved ducted by microscopy and can involve a quite
found reports from tests that were never high degree of judgment on the part of
done, negative results that would have the examiner. However, an FBI review of
cleared a suspect reported as positive, and Gilchrist’s work on eight of her hair cases
inconclusive results described as conclusive. concluded that in five she had either made
The West Virginia investigation identified errors or had overstepped the limits of what
134 specific cases for further review, giving a peer standards would find acceptable. She
total of over 300 cases containing question- was fired in September 2001.
able reports from Zain’s work.These numbers
are staggering, and raise the question not just “Times change and we change
“How?” but “How many?”—namely “How with them, too”
many other Fred Zains have there been?” No —John Owen, Epigrams 58,Vol. I, 1603
one knows.The leaders in the forensic science
community are as outraged as anyone (but This history began by paying homage to the
Alan Clift was a leader in the community) and inventors of the Industrial Revolution whose
rightly argue that modern quality assurance work provided the basis for so many advances
systems have created an environment that is as in science and technology. We then visited
effective as possible in protecting against more specific highlights in the development
human errors in testing and reporting.What is of forensic science. By the time that we get to
certain is that forensic science is in the the current era, roughly 1985 onwards, we
crosshairs as it has never been in its history, find that times have not so much changed as
and nothing else of the dimension of the Zain they are being revisited. Analogous to tech-
situation has been found. The closest is the nological advances in many fields, forensic
work of Oklahoma City Police Department science has witnessed seemingly exponential
crime laboratory worker Joyce Gilchrist. growth in the integration of sophisticated
Gilchrist worked for twenty-one years in the equipment and techniques since the 1980s.
laboratory, with generally good appraisals for During the mid-1980s, trace evidence and
her work. Not everyone agreed, and certainly associated techniques, along with fingerprints,
Judge Ralph Thompson criticized her for composed the bulk of forensic investigations.
untrue testimony and the blatant withholding Photography was achieved using film and
of unquestionably exculpatory evidence in the chemical processing. Drug chemistry and
1999 hearing of the case of Alfred Mitchell. toxicology depended upon tried-and-true
Other cases where her work was overturned methods, and biology was limited to conven-
included those of Jeffrey Pierce, convicted of tional serology and protein comparisons.The
rape with evidence from Gilchrist that placed microscope was still the tool du jour, and
him at the scene but released when DNA tests interagency cooperation was somewhat rare.
showed that the semen was not his; and Robert The integration of computers and the
Miller, released from death row when DNA acceptance of techniques used in molecular
tests showed that hairs from the scene that biology brought forensic science and scientists
Gilchrist had said were his were actually from hurtling into the information age, sometimes
someone else. Not so fortunate was Loyd more rapidly than the court systems were
LaFevers, executed for first-degree murder, able to accommodate. At present, a mix of
Introduction 35

both excitement and scrutiny surrounds San Francisco and the San Francisco Police
many of the techniques common to forensic Department to put out the first request for
science. In the realm of digital evidence and proposals for an AFIS in 1984. After installa-
computer forensics, a great deal of concern tion, the department literally solved thou-
envelops the capabilities of the technology, or sands of crimes, and an AFIS became the
lack thereof. Conversely, with respect to nat- “must have” item for larger jurisdictions all
ural and chemical sciences, such as forensic over the United States.
biology and DNA analysis, less controversy After the International Association for
arises from the technology and science than Identification (IAI) released a report in 1988
from questions of its appropriate use and discussing the American National Standards
human error. Institute’s (ANSI) recommendations for files,
the early 1990s saw a great deal of work on
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before how to compress and decompress electronic
one has data.” fingerprint images to allow for sharing among
—Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of agencies. Clearly, any degradation of Galton
Sherlock Holmes, “Scandal in Bohemia” (1891) details would render a print less useful. It was
July 2000 before ANSI approved and issued
Technological advances have impacted forensic the National Institute of Standards (NIST)
science beyond the direct ability to identify Special Publication 500–245 addressing stan-
and characterize evidence by chemical and dards for a data format for interchange of fin-
physical examination. The computer age has gerprint and similar files.
provided a more effective tool to realize the Since the first judicial ruling accepting
potential of databases, particularly for identi- fingerprint evidence in U.S. courts, People v.
fication of individuals from material left at the Jennings, all states have come to have their
crime scene. We shall consider fingerprints own AFIS databases. These and the AFIS
and biometrics first. databases of most larger cities may contain
At the time of this writing in 2005, the fingerprint records not stored anywhere
integrated automated fingerprint identifica- else, so standardization of database interfaces
tion system (IAFIS) contains information for is imperative to record sharing and searching.
more than 47 million individuals in its crimi- As the result of approximately ten years of
nal master file. Law enforcement agencies work by the FBI and other law enforcement
voluntarily submit fingerprints and criminal agencies, FBI Director Louis Freeh inaugurated
history information to this file. How did this IAFIS for full operation on August 10, 1999.A
national fingerprint and criminal history dozen or so states and several federal agencies
system, maintained by the Federal Bureau of were prepared to submit electronic finger-
Investigation Criminal Justice Information print images at that time. To accommodate
Services Division, come to be the world’s states without electronic capabilities, the FBI
largest biometric database? contracted Lockheed Martin Information
Automated fingerprint identification sys- Services for card scanning. Even with this
tems (AFIS) are not new to the millennium. detour, agencies saw significantly shorter
AFIS technologies have been around since turnaround times for fingerprint comparisons
the late 1970s, but with high costs and few than previously experienced. Other industry
vendors, their potential was largely un- players in the building of IAFIS again included
tapped. The first automatic fingerprint Lockheed Martin (developer of the AFIS),
recognition system was installed at Scotland Science Applications International (developer
Yard in 1984. Having first heard about AFIS of the interstate identification system), and
in 1980, detective and former science Litton PRC (developer of identification tasking
teacher Ken Moses convinced the mayor of and networking).These three segments came
36 Forensic Science

together to form the IAFIS at a cost of Security Enhancement Initiative and offered
approximately $640 million (U.S. Depart- agencies web-enabled capture, submission,
ment of Justice). The system is maintained and searching of latent prints and ten prints
and operated by a division in Clarksburg, against the central RCMP AFIS database.
West Virginia. Australia’s national automated fingerprint
The greatest technological leap in AFIS has identification system (NAFIS) was born in
been in reducing the amount of time required 1986.When this system was taxed to capacity
for a fingerprint check. For example, with around 2001, a new NAFIS was developed
IAFIS, agencies can expect an electronic under CrimTrac. This system complies with
response to criminal ten-print (that is, a finger- the ANSI/NIST standards, allowing Austra-
print record card with impressions of all 10 lian agencies to exchange print records with
fingers) submissions within two hours. Civil the FBI and Interpol.
fingerprint submissions, such as those re- The United Kingdom being slightly ahead
quired by law for job applicants, receive a of the curve, the Association of Chief Police
response within twenty-four hours. Officers (APCO) mandated a requirement
Civil files, including enlisted military service for automated fingerprints in 1987. Subse-
member print cards since 1990, are compu- quently, the Police Information Technology
terized as well but are only searchable internally Organisation, part of the Biometrics Working
by the FBI.With an elevated threat of terrorism Group, rolled out a system nationally in 2001,
and the ever-changing role of federal agencies providing service to all of England and Wales.
such as the Department of Homeland In a reminder of the fragile nature of these
Security and the Department of Defense, the database technologies, a computer virus
FBI may ultimately make civil file AFIS searches brought down this system in 2004, leaving
available to other entities. In 2004 the England and Wales unable to run national
Department of Homeland Security launched checks for more than a week (see Digital
its US-VISIT program requiring index finger Evidence). In late 2004, the organization
scans to aid in verifying the identity of visitors signed a hefty contract with Northrop
with visas. Grumman Corporation to bring in IDENT1
Identification services offered by the with the retirement of the national AFIS.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) IDENT1 will integrate automated finger-
date to approximately 1910. The first AFIS print recognition services used by Scotland,
overhaul took place in 1987, but even with England, and Wales since 1991 to permit
the cooperation of the Identification Services identification of suspects throughout the
Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs United Kingdom.
of Police, and the then newly formed Although fingerprints have been consid-
Canadian AFIS Users Group, police forces ered an acceptable means of identification for
throughout Canada largely were not utilizing centuries, today’s legal climate continues to
the RCMP services as of 1990. In the early scrutinize fingerprint evidence. In 1993 the
2000s the Canadian AFIS, composed pre- case of Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals set
dominantly of workstations manufactured by the precedent for standards of admissibility that
Printrak, operated through the RCMP came to replace the Frye standard in federal
Ottawa site and three other central databases courts and those states that abide by the fed-
in Vancouver,Toronto, and Montreal. Born of eral rules of evidence or model their own
this system, a regional automated fingerprint rules thereafter. In United States v.Byron Mitchell
identification access system from Motorola, (1999), FBI fingerprint examiners identified
Inc., was accepted for implementation in Mitchell as the contributor of latent finger-
2002. Based on the Printrak system, this prints developed inside a stolen vehicle used as
technology was part of Canada’s National an armed robbery getaway car. This marked
Introduction 37

the first case in which the defense cited a “match.” This indeed paved the way for
Daubert to challenge fingerprint evidence. A other courts to reconsider the admission of
Daubert hearing was held, and fingerprint evi- latent fingerprint match testimony. Often
dence was accepted by the court as a reliable referred to as Plaza I, in United States v. Llera
science. A subsequent appeal in 2004 accusing Plaza, 181 F. Supp. 2d 414 (E.D. Pa. 2002),
the judge of error by admitting testimony on Judge Pollak ruled that the fingerprint expert
the fingerprint evidence again resulted in witnesses could not indicate that a particular
acceptance and affirmation of the judgment. latent print could be unequivocally identified
The Scientific Working Group on Fric- as having been made by a particular individual.
tion Ridge Analysis, Study, and Technology However, approximately two months later in
(SWGFAST) was spawned from the Technical Plaza II, Pollak reversed himself. Witnesses
Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, did indeed testify in the second trial, and a
Study, and Technology (TWGFAST), which conviction was secured. Both Plaza opinions
first met in 1995. It was the Mitchell case that are notable as a demonstration of the judge’s
prompted the SWGFAST to characterize a alternative applications of Daubert. In contrast
proper comparison as being carried out via the to Plaza I, the court had held that fingerprint
ACE-V method, meaning analysis, compari- evidence satisfies Daubert with respect to reli-
son, evaluation, and verification. This moved ability in United States v. Havvard, 117 F. Supp.
the discipline from Galton details and “points” 2d 848 (D. Ind. 2000).
toward ridgeology, which even sounds more Another point of contingency demon-
scientific. Championed by Roy Huber and strated by these cases surrounds the issue of
David Ashbaugh, both of the RCMP, literature peer reviews. Havvard advised that a second
and training guidelines now cite ACE-V as fingerprint examiner could compare the
fitting the steps of the scientific method. prints as well, but this is not in keeping with
Dissension amongst experts is not uncom- the intended use in Daubert, in which peer
mon in the world of fingerprints with respect review meant “refereed to scientific journals.”
to training. For example, harsh statements Debate ensues still as to whether fingerprint
were made by Allan Bayle in 2002 regarding examiners can be called a scientific commu-
the FBI’s fingerprint examiner proficiency nity as per Daubert. Changes in underlying
tests. Bayle worked as a fingerprint expert academics and training of new examiners
with the Metropolitan Police in London from may ultimately alleviate such discrepancies.
1975 to 1996 before leaving and setting up In Regina v. Buckely, 143 SJ LB 158 (1999),
business as an independent consultant. Given the British Court of Appeal indicated that at
Bayle’s expertise and fame in presenting the least eight similar ridge characteristics should
supporting evidence that aided in the convic- be available for the prosecution to success-
tion of one of the Libyan suspects in the 1988 fully seek to proffer such evidence. At last
Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, these criticisms issuance in 2004, the SWGFAST Standards
opened the door for defense attorneys to dis- for Conclusions 1.2.1 held that “[t]here is no
credit fingerprint examiners, if not the scientific basis for requiring that a predeter-
methodology itself. Bayle’s statements were mined number of corresponding friction
part of his expert defense testimony in a land- ridge details be present in two impressions in
mark case wherein U.S. District Judge Louis order to effect individualization.”
H. Pollak barred experts from testifying that A modern example of the fallibility of
crime scene latent prints matched those of an fingerprint identification is observed in the
individual defendant under the premise that commuter train bombing case in Madrid,
fingerprint evidence had not undergone scien- wherein the ridgeology analysis conclusion
tific testing, had no calculated error rate, and of identification was flawed. The FBI built
lacked standards to determine what constitutes its case against an Oregon lawyer, Brandon
38 Forensic Science

Mayfield, on the basis of fingerprint evidence, of detection could prevent mix-ups in the
but ultimately apologized for the errant identi- collection of offender data at an intake facility
fication, blaming it partly on the image’s lack or jail, for example.
of quality.Although Mayfield was released and Because personal identification numbers,
an Algerian arrested, the debacle widely mani- passwords, cards, or badges have historically
fested as a red flag for latent print comparisons. been forged, forgotten, or falsified, biometrics
Both scientific and popular literature alike is being incorporated into the realm of secu-
have since been riddled with expositions ques- rity and forensics as both verification and
tioning the practice of fingerprint matching. identification tools. Although more prevalent
Whereas Regina v.Buckely called for eight char- in criminal identification and prison security
acteristics, this is agency specific and may be at present, the integration of engineering and
eight or ten or twelve, etc. Because the appli- computer technology into identifying people
cation of statistical probability is not possible, for legal purposes is forwarding biometrics as
one agency may call two prints a match, a new genre of forensics. Because biometrics
although a second agency may not. technologies are being integrated into the
security infrastructure of businesses, health
“I have been looking for a person . . . all care facilities, and banks, criminals will of
my life.” course follow suit in adopting techniques to
—Sydney Smith, Memoir, Chapter 9, 1855 compromise such systems or re-create tools
to permit access to secure information or
Some consider fingerprint identification part areas.Thus, a new role for the forensic exam-
of the broader field of biometrics, which also iner is born, requiring in-depth knowledge
addresses automatic examination and identifi- of biometrics and technology and skill in
cation based on geometric physical features detecting breaches and authenticity.
such as the hand, face, iris, retina, and vascu- Although hand geometry was often used
lature. Biometrics as a whole includes both to open doors on the popular science-fiction
physical and behavioral features that can be series Star Trek, the measurement of physical
identified via pattern recognition, but physical characteristics of the hand and fingers for
characteristics such as a fingerprint are most identification and verification purposes is not
applicable to forensics.With respect to foren- entirely science fiction. Hand geometry is
sics, biometrics is simply the newest form of well-established technology but less widely
identification. deployed for use in computer security or
Fingertip scanners are increasingly more forensics applications, in part due to the need
common in security, verification, and criminal for a larger scanning surface and camera.
justice arenas. People are more comfortable However, research and development continues
submitting to fingertip scans than, for exam- in the area of hand geometry in hopes that it
ple, retinal scans. Although the scanners are may play a role in crime solving when gloves
less expensive and more portable than other are worn, as well as for security access systems.
technologies, scanners may differ with Not entirely new in theory, a North
respect to their matching approaches, making Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
some incompatible with AFIS. Many larger or Advanced Study Institute on Face Recognition
technologically advanced agencies have was held in 1997. The meeting brought
switched from rolled ink prints to finger- together research and development experts
prints captured via a scanning device. In fact, from universities, industry, and governments.
such scanners can often immediately detect Not unlike other areas of forensics, facial
discrepancies between a scanned print for a recognition technology may be borrowed
particular finger and the full hand slap of the from areas such as computer science, neuro-
hand supposedly bearing that finger.This type science, and engineering and applied to matters
Introduction 39

of the law. For example, in late 2004 the United measurements. Laboratories, such as the
Kingdom began testing three-dimensional United Kingdom’s National Physical Labo-
biometric facial recognition software. Two- ratory, conducting comparisons using this
dimensional image technology marking char- technology in IrisCode® software have yet to
acteristics such as interpupillary distance is report a false match. Because iris patterns
already in place, but cost will probably prove are often resolvable from distances as great
the prohibitive factor in launching the soft- as a meter with good video cameras, this
ware widely. technology is applicable to crime prevention
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and security, as well as digital evidence and
has patented a technology that uses two- forensics.
dimensional global grayscale images. Known Retina scanning is more advanced, yet also
as Eigenface (“one’s own face” in a blending of more intrusive, than iris scanning. Unique
German and English words), the images rep- patterns of the retina, the layer of blood ves-
resent distinctive facial image characteristics. sels at the back of the eye, may be scanned
Approximately 100 to 125 Eigenfaces can be with a low-intensity light source and optical
used to reconstruct enough features to consti- coupler. Although highly accurate, the
tute a face. Less sophisticated than Eigenfaces, process does require that an individual place
Automated Face Processing uses distance his eyes very close to the device, something a
ratios between basic features such as eyes, criminal is not likely to do during the com-
nose, and mouth. Neural Networks technology mission of his crime. One of the oldest forms
has also been employed to compare faces, of biometric identification, dating back as
referred to as enrollment and verification early as the 1930s, retina scanning is proba-
faces. An algorithm is applied to determine if bly only applicable in very high-end security
a live face’s features match that of a reference situations.
face. Last, the most commonly used recogni- In an ever-evolving attempt to thwart
tion technology is Feature Analysis. Related to criminals—believe it or not—some entities
Eigenface, Local Feature Analysis can accom- such as banks are opting for vein recognition
modate changes in expression and uses multiple systems.The term vein is a misnomer, because
features from regions throughout the face, the technology scans for all vasculature. Most
recognizing their relative relationships. often, the scan is taken of the palm, which
The iris serves to control the amount of is placed immediately above a scanner.
light that enters the eye through the pupil.An Vasculature patterns in the hand are devel-
internal organ, the iris is also visible from the oped in utero and remain constant throughout
outside. Iris patterns demonstrate a high life except for the increase in size associated
degree of randomness, and iris patterns are with normal growth.The image may be taken
not known to change over life, although some using a charged coupled device camera under
pigment change may occur. Also, the detailed infrared lighting.Again, this technology is less
iris texture is not genetically determined. than useful in identifying a subject from
Degrees of randomness can be determined crime-scene evidence but may prove valuable
and mathematically calculated based on the in verification and security processes.
number of degrees of freedom or values that Voice recognition deserves mention with
are free to vary in a template. It is commonly other biometric technologies, even though it is
accepted that fingerprints have about 35 addressed separately in the section on digital
degrees of freedom. This is less for faces, but evidence. Speech is natural and often a tool in
approximately 250 degrees of freedom can be the commission of a crime. The verification
identified in iris patterns.Thus, due to random component of a voice recognition system may
variation among people, iris patterns can authenticate a voiceprint as a particular indi-
serve as a reliable biometric identifier at chosen vidual’s, while a recognition component
40 Forensic Science

checks for phrases.Audio is often incorporated application of forensic techniques to solving

into security systems with recording devices cybercrime is riddled with problems. For
and alarms. The technology is inexpensive example, the nature of cybercrime leaves
and widely available, but the voice is highly jurisdiction highly questioned. Also, cyber-
difficult to measure with enough consistency crime is inextricably linked to other types of
to call two recordings a match. Environ- crime, such as sex crimes, financial crimes,
mental and physiological characteristics can and other white-collar offenses, none of
thus make identification difficult using which are particularly new to the informa-
voice alone. tion age. In fact, the concept of the Internet is
Advantages noted in the use of biometrics, much older than one might think.
specification and compliance, are inherent to The communications concept of “packet
its developers and proponents. Because these switching” can be traced to the 1960s. The
technologies are largely developed in high- Department of Defense Advanced Research
tech industrial and research environments, Projects Agency (ARPA) used the technology
conformity to certain standards is expected. as the basis for its network ARPANET. Not to
Several self-regulating bodies have arisen in be left behind, the academic world followed
the area of biometrics, including the BioAPI quickly and UCLA, Stanford, UC-Santa
Consortium, the International Biometrics Barbara, and the University of Utah joined
Industry Association, and the Biometrics ARPANET.These early links between govern-
Consortium. With technology advancing ment scientific entities and universities laid
daily in industrial and research entities and the groundwork for developments such
thus ever changing criminal instruments and as electronic mail, which dates to the early
opportunities, the criminal justice system 1970s. As will be discussed in the section on
and forensics must strive to keep up the pace. digital evidence, e-mail has been both the
avenue and the bane of many criminals. The
“That’s something I could not allow United Kingdom followed suit in the 1970s
to happen.” with a network known as the Joint Academic
—HAL in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 A Space Network (JANET), and the U.S. MILNET
Odyssey, 1968 split the defense components from ARPANET
in 1983. Due to similarities in construction, all
Many of the biometric techniques listed of the mentioned networks and more of the
above are employed in e-commerce and time were able to talk to or interconnect with
Internet applications in attempts to thwart one another, hence, the Internet.
cybercrime. For example, banks are readily The 1990s saw huge increases in awareness
embracing smart-card and print-scanning and use of the Internet, with the number of
technology on site. Universities and industry Internet hosts increasing nearly sixfold
can already select from various means of between 1991 and 2000, according to the
securing websites, including requiring a bio- Internet Software Consortium (see http://
metric check such as hand geometry on a With the advent of cyber-
peripheral device. Similar peripheral-based crime, forensics has been forced to keep up by
devices may soon be required for employees introducing a new type of examiner, versed
in secure environments to access files and in computer science, legal matters, and com-
folders within company Windows-based or munications. Internet access is increasingly
terminal services systems. Voice-checking available to the public at large, including the
systems are even available for integration criminal element, and even modern refriger-
with modern telephony. ators come equipped with connections. It is
Although crime prevention and security society’s reliance on information technology
are booming with technological advances, the that makes cybercrime particularly heinous.
Introduction 41

Fortunately, computer forensics has Internet and the World Wide Web. The
advanced at a rate analogous to that of cyber- Computer Crime and Intellectual Property
crime. Law enforcement officials have prose- Section (CCIPS) was ultimately incorporated
cuted many cases under the federal computer into the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal
crime statute 18 U.S.C. §1030. Consider Division resultant to the National Information
“Mafiaboy,” a fifteen-year-old Canadian stu- Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996. Arising
dent who launched an assault blocking victim from a Computer Crime Unit established in
websites (including Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay) 1991, CCIPS focuses exclusively on computer
with so much data that customers could not and intellectual property crime.
access them for e-commerce transactions The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit in the
and news in February 2000. The brief United Kingdom, set up pursuant to recom-
“Distributed Denial of Service” attacks mendations by the Association of Chief Police
reportedly cost companies millions of dollars, Officers (ACPO) and upon approval by
and the case was investigated through a joint Parliament in 2000, classifies cybercrime in a
effort of the RCMP’s Computer Investiga- very simple fashion—new crimes, new tools,
tion and Support Unit and the U.S. FBI and and old crimes, new tools.
Justice Department. “Mafiaboy” was caught Because modern computers run various
and charged after the FBI was able to obtain operating systems and platforms, such as
chat-room logs demonstrating his plans Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX, the forensic
and log files of a computer at UC-Santa computer expert must either specialize or
Barbara that was hacked and used to attack receive extensive training across the board. “Mafiaboy” has since been sen- Unlike the trace evidence examiner or biologist
tenced to eight months in juvenile detention, who has been forced to embrace computers
but the ease with which he committed the over time, the forensic computer expert is
crime and the authorities identified him are inherently high tech. Computers and infor-
both enlightening. mation systems have presented criminals
Another interesting case that affected sev- with a means of conducting their transgres-
eral aspects of the criminal justice and public sions, but these same advances have allowed
safety systems involved David Jeansonne, a for more information sharing among criminal
Louisiana man who sent e-mail to WebTV justice agencies. Similarly, techniques and
service users in July 2002 that, when opened, discussions can be shared between forensic
programmed their computers to dial 911 scientists and examiners via platforms for-
instead of an Internet access number. The merly reserved for annual meetings and the
executable attachment containing the virus occasional hard-copy newsletter.
also e-mailed hardware serial numbers to a Not unlike those in other disciplines, the
free webmail account, which allowed federal forensic computer examiner traditionally
investigators to track Jeansonne, who was received mentor-based training, with most
arrested on charges of cyberterrorism under examiners being members of law enforce-
the USA PATRIOT Act. He pled guilty in ment agencies. Like most areas of forensic
February 2005 to violating 18 U.S.C. science, computer examination is probably
§1030(a)(5)(A)(i) for intentionally damaging far more tedious and less instantaneously
protected computers, causing a threat to gratifying than depicted by modern books
public safety, and losses of over $5,000. The and television programs. Individuals who
case was overseen by the Computer Hacking commit computer crime may be self-taught,
and Intellectual Property Unit of the U.S. trained through technical programs, or have
Attorney’s Office. academic credentials. Essentially, the criminal
Forensics in the world of computers is not and the examiner may have taken courses
strictly limited to offenses associated with the together, which is less likely in other fields. In
42 Forensic Science

recent years, the forensic computer examiner recordings, such as photographic, video, and
has increasingly received instruction and edu- audio also fall into this category.
cation prior to beginning mentorship and Digital evidence, such as recovered files, is
employment. Colleges and universities have inextricably linked to computer forensics. In
integrated forensic courses or emphases into keeping with the TWG/SWG convention, the
their computer science tracks. Students may Technical Support Working Group (TSWG)
enroll in a variety of course work, ranging was originally developed in 1986 in the United
from online seminars to formal classes States. More recently, the group has added its
designed to culminate in a certificate or asso- Investigative Support and Forensics subgroup
ciate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. and has added electronic evidence as a focus
Today’s forensic computer examiner must area.The Scientific Working Group on Digital
be able to find evidence on a computer and Evidence was formed in 1998 in keeping with
subsequently articulate how it was found and the trend that traditional audio and video was
identified. As with other areas of forensic sci- moving toward digital media and computer
ence, documentation is key. A great deal of forensics. Child pornography, fraud, and piracy
knowledge and experience goes into simply were once the concentrations of digital evi-
understanding how to power down systems, dence; however, digital evidence now weighs
such that evidence can be protected and pre- heavily in all types of crimes. Examiners may
served. The actual analysis is conducted on a follow an electronic trail or identify and
physical level and then a logical level, meaning extract specific information, such as a sound
that initial searches look to clusters and sectors byte, still image, or e-mail.
for possible evidence, followed by a search of On February 1, 2004, a video surveillance
what the user would see when operating the camera at a Florida carwash captured the
computer normally. Examiners may also abduction of eleven-year-old Carlie Brucia.
employ commercially available forensic tools The tape was considered crucial evidence by
for cracking passwords, imaging, and retrieval. law enforcement and prosecutors. Several
File retrieval is a form of forensic analysis agencies were called upon to assist in mak-
with which most people are familiar. As will ing the surveillance images more usable.
be noted in the digital evidence section, Ultimately, examiners were able to discern
e-mails and graphics are rarely truly deleted clothing and tattoo characteristics from the still
from a computer system. The field has be- frames. Repeatedly, worldwide, criminals are
come so linked to traditional crime scenes being identified based on enhanced photos
that the U.S. National Institute of Justice has shown to the public, who recognize the image
issued literature such as the “Electronic and call in tips. Not only do such images aid in
Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First identification of possible perpetrators, video
Responders” (2001) and “Forensic Exami- often catches the entire commission of a crime,
nation of Digital Evidence: A Guide for Law which often facilitates a plea or conviction.
Enforcement” (2004). Both are available via Arguments surround the fine line between
the National Criminal Justice Reference discovering or enhancing evidence and creating
Service at it. However, the courts simply dictate that
Whereas computer forensics encompasses admission of a photograph depends upon the
the use of analytical techniques to identify, requirements of relevance and authenti-
collect, and examine evidence and informa- cation. In past admissibility hearings, experts
tion stored in computer formats, traditionally have indicated that digital photographs used
magnetically stored or encoded, the discipline for comparison purposes are, in fact, accurate
can be further broadened by the preservation representations of the actual captured images.
and investigative techniques associated with Still, those with conservative views toward
retrieved digital evidence. Other types of evidence integrity differentiate between
Introduction 43

images captured on film, video images, and In 1996 the body of Henry Guzman—a drug
digital images. addict and drug dealer—was found lying
Controversy related to fingerprints has on the side of a road in Pompano Beach,
been discussed; however, digital enhance- Florida. The victim had been killed execu-
ment of latent print images adds another tion-style with a gunshot to the head. His
layer of debate. Commonwealth v.Knight (1991) body had been concealed inside a blanket
was the first case to establish precedence for and his head was inside a plastic bag. The
acceptance of digitally enhanced evidence in bundle was wrapped with duct tape. At that
the United States. The experts used a fre- time, latent prints on duct tape were
quency filter, a Fast Fourier Transform, to deemed essentially useless. However, in
enhance a fingerprint in blood from a pillow 1999 the latent images were reanalyzed
case.At the time, it may have been possible to using technology commonly referred to as
type the DNA present in the blood, but doing “dodge and burn,” which can lighten and
so would have ruined the print and may have darken images in an attempt to bring out
proved to be the victim’s blood anyway. The contrast and detail.This allowed for an iden-
technology allowed experts to remove the tification of Reyes. Although Reyes was ulti-
background “noise,” the pattern of the fabric, mately acquitted due to insufficient evidence
allowing for a better image of the print itself. that he committed the murder, the admis-
Upon identification of the print as Knight’s sibility of the digitally enhanced print was
the defense attorney moved for a Kelly-Frye significant.
hearing to determine if the evidence met the Surprisingly little legal drama surfaced
standard of general acceptance in the field. after certain jurisdictions in the United States
The court determined that the techniques and abroad installed cameras at specific junc-
were acceptable as photographic processes, tions such as intersections and toll booths to
and a conviction was achieved. Fast Fourier capture images of vehicles and their plates. It is
Transform is one of the principal algorithms unlikely the traffic law courts would entertain
or encoded finite set of instructions of the a plea that someone had digitally altered a still
popular Adobe Photoshop software. or video image of a car’s license plate numbers
A second case of this nature, State v. Hayden or other distinguishing characteristics. In the
(1998), affirmed the Virginia ruling. Eric United Kingdom automated number-plate
Hayden was charged with a 1995 murder of a recognition is increasingly prevalent, with
woman who was found with a bloody sheet some agencies employing mobile units for
around her neck and head. Because latent collecting intelligence on passing auto-
fingerprints on the sheet could not be iden- mobiles. These specially equipped vans are
tified by conventional methods, an expert able to read passing plates and detect cars on
used digital imaging enhancement tech- which no tax has been paid. An officer can
niques including Fast Fourier Transform to then pull over the vehicle without the lengthy
filter out the sheet’s background color and process of involving a human to consult a
texture. A Kelly-Frye hearing was held in computerized database. Such equipment is
1995 regarding these techniques and the valuable for citing speeders, but it is easy to
argument was raised that the chain of cus- imagine how a fixed camera might detect
tody was broken through use of the software criminal activity in the absence of an officer.
and that the fingerprint image had been mani- Even more sophisticated technology, global
pulated and altered to match that of the defen- positioning systems (GPS) and mapping tech-
dant. Both arguments were unsubstantiated, niques are used by crime prevention experts
and the print evidence was again allowed. and in policing, but GPS has also found its way
Yet another, more modern case dealing into the courtroom as forensic digital evi-
with these same issues is State v. Reyes (2003). dence. Applicable for locating fleet vehicles
44 Forensic Science

and documenting crime-scene locations, GPS Other notable cases in computer forensics,
can also be used to track offenders such as cybercrime, and digital evidence include that
parolees. More relevant to this discussion, of Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged twentieth
investigators may use GPS devices to track sus- hijacker in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the
pects. For example, GPS devices were placed United States. In the U.S. Criminal Case
on Scott Peterson’s vehicles during the well- 01–455-A, much of the incriminating evi-
known 2002 to 2004 investigation. In his rul- dence was digital in nature. For example,
ing on admissibility of the GPS data, Judge Al Moussaoui’s laptop, at least four other com-
Delucchi stated, “The generic methodology is puters, and several e-mail accounts were
generally accepted and fundamentally valid” accessed and searched. The FBI later an-
(CNN February 17, 2004). This set a Cali- nounced that Kinko’s computers were used
fornia precedent. Other states using the GPS throughout the states for Internet access,
technology to track offenders have since whereby the nineteen hijackers conducted
deemed the data admissible in court. planning for the attacks.
In January 2005 Attorney General Thomas In the heartland of America, an Internet
Reilly of Massachusetts announced arrests in Protocol (IP) address led authorities to Lisa
an international marijuana trade ring, advising Montgomery, charged with killing Bobbie Jo
that authorities had tracked the accused using Stinnett and kidnapping her fetus. The case,
GPS technology and by monitoring their cell- expected to go to trial in 2006, will likely see
phone text messages.Time will tell if this data the admission of e-evidence obtained by
is admitted into evidence during the trials of investigators who examined the Stinnett
the various accused drug dealers. computer.
Yet another term linked to digital evidence With the number of cases involving digital
is steganography. Dating to the ancient Greeks, evidence increasing daily, proponents and
steganography refers to encryption or hiding examiners alike are striving toward a consensus
of words. Once likely to include tactics such on standards. Issued in the FBI’s April 2002
as tattooing a message on the head of a courier edition of Forensic Science Communications,
who let his hair grow back during the journey SWGDE and the International Organization
to be shaved upon arrival at the recipient’s on Computer Evidence issued a document
location, today steganography refers to both entitled “Digital Evidence: Standards and
encryption and forms of digital watermarking. Principles.” However, this did not completely
Forensic examiners may study securities and address competency, standard operating pro-
documents to detect such watermarks. cedures for examinations, or information
Examples of this type of crime and detection sharing, all of which are still on the table for
in modern times may involve credit-card discussion. Because any crime that leaves an
fraud and identity theft. Also, it has been electronic trail produces some form of digital
reported that some terrorist groups may use evidence, computer crime is no longer limited
high-frequency encrypted voice/data links in to fraud or child pornography.
order to communicate undetected. When
Japanese authorities seized the Aum Shinrikyo “This entrusted with arms . . . should be
cult’s computers after suspected involvement persons of some substance.”
in the Tokyo subway gassing incident of 1995, —William Windham, Speech to the British
authorities decrypted the electronic records Parliament, July 1807
and found evidence crucial to the investigation.
This may have taken significantly longer or The Association of Firearm and Tool Mark
been impossible had the key to the encryption Examiners (AFTE) was born of members of
not been found on one of many confiscated the American Academy of Forensic Science
floppy disks. (AAFS) and the Chicago Police Department in
Introduction 45

the late 1960s, while published papers regard- and gang crime. Although both ballistic imag-
ing firearms identifications date to at least the ing systems used database technology to search
1950s. Initial meetings of the AFTE group for matches between crime-scene evidence and
included members of the Chicago Police as known information, the platforms were not
well as law enforcement investigators and exactly compatible. FTI then developed
firearms specialists from public crime labora- Brasscatcher, a platform for the evaluation of
tories nationwide, with the Midwest being both projectiles and casings. The combina-
heavily represented. The U.S. Bureau of tion of Bulletproof and Brasscatcher became
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is known as the Integrated Ballistic Identi-
another player in the firearms world.Although fication System (IBIS) in 1996. Because it
historically linked to organizations dating to was further determined that the new IBIS
the eighteenth century, the ATF officially took and the FBI’s DRUGFIRE needed to be
over powers related to those three items from interoperable, 1996 saw modifications to the
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 1972. systems. IBIS units were soon thereafter
Responsibility for the investigation of com- upgraded to Windows platforms, and standard
mercial arsons nationwide was received by the operating procedures for use were developed.
ATF in 1982. In 2003 the law enforcement The National Integrated Ballistic Informa-
functions of the ATF were transferred to the tion Network (NIBIN) arose in 1997, and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), while the tax ATF and FBI abandoned their program names
and trade aspects of the bureau remained CEASEFIRE and DRUGFIRE respectively.
under Treasury Department control.Although A NIBIN board was formed to bring together
it may seem strange to link alcohol, tobacco, the federal efforts and to assist state and local
and firearms, consider the early 1900s era police. After two years of changes to the
involving Prohibition (repealed in 1933), and memorandum of understanding between the
it is easy to relate these taxable items and their agencies, the NIBIN board, with recommen-
association to crime. dations from the National Institute of
It is posited that individual firearms have Standards and Technology, decided to pursue
characteristics with uniqueness analogous to deployment of a single system dependant
human fingerprints. The characteristics are upon interagency cooperation. FTI remained
transferred to projectiles and casings when on board to assist in developing servers to
fired, setting the stage for forensic com- meet the needs of the data storage and
parisons. In 1992 the ATF developed an communications.
enforcement program known as CEASEFIRE, Initially, NIBIN units were set up with
which laid the groundwork for collecting regional hubs with data-acquisition stations
information obtained from seized firearms in on a local-area network. With nationwide
a database. Forensic Technology Incorporated roll-out, the regional servers were afforded
(FTI) presented the ATF with information on more advanced storage and management
a proprietary system called Bulletproof in capabilities. An examiner completes entries
1993. The ATF leased a machine from FTI for a casing or projectile and captures related
and begin investigating possible uses of the images.The station remote sends this data to
technology. Soon thereafter, the ATF began the regional server for comparison. If the
planning deployment of the technology to system is able to produce a list of candidates
certain sites based on specific criteria, such as for the match, a firearms examiner then
incidence of firearms-related crime. On only examines the individual specimens. Obvi-
a slightly earlier time frame, beginning around ously, with rapid and reliable searching, a
1989, the FBI had developed DRUGFIRE, a match through IBIS can provide information
database for linking serial shootings and the to link or solve more than one case. Partici-
identification of weapons used in drug-related pation in the network is highly regulated,
46 Forensic Science

however, and a specific memorandum of got its first hit in 2004, some three years after
understanding must be accepted and executed it first obtained a hit in the combined DNA
before the ATF deploys IBIS equipment to a index system (CODIS). The Detroit Police
state or local agency or laboratory. Department (Michigan) received a firearms
As of January 2005 the NIBIN program database hit in 1996. In 2004 the New York
reported 232 sites with IBIS equipment and City Police Department recorded its 1,400th
182 agencies participating. Also, the life of hit. Clearly the efficacy of NIBIN is yet to be
the technology has seen some 853,000 pieces fully appreciated. One roadblock, though,
of crime-scene evidence entered, resulting in stems from the limited number of qualified
over 10,799 hits, that is, matches between firearms examiners available to make the
evidence items and information in the database microscopic comparisons required to con-
(see firm a match.The ATF has offered a National
for regular updates on the success of the NIBIN Firearms Examiner Academy, but the number
program).This is due to the technology of the of qualified examiners is still presumed to be
program that eliminates many nonmatches, dangerously low. Trainees are typically sub-
freeing time for the examiner to concentrate jected to mentor-based training, which can
on possible match confirmation and entry of be extremely lengthy and produce examiners
even more evidence. who are only as good as their mentors. Other
Agencies often praise NIBIN in tracking agencies and organizations are formulating
firearms across multiple crimes, some of plans to help combat the shortage. In Atlanta,
which are not specifically gun related. For the ATF’s local NIBIN coordinator actually
example, in a jurisdiction rife with crime, picks up bullets on a weekly basis from a drop
such as Los Angeles, California, confiscation box installed at a local hospital operating
of a firearm during a property crime such as room. The bullets are deposited there upon
vandalism could lead investigators to an extraction from gunshot victims. The ATF is
attempted murderer, as was the case in early thus able to obtain projectile data without
2005. The shooting victim could not readily impinging upon the hospital staff in instances
identify his assailant, but the gun being car- when the bullets are not specifically requested
ried by a man arrested for vandalism proved by a responding law enforcement agency.
to be the same gun that fired the bullet into Many recall the three weeks of terror in
the victim a few hours earlier. The New 2002 in the Washington, D.C., area caused
Orleans Police Department (Louisiana) ob- by the sniping spree of Lee Boyd Malvo and
tained an IBIS in 1996 and within a month John Allen Muhammad that left ten dead in
received a hit involving the drive-by shooting and around the District of Columbia and one
of a child. Over the years, IBIS technology in in Alabama. It was an ATF representative
New Orleans and a partnership between the who made the announcement that the rifle in
New Orleans Police Department and the custody was forensically matched to bullets
ATF under the NIBIN program have been in eleven of the fourteen shootings.Although
associated with a reduction in gang-related the weapon used in the Alabama shooting
gun violence. One set of linked crimes put was not the rifle in question, Malvo’s finger-
eleven gang members behind bars in 2002. print was lifted from that scene. However, at
Various agencies report that literally hun- the time of the incidents, NIBIN was not
dreds of violent crimes have been solved in operational to the extent that bullets from
New Orleans through IBIS (see https:// other potential scenes as far away as Georgia and Louisiana were not entered or identified
The Hamilton County Crime Coroner’s as possibly being related to the Malvo and
Office (Ohio) got its first NIBIN hit in 2003 Muhammad shootings until after their arrest.
in a homicide case.The Nebraska State Patrol This is a testament to the fact that forensic
Introduction 47

techniques are only as effective as an blood proteins could also be found in other
agency’s ability to employ them.While tech- bodily fluids and tissues. For the investigator,
niques, technology, and databasing continue this meant that a semen or saliva sample
to progress, the criminal justice system is could perhaps be as revealing as blood left at
tied to resources such as personnel and a crime scene.
budget. Special serological tests are still occasionally
This ballistics information database tech- used to determine the species of origin of a
nology, attributed largely to FTI, is not sample or at least to determine if a sample is
sequestered in the United States. In fact, human or not. The most prevalent of these
Spanish authorities using an IBIS were able to techniques, the Ouchterlony procedure, has
link an attempted murder, shots fired into a been in use since its first description in 1948.
home, and a third shooting although eleven Carried out on a plastic or glass dish or plate
years had passed between the first and last of a gel medium, a visible precipitin line
incidents. Suspects apprehended at the third forms where the antigens and antibodies of
shooting were ultimately linked to both pre- different species meet.
vious offenses. Also, the ATF itself at its Presumptive tests for the possible presence
Rockville, Maryland, laboratory processed a of a biological substance or fluid may date back
large bulk of firearms evidence retrieved more than a century, but it is modern forensic
from the Ovcara mass grave in Bosnia on DNA analysis that allows scientists to further
behalf of the International Criminal Tribunal examine those substances and fluids to identify
for the former Yugoslavia. The comparisons who may have possibly contributed them.
resulted in a conviction for war crimes. Thus, the likely chain of events in the modern
laboratory involves screening evidence for
“ . . . summon up the blood.” possible biological stains of bodily fluids or
—Shakespeare, King Henry V, III, I, 1 tissues, followed by the process of forensic
DNA analysis. The once impressive serology
In the early to mid-1980s, forensic biologists techniques are now largely historical.
borrowed techniques from serology in order When DNA typing was first introduced in
to differentiate between people or to exclude forensics in the mid-1980s, its effect was
a subject from having contributed to the widespread, and the ability to individualize or
blood or semen at a crime scene. Character- attribute the DNA found in a bodily fluid or
ization of stains as being composed of blood crime-scene stain overwhelmed the criminal
or semen or other bodily excretions dates justice system and its participants. Forensic
back over a century. DNA analysis was born of techniques used in
Serology is the science concerned with the biomedical world.Whereas previous tests
antigens and antibodies in the sera or fluid enabled determination of phenotypes based
components of bodily fluids. For example, on examination of proteins, DNA tests delved
most are familiar with blood typing or at deeper, revealing genotypes, the actual inher-
least that people have different blood types ited designations imparted by a person’s
known as A, B, AB, or O. Karl Landsteiner DNA. Such tests were based on nucleic acid
first identified blood types in the late nine- blueprints rather than on proteins found in an
teenth century. This difference in pheno- individual’s bodily fluids. A brief overview of
types, outward physical expressions of traits the progression of techniques used in forensic
under genetic control, could be employed by DNA analysis is found below, followed by
investigators to categorize people. It was legal considerations, and case examples.
1925 when scientists discovered that approx- All people inherit two copies of DNA, one
imately 80 percent of the population were from each biological parent to make up his or
“secretors” or those whose characteristic her genome. Genotypes are descriptors of
48 Forensic Science

genes or locations within the genome. If a the first person in England convicted of a
particular genetic variant is observable in at crime based on DNA evidence. Soon there-
least 1 percent of the population, it is consid- after, Tommie Lee Andrews was convicted in
ered polymorphic.Thus, detection of the type Florida and Timothy Wilson Spencer in
of polymorphism an individual bears may be Virginia based heavily on DNA evidence.
used to differentiate between that person and Author Joseph Wambaugh wrote of the Colin
others. Under this convention, ABO blood Pitchfork case and the first time DNA testing
types are considered protein polymorphisms. was used to catch a criminal in his famous
Because proteins are products of genes, ver- book, The Blooding (Wambaugh, J. The
sions of proteins reflect differences in the Blooding. New York: William Morrow &
DNA or gene. These differences or variant Company, 1989).
forms of genes or DNA sequences at particular It was Jeffrey’s work with probes that
locations on chromosomes are known as al- made identification of RFLP variants feasible.
leles.To reiterate, one allele is inherited from Probes, pieces of DNA complementary to
each parent. the fragment of interest, were used with
Ray White, an American geneticist at the RFLP to examine variable number of tandem
University of Utah, identified regions of repeats (VNTR) loci. The southern blot
DNA that did not code for proteins but method was originally developed in 1975 and
were highly variable between individuals. adapted for use in RFLP analysis. In short, the
Restriction enzymes are proteins that cut technique calls for extracting DNA, cutting it
strands of DNA at specific locations to into fragments using restriction enzymes,
produce DNA fragments of defined lengths. separating them based on size using gel elec-
Using these conventions and a technique trophoresis, and finally transferring the frag-
known as gel electrophoresis,White separated ments to a nylon membrane. The membrane
the fragments based on size, calling the is then subjected to radioactive probes,
variations restriction fragment length poly- which bind specifically to applicable VNTR
morphisms (RFLP). In 1980 White described fragments. X-ray film is exposed to the
the first polymorphic RFLP marker. Later membrane and the profile visualized by
that same year, researchers David Botstein, autoradiography. Jeffrey developed a multilocus
Ronald Davis, Mark Skolnick, and Ray White probe, which allowed visualization of more
proposed methods for mapping the human than one variable region at once. Also in
genome based on this RFLP technology, the late 1980s, scientists developed and
lending fuel to the Human Genome Project, employed probes based on chemilumines-
which was ultimately launched in 1990. cence instead of radioactivity.
Back on the forensics front, in 1984 Alec Although highly discriminatory, RFLP
Jeffreys discovered methods for identifying analysis of VNTRs had several drawbacks.
individuals based on RFLP and dubbed it First, the process was extremely laborious
DNA fingerprinting. His work at the time and time-consuming. Radioactive probes
focused on paternity testing, but in 1985 the posed health and disposal risks, and a relatively
West Midlands police approached Jeffreys to large amount of sample was required to per-
try his hand at testing samples from a rape form the tests.
case. Ultimately, using RFLP technology, RFLP proved to be the forensic DNA test-
Richard Buckland was exonerated of com- ing mainstay for many years, but as with all
mitting two rape-murders and Colin Pitch- technology, advancement was inevitable. In
fork was convicted in 1988, in a veritable 1983 scientist Kary Mullis (b. 1944) devel-
double-whammy of forensic DNA analysis. oped the technique known as the polymerase
Yet another British case of this time frame chain reaction (PCR) that ultimately revolu-
involved Robert Melias, who in 1987 became tionized molecular biology, including forensic
Introduction 49

DNA analysis. Mullis and members of the for a sequential number imparting unique-
Cetus Corporation first described the ness. Although sensitive, the discrimination
process in 1985, for which he was awarded potential of D1S80 and other amplified frag-
the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993. PCR ment length polymorphisms (AMPFLP) was
allowed scientists to make millions of copies still less than that of RFLP, and no great
of specific DNA sequences of interest in a rel- strides in detection had been incorporated.
atively short time. As previously mentioned, Later in the 1990s, short tandem repeats
RFLP analysis required a relatively large or STR testing appeared in forensic DNA
starting sample. Because crime-scene samples analysis. In keeping with the name, STRs are
are often minute, degraded, or otherwise short sequences, ranging from approximately
compromised, PCR offered the forensic two to six base pairs (bp), which repeat over
DNA analysis world an opportunity to create and over a given number of times at specific
copies of isolated DNA. Through PCR, locations in the genome. People differ with
forensic DNA analysis essentially became respect to alleles at these loci, based on the
more rapid and sensitive. number of times the sequence is repeated.
With PCR available, scientists sought other Although individual loci were not as discrimi-
markers by which to differentiate and identify natory as RFLP markers, the short size and
individuals. The human leukocyte antigen number of available STRs allowed scientists
involved in the immune response was known to multiplex the STRs, or amplify and analyze
to be a polymorphic protein. Thus, forensic three or more simultaneously. Multiplex kits
scientists looked to the DNA coding for this became available as early as 1996. Much earlier
protein, and in 1991 developed the DQ-Alpha scientists had developed means of labeling
test, named after the variable region of DNA nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA,
at this location. The DQ-Alpha test examined which are also added in the PCR process,
a poly-allelic locus, meaning a location on the with fluorescent tags. This would become
genome with variable alleles seen in different important later on, although initial tests using
people.Although this afforded a fair amount of STRs separated the fragments using gel elec-
discrimination, forensic scientists soon incor- trophoresis and used silver staining or a special
porated a number of other loci to be typed type of green dye. In 2000 the FBI and other
concomitantly with DQ-Alpha. In 1993 the laboratories abandoned the RFLP technique
Polymarker system was developed using addi- altogether in favor of multiplex STR analysis.
tional bi- and tri-allelic loci in addition to Because of their short size, 2 to 6 base pairs
DQ-Alpha. The FBI began casework with (bp) with repeats of total length less than
DQ-Alpha in 1992 and added Polymarker in 400 bp, STRs using PCR allowed for typing
1994. Due to sensitivity imparted by PCR, samples that were not only too minute for
forensic DNA analysts were able to obtain a set RFLP methods but also typing of samples that
of types of profile for these loci from a very were degraded such that the lengthy pieces
small starting amount of sample. However, the that made up RFLPs or other VNTRs were
entire process still proved labor intensive due damaged or lost. It should be noted that
to required probing and detection processes, while the FBI and some other labs ran the
and the discriminatory power of the test was gamut of test techniques, many labs conducted
less than optimal for forensic analysis. only RFLP testing until STRs were fully
Scientists returned to a VNTR in typing accepted and then switched over, as late as
the D1S80 locus, and the FBI incorporated it the early 2000s. Multiplex PCR and STR
into casework in 1995. The naming conven- analysis is the gold standard in forensic DNA
tion simply follows that “D” stands for DNA, testing at the time of this writing, although
“1” for chromosome 1 on which the locus is notable advances are emerging and will be
found, “S” for single copy sequence, and “80” later discussed.
50 Forensic Science

“Rome has spoken; the case is concluded.” has not been as readily accepted in the courts
—St. Augustine, Sermons, Book 1 as some of its forensic science counterparts,
such as drug chemistry or toxicology.
The above describes how scientific advances Where were you when the O. J. Simpson
resulted in DNA typing becoming the verdict was announced? Most recall the June
method of choice to type body fluids. 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and
However, before any new technique can Ronald Goldman, which set off a media frenzy
enter routine use, it must face its own version and resulted in what some characterize as the
of trial by fire, namely it must establish its “Trial of the Century” propelling forensic
acceptability through case law. In the United DNA analysis into mainstream conversation.
States, the Privacy Act of 1974 laid the On the evening of Sunday, June 12, 1994,
groundwork for maintaining records on indi- Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron
viduals. Recognizing a need, the FBI formed Goldman were brutally murdered on the
the Technical Working Group on DNA grounds of her condominium in Brentwood,
Analysis Methods (TWGDAM) in 1989. California. Later that evening, Orenthal
Scientists from federal, state, and local labo- James (O. J.) Simpson flew from Los Angeles
ratories and the academic community met to to Chicago. However, in the early hours of
address implementation of the new tech- June 13, 1994, Nicole’s neighbors, led by her
nologies. TWGDAM established, and in pet Akita dog, found the gruesome scene and
1990 published, a set of quality assurance notified police. Before sunrise, police went to
guidelines to which courts often referred O. J.’s estate to advise him of the murders but
when making admissibility decisions. received no answer, although lights were on
People v. Castro (1989) was the first case in in the house and vehicles in the driveway.
which the admissibility of a DNA profile was Police detectives noted an apparent blood-
challenged.The court held that “DNA identi- stain near the door of O. J.’s white Ford
fication theory and practice are generally Bronco and other drops on the ground.They
accepted among the scientific community.” also found a glove matching one found at the
However, DNA testing that showed that the crime scene. The police were given access to
blood on the defendant’s watch was not his the house by Arnelle Simpson, O. J.’s daughter
was allowed into evidence, but tests were not from his first marriage, who was staying in
permitted that could demonstrate that the the guest house. Although the house and
blood belonged to one of the victims. grounds were not thoroughly searched at that
The Timothy Wilson Spencer case men- time, criminalists were called to secure the
tioned previously was the first in which DNA area, and O. J. was located at a hotel in
evidence was used to convict a person resulting Chicago. He checked out and returned home at
in a death sentence. Convicted in 1989, approximately 11:00 a.m. on the thirteenth,
Spencer was executed in 1994. Also in 1989, less than twelve hours after his flight left for
Gary Dotson in Illinois became the first person Chicago. A search warrant had been issued
to be exonerated and have his conviction prior to his arrival back at the California
overturned based on DNA testing, and estate, but items were not seized from the
Australia saw its first court case involving home until the following day, June 14, 1994.
DNA evidence. Desmond Applebee in This same day, the coroner released a report,
Australia was pinpointed by DNA from his and testing began on the evidence.
blood sample, which matched that of blood Samples of bloodstains found at the crime
and semen on the victim’s clothing. As much scene were tested for blood type and DNA.
attention has been directed at exoneration of Items or areas from which stains were sampled
innocents as to conviction over the decade included O. J.’s Bronco, driveway, and house,
and a half since 1990. However, DNA overall as well as a pair of socks in his bedroom, the
Introduction 51

gloves, and the crime scene itself. This blood forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee. Scheck
evidence led to the major point of contin- particularly used Lee as a tool to attack the
gency in the case. Whereas the science and collection of evidence, for example advising
technology of the DNA testing and the match that the two socks collected from O. J.’s
itself were hardly contested, the defense con- house should have been packaged separately
tended that the evidence was contaminated and not in the same envelope.
and/or planted. Herein lies a prime example Problems with the blood evidence includ-
of attacking the scientist and law enforce- ed the identification of the chemical additive
ment, not the science.These accusations were EDTA in some of the samples, as EDTA
made in lieu of photographs taken through- would only be expected in a blood sample
out the investigation of the bloodstains prior from a test tube containing the additive and
to their being collected or sampled. not from human circulation. However, this
Another aspect of this case many recall is was largely refuted by a second toxicologist’s
the lengthy yet slow and heavily televised testimony. Also, some of the items had been
vehicle pursuit that ensued on June 17, collected while still wet or damp and placed
1994, when O. J.’s friend A. C. Cowlings into paper bags, where some transfer of
drove him throughout the area in the white material from the items to the bags occurred.
Ford Bronco. When the two finally returned Some controversy also surrounded the storage
to O. J.’s estate, Simpson was taken into of the evidence, as a warm and/or damp
custody and charged with murder. On July environment is conducive to bacterial
8, 1994, Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell growth, which can degrade DNA evidence. It
ruled there was sufficient evidence for is important to note, however, that although
Simpson to stand trial on the two first- improper storage conditions may destroy
degree murder counts. Judge Lance A. Ito DNA evidence, they cannot change a DNA
was assigned to hear the case on July 22, profile or test result. Much of this discussion
1994, when Simpson pled “absolutely 100 surrounded the work of criminalist Dennis
percent not guilty” to the charges. Fung of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Pertinent to this discussion, the defense The trial was also riddled with problems with
waived a hearing to challenge the prosecu- jurors, and several were dismissed and
tion’s DNA evidence on January 4, 1995.The replaced. At one point, Cochran expressed
trial opened later that month and continued concern that prodefense jurors were being
until October 3, 1995, when a not-guilty ver- eliminated from the fold. Contrary to the
dict was returned. During the months of tes- January proceedings, the defense attempted
timony, various statements related to the to challenge the admissibility of DNA evidence
DNA evidence were heard. The defense, in early April, although this was rejected by
headed up by the “Dream Team” of Robert Judge Ito.
Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, and In May Gregory Matheson, chief forensic
Alan Dershowitz, began its case by accusing chemist at the LAPD crime lab, gave testimony
Detective Mark Fuhrman of being racist and regarding serological testing in the case. He
involved in a conspiracy plot to frame provided probabilities based on blood and
Simpson for the murders. Attorney Barry enzyme typing. Matheson advised the court
Scheck, who had in 1992 first developed the that mistakes made in collection were techni-
Innocence Project as a nonprofit legal and calities. Matheson also explained the absence
criminal justice resource center concentrating of a volume of blood from the vial used to
heavily on exoneration of wrongfully convicted hold O. J.’s reference standard sample drawn
persons using postconviction DNA testing, for testing by saying it was used by chemists in
became an increasingly important tool to the the laboratory, rather than sprinkled about the
defense as the trial proceeded, as did famed scene by LAPD employees as was proposed by
52 Forensic Science

the defense. Testimony related directly to touted as the most publicized in U.S. history,
DNA testing began the second week of May, was the longest ever held in California, costing
including testimony by Robin Cotton of over $20 million and producing 50,000 pages
Orchid Cellmark on RFLP testing. As part of of transcript.After hearing from 150 witnesses
the testimony, Cotton indicated that the odds and being sequestered approximately nine
that blood collected from the Brentwood months, in the end, jurors determined that
scene could have come from someone other prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher
than O. J. were approximately 1 in 170 mil- Darden failed to prove O. J. Simpson guilty
lion and that blood from one of the socks from beyond reasonable doubt. Simpson was
O. J.’s estate was consistent with Nicole’s with acquitted and the not-guilty verdict an-
an accompanying probability of 1 in 9.7 billion nounced on October 3, 1995, after the jury
Caucasians.These are just a few of the results deliberated only four hours on October 2,
presented by DNA experts. Defense attorney 1995, to come to its conclusion.
Peter Neufeld cross-examined Cotton and Yet another case that fascinated many
others in attempts to belittle the DNA evi- involved the President of the United States,
dence, attacking it from contamination, William (Bill) J. Clinton. In the summer of
procedural, and statistical standpoints. The 1995, Monica Lewinsky began an unpaid
DNA match evidence would later be reaf- intern position at the White House. She
firmed through testimony of Gary Sims, chief claimed a sexual relationship began with the
DNA analyst at the California Department of president that November. In the summer of
Justice Crime Laboratory. Statistician Bruce 1996, Lewinsky began work at the Pentagon,
Weir also factored into the trial when he where she met coworker Linda Tripp and
apologized for mistakes in computer pro- began confiding in her. Tripp began taping
gramming that led to overestimation of match her conversations with Lewinsky, but
statistics he provided. However, results still Lewinsky soon left the Pentagon seeking
supported the prosecution. work elsewhere. However, by this time,
Later attacks were directed at the physician Tripp had consulted Newsweek magazine about
who conducted the autopsies, Dr. Irwin the taped discussions and possible presidential
Golden. Los Angeles County Medical Exam- impropriety. In December 1997 Lewinsky was
iner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran pro- subpoenaed by attorneys for Paula Jones, who
vided testimony as to some mistakes made by was suing the president on charges of sexual
Golden but also advised on the inability of harassment.
physicians to determine how many people In January 1998 two important events
were involved in conducting the murder, the occurred. Lewinsky filed an affidavit in the
relative uncertainty of the exact type of murder Jones case stating that she never had a sexual
weapon, and the positioning of the bodies. relationship with President Clinton, and Tripp
In a case where racial tensions ran high and contacted Ken Starr, who had served as inde-
some characters demonstrated quite a profes- pendent counsel in the Clinton Whitewater
sional low, this writing is clearly not indicative scandal. Later that month, although Newsweek
of all that occurred throughout the trial. had postponed running any related stories,
However, one can see just how intertwined the Internet was rife with rumors of the affair.
the forensic science became with the actions Again, this writing is not intended to detail
of the police, its effects on the jury, and the the entire case, but rather indicate the role of
myriad interpretations associated with the forensic science among the cast of players,
blood evidence. Plenty of discussion followed which included Lewinsky and Clinton and
the presentation of other types of physical evi- numerous others such as the president’s per-
dence as well, including the infamous leather sonal secretary, friends, and members of the
gloves and Bruno Magli shoe prints.The trial, FBI and Secret Service. In the summer of
Introduction 53

1998, Lewinsky handed over the infamous Joan Humphrey Lefkow’s mother and husband.
blue dress, said to contain physical evidence of Ross shot himself during a routine traffic stop,
a sexual encounter with the president.A sample and a cigarette butt found in the sink at the
of the president’s DNA was taken for compa- crime scene yielded DNA consistent with
rison. Ultimately, DNA from the president’s that of Ross. This evidence and a note found
blood was demonstrated to be consistent with in Ross’s van helped investigators quickly
DNA taken from a semen stain on the dress. solve the high-profile case.
This provided Starr with physical evidence of Historical cases involving DNA evidence
the contact between the president and abound. Underlying these cases is a fascinat-
Lewinsky and was key to the resulting Starr ing set of ever-evolving legislation. In 1994
report, which was delivered to the House of Congress passed the DNA Identification Act,
Representatives in September 1998. establishing the DNA Advisory Board (DAB),
In an interesting turn of events, Ricky which is charged with establishing standards
McGinn of Texas received a temporary stay of and guidelines for forensic DNA testing. The
execution in 2000 in order for experts to act also recognized the TWGDAM guidelines
analyze evidence from a 1994 rape-murder, as an interim standard. It should be noted that
for which he was convicted and sentenced to in 1992 the National Research Council, an
death in 1995. At the time of collection, a arm of the National Academy of Sciences, had
pubic hair found on his slain twelve-year-old recommended that forensic DNA laboratories
stepdaughter was not suitable for DNA testing. establish formal guidelines and seek to
However, advances in technology made this implement external review. Based on DAB
possible in 2000. Although no one can deter- recommendations, the FBI director issued
mine exactly why he would call for DNA “Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Labo-
testing when truly guilty, DNA from the hair ratories” (1998) and “Standards for Convicted
indeed matched McGinn, supporting the Offender Laboratories” (1999). These stan-
conviction, and he was executed. dards applied to labs participating in the
The notorious Green River Killer can be national DNA database or receiving federal
traced to the early 1980s when he began a funds. Addressing everything from personnel
killing spree that took the lives of at least to facilities to documentation, these docu-
forty-eight women over the course of twenty ments are still considered the quintessential
years. Gary Ridgeway was first interviewed guidelines for forensic DNA laboratory qual-
in 1984 as a potential suspect, and at one ity control and operation. Because the DAB
point in 1987 was arrested but released as completed its mission, it was dissolved, and
one of many suspects against whom there was TWGDAM was designated by the FBI direc-
little hard evidence. Although he was tor as the entity responsible for recommen-
released, biological samples were taken from dations and amendments to the National
him in 1987, and in 2001—aided by modern Quality Assurance Standards due to techno-
forensic DNA analysis techniques—DNA logical or other changes. In 1999 TWGDAM
from some of the victims was identified as changed its name to the Scientific Work-
consistent with Ridgeway’s DNA. Faced with ing Group on DNA Analysis Methods
the death penalty, Ridgeway agreed to coop- (SWGDAM). SWGDAM has also issued rec-
erate with investigators and confessed to ommendations for analyst training, equipment
forty-eight killings, for which he was convicted validation, and data interpretation.
and given consecutive life sentences in a plea A brief overview of U.S. legislation asso-
deal in November 2003. ciated with forensic DNA analysis follows:
In March 2005 DNA from a cigarette butt
led investigators to a dead man, Bart Ross, as • The DNA Identification Act of 1994—
the suspect in the murder of Federal Judge established a group to address standards
54 Forensic Science

and guidelines in forensic DNA testing, and expanding upon the PATRIOT
recognized TWGDAM guidelines as an Act, also addressed grants for DNA
interim standard, and formalized FBI training and sexual assault justice.
authority to establish CODIS. • Debbie Smith Act of 2003/Rape Kits
• The Violent Offender DNA and DNA Evidence Backlog
Identification Act of 1999—modified Elimination Act of 2003—concerned
earlier acts and required the FBI with assessing the extent of backlog of
director to develop a plan to assist state rape kit samples, improving
and local laboratories in conducting investigation and prosecution of
analysis of convicted offender samples sexual assault cases with DNA
for expediting entry into CODIS. evidence, and allowing John Doe
• Paul Coverdell National Forensic indictments, that is, indictments
Science Improvement Act of 2000— where the person is identified by
authorized millions of dollars in DNA profile and not by name.
federal funding for improving forensic • Justice for All Act of 2004—included
science services for criminal justice new provisions for victims’ rights and
purposes, supporting crime innocence protection and incorporated
laboratories and medical examiners’ the Advancing Justice through DNA
offices, to be awarded over six years. Technology legislation.
• DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act
of 2000—authorized millions of The president’s DNA Initiative, represented
dollars for the years 2001 through on the Internet at, originated
2004 for testing samples for inclusion from Attorney General Ashcroft’s direction to
into CODIS, for testing crime scene the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to assess
samples, and for an overall increase in and make recommendations regarding delays
public laboratory capacity. in DNA testing. A working group was formed
• Convicted Offenders DNA Index and met twice in 2002.The initiative has come
System Support Act (2000)—designed to encompass funding via the Advancing
to facilitate exchange of information Justice through DNA Technology initiative,
between law enforcement entities and promotes backlog reduction through
regarding violent offenders and system infrastructure improvements and
required plan development and addresses training, research and develop-
assistance of the FBI director and ment, postconviction testing, and missing
attorney general. persons cases.
• Convicted Child Sex Offender DNA An NIJ report from 1996 entitled “Con-
Index System Support Act (2003)— victed by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case
sought to eliminate backlog in analysis Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Estab-
of samples from convicted child sex lish Innocence after Trial” lent credence to the
offenders. power of DNA testing. Postconviction DNA
• DNA Database Completion Act of testing is governed at the state level.According
2003—authorized a grant program for to the Innocence Project, over 150 individuals
elimination of the backlog nationwide have been exonerated or had their innocence
and in obtaining samples from all proven since 1989 based on postconviction
persons convicted of a qualifying testing. At the time of this writing, thirty-eight
offense. states provide access to forensic DNA testing
• Justice Enhancement and Domestic for previously convicted persons. States must
Security Act of 2003—in addition to enact statutes to provide for postconviction
appropriations for domestic security DNA review and make postconviction DNA
Introduction 55

testing available in order to qualify for funding Preliminary studies indicated that each tree
under the Justice for All Act. has a unique DNA blueprint, and a Frye
Postconviction testing has also brought to hearing in the Arizona court held that RFLP
light the phenomenon of false confessions and testing was generally accepted in the forensic
errors in eyewitness identifications. The for- community and allowed admission of the plant
mer is illustrated by the Central Park Jogger DNA evidence and accompanying statistical
attack case, in which five teenagers confessed statements.
to the rape of Trisha Meili when she was jog- A 1994 murder was solved by the RCMP
ging in Central park, in 1989. However, aided by cat DNA. A jacket bearing the vic-
Matias Reyes, a convicted serial rapist and tim’s blood and white cat hairs was located
murderer, confessed to the crime in 2002, and during a search for the victim’s body.
DNA analysis corroborated his confession.The Scientists demonstrated that DNA extracted
potential lack of reliability of eyewitness iden- from those cat hairs matched that of the sus-
tification was demonstrated by the wrong- pect’s parents’ white cat, Snowball. A jury
ful conviction of Arthur Lee Whitfield, who convicted the defendant, Douglas Beamish, of
served twenty-two years in prison after two second-degree murder in his estranged wife’s
women identified him as their rapist. Some of death and laid the groundwork for many sub-
the stories, including the sheer number of sequent cases involving animal DNA.
early identified cases involving false confes- Of course not all cases involving DNA
sions or admissions, are so compelling that evidence make it to the court system. For
Governor George Ryan of Illinois declared a example, in 1989 in Victoria, Australia,
moratorium on executions in his state in 2000. George Kaufman confessed to raping sixteen
One of the crimes for which Timothy women after being confronted with DNA
Spencer was ultimately blamed in Virginia evidence. A series of brutal rapes of elderly
was originally pinned on David Vasquez based women in North Carolina in the early 1990s
on hair evidence and a confession. However, was solved by a cold hit in the state database.
a pardon was secured for Vasquez in 1989 When confronted with the DNA evidence
(just after Gary Dotson’s exoneration) after more than a decade later, a subject, who was
DNA testing of similar crimes demonstrated not previously considered a suspect, con-
they were committed by Spencer. fessed. It should be noted, however, that
Kirk Bloodsworth of Texas was the first DNA evidence is but a piece of the investiga-
person exonerated from death row due to tive puzzle. Often plausible reasons for the
postconviction DNA testing. Convicted in a presence of an individual’s DNA at a scene
1985 child rape and murder case based on exist, and the investigative and prosecution
witness accounts that he was seen with the team is charged with the burden of proof in
girl, it was determined in 1993 that he could criminal proceedings. In both the United
not have contributed to the semen on the vic- States and Australia, it has been proposed that
tim’s underwear. pleas resulting from DNA evidence have
Forensic DNA analysis is not limited to reduced the number of homicide cases going
human testing. In fact, the first conviction to court. Numerous instances demonstrate
involving plant DNA evidence stems from a that guilty offenders may be more inclined to
1992 Arizona murder (State v. Bogan, 905 confess when confronted with DNA evidence.
P.2d 515). A pager found at the scene led to
a subject who indicated he had been robbed “I have called this principle, by which each
and did not dump the body. However, DNA slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by
extracted from Palo Verde tree pods found the term of Natural Selection.”
in the defendant’s pickup truck matched —Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species,
those of a damaged tree near the body. Chapter 3
56 Forensic Science

Only one-tenth of one percent of the human crime scene. Databases operating in the
genetic code differs between individuals. As United Kingdom, Australia, and the United
the number of locations examined and found States will be discussed further.
to match increases, the likelihood that the In 1995 comprehensive legislation enacted
profile came from someone other than the in the United Kingdom allowed forensic sci-
subject in question becomes progressively entists to set up a national DNA database, the
smaller. At the time of this writing, the first of its kind, to hold both personal DNA
human population of the world is estimated profiles and unknown profiles obtained from
to be greater than 6.4 billion. However, crime scenes.The world’s first DNA database
because obtaining the DNA profile of every formally began operation on April 10, 1995.
individual in the world, or even a single The National DNA Database, as it is known,
country, is not feasible, scientists and legal is under the custodial care of the Forensic
practitioners depend on databases of known Science Society (FSS), which manages the
profiles. A profile is composed of a list of a database on behalf of the Association of Chief
person’s type or allele designation at each Police Officers.
location examined. The expected frequency In a famous mistaken identity case, the
of certain types or alleles in a population can United Kingdom recognized a false cold hit in
be estimated with a great deal of certainty 1999.An individual was identified as the con-
based on a sample of the population. If a tributor of a crime-scene stain based on a
particular allele is found 25 percent of the match at six loci. It was not until a test was con-
time in a sample of the population, it is gen- ducted looking at ten loci that the individual
erally accepted that the same allele can be was absolved of wrongdoing.
expected to occur approximately 25 percent In the annual report on the National
of the time in the whole population. DNA Database issued in November 2004,
Considering the thirteen locations common- the FSS announced having made 584,549
ly examined by forensic DNA analysts in the suspect-to-scene matches and 38,417 scene-
United States, the likelihood that any two to-scene matches since 1995 through what
unrelated individuals would match at each most consider the most sophisticated and
location examined or have a completely effective system in operation. As of early
matching profile averages less than one in a 2005, the database reportedly contains more
trillion. Often, this likelihood is reported as than 2.7 million criminal justice samples
one in three trillion, because it is unlikely and 243,627 unknown crime-scene profiles.
that an individual would possess all of the The plan in the United Kingdom is essentially
most commonly encountered alleles. This is to obtain a profile from the entire criminally
true even for populations with some minor active population.
degree of inbreeding. In forensic cases, partial In 1997 Australian police services endorsed
profiles are often obtained. This means that the establishment of a DNA database and
the analyst was able to obtain the type or formed a national working party.Victoria, the
allele designation for some, but not all, of the capital of which is Melbourne, was the first to
locations examined. Even so, it is not uncom- enact legislation. The Australian federal gov-
mon to hear probabilities in the one in a ernment committed $50 million (Australian)
quadrillion range provided in reports or to establish CrimTrac in 1998. CrimTrac also
court proceedings. includes fingerprint and criminal justice
Databases allow for estimations of proba- records, but DNA is considered the core of
bility for forensic cases, serve as repositories the databases.
for profiles of known offenders, and provide The CrimTrac DNA database holds con-
an arena for comparing unknown profiles victed offender profiles, allowing for compari-
such as those collected at more than one son to unknown crime-scene profiles. It also
Introduction 57

offers a forum for potentially matching DNA NDIS became operational in October 1998.
profiles from unsolved crime scenes that may At the national level, CODIS operates two
or may not be seemingly related. In some indices, the Forensic Index and the
states or territories DNA profiles are legally Offender Index.
collected from charged suspects in addition The Forensic Index contains unknown
to convicted individuals. DNA profiles or those obtained from crime-
The Victorian police obtained the first cold scene evidence for which there is no identified
hit from a DNA database in 1999, when the contributor. For example, a profile deter-
DNA profile of Wallid Haggag, a convicted mined by a crime laboratory analyst in
thief, matched that obtained from blood found Tampa, Florida, by examination of a rape kit
in a car used for a burglary. He had not previ- taken from a victim who did not know
ously been considered a suspect.The database his/her attacker may not generate any inves-
became fully operational in mid-2001. In tigative leads. However, the profile could be
2005, Australian laboratories examined or uploaded into LDIS, SDIS, and finally NDIS
typed alleles at nine locations in addition to where it would reside in the Forensic Index.
sex determination. After the 2002 bombing in Matches obtained within the Forensic Index
Bali, Indonesia, legislation was brought forth may serve to link crimes together, signify a
to add a Disaster Victim Identification com- serial offender, and allow contributing law
ponent to the database. Further consideration enforcement agencies to share information
in 2004 incorporated this use of the database and leads. If a profile in the Forensic Index
pursuant to antiterrorism legislation. Overall, matches that of an individual whose profile
the CrimTrac system and database has gained is held in the Offender Index, analysts at the
recognition worldwide as a highly effective two agencies are notified. This potential
forensic and investigative tool. match identified through CODIS is com-
In the United States, the Combined DNA monly referred to as a hit, and analysts at the
Index System (CODIS) began as a pilot project laboratories involved then contact each
for sharing criminal justice information other to confirm or refute the match. As of
between a dozen or so laboratories in the February 2005 the NDIS Forensic Index
early 1990s. The DNA Identification Act of contained 99,338 crime-scene profiles. Also
1994 gave the FBI authority to establish a as of February 2005 overall, it was reported
DNA database for law enforcement purposes. on the FBI CODIS home page that CODIS
The Combined DNA Index System had yielded over 20,200 hits with more
(CODIS), through forensic DNA and com- than 22,100 investigations aided (http://
puter technologies, allows for electronic
exchange and comparison of DNA profiles The Offender Index of CODIS contains
among qualified crime laboratories. CODIS profiles of convicted offenders, with
is composed of three tiers and two indices. 2,176,610 being held as of February 2005.
The tiers are hierarchical, at the local, state, Given the likelihood of criminal recidivism,
and national levels. The tiered composition maintaining these profiles allows for speedier
allows agencies to participate according to investigations and may act as a deterrent to
their own legal requirements and constraints, the criminal community. On occasion, an
because criminal law is governed at a local offender’s profile is uploaded into the
and state level. For example, qualifying Offender Index by a participating state agency
offenses for required submission of an only to set off hits in the Forensic Index for
offender profile vary by state. The local unrelated crimes. Conversely, entry of crime-
level is referred to as LDIS, the state as scene profiles in the Forensic Index may
SDIS, and the national index as NDIS, with quickly lead to identification of suspects, if
NDIS being governed by the FBI. The FBI’s their profiles already exist in the Offender
58 Forensic Science

Index. One can easily see the utility of both laboratory competency. In some states, this
indices. California, Florida, and Virginia lead means only one laboratory is a CODIS
the way in offender profile submissions, at the and/or NDIS participant. Other states have
time of this writing with 248,828, 235,810, multiple CODIS laboratories in operation at
and 208,527 respectively. Although many local and/or state levels. For example,
states have contributed substantial numbers of California, Florida, and New York have
profiles, other states have contributed only a eleven, ten, and nine, respectively. Arizona
few hundred to a few thousand. has seven CODIS labs, while Michigan,
In 2004 all fifty states considered both sex Virginia, and Alabama each have four; New
crimes and murder as qualifying offenses for Jersey, Utah, and Nevada each have one.
submission to the database. Forty-seven states DNA profiles cannot be submitted directly
collected samples for typing and submission from private laboratories. Documents outlining
for those convicted of any violent crime, and these standards were mentioned previously.
thirty-seven states were operating under “all Accreditation demonstrates compliance with
felons” laws. The trend over the past few these standards.Two accrediting bodies exist,
years has been toward passing legislation the American Society of Crime Labora-
allowing states to submit profiles from all tory Directors-Laboratory Accreditation
persons convicted of felonies. One very Board and the Forensic Quality Services.
interesting fact surrounds the submission of These entities audit laboratories against a
profiles of convicted burglars, which was in document created by the FBI to check for
force in forty-six states as of 2004. Although compliance with the Quality Assurance
traditionally considered a nonviolent or Standards.
property crime, burglary is often noted as a Additional information regarding CODIS
sort of stepping-stone crime. This supposi- and a brochure may be obtained from the
tion has proven valuable in many states. For FBI’s website at
example, both Florida and Virginia have for-
mally reported very high hit rates for crimes “We must all indeed hang together . . .”
such as rape and robbery against profiles —Benjamin Franklin
submitted for convicted burglars. Several
murders have also been solved across the The words of the great inventor and patriot
United States after hits developed against Benjamin Franklin to John Hancock on the
profiles obtained due to convictions of drug occasion of the signing of the Declaration of
or property crimes. Resultant to such suc- Independence are a fitting heading to the
cess, at the time of this writing, more than concluding section of this history. The story
half of the states collect samples from those of forensic science is fundamentally the
convicted of some misdemeanors for sub- story of the application of science in a highly
mission to NDIS. Although not retained at a demanding environment, namely as a part of
national level, more than half of the states legal or quasi-legal determinations of fact.
also maintain juvenile offender profiles in To understand forensic science we must
their SDIS databases. The U.S. Army, the understand the forensic as well as the sci-
FBI, and Puerto Rico also participate in ence. This concluding section will treat
CODIS. these separately, showing how we arrived at
Participation in CODIS is limited to public where we are today.
laboratories that meet the Quality Assurance
Standards issued by the FBI director, which Science
were devised to ensure that all participating The essential foundations of forensic science
laboratories would be compliant with respect are found in the discoveries and inventions of
to quality and integrity of data and overall the Industrial Revolution. These gave the
Introduction 59

tools for the advancement of physics, chem- blood type of blood and semen stains and
istry, and biology, and were adopted by excitedly sharing results that showed the
inquiring minds to apply to physical evidence stain was only found in one in fifty of the
and contribute to questions such as: What is general population.
this? What happened? How and when did it Today’s laboratory reflects the environ-
happen? A visitor to a large forensic science labo- ment in which forensic science operates.
ratory today will see mass spectrometers no Continuing growth in drug abuse with newer
larger than a television set, high-pressure liquid synthetic substances sold to abusers means
chromatographs, comparison microscopes that more types must be added to the range
with integrated digital imaging processors, that the laboratory can identify. There is a
capillary electrophoresis units, Fourier trans- growing emphasis on intelligence from testing
form infrared spectrometers, and a range of of samples to assist identification of origin.
data-processing stations, unimagined either The intelligence is used by agencies to identify
at all or in their current form just twenty- and so to control the sources of illicit drugs
five years ago. The visitor will also see from imported heroin to domestically pro-
advanced chemical treatment stations for duced methamphetamine.The use of firearms
developing latent fingerprints and traps to in crimes of violence shows no sign of abating.
collect projectiles from firearms. The visit The NIBIN agreement (see National Inte-
will probably be arranged by discipline, with grated Ballistic Information Network)
the largest areas in the laboratory dedicated has extended the work of the section to pop-
to analysis of drugs, fingerprints, firearms, ulating and using databases to link crimes
and DNA. A few laboratories will have a through the weapons used and in some cases
small area given to questioned document to identify the history of the firearm and
examination. identify the possible owner.
A visit made between twenty-five and a hun- Latent fingerprints and firearms make an
dred years ago would have been quite different. interesting couplet. We have seen that the
There would have been no DNA section, the idea of the fingerprint as something that was
equipment in the drug section would have truly unique to the individual goes back a
been much more rudimentary and limited in long way. A flurry of activity in the last quar-
its ability to confirm molecular structure, the ter of the nineteenth century established fin-
latent print laboratory would have been recog- gerprinting as an integral part of law
nizable in comparison to today’s equivalent enforcement investigations. It was the first
but without the ability to enhance stains that example of Paul Kirk’s dictum of forensic
is possible with techniques like superglue science being about identity. It long predated
fuming.The firearms section, if we ignore the the development of the exchange principle
contribution of the IBIS automated analysis named after Edmond Locard. It was the first
and database unit, would have been the most application of forensic science to use a form
familiar to a present-day forensic s cientist. of database to match evidence samples with
However, the largest section visited in the reference material from known criminals.
retrospective tour is pretty well missing in Firearms examination also has a long history,
today’s laboratory.There would have been a with scattered individual contributions to
physical evidence unit, with microscopes the development of the discipline through-
and serological testing apparatus. This out the late nineteenth century and then
would have been the cutting-edge section, their consolidation in the early to mid-twen-
with scientists comparing glass, paint, soil, tieth century through the work of Goddard
hairs, and fibers in samples from the scene, and others. They share the property of being
victim, and accused. The serologists would the only significant parts of forensic science
have been identifying species of origin and that belong to forensic science rather than
60 Forensic Science

being a niche offshoot of some other and much developed from what are called “touch
larger scientific discipline. traces.” The burglar leaves traces on objects
Drug chemistry is chemistry, and DNA touched during entry, the armed robber leaves
testing is molecular biology. Forensic science traces on the gun, and even a smudged finger-
borrowed the discoveries of the wider scientific print with insufficient details for conventional
areas and adapted them for forensic applica- ridge analysis can yield a DNA profile.
tions. Sometimes they did not do it very well, The outstanding success of DNA to solve
at least in the beginning. For example, the crimes and exonerate the wrongfully convicted
work in the Castro case discussed above should mean that forensic science is universally
received the most damning of all comments regarded as a valuable tool for the public
from the molecular biologists who reviewed good. It is not, and to find out why, we must
it and declared it not to be of a standard fit take a look at the second issue identified in
for publication. the opening paragraph of this section, before
The role of trace evidence has diminished ending with a synthesis of the two parts, sci-
almost to the point of extinction. Advocates ence and law.
point out that the Locard principle applies to
virtually all associations and that the chemical Law
and microscopy talents of the experienced Any judicial or quasi-judicial hearing is a deter-
trace examiner can be applied to most of mination of fact. The hearing only happens
them.They then argue that if traditional trace after someone complains that a law or rule
evidence capacity and capability is lost, then so or regulation has been broken, and after
is the ability to exonerate or corroborate in some inquiry into the complaint. The pro-
many serious cases, particularly those in which ceedings may be criminal, with investigation
there is no biological evidence.The contra and by law enforcement officers and a hearing at
prevailing view is that conventional trace exam- a criminal trial.They may be civil, with each
inations are highly labor intensive, take far too side subjecting the other’s case to scrutiny
long to complete, and leave us with evidence before proceeding to a civil trial. Or they
that is unquantifiable as to its significance.The may be regulatory, such as an infringement
story of Joyce Gilchrist supports that position. of rules for drug administration in sport.
Many of the cases that she was criticized for In each case, the participants are contest-
were hair cases. DNA testing of the hairs gave ing to have the hearing accept their version of
clear-cut information as to origin and the events. If a scientist is involved, then two
weight of which could be evaluated from data- things happen: (1) The scientist is generally
bases. Conventional trace examination, even if held to be independent of the partisan con-
conducted without flaws, could not approach flict, and (2) the science itself is regarded as
the objectivity available from DNA. somehow absolute and exact. The two are
Any doubt about the correctness of con- joined in the concept of the “expert witness,”
centrating resources on DNA testing has generally recognized in Western legal systems
been dispelled by the incredible effectiveness as a witness who, because of education, train-
of national databases coupled with the almost ing, and experience, possesses knowledge
unbelievable sensitivity of the techniques beyond the ken of the layperson, and who is
now used.The case for DNA used to hinge on therefore permitted (or in the view of the
the fact that it produced high-quality evi- Scottish Appeal Court in Preece, required) to
dence in crimes of violence where blood and give an interpretation to the court of the
semen were transferred between victim and meaning of the material presented. In the con-
assailant. Proponents conceded that there are text of this work, the expert is the forensic
many other crimes where there is no such scientist, and includes crime-scene, finger-
transfer. However, today DNA profiles can be print, questioned document, and firearms
Introduction 61

examiners who may not have a university burial chamber of the ancients. It is humorous
degree but are trained and experienced. In and, to a forensic scientist, chilling in its
practice, the scope is wider, and translators, absolutely logical unfolding of events leading
for example, are a group considered as to a conclusion on the part of Carson that is
expert witnesses. completely incorrect.There may be no ques-
The two concepts are both wrong:The sci- tion that the mind is entirely impartial but it
entists cannot possibly be independent of the can be totally wrong.
conflict and science is not exact. The idea that science is exact is just as off
The reason why the scientists cannot possi- the mark as the idea that isolation from
bly be independent of the conflict is that they knowledge of the circumstances will some-
are instructed by one of the adversarial parties. how ensure the purity and relevance of the
Lawyers will not relinquish what they regard investigation. No science is exact and no sci-
as their right to have their own expert testing entist should claim that it is. Fundamental
and their own opinion on the evidence, so the principles and data from applications tell us
obvious solution of court-appointed experts so. Actually, the concept of science itself is
will not happen. The information that the not exactly exact.There is general agreement
scientists are given and the tests that they are about something known as the scientific
asked to conduct are specified by the method and that has been with us since the
instructing party. The presentation above of time of Francis Bacon, if not earlier. But asking
the Chamberlain case briefly contrasted the someone to define what makes something
inductive and deductive approaches to forensic scientific will illicit a range of responses.
science.The potential coloring of work in the Most will include some form of Popper’s
deductive approach is clear: The instructing concept of falsification. Pure science is about
side says, “here is the evidence, what can advancing our knowledge and understanding
you tell me from it that shows my client is of nature by the process of formulating and
correct and the other side is not?” The frame challenging laws of the way that the universe
of reference for the scientist is thus con- works. Scientific laws are predictive state-
strained and ultimately biased from the start. ments that have stood the test of time and
It is important that it is understood that have been arrived at from observations, that
“biased” is not the same as “flawed”—the is, inductively. The key to Popper’s view is
work can be biased, but accurate. Webster’s “stood the test of time.” He says that no
definitions of bias include: “an inclination amount of testing can prove something is an
of temperament or outlook: such preposses- absolute law; however, the results of just one
sion with some object or point of view that well-designed experiment can disprove it,
the mind does not respond impartially to hence “falsification.” And so it is with associa-
anything related to this object or point of tive evidence. No amount of testing can
view.” prove the association did take place, but just
The inductive approach is just as bad. one well-designed test can disprove it. Even
Everyone with an interest in forensic science fingerprints and DNA tests fall into this cate-
should read David Macauley’s excellent book gory because the hypothesis being challenged
Motel of the Mysteries (Houghton Mifflin, New is the story of the complainant. The DNA
York, 1979). Set in the year 4022, the book could have arisen from consensual sex, the
chronicles the adventures of amateur arche- fingerprint may have been deposited by a
ologist Howard Carson as he explores the legitimate activity at a different time. In other
lost continent of Usa, where he comes upon words, there are alternative explanations for
the remains of a motel. With absolutely no the forensic science test results, just as there
knowledge of what a motel was, or any of the are for the experimental findings in the test
room incidentals, Carson classifies the site as a of the scientific law.
62 Forensic Science

Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Here the spread of results could easily be
Revolutions (University of Chicago Press, between 25 and 175 units.
1996) presents a different view of science The issue for the opponents in the hearing
but one of considerable relevance to forensic is not whether the scientific test result is
science. Kuhn argues that science is identified exact, but rather whether it is reliable and to
by the behavior of scientists, who follow what degree. The answer lies in the concept
unwritten consensus rules until there is a of objective test, defined as one “which
compelling reason to shift. Perhaps the time having been documented and validated is
is coming for a revolution in the unwritten under control so that it can be demonstrated
rules of forensic science. that all appropriately trained staff will
obtain the same results within defined limits”
“He was a gentleman on whom I built an (International Laboratory Accreditation
absolute trust.” Cooperation Guide 19:2002 Guidelines for
—Shakespeare, Macbeth, I, iv, 7 Forensic Science Laboratories, available at Factors that con-
So said Duncan of Macbeth. Something simi- tribute to “control” include the validation of
lar might be said by many about forensic the test by a range of techniques.The “objec-
science today, and the question of the relia- tive test” therefore meets the needs of users
bility of forensic science must be addressed. for reliability and acceptability.
The concept that it is not an exact science Isaac Newton, one of the greats of sci-
must not be confused with the belief that ence, modestly said, “If I have seen further
forensic science is therefore unreliable. The it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.”
best illustration of inexact in the sense of The tale of forensic science has its share of
applied testing is that of blood alcohol. Many giants: Orfila, Bertillon, Locard, Goddard,
factors come into play in the analysis. The Vollmer, and others. Unfortunately, it has
exact volume of blood used, the settings of had more than its share of pseudo giants,
the instrument, the exact amount of ethanol too. Mention was made earlier of Michael
in the standard, whether the operator is tired Saks and his thoughtful work on bias in
or alert. All these add up to the fact that no forensic science. Saks, like many other
two tests on the same sample will give exactly lawyers, is highly critical of the ipse dixit
the same result.The size of the variability can (literally “he himself said it,” meaning an
be measured and reasonable decisions made unsupported assertion usually made by a
as to the acceptable maximum or minimum person of standing) mentality of some
result. Typically most of the results from forensic scientists. We first saw that in
repeated analysis of a single sample in a Orfila, who, although an outstanding scien-
blood-alcohol test will fall in a relatively nar- tist of his time, became sought-after not for
row range. If we define the value of the aver- his ability but for his status. Cameron in the
age of all the tests as 100 units, then very few dingo baby case and Zain as perceived by
individual results will be greater than 106 or the Texas and West Virginia police are other
less than 94 units. In the case of measure- examples.
ment of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the If forensic science has done anything in
active ingredient of cannabis, in the blood, recent years to assure the public and users about
the individual results will be much more its quality, that thing is the move away from the
spread out. THC is present at much smaller individual “expert” to a more controlled sys-
concentrations in blood, and the nature of tems approach. There are well-established
the chemical makes the test much more and internationally respected processes for
complex than that for the relatively high lev- control of the reliability of laboratory testing.
els of the relatively simple chemical ethanol. They have widespread applicability in fields
Introduction 63

from aircraft construction to food safety.The recovery and analysis of computer data will
same principles are now being introduced need to keep pace with the ability of those
into forensic practice. The benchmark is who wish it to be kept secret to hide digital
accreditation programs that are based on the evidence. Biometric data systems to permit
requirements of ISO/IEC 17025, General and prohibit passage through checkpoints
Requirements for the Competence of Testing such as airline and airport security and
and Calibration Laboratories published by immigration screening will be common-
the International Organization for Standardi- place. It may be possible to implement a
zation.These programs incorporate standards reliable lie detector by 2023 and overturn a
for the training, education, and competency century of case law based on Frye, as well as
of personnel; for controlling the quality of simplify criminal investigation and trials.
testing procedures; and for continuing inter- Beyond that, all that can be said is that
nal and external reviews of operations. forensic science has an excellent record of
Cases such as Preece and Chamberlain and latching onto advances in science and adapt-
individual problems such as with Zain ing them for investigative and evidentiary use
should be prevented by conformity to ISO and will probably continue to do so.
17025 requirements.
Further Reading: Books and Journal
“ . . . all the hopes of future years.” Articles
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Andreasson, R., and A. Jones. “Historical anecdote
Building of the Ship (1849) related to chemical tests for intoxication.”Journal
of Analytical Toxicology 20 (1996): 207–208. An
Testing will move from the laboratory to the interesting historical note, referred to in the
crime scene. The United States led the way Borkenstein, R. F., R. F. Crowther, R. P. Shumate,
with the adoption of the “breathalyzer,” and W. B. Ziel, and R. Zylman. “Report on the Grand
the technical reasons for not having an equiv- Rapids Survey.” Department of Police
alent portable device for the identification of Adminstration, Indiana University, 1964.This is a
drugs, fingerprints, and DNA are being classic publication that is out of print, but is
widely referenced in works on drinking and
solved. Drugs will probably be first, with driving. It should be available from libraries.
field instruments to identify controlled sub- Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur. The New Annotated Sherlock
stances in someone’s possession, and detect Holmes:The Complete Short Stories. Edited by
from a saliva sample whether or not their lev- J. Lecarre and L. Klinger. New York:W.W.
els in blood constitute an impairment to driv- Norton, 2004.
ing. The prospect of a crime-scene examiner DiMaio,V. J. M., and D. DiMaio. Forensic Pathology.
2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2001. One of the
passing a sensor over a semen stain at a scene standard U.S. textbooks on forensic pathology.
and getting a report within ten minutes of the Electronic Crime Scene Investigation:A Guide for First
name and last-known address of the person it Responders.Washington, DC: U.S. National Institute
came from may not be just around the cor- of Justice, 2001.
ner, but is well within the realm of science Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA
Evidence to Establish Innocence after Trial.
fact rather than science fiction. DNA testing Washington, DC: U.S. National Institute of
will also produce an anthropological sketch Justice, 1996.
of the source—sex, race, height, and hair and Fay, S., L. Chester, and M. Linklater. Hoax:The Inside
eye color, for example. Story of the Howard Hughes–Clifford Irving Affair.
Based on current trends, most future New York:Viking, 1972.
advances are going to be driven by security Fisher, B. A. J. Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2000.
needs. Foolproof and ultrasensitive sniffers to Forensic Examination of Digital Evidence:A Guide for Law
identify explosives on the clothing of suicide Enforcement. Washington, DC: U.S. National
bombers or in car bombs are needed. The Institute of Justice, 2004.
64 Forensic Science

Golan,T. Laws of Men and Laws of Nature:The History of cases.This book deals with the Sacco-Vanzetti case,
Scientific Expert Testimony in England and America. O. J. Simpson, the Lindbergh kidnapping, Sam
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. Sheppard, and JonBenet Ramsey, among others.
One of the very best books available for those Macaulay, David. Motel of the Mysteries. Boston:
interested in the interaction of science and law. Houghton Mifflin, 1979. A “must read” to see how
Gross, H. Criminal Investigation. 4th ed. Edited by apparently logical conclusions can be horribly
Ronald Martin Howe. London: Sweet and wrong. Lay readers interested in science will enjoy
Maxwell, 1949.This book is long out of print but other books by the same author.
copies may be available from libraries. Popper, K. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Routledge
Hamby, J. E., and J.W.Thorpe. “The History of Classics. Routledge, London and New York, 2004.
Firearm and Toolmark Identification.” Association of Popper is the father figure in modern scientific
Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners Journal, 30th philosophy. His concept of falsification is a
Anniversary Issue.Vol. 31, no. 3 (1999). powerful tool to distinguish good science from
Helmer,W. J., and A. J. Bilek. The St.Valentine’s Day junk science.This paperback edition of his Logic is
Massacre:The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath a must-read for those who struggle with the
That Brought Down Al Capone. Nashville,TN: principles behind the Daubert decision and for
Cumberland House, 2004. those truly concerned about keeping poor science
Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned out of the courtroom.
Documents. Rev. ed. New York: CRC, 1992.This is Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. Washington,
the only one of the three classic books on DC: Federal Judicial Center, 2000.This is the
questioned document examination (the others are definitive reference on science and the law.
Albert S. Osborn’s Questioned Documents and Royal Commission of Inquiry into Chamberlain
Wilson Harrison’s Suspect Documents) that is Convictions. “Report of the Commissioner the
currently available. Hon. Mr. Justice T. R.Morling.” Government
Houck, M. M. Trace Evidence Analysis: More Cases in Printer of the Northern Territory, 1987.
Mute Witness. Burlington, MA: Elsevier, 2004. Rudin, N., and K. Inman. An Introduction to Forensic
Jasanoff, S. Science at the Bar: Law, Science, and Technology DNA Analysis. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2003.
in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River,
Press, 1997. Certain to irritate any forensic NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.This book is so well
scientist reading it, but well-regarded by attorneys. accepted as the basic forensic science text in the
Kakis, F. J. Drugs: Facts and Fictions. New York: United States that it is known simply as “Saferstein.”
Franklin Watts, 1982. Saks, M. J. The Daubert/Kumho Implications of Observer
Kind, S. S. The Scientific Investigation of Crime. London: Effects in Forensic Science: Hidden Problems of
Forensic Science Services, 1987.This is the report Expectation and Suggestion with Risinger, Rosenthal &
of an internally commissioned study and is no Thompson. 90 CAL. L. REV. 1 (2002). Saks is one of
longer available for purchase. It may be available the leading writers challenging the basic way in
from libraries.The publication’s ISBN is which crime laboratories operate.This paper is one
0–9512584–0–0.Those interested in how scientific of many and gives an insight into his perspective.
principles can be used to investigate crime should Smith, S. Mostly Murder. New York: Dorset, 1989.
try to obtain a copy. Many of Stuart’s ideas form Read this to learn how the “expert” sees himself.
the basis of modern “cold case” investigations. Twain, Mark. Mississippi Writings:Tom Sawyer, Life on the
Knight, B., and P. Saukko. Forensic Pathology. London: Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn, Pudd’nhead Wilson. New
Hodder Arnold, 2004. Bernard Knight’s Forensic York: Library of America, 1982.
Pathology is the standard text in Britain.This is U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector
the most recent edition, updated by his coeditor, General. “Status of IDENT/IAFIS Integration”
Dr. Saukko. Report No. I–2002–003, December 7, 2001.
Kuhn,T. S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Wambaugh, J. The Blooding. New York:William
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Not Morrow, 1989. One of the first books to jump on
an easy read for the nonscientist but a book that the DNA “bandwagon” but a most enjoyable read.
influenced business and scientific thinking—this Wecht, C., M. Curriden, and B.Wecht. Cause of
work is where the popular “paradigm shift” Death. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1993.
concept came from. Wilson, Colin. Written in Blood:The Trail and the
Lee, H., and J. Labriola. Famous Crimes Revisited. Hunt. New York: Warner Books, 1989. Could
Southington, CT: Strong, 2001. Henry Lee is well well have been titled “how science solved crime
known for his many appearances in the media before DNA,” covers interesting cases and easy
giving expert commentary on forensic science to follow.
Introduction 65

Further Reading: Cases or because they have displayed a degree of longevity.

Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. Some are cited below.
579, 596 (1993). is a recent initiative from the U.S.
Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). Department of Justice’s National Institute of
Opinion of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Justice (NIJ). It is being established as a “one-
Virginia, filed in November 1993 (No. 21973 “In stop shop” on forensic DNA.
the matter of an investigation of the West Virginia is the homepage of the NIJ.
State Police Crime Laboratory, Serology Division”). is the website of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.The society’s
21973.htm newsletter can be accessed from the site. Although
People v. Castro, 545 N.Y.S. 2d 985 (Sup. Ct. 1989). it is generally directed to professional and technical
People v. Jennings, 96 N.E. 1077 (1911). matters, the newsletter does contain some articles
Regina v. Buckely, 143 SJ LB 158 (1999). of more general interest.
State v. Bogan, 905 P.2d 515 (1992). will take you to
United States v. Havvard, 117 F. Supp. 2d 848 (D. Ind. Zeno’s Forensic Web Site.This is a reliable site that
2000). has been in operation for many years and provides
United States v. Llera Plaza, 181 F. Supp. 2d 414 (E.D. comprehensive and up-to-date information.
Pa. 2002).
rt_02–03.pdf is the source for the FSS Annual
Further Reading:Websites Report on the National DNA Data Base, only
Although websites do not have the advantages of available in electronic form.
permanency and prepublication review possessed by
most books and journals, there are some that are provides statistics for the U.S. National DNA
worth visiting, either because of their official standing Database
ABO Blood Groups will respond to transfusions of type B blood by
There are many thousands of inherited char- their antibody destroying the transfused cells.
acteristics in blood. Identifying these can be The frequency of the various ABO blood
used in forensic science to associate a stain of groups in the population has been measured
body fluid with a possible source. However, and is shown in the table below. These are
in everyday language, blood group refers to the approximate values for the population as a
characters that determine whether blood whole—the exact frequencies vary by race
transfusions will be compatible between a and ethnic group.
donor and recipient. ABO blood types can also be detected in
Physically, blood is a suspension of red other body fluids such as semen and saliva in
cells in a fluid called serum (strictly speaking, more than 80 percent of the population.
in the body the fluid is plasma, which is con- The ABO blood type of the donor of a
verted to serum by removal of fibrinogen and blood or semen stain can be shown by very
platelets during the clotting process). Karl sensitive testing techniques. Provided that the
Landsteiner established the basis of trans- stain is dry and has not putrefied, the antigens
fusion compatibility at the turn of the twen- can be preserved for many years.
tieth century. He took blood from a number ABO typing was therefore one of the main
of donors and separated the cells and serum, methods used to characterize body fluid
then mixed them. He found that some stains before the widespread adoption of
serum-cell combinations resulted in clump- DNA typing.
ing of the cells.
Landsteiner identified four basic blood types.
In type A, the cells have a chemical on their
surface—an antigen—that reacts with an anti- Table 2 Blood Type
body in serum from type B people. In type B,
Type Cells Serum % of Population
the antigen on the cells reacts with antibody in
serum from type A people. Group O people A A anti-B 41
have neither of these antigens but both types of B B anti-A 10
antibody. Group AB people have both antigens O none anti-A and anti-B 45
but neither antibody. Thus group A people AB A and B none 4

68 Abortion

See also Blood; Blood Grouping; Saliva; Semen of air embolism in pregnancies of less than
Identification twenty-four weeks duration is also an indi-
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
cation that death may have been related to a
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: failed illegal abortion. Examination of fetal
McGraw-Hill, 1983. remains consists of physical and histological
James, S. H, and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An measurements of the fetus and organs.
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. Abortion is an issue in domestic abuse,
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. where pregnancy may be a stimulus to, and
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. object of, physical violence by the male
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic domestic partner.
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, References
1998. Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and
J. Payne-James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal
Medicine. London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
Abortion Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
The forensic investigation of criminal abor- New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
tion relates to identification of fetal remains Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
and association with a putative mother or the Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
investigation of maternal death. Maternal
death is very rare in countries where abortion
is legal. However, it does occur and requires Accelerant Residues
medical investigation. Scientific examination of fire scenes is a special
Criminal abortion can result from physical area of forensic science. The main role of the
violence, from the use of abortifacient drugs testing is to determine how the fire started—
or chemicals, and the use of instruments. that is, whether it was the result of an accident
Physical violence can be self-inflicted, acci- or arson—but seldom provides evidence of
dental, or deliberate but not necessarily the individuals who may have been involved.
intended to result in abortion—domestic However, this is not always so. For example, if
abuse for example. Drugs such as pennyroyal an unusual accelerant is identified, the infor-
and oil of turpentine that can induce men- mation may lead to development of a suspect
strual flow can result in abortion. Other based on information about the purchase of
drugs that cause contraction of the wall of the the material. Evidence of an accelerant in
uterus are also encountered. Most effective debris from the scene is usually a good indica-
abortifacient drugs are controlled by law and tion of a deliberately set fire.
not readily accessible. By contrast, instru- Examination of the fire scene is a two-stage
ments used to procure abortion by physical process. It begins with the scene investigator
interference, with or without introduction of looking for physical evidence of the ignition
such substances as soap solutions or slippery source, such as a burned out electrical appli-
elm, are readily available. They are also dan- ance. Where the source is localized but not
gerous. Death can result from shock, air associated with a likely cause, arson using an
embolism, instrument injury, or sepsis. accelerant must be suspected.
Where illegal abortion is suspected, there- Even after a fierce fire, traces of the accel-
fore, the examination of the deceased should erant will remain.The traces can be recovered
include the physical condition of the uterus from the debris and identified in the labora-
and contents, such as perforations, signs of tory. Trained dogs can be used at the scene
hemorrhage, and foul-smelling products. to indicate the location of possible accelerant
Signs of abortifacients such as soapy fluids or residues. In the laboratory, techniques such
foreign bodies should be looked for. Evidence as gas chromatography and (preferably) gas
Accelerant Residues 69

Firefighters examining evidence from a house fire. Evidence collected from the scene of a fire can help distinguish an accident
from arson. (Michael Donne/Photo Researchers, Inc.)

chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) The more volatile components are lost to a

are used. The assay consists of extraction of greater extent than those with a higher boil-
residue from the debris, followed by its charac- ing point and so the apparent composition of
terization by chemical analysis. Several extrac- the residue from gasoline, for example, will
tion methods have been used over the years, not be exactly the same as that of the original
but most laboratories now use some form of liquid. The distortion is referred to as weath-
adsorption-desorption process. Headspace (the ering. Interpretation also requires awareness
container gas space above the sample) from the of the effects of the material burned. For
debris is collected on an adsorptive strip such example, pinewood contains chemicals of the
as activated charcoal.Accelerant traces are then same class as the constituents of turpentine.
desorbed chemically or by heating.Assay is best See also Arson; Gas Chromatography; Mass
conducted by GC-MS. Ignitable liquid residues Spectrometry
detected are characterized according to a References
scheme published by the American Society for De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
Testing and Materials (ASTM). McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Accelerants commonly used to set fires James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:
include gasoline, lighter fuels, and alcohols. An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative
Interpretation of results requires knowledge Techniques. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis,
of the effects of the fire on the composition 2005.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
of the accelerant. Ignitable liquid accelerants, River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
such as gasoline, are usually complex mix- White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
tures. The heat of the fire will distort the Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
relative proportions of the constituents. 1998.
70 Accreditation

Accreditation must be met. These same standards apply to

Laboratory accreditation is the process of an all testing laboratories seeking ISO accredita-
independent competent authority inspecting tion, no matter what the testing area is. The
policies, practices, and procedures for com- program is tailored to specific testing areas,
pliance with a credible set of standards. It such as forensic science, by means of amplifi-
provides the public and users of the services cation documents that provide guidance on
with an objective measure of reliability of the acceptable interpretations of clauses in the
laboratory’s operations. field of application. There is no list of disci-
There are two main accreditation programs plines, and laboratories are not required to
applicable to forensic laboratories.The first is seek accreditation in every area in which they
the one provided by the American Society of conduct testing. However, consensus operation
Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory of ISO programs requires that the laboratory
Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). This has and its accrediting body develop and publish
been in operation since 1982, and at the start a scope of accreditation that describes the
of 2003, 237 of the approximately 350 crime tests and materials covered by the accredita-
laboratories in the United States were tion. Forensic Quality Services (FQS) was
ASCLD/LAB accredited. formed by the National Forensic Science
There are also laboratories in Australia, Technology Center (NFSTC) and provides
Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and ISO-based accreditations to forensic science
Singapore that are ASCLD/LAB accredited. laboratories in the United States.
However, the main accreditation programs There is, de facto, a third accreditation
for testing laboratories worldwide are based program in forensic testing in the United
on ISO Standard 17025.This has been used as States. This is for forensic DNA-testing and
the basis of forensic programs in Canada, DNA-databasing laboratories. Laboratories
Australia, England, and Holland. seeking to produce data for inclusion in the
The ASCLD/LAB program recognizes national DNA database (see Combined DNA
controlled substances, biology (including Index System [CODIS]) or to receive fed-
DNA), trace evidence, toxicology, latent print eral government financial support for such
development and comparison, questioned work are required to show compliance with
documents, firearms and tool marks, and national quality assurance standards. Such com-
crime scene examination as areas of testing or pliance can be demonstrated by accreditation
disciplines in forensic science. In addition to through the ASCLD/LAB or FQS accreditation
crime scene examination, a laboratory must programs that use the national standards as
submit itself for evaluation in all disciplines in field specific guidelines. Direct accreditation
which it is active and cannot elect to become can also be obtained through FQS.
accredited in a selected subset of a discipline. There is no program that establishes com-
The evaluation consists of a compliance audit pulsory certification of forensic laboratory
against a published set of standards, ex- testing personnel (see American Board of
pressed as criteria.The criteria are classified as Criminalistics for details on a voluntary
“essential,” “important,” and “desirable.” To program). However, all three accreditation
become accredited, a laboratory must meet all programs contain requirements for establishing
essential criteria that apply, 75 percent of and maintaining the competency of personnel.
important criteria, and 50 percent of desirable Typically, these are requirements for training,
criteria. professional development, and proficiency
The ISO-based programs differ somewhat testing.
in operation.The main international standard Training requirements establish the knowl-
provides a set of clauses describing quality edge base and practical skills required before
management and technical requirements that being permitted to conduct unsupervised
Admissibility of Scientific Evidence 71

casework. Professional development estab- semen. Acid phosphatase as a screening test is

lishes pathways whereby analysts continue to gradually being replaced by methods based
improve their theoretical and practical abili- on detection of a prostate specific protein
ties. Proficiency testing provides a process for called P30.
monitoring the overall competency of systems See also Ejaculate; Semen Identification
and individuals by presenting them with sam- References
ples the composition of which is known (or Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
can be determined) by the testing agency but MA: Elsevier, 2005.
not by the analyst. De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
See also American Society of Crime Laboratory McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
(ASCLD/LAB) Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
References Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
American Society of Crime Laboratory Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board; River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. (Referenced July 2005). White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Forensic Quality Services; Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
(Referenced July 2005). 1998.

Acid Phosphatase Admissibility of Scientific Evidence

Acid phosphatase (AP) is an enzyme found in There are many sources (case law, rules of evi-
many body tissues, including the prostate, dence, statutory requirements) governing the
that is used as a screening technique for admissibility of scientific or expert evidence in
semen. Human seminal fluid contains con- a court of law.The most well-established is the
centrations of the enzyme several hundred Frye case of 1923, which set a standard requir-
times higher than any of the other tissues in ing that the basis of the scientific examination at
which it can be detected, including vaginal issue had to be generally accepted in the field.
secretions. Detection of AP cannot therefore This is a conservative approach that has been
be used as proof of the presence of semen (it criticized for denying the court useful informa-
is found in other tissues, especially vaginal) tion that could be gleaned from novel scientific
but can be used as a reliable screening proce- tests. In Frye, the court ruled against the admis-
dure (it is found in especially high levels in sibility of polygraph (lie detector) test results
semen). on the grounds that it was a novel method and
The enzyme promotes the removal of not generally accepted in the field.
phosphate groups from organic molecules and The Federal Rules of Evidence (Rule 702)
its activity is greatest under acid conditions. are more liberal and are based on a determi-
This contrasts with alkaline phosphatase, an nation by the judge as to whether or not the
enzyme found at high levels in other tissues, evidence will assist the trier of fact to under-
including bone.The test usually performed in stand or determine a fact or issue.
screening for semen applies an acid solution of More recently, Supreme Court decisions
sodium α-naphthyl phosphate together with in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals
a dye called Fast Blue B to the suspect stain. (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael (1999)
If AP is present, the phosphate bond is have confirmed that the gatekeeper for
hydrolyzed and a purple diazo compound admissibility is the trial judge, but have
is formed within thirty seconds. offered a framework for the decision-making
The usual next step is examination of process.The framework consists of a number
stain extracts for human spermatozoa, which of questions, each of which attempts to
provides a specific confirmation of human address whether the evidence is scientific.
72 Age Estimation

The Daubert decision covered many and depends on the application of correctly
aspects of what would permit a judge to controlled objective tests.
accept evidence as scientific. They included See also Frye Rule; Daubert Ruling; Kumho Tire Ruling
whether the evidentiary method at issue References
was taught at a university, whether it was Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals. 509 U.S. 579
the subject of research published in peer- (1993).
reviewed literature, whether error rates for Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923).
the method were known, and whether the Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).
hypothesis upon which it was based could be
falsified. Falsification is part of the deductive- Age Estimation
inductive cyclical process of the scientific Determination of age occurs in forensic
method. A possible scientific law is deduced examinations for two main reasons: (1) to
from observation and expressed as a hypoth- determine whether a threshold age of legal
esis. To have validity, the hypothesis must significance has been achieved, such as the age
forbid something. Experiments are then of consent for sexual intercourse, and (2) in
planned to test the hypothesis by searching identification of remains. Some factors used
for the occurrence of the forbidden attri- are teeth, ossification of bones, and closure of
bute. This is the process of falsification, usu- skull sutures. However, most of these are
ally associated in scientific philosophy with complete by age twenty-five and age determi-
the writings of Karl Popper. It is a very sim- nation thereafter is more problematical.
ple and powerful concept, yet one that puz- Age determination from teeth is based on
zled a minority of the judges on the Daubert the time scale of eruption of teeth in the child
Court. and their replacement by permanent teeth.
In contrast to “scientific” evidence, the Age determination by ossification and closure
acceptance of an “expert” is a pragmatic deci- of skull sutures depends on the conversion of
sion that the witness possesses skills or knowl- young cartilage or fibro-membrane-based
edge beyond those of a layperson and that these bones as calcification and hardening occur.
skills or knowledge can assist the court. Daubert
thus soon came under challenge in regard to References
the admissibility of well-established evidence Bowers, C. M., and G. Bell. Manual of Forensic
Odontology. 3rd ed. Saratoga Springs, NY:
such as fingerprint comparisons, questioned American Society of Forensic Odontology, 1995.
document examinations, and exami-nation of Byers, S. N. Introduction to Forensic Anthropology:A
tool marks and footwear impressions. This Textbook. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.
seems to have been resolved (for example in
Kumho Tire) in a confirmation of the admissibil-
ity of expert evidence provided that the wit- Alcohol
ness can show that the work was performed in Alcohol is the name for a family of chemicals
a manner that resulted in reliable findings and of the general formula CnH2n+1OH. Ethyl
conclusions. alcohol, also called ethanol, is the common
However, Daubert (and Kumho) are mislead- form of potable alcohol and has the formula
ing and have led to needless confusion. The C2H5OH. Other forms, such as methyl alco-
lack of understanding of the courts about sci- hol (CH3OH), are poisonous.
ence is partly forgivable—scientists are con- Alcohol in alcoholic beverages is produced
fused about science. What is less forgivable is from fermentation of sugar by yeasts. In
that the Daubert Court was really trying to beers and wines the concentration of alcohol
assess the reliability of conflicting scientific is about 5 percent and 13 percent alcohol by
evidence, albeit in a very complex case. The volume respectively. The final alcohol con-
reliability of testing is a quite different issue centration is determined by the amount of
Alcohol 73

sugar in the starting material and the duration specifically drunk driving—probably affect a
of the fermentation. There is a natural maxi- greater number of citizens than any other
mum of about 15 percent as the alcohol kills aspect of forensic science.
off the yeast at higher concentration. Stronger People vary in their sensitivity to the
alcoholic beverages are produced by distilla- effects of alcohol intake and to the relation-
tion of the fermented liquor. Spirits usually ship between intake and blood-alcohol level.
have alcohol concentrations in the range 40 However, the physiological processes con-
to 50 percent. trolling the relationship are well understood
Alcohol has been imbibed socially for cen- and the variation is a normal biological
turies. Alcoholic beverages are appreciated phenomenon.
aesthetically, and moderate intake of wine has When an alcoholic beverage is consumed,
been associated with reduced risk of heart dis- it first enters the stomach. From there, some
ease. On the other hand, alcohol is an addic- of it is taken up into the bloodstream and
tive, depressant drug that is poisonous at high passes to the liver (which is also the main
concentrations and results in considerable organ by which it is detoxified and thus elim-
social harm through its causal role in road traf- inated from the body), and so to the body as
fic accidents and in personal violence. Chronic a whole, including the brain (where it exerts
alcohol abuse can result in liver failure. its pharmacological activity).Any unabsorbed
The observed pharmacological effects of alcohol continues its passage into the small
ingesting alcohol depend on the sequence in intestine where absorption is completed.
which it depresses functions controlled by The rate at which the alcohol enters the
the brain. The sequence from pleasure to bloodstream depends on the local conditions
death is well-known. The first effect of alco- in the stomach and small intestine. These
hol is on the brain area responsible for inhibi- include the rate at which the stomach emp-
tions.The sequence continues through speech ties into the small intestine, the extent to
control (slurring and unattenuated volume), which the alcohol acts on the lining of the gut
to motor control (staggering), to coma (pass- to increase its blood flow, and the effects of
ing out). If enough is taken, death due to foodstuffs consumed at the same time.
depression of the center controlling breath- Absorbed alcohol is dissolved in the body’s
ing will result. water. This means that the same amount
However, many people show marked tol- of alcohol consumed will result in a blood-
erance to the effects of alcohol. A chronic alcohol level inversely proportional to lean
drinker will be much less affected than a body size. Lean body mass is about 70 per-
moderate one. For example, most people will cent of the weight of a man of normal build
be unconscious at blood-alcohol levels of and about 65 percent for a woman. Together
0.350 percent, but such readings are encoun- with their lower average weight, this means
tered regularly in the laboratory in samples that the same amount of alcoholic beverage
from drunk drivers.There are recorded cases will result in higher blood-alcohol levels in
of recovery from alcoholic coma with blood women than in men.
levels greater than 1 percent. Alcohol is metabolized mostly by the liver,
by chemical conversion by the enzyme alcohol
Alcohol and Drinking dehydrogenase. Some is eliminated unchanged
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is a widely in urine and a tiny amount in breath.
accepted social activity. Unfortunately, there The relationship between alcohol intake
is no doubt that there is a causal relationship and blood alcohol is thus a balance between
between alcohol intake and the likelihood of the intake (amount and rate of drinking, and
causing a vehicle accident. Because driving is a local effects on absorption in the stomach and
major part of everyday life, alcohol cases— intestines), distribution in the body (lean
74 Alcohol

body size), and elimination (by the liver and compared to those in a similar group who had
in urine). not been involved in an accident.The data can
It so happens that the usual volumes of be used to describe the relative risk, from the
alcoholic beverages and the concentration of proportion of the driving population with a
alcohol in them are such that there is approx- given blood-alcohol concentration to that
imately the same amount of alcohol in a shot in drivers who have caused an accident. The
of liquor (whisky, vodka, rum, etc.) as in a relative risk rises as blood alcohol reaches
glass of wine or a glass of beer. about 0.04 percent. The risk rises steeply and
For an average person, drinking in social disproportionately as blood alcohol continues
circumstances, one drink will result in a max- to increase. Someone with a blood-alcohol
imum blood alcohol of about 0.015 percent level of 0.100 percent is more than 10 times
about one half hour after drinking. There is a more likely than normal to cause an accident,
slight relationship between the nature of the and one at 0.15 some 40 times more likely
drink and the resulting blood alcohol level, (Borkenstein et al. 1964; Borkenstein et al.
with carbonated drinks of moderate concentra- 1974).
tion being the most rapidly absorbed. Exam- Many people claim that their ability to
ples include vodka and coke, champagne, and drive is not affected at lower blood-alcohol
gin and tonic.The body eliminates the equiva- levels. However, the Grand Rapids study
lent of one average drink each hour no matter showing an increased risk even at low levels
what the nature of the alcoholic beverage. has been supported in so many other surveys
Although many urban legends persist as to that there is no justification at all for leniency.
sobering cocktails, nothing other than time A British study offered some insight into why
will have any significant effect on blood-alcohol accident rates rise at levels where handling
levels. skills are probably not affected.
It is emphasized that the normal variation Professional bus drivers were taken to an
in size, body composition, elimination rates, off-road site. They were divided into three
and absorption rates all come together to groups: those given no alcohol, those given one
result in a very wide range of possible blood- drink, and those given three drinks.They were
alcohol levels per drink and in the time to then asked to set gates to a gap through which
eliminate the alcohol from the blood.There is they believed they could drive their vehicles.
thus no “safe” rate of drinking in terms of They were then allowed to drive through the
blood (or breath) alcohol levels. gates, and their performance was measured.
Actual performance was as expected. The
Alcohol and Driving small amount of alcohol had no effect on the
There is no doubt that drinking and driving average gap that they could clear (but some
do not mix. For example, it is generally individuals did show marked impairment).
accepted that alcohol is involved in approxi- The larger amount was associated with
mately 40 percent of fatal road traffic acci- impairment, the group requiring an increase
dents, within the United States, with the total in the gate width to pass safely through.
economic cost for alcohol related crashes However, even the low-level group showed
exceeding $50 billion each year (National clear impairment of judgment as to the min-
Commission Against Drunk Driving). imum gap that they estimated they could
There is a well-established relationship clear with their vehicles.
between blood-alcohol levels and the likeli- We thus see that alcohol will impair judg-
hood of causing an accident. The benchmark ment before motor skills.A low blood-alcohol
study was performed in the 1970s in Grand level can indeed leave the drinker perfectly
Rapids, Michigan. The blood-alcohol levels able to perform the manipulations required
of drivers who had caused accidents were for driving. However, the ability of the driver
Alcohol 75

to respond to a situation requiring judgment was not absolutely specific for ethanol, and
will be impaired. substances that could be present in the breath
of diabetics could contribute to the reading.
Alcohol Detection in Blood and Breath Some of the earlier devices were also sus-
Measuring the concentration of alcohol in ceptible to regurgitation effects.The concen-
blood is one of the most straightforward and tration of alcohol in the beverage that enters
reliable tests performed in forensic science. the stomach is around 10 percent, the con-
The procedure used universally is that of gas centration in blood is around 0.015 percent,
chromatography with an internal standard. and the blood to breath ratio is 2,100 to 1. If
The internal standard is another member there is any regurgitation (“burping”) of
of the alcohol family that behaves very like stomach content when the breath test is con-
ethanol in the assay but is distinguishable ducted, it will have a substantial false positive
from it. A fixed amount of the internal stan- effect on the breath reading.
dard is added to the blood at the start of the Modern instruments use a range of detec-
process.Any variation in each step is corrected tion systems, including infrared spectrometry,
for as the ethanol and internal standard are electrochemical cells, and miniature gas chro-
affected in the same way. matographs.They have the advantage that they
A set of samples of known alcohol concen- are much more sensitive, specific, and rapid
trations is run. The ratio of the detector than the Breathalyzer was. This means that
response for the ethanol to that of the response operators can take more than one sample for
for the internal standard is calculated and a greater accuracy, the instruments allow for
standard curve prepared. Thus the ratio of rapid repeat testing and can detect regurgita-
ethanol to internal standard in the unknown tion effects and negate readings so affected, and
blood sample can be used to measure the con- potential interferences from natural sources,
centration of alcohol in the sample. such as acetone in diabetics, can be allowed for.
There is some variation in the configura-
tion of the test chromatographs. Some are set Alcohol Laws
to measure alcohol in liquid extracts of the The clearly established relationship between
blood samples; others measure alcohol in the blood alcohol and accidents has led to most
vapor headspace in a sealed vial of sample and jurisdictions adopting the so-called per se law,
internal standard. in which a blood-alcohol reading over a stated
The physics of partition between liquid level is taken as evidence of intoxication. Until
and gas that allows headspace analysis of alco- recently, the level was 0.100 percent in most
hol in blood samples also permits estimation U.S. jurisdictions, but the federal government
of blood alcohol by breath testing. Alcohol in is promoting a lower level of 0.08 percent.
the blood is in equilibrium with the concen- Other countries generally have lower limits
tration of alcohol in the gases in the lungs. (zero in Scandinavia, 0.05 percent in
The ratio of concentrations is highly in favor Australia). The United Kingdom has a direct
of the blood levels, at 2,100 to 1. The meas- breath-alcohol limit of 35 µg percent, which is
ured breath level is converted to a blood a little under 0.08 percent equivalent in blood.
equivalent using the blood to air ratio. See also Field Sobriety Tests
There are many devices used in breath References
testing. The earliest widespread instrument Borkenstein, R.F., F.R. Crowther, R.P. Shumate,
was the Breathalyzer brand. The original W.B. Ziel, and R. Zylman.The role of the drinking
Breathalyzer depended on the development driver in traffic accidents. Department of Police
Administration, Indiana University, 1964.
of a color due to oxidation of the alcohol in the ———.The role of the drinking driver in traffic
sample. Some criticism was levied at earlier accidents.The Grand Rapids Study. Blutalkohol,
breath devices because the detection system 11, Supplement 1, 1974.
76 Amelogenin

De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic Diplomate status is attained by passing an
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: extensive theory test covering all the disci-
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
plines within forensic science. The objective
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. is to ensure that there are analysts with a
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. sufficiently broad awareness to be able to
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington, recognize, preserve, and collect potential
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry, physical evidence.
1999. Fellow status recognizes that there are
National Commission Against Drunk Driving; http:// (Referenced December 2005). areas in which the testing and interpretation
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle of evidence requires many years of experi-
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. ence and specialized study. Certification as a
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic fellow requires demonstration of continuing
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, competency through proficiency testing and
completion of continuing education.
Amelogenin American Board of Criminalistics;
The amelogenin gene is found on the X and (Referenced
July 2005).
Y chromosomes.The gene can be detected in
body tissues using the polymerase chain reac-
tion (PCR) procedure. The X- and Y-specific American Society of Crime
products are of different size, and so sex can Laboratory Directors (ASCLD)
be determined, as material of female origin The American Society of Crime Laboratory
will produce only a single product, but that of Directors (ASCLD) is a nonprofit professional
male origin will produce both. This process society that strives to improve the operation of
can thus be used to determine gender. crime laboratories through improved commu-
See also DNA in Forensic Science; Polymerase nications among crime laboratory directors,
Chain Reaction (PCR) promoting and encouraging high standards in
Reference the field as well as promoting the development
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, of management techniques among its mem-
MA: Elsevier, 2005. bership. This is achieved through an annual
meeting of its membership where training is
provided in current issues relating to crime
American Board of laboratory management.
Criminalistics (ABC)
Forensic science consists of many disciplines. Reference
Paul Kirk coined the term criminalistics to American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors; (Referenced July 2005).
describe the general area of scientific exami-
nation of materials for associative or incep-
tive evidence. In recent years there has been American Society of Crime
an upsurge of interest in formalized demon- Laboratory Directors/Laboratory
stration of competency of forensic practition- Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB)
ers. The American Board of Criminalistics In 1982 the ASCLD recognized the need to set
was established in 1995 to create and main- some minimum standards for operation of
tain a program for certification of individual crime laboratories and to conduct an objective
criminalists. evaluation of their performance. It therefore
The program has been very successful, and set up the American Society of Crime Labo-
by 2000 there were 450 people certified as ratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation
diplomates and 45 as fellows. Board (ASCLD/LAB).
Ammunition 77

The ASCLD/LAB operates two ac- projectile that is fired from the barrel of the
creditation programs covering laboratory firearm.The cartridge case holds all the com-
management and operations, personnel ponents of the cartridge—the propellant or
qualifications, and physical plant. The first is gunpowder charge and the primer—and is
their traditional “legacy” program. In 2004, crimped at the mouth to hold the bullet in
ASCLD/LAB became one of two accrediting place.
bodies in the United States to offer an ISO Modern ammunition contains smokeless
based accreditation program to forensic sci- powder, which is made up largely of nitrocel-
ence laboratories.ASCLD/LAB has called this lulose. Before smokeless powder, black pow-
program “ASCLD/LAB—International.” As der was used. The fast-burning gunpowder is
well as being ISO 17025 based, this program what creates the force that propels the bullet
also incorporates key components of their down the barrel. The primer is a mixture of
legacy program and ILAC G–19 standards. chemicals detonated by the impact of the firing
See also Accreditation; ASCLD; Forensic Quality
pin, which in turn ignite the gunpowder
Services charge.
References Rim-fire cartridges (primer located at the
American Society of Crime Laboratory rim as opposed to the center of the cartridge)
Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board; were once common but are now exclu- (Referenced July 2005). sively 0.22 caliber. They are not reloadable.
Centerfire cartridges have the primer located
Ammonium Nitrate–Based in the center of the cartridge case. Almost
Explosives all calibers other than 0.22 are centerfire.
Mixtures of ammonium nitrate and fuels pro- The primers can be removed after firing and
vide stable, low-cost explosives. Commercial replaced, making this type of cartridge
preparations include water gels in which reloadable.
ammonium and sodium nitrate are gelled with Examination of ammunition requires a
a gum and include fuel such as aluminum. facility for test firing.Test firing must be done
Ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel oil creates in a manner that prevents damage to the test
an explosive known as ANFO. bullets. This is usually accomplished by test
Ammonium nitrate is readily available as firing into water, although the older method
fertilizer. Mixed with fuel oil and contained of firing into cotton waste is still in use in
in metal milk churns, the resulting “fertilizer some laboratories.
bombs” are cheap, easy, and deadly weapons Traditionally, a comparison microscope is
for terrorism. used for side-by-side viewing of tests and evi-
dence. Oblique, reflected lighting is used to
See also Explosions and Explosives highlight individual characteristics.Test spec-
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
imens are first compared with each other to
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: determine if the weapon produces repro-
McGraw-Hill, 1983. ducible markings each time it is fired. Today,
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle automated imaging systems such as IBIS are
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. used for entry of markings into a database and
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic also to produce and record the features used
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
1998. in individual cases.

Bullet Ammunitions
Ammunition The projectiles in handgun or rifle ammuni-
A live round of ammunition is properly tion are called bullets. Shotgun ammunition
referred to as a cartridge. The bullet is the fires pellets.
78 Ammunition

Examination of ammunition is carried out clawlike extractor, which grips the base of
to compare fired rounds with each other and the cartridge case and pulls it out of the
with possible sources. The examinations chamber, may also leave striated toolmarks.
depend on comparison of markings on the bul- In the same manner, the ejector may leave its
lets and cases. mark when it strikes the base of the cartridge
Individual characteristics are the striation-type case, throwing it out of the weapon.
tool marks impressed onto the bullet as it trav-
els through the barrel. These markings result Shotgun Cartridges
from microscopic imperfections transferred Shot pellets are usually lead spheres, although
from the tools used to create the barrel.These pellets used for hunting waterfowl must be
markings are unique to each barrel, and look made of materials other than lead, such as
similar to a barcode when viewed under a steel, bismuth, or tungsten. Pellets are sur-
microscope.Any manufactured physical object rounded by wadding and are classified by
(not just bullets) will show individual charac- number sizes; the larger the number, the
teristics that may be used for individualization. smaller the pellet. Birdshot pellets are smaller
They may also arise from random wearing pat- than buckshot pellets, ranging in size from
terns. These characteristics can be altered by 0.05 to 0.17 inch in diameter. Buckshot pel-
extensive use, cleaning, or abuse. lets range from 0.24 to 0.36 inch. In addition
In addition to determining the type of weap- to pellets, elongated, hollow, lead rifled slugs
on that may have fired a bullet, the examiner may be used. Pellets can be sized by weight
can also check to see if a bullet bears suffi- and diameter if they are not badly deformed.
cient individual characteristics for compari- Shotgun wadding helps to cushion and
son, either with other bullets from the same protect the shot from the hot gases produced
or different crime scene, as well as test bul- by the burning gunpowder, as well as to keep
lets fired from a specific weapon. the shot together as it exits the barrel. On
Cartridge cases can also be marked close-range shots, the wadding may enter the
during the firing process with individual wound along with the shot. Wadding may be
characteristics that are formed during the made of paper, felt, plastic, or plastic gran-
manufacture of various parts located in the ules. The wadding usually helps to identify
breech area.The negative impression of the fir- the ammunition manufacturer. In some in-
ing pin is pressed into the soft metal of the stances, plastic wadding can receive markings
primer. As the gunpowder charge ignites, the when fired from shotgun barrels that have
pressure forces the base of the cartridge case been sawed off, have adjustable chokes, or
backward against the breech face, leaving im- have other gross defects.The type of wadding
pressed markings on the base of the primer used is often characteristic of a particular
and/or cartridge case. ammunition manufacturer.
The expanding gases from the burning gun- Plastic wadding may be marked with iden-
powder create tremendous pressure that tifying markings, particularly when fired
forces the sides of the cartridge case into from sawed-off barrels with rough edges, or
tight-fitting contact with the inside surfaces when the wadding scrapes against adjustable
of the chamber. Markings from irregularities chokes or front sights that protrude into the
in the chamber can be scratched into the sides barrel.
of the cartridge case when it is extracted
from the chamber. See also Firearms; Integrated Ballistic Identification
Markings caused by pressure, scratching, System (IBIS)
and scraping on the sides of the cartridge De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
case by the magazine or loading mechanism Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
may also bear individual characteristics. The McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Andrews, Tommie Lee 79

James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. 1998.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Warlow,T. Firearms, the Law, and Forensic Ballistics. 2nd
ed. London and Bristol, PA:Taylor and Francis, Andrews, Tommie Lee
1996. This case presents the first U.S. trial in which
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic DNA evidence was admissible in court. The
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
1998. case began in Orlando, Florida, in 1986, when
a young woman named Nancy Hodge was
raped at knifepoint. She briefly saw her attack-
er’s face, but most of the time he held his hand
Amphetamines over her face so that she could not see him.
Amphetamine and methamphetamine are Over the following months, more than twenty
frequently abused stimulant drugs. As the women were raped, each time the attacker
name implies, they exhibit a stimulating covering their faces so that they could not see
effect on the central nervous system. They him. Following an attack in 1987, police found
cause a sense of well-being, increased alert- two fingerprints on the window screen and
ness, decreased fatigue, and a loss of appetite. finally, on March 1, 1987, police were alerted
They can lead to a strong psychological to the scene of an attack and arrested Tommie
dependence. Lee Andrews following a two-mile car chase.
Most amphetamine and methamphetamine His fingerprints were found to match those
are illegitimately produced in clandestine labo- found on the window screen, and he was
ratories. Production requires little training, a charged with the rape of that young woman.
small amount of equipment, and relatively inex- Andrews was also identified by Nancy Hodge
pensive chemicals. They are white to tan pow- as being the man who raped her. However, this
ders that are snorted, injected, smoked, or case was unlikely to be successful if based only
ingested. “Ice” is a very pure smokeable form of on identification by the victim.
methamphetamine.Their effects last from four In order to show that Andrews was, in fact,
to twelve hours. a serial rapist, police turned to DNA analysis.
See also Drugs; Methamphetamine The DNA of semen from the rapist was com-
References pared with that from a blood sample from
Christian, D. R. Forensic Investigation of Clandestine Tommie Lee Andrews, and the profiles were
Laboratories. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2004. found to be identical.
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: DNA evidence had not yet been accepted as
McGraw-Hill, 1983. admissible evidence in court, and so a pretrial
Drummer, O. H. The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs of hearing was necessary to show that the tech-
Abuse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. nique was scientifically sound in its theory,
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An practice, and interpretation. Following the
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
extensive pretrial hearing, the evidence was
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington, admitted into court. However, when the evi-
DC: American Association for Clinical dence was submitted by the prosecution, it
Chemistry, 1999. was stated that there was only a 1 in 10 million
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle chance that Andrews could be falsely accused,
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. and when this was challenged by the defense,
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug
Descriptions, Methamphetamine/Amphetamines; it could not be substantiated.The jury was split and the case declared a mistrial. Andrews was
amphetamines.html (Referenced July 2005). then tried for the second rape, for which
80 Anthropology

fingerprint evidence was found, and found skeletal configuration. Ancillary material such
guilty. For this he was sentenced to twenty- as hair and nails are also of value. For exam-
two years in prison.The Hodge case was then ple, examination of the nails for Beau’s lines
retried a few months later, when the DNA evi- (grooves on the fingernails often found fol-
dence was better represented. Andrews was lowing disease) can indicate the recent health
found guilty of serial rape and his prison term history of the individual, as periods of severe
extended to 115 years. illness result in cessation of nail growth. Hair
See also Admissibility of Scientific Evidence; DNA
left at a scene, even when the body has under-
in Forensic Science gone severe changes and decomposition, may
References be used to determine the hair color of an
Court TV’s Crime Library, DNA in Court; individual. Finally, today’s technology can examine
forensics/dna/6.html?sect=21 (Referenced July DNA recovered from hair or bones. As well
Dr. George Johnson’s Backgrounders, DNA as offering individualization of recent remains
Fingerprinting; by comparison with known or family sam-
Backgrounders/Genetech/GEpage14.html ples, some DNA characteristics can provide
(Referenced July 2005). an indication of race.
See also Mass Disaster Victim Identification
Anthropology Byers, S.N. Introduction to Forensic Anthropology:A
Anthropology is the study of the origins, phy- Textbook. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.
sical characteristics, and social institutions of Maples,W. R., and M. Browning. Dead Men Do Tell
mankind. It is the part of anthropology dealing Tales:The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic
Anthropologist. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
with physical characteristics that is employed
in forensic science.The applications are devot-
ed to identification of remains. These may be Antibody
bodies found accidentally, mass disaster vic- An antibody is a naturally occurring protein
tims, war grave remains, or mass homicide found in blood serum. It contains sites that
victims. Remains come upon accidentally will bind with specific chemical groupings in
could be of homicidal, suicidal, accidental, or antigens, thereby rendering them inactive.
natural causes. The proteins are termed immunoglobulins.
The objectives of the anthropological Different classes of immunoglobulins react in
investigation are to identify the species, gen- different ways with the antigens. Some com-
der, race, stature, and age of remains. These bine with an antigen in a way that results in
identifications are made from known data formation of a large polymer, which is insol-
about the human skeleton and its anatomy. uble and precipitates. Others cross-link with
However, the investigation can also provide antigens on cell surfaces, causing them to
information on health and the manner and clump together, or agglutinate.
cause of death. Some features may even result Challenge with an antigen (usually a pro-
in discovering individual identity. For exam- tein foreign to the host organism) results in a
ple, pipe smoking can result in characteristic range of antibodies. Different regions of the
deformation of teeth that, if allied to data on antigen produce antibodies of different speci-
age and stature, could result in a reliable ficity, and the same region can produce anti-
assignment of identity comparing remains bodies of different immunoglobulin classes.
with a list of possible persons. The immunoglobulins are produced by
Features measured include the cranium and white cells. When the antibody production to
its lines of ossification, teeth, long bones, the antigen challenge is at a maximum, the
pelvic structure, rib cage, and the overall white cells can be harvested and cell lines
Arson 81

grown in culture. The antibody from each line Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
(clones) can be examined and highly specific MA: Elsevier, 2005.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
antibodies obtained.These are defined as mono- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
clonal antibodies.
Many of the techniques of traditional
forensic biology depend on antibody-antigen Antiserum
reactions. There are many examples, ranging An antiserum is serum from an animal con-
from the traditional blood-group serology taining antibodies to a defined source. The
tests—typing blood as group A, B or O, for antiserum may be natural, for example pro-
example—to confirmatory tests still in routine duced by the body in response to infection, or
use. For example, the identification of species may be provoked by deliberate challenge
of origin of blood or other body fluids is usu- with antigen.
ally based on reaction of an extract of the Each antibody in the antiserum will com-
stain with a species-specific antiserum. bine specifically with the antigen site that
Other tests are based on chemical detection produced it, like a lock and key. This is the
of tags used to measure the binding of antigen principle that makes immunization an effec-
to antibody. These include a large range of tive treatment against infectious diseases such
drug screens. as polio.The immunization causes production
See also Antigen; Blood Grouping; Serology; Species
of antibodies. The cells that manufacture the
Identification antibodies remember the specific antigens
References and are triggered into producing the antibody
Antibody Resource Page,The; if challenged again. The antibodies bind with (Referenced the antigens and so neutralize them.
July 2005). Most antisera reactions used in forensic sci-
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
MA: Elsevier, 2005. ence depend on the fact that the antibody
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle immunoglobulin molecules are a dimer of two
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. identical chains:There are therefore two iden-
tical binding sites on each immunoglobulin. In
this way, the antibodies can cross-link to each
Antigen other. It is this cross-linking that produces the
An antigen is a chemical substance that will agglutinations first seen by Karl Landsteiner
cause the production of antibodies when it is when studying blood types, and the precipitin
introduced into the body. Antigens must be reactions used in species identification.
foreign to the body and be of a nature that will
cause the body’s defense system to respond. See also Species Identification
They are usually proteins or chemicals attached Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
to a protein backbone. The immune response MA: Elsevier, 2005.
to the challenge results in production of a
cocktail of antibodies. Each has been formed
in response to a tiny part of the antigen and Arson
each will combine with that site in an antigen- Arson is the offense of setting fire to property.
antibody reaction. The main task of the forensic scientist in
arson investigation is the examination of the
See also Antibody scene and materials removed from it to
Antigen Presentation;
determine whether the fire was deliberately caused. This is an instance in which forensic
BiologyPages/A/AntigenPresentation.html science is used to identify the occurrence of a
(Referenced July 2005). crime and not to associate an individual with
82 Arson and Explosives Incidents System

a scene or another person. This is known as control may have destroyed much of the
inceptive evidence. available evidence.
As well as detection of accelerant residues, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire-
the forensic scientist may examine appliances arms (ATF) has built up considerable experi-
for integrity and the remains of possible initi- ence in dealing with major fire and explosive
ation devices, such as fuses. Physical examina- scenes and has established the Arson and
tion can yield good evidence. For example, if Explosives Incidents System (AEXIS) to pro-
a fire is caused by the burn-out of an electric vide investigators with a source of information
motor, the inside of the appliance will be relating to arson and explosives incidents.This
sooted. If the appliance was burned during information includes details on the total num-
the fire, the inside will often be soot free. bers of explosives and bombing incidents
Detector dogs have been shown to be grouped according to the type of target; the
effective at pointing to sites of accelerant total number of explosives incidents for each
residues at arson scenes. U.S. state; the total number of bombing inci-
See also Accelerant Residues
dent fatalities for each type of target, including
References information on deaths, injuries, and property
Almirall, J., and K. Furton. Analysis and Interpretation damage; as well as the total number of bomb-
of Fire Scene Evidence. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2004. ing and arson incidents grouped by motive, the
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic nature of the explosive device, and the related
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: injuries and damage.
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An See also Arson
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Nic Daeid, N. Fire Investigation. Boca Raton, FL: Asphyxia
CRC, 2004. Asphyxia, or suffocation, can be the cause of
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. death in an accident, a suicide, or a homicide.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic Examples of accidental asphyxia include burial
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, in avalanches and autoerotic experiences that
1998. go wrong. Suicidal asphyxia often results from
hanging. Homicidal asphyxia includes strangu-
lation and smothering.
Arson and Explosives Incidents Classical signs of asphyxia include cyanosis,
System (AEXIS) congestion, petechial hemorrhages, and bleed-
By their nature, arson and explosive sites ing from the nose and mouth. Cyanosis occurs
present the scientist with substantial chal- whenever there is a lack of oxygen, which
lenges not found in other crime scenes. The makes the blood darken in color, taking on a
fire or explosion will have produced a site of bluish tint, when seen through the fingernail
devastation and destruction and consumed bed for instance. However, the presence and
much of the potential evidence. The goal of the absence of cyanosis are not reliable guides
any first responders on the scene should be to whether or not death was due to asphyxia.
to ensure safety and to minimize and control Interference with venous return and the effect
further damage by extinguishing the fire or of lack of oxygen on capillary blood vessels can
securing the physical site. Only then can the cause congestion and edema of the face.
scene investigator enter and begin work. However, one of the most reliable signs of
Unfortunately, onlookers (including senior asphyxia is the presence of tiny, pinpoint lesions
law enforcement personnel who should know in the conjunctiva and the skin of the eyelids.
better) are often present and further compli- These petechial hemorrhages are also found in
cate matters. By then, the fire and damage other circumstances, including insulin overdose
Associative Evidence 83

and heart attacks. Bleeding from the nose and on a body area that is accessible, such as limbs
mouth may occur in strangulation asphyxia. or the abdomen, and will probably demon-
Autopsy findings include intracranial bleed- strate handedness.These injuries are typically
ing and edema of the lungs and brain. Very minor, multiple, and regular, and there may be
characteristic hemorrhages will be found in signs of older similar injuries. Defensive
the viscera. They are named Tardieu’s spots injuries arise from the actions of the victim to
after their discoverer. avoid or minimize damage. They include cuts
to the palms in attempts to fend off knife
Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne- attacks and bruising to the arms in attempts to
James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine. ward off beating injury to the head.
London: Elsevier Academic, 2005. Custody and arrest injuries warrant par-
Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and ticular attention. Handcuff injuries include
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. neuropathy from damage to nerves, abra-
Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London: sions, and bruising. Custody injuries may
Greenwich Medical Media, 2003. result from use of restraints or use of force in
Saukko, P., and B. Knight. Knight’s Forensic Pathology. attempting to restrain a violent prisoner.
3rd ed. London: Arnold, 2004. Differentiation of accidental causes from
deliberate injuries presents significant chal-
lenges to the examining physician. One of the
Assault more common differential situations is that of
Investigation of the victims of violent attack distinguishing falls from assault. The most
requires careful documentation and thorough serious example is where death could have
physical examination.This is true irrespective resulted from a head injury. A simple fall,
of the nature of the assault: deliberate per- caused, for example, by tripping or alcohol
sonal attack, terrorist action, domestic vio- impairment, in which the head strikes a con-
lence, or rape, for example. Factors to be crete floor, can certainly produce a head
determined begin with determining that injury sufficient to result in death.There will
there is indeed physical evidence of an not necessarily be any characteristic features
assault.The examination will afford informa- to permit distinguishing between accidental
tion as to the nature of the injury; the influ- and deliberate causation. Some features
ence of any preexisting illness; whether there worth exploring are the presence of other
is a history of injury and treatment; the time injuries that could have resulted from a fight,
of injury; and perhaps information on blood-alcohol levels, medical history, and the
weapons used. Involvement of medicines and nature of the head injuries—for example evi-
illicit drugs can be elicited by testing blood dence of multiple blows.
and urine samples. References
The history of the victim must be docu- Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
mented carefully; for example, sports inju- James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
ries and some diseases such as psoriasis may London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
result in misleading physical signs. Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Documentation can consist of notes, pho- Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
tographs, and copies of x-rays and other lab- Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
oratory tests. The notes are discoverable in Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
any litigation.
The physical examination should bear in
mind that injuries can result from deliberate Associative Evidence
self-harm and from defensive actions. In the Associative evidence seeks to establish an asso-
case of self-inflicted injuries, the injury will be ciation between people or between people and
84 Automated Fingerprint Identification System

places. For example, the results of typing of finding of transferred fibers. Fabrics and their
semen from the vagina of a rape victim are constituent fibers are not unique. Denim
compared to those in a nominated suspect or jeans, for example, are very common and
in an offender database. Where the types in there is nothing sufficiently characteristic
the evidence sample differ from those in the about one pair of jeans to provide the basis
nominated suspect, the suspect is eliminated for a unique association.
as a possible source of the semen. If there are The transferred fibers are not retained
no differences in type, the suspect is not indefinitely by the recipient fabric and the
eliminated. However, the apparent associa- weight of a finding of a few fibers, indistin-
tion could be because the suspect was indeed guishable from the targeted source, has been
the source of the semen or could be because challenged many times.
the suspect had the same type by chance. At best, associative evidence is often
In the example of typing a semen sample in described more correctly as corroborative,
a rape case, if DNA typing was used, the types which means that it has to be weighed along-
detected can be very rare—often rarer than side other evidence and not taken as having
one person in a million of the general popula- substantial weight in its own right.
tion. DNA typing methods often develop fig- See also DNA in Forensic Science; Fibers;
ures of one in a billion of the population.That Fingerprints
being so, it is not very likely that the suspect References
would happen by chance to have the same De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
DNA type. However, before DNA typing Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
became commonplace,ABO blood typing was McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
used in these cases. The population frequen- Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
cies of the different ABO types vary from Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
about 3 percent (type AB) to about 50 percent Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
(type O).The strength of the association there River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
would be much less. White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
The most compelling associative evidence is 1998.
fingerprinting. No two people (not even iden-
tical twins) have the same fingerprints. The
finding of a matching print at a scene or on a Automated Fingerprint
weapon is accepted as conclusive proof of asso- Identification System (AFIS)
ciation between the person and the object. Fingerprints are unique to an individual.
How the print got there is another matter. Fingerprint patterns can be left at a scene.The
There is no reliable way to tell the age of a print, or latent, can be made visible and its
print, and it is possible to plant fingerprints. features compared with reference samples.
Other associative evidence includes com- The basic principles of identification through
parison of fabric fibers. The concept is that fingerprints were established more than a
contact between the fabrics will result in trans- century ago. Police forces began to preserve
fer of fibers from one to the other. Thus, if a data banks of fingerprints and compared
clothed body is transported in the carpeted latents with those in the data bank using a clas-
trunk of a car, fibers will be transferred from sification system established by Sir Edward
the shirt of the body to the carpet and from the Richard Henry in 1897.The procedure is labor
carpet to the shirt. This concept of transfer is intensive and time-consuming, and too cum-
often described as “every contact leaves a trace” bersome for effective use with large databases.
and is attributed to Edmund Locard. A relatively recent and effective develop-
There are many problems in evaluating the ment has been the introduction of computer-
strength of the association postulated by the based systems for storing and comparing
Autopsy 85

fingerprint images. These automated finger- Other valuable evidence can be obtained
print identification systems (AFIS) provide from tire prints, especially if there is any
rapid and accurate comparisons even with characteristic wear pattern. Oil residues and
large databases. chips of plastic or glass from broken lights are
AFIS systems use computers to establish also sources of good associative evidence.
and compare patterns in minutiae in the See also Glass; Paint
recovered and referenced fingerprints. They Reference
therefore offer a faster and more objective James, S.H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
means of identifying the source of a latent Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
print.They also make the use of extensive data- Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
bases feasible in a way that would not be pos-
sible using conventional classification systems.
See also Fingerprints The autopsy, also sometimes referred to as
James, S.H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An the postmortem examination or necropsy, is
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. the examination of a body to ascertain the
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. cause of death and the character and extent of
Komarinski, P. Automated Fingerprint Identification change caused by disease.The three main rea-
Systems (AFIS). Amsterdam and Boston: Elsevier, sons for conducting an autopsy are therefore
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
clinical, statutory, and investigative.
River, NJ: 2004. Statutory autopsy examinations are con-
ducted whenever the circumstances of death
prevent an authorized person from signing a
Automobile Examination death certificate. The definition of “author-
Automobiles can be stolen, involved in hit- ized person” and the circumstances that lead
and-run incidents, or used to deliver bombs.
Vehicles have unique identifiers (VINs) in
many places throughout their structure.
Plates are affixed to the body in several places
and numbers are ground into parts such as
the engine and transmission. Window glass
bears stamps identifying the make and date of
Identification of a stolen vehicle relies on
inspection of the VIN information. This may
involve restoration of ground-out, stamped
numbers. Identification of a vehicle from parts
in the debris relies on the same principle.
In a hit-and-run incident, paint is often
transferred between vehicles or from vehicle
to victim. Identification of a vehicle from
transferred materials thus usually depends on
examination of the paint. Surface color can be
compared to manufacturers’ charts. If flakes
or chips of paint are left, the layer sequence
and sometimes the physical shape of the chip
can provide good evidence when compared
to those in a possible source vehicle. An autopsy report from a stabbing victim. (
86 Autopsy

to his or her being unable to sign vary from from the blood but residues of overdose may
jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, gener- be detected at the site of administration. The
ally the person is a medical practitioner and internal organ examination is conducted only
the circumstances are violent or unexplained after completion of the careful external
death. scrutiny. Organ appearance and weights are
Investigative autopsies focus on determin- recorded and samples taken for histology.
ing the nature and cause of death, and possibly The forensic autopsy has many serious
the time of death. Samples that should be aspects. For example, if there is no obvious
taken at the autopsy include blood, head hair cause of death, decisions must be made about
and pubic hair, fingernail scrapings, swabs the extent of the examinations to be conducted
from orifices such as the vagina and rectum, and the time that they will take.The pathologist
and stomach contents. Many of these are rou- must be aware that the family of the deceased
tine and samples are included in standard will be awaiting release of the body so that their
examination kits.The purpose of the sampling grieving process can be closed. A balanced
is to provide material for laboratory examina- approach is required, and some situations are
tion for poisoning (blood, urine, and stomach more fraught than others. For example,
contents) and physical contact (blood, semen microscopy of the brain takes considerable
on the swabs, and hair). time and the brain is an organ of considerable
Blood from at least two different sites emotional significance to the family. Yet this
should be taken from vehicle accident victims can be an invaluable test in some cases. In one
to screen for alcohol. Postmortem produc- such case, a car ran a red light, crashed into a
tion of alcohol is a well-established problem motorcycle, and the car driver and the cyclist
artifact. It is also a very localized phenome- were both declared dead at the scene. On the
non and differing levels in each of the samples face of it, the car driver was culpable, but
will show that there has been postmortem examination of the brain revealed that he had
conversion of glucose to alcohol. suffered a brain hemorrhage and would have
Clothing should be examined before been dead or unconscious before the accident.
removal for stains and evidence of weapon References
damage such as knife cuts and bullet trajecto- Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and
ries. If the clothing has to be cut off the body, J. Payne-James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal
care must be taken to avoid interfering with Medicine. London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
any evidentiary marks or damage. The cloth- DiMaio,V. J. M., and D. DiMaio. Forensic Pathology.
2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2001.
ing itself should be packaged in a way that Dolinak, D., E. Matshes, and E. O. Lew. Forensic
prevents contamination and degradation of Pathology: Principles and Practice. Amsterdam and
evidence; sealed paper bags are best. Boston: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
The outer surfaces of the body should be Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
examined for injuries and scars. If death due New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
to administration of a drug or poison is sus- Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
pected, look for injection sites. These can be Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
vital evidence in cases such as insulin poison- Saukko, P., and B. Knight. Knight’s Forensic Pathology.
ing in which the drug itself is rapidly removed 3rd ed. London: Arnold, 2004.
Barbiturates excess of what the parent considers to be
Barbiturates are depressant drugs used as reasonable discipline, or the child may
sleeping tablets. There are several members become enveloped in an environment of
in the family, each with different properties. domestic violence.
Some have a rapid onset but short duration of Features encountered in the battered baby
action (for example amobarbital) and some included repeated injuries from rough han-
have a more delayed onset but longer dura- dling, multiple fractures, delay in seeking
tion of action (for example phenobarbital). treatment for the child’s injuries, and mis-
Phenobarbital also has clinical use as an leading explanations to account for the
antiepileptic. Chronic barbiturate users can injuries. Accidents do happen, and children
develop a dependency. do injure themselves in the course of play.
The drugs are toxic in overdose. They are However, warning signs include any injury in
also abused as “downers.” children under twelve months of age and
See also Drugs
inappropriate locations of the injuries, such
References as small rounded bruises on the front upper
Drummer, O. H. The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs of chest caused by finger pressure.
Abuse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug
Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
Descriptions, Barbiturates;
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
dea/concern/barbiturates.html (Referenced July
Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.

Battered Baby Syndrome

Physical child abuse, sadly, is a worldwide Benzidine
problem. It is usually identified as repeated Benzidine is a chemical that can be used to
willful injury inflicted by parents or caregivers detect blood.The benzidine test is one of the
on children. The cause can be stress on the most sensitive available, capable of producing
part of emotionally inadequate parents or an a positive response to less than one part per
88 Bite Marks

thousand of blood. Unfortunately benzidine is Bowers, C. M., and G. Bell. Manual of Forensic
toxic, capable of inducing cancer. It is seldom Odontology. 3rd ed. Saratoga Springs, NY:
American Society of Forensic Odontology, 1995.
used and has been replaced by safer alternates Dorion, R. B. J. Bitemark Evidence. New York: Marcel
such as phenolphthalein. Attempts have been Dekker, 2004.
made to alter benzidine to retain the sensitivity
but without the safety problems. Tetramethyl
benzidine is one such safer chemical derivative. Black Powder
A different approach is used in the commercial Black powder is a mixture of potassium nitrate,
preparation known as Hemastix, in which the charcoal, and sulfur. Known as an explosive for
benzidine is immobilized on a matrix and pro- many centuries, black powder has been used to
tected by a covering membrane. propel rockets, to fire ammunition, to act as a
See also Blood; Color Tests detonator, and to make bombs.
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, See also Explosions and Explosives
MA: Elsevier, 2005.
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: Blood
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle Blood is the fluid that carries nutrients to
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. body tissues and waste materials away from
them. About 40 percent of the volume of
blood is made up from red cells, which give it
Bite Marks its color. The cells derive the color from a
Comparison of marks is the basis of many chemical, hemoglobin. The heart pumps
tests in forensic science. Ammunition, tools, blood through the lungs and body tissues. In
footwear, tire tracks, and even fingerprints the lungs, the hemoglobin in the red cells
are examples. The basis of such tests is that forms a chemical complex with oxygen in the
the object examined contains unique physical breathed air.The oxygen is transferred to tissue
features caused by random processes such as where it is taken up during metabolism, and
wear or manufacturing defects. the waste gas carbon dioxide is carried back
Bite marks are also in this category. Teeth to the lungs to be eliminated in the air we
vary from person to person due to natural breathe out.
variation and to the consequences of dental Blood contains other cells—the white
treatments. Bite marks can be left on food- blood cells. These play an important role in
stuffs and on skin. the body’s defense against infections.The fluid
However, comparison of bite marks is that carries the red and white cells is called
much less reliable than the comparisons in plasma. Plasma is a solution of salts, proteins,
the other areas mentioned. This is because and other chemicals. Blood responds to cuts
there is seldom a clear impression with suffi- and other wounds by clotting and so prevents
cient individualizing characteristics available. the injured from bleeding to death. The clot-
Bite marks, unlike full dental impressions or ting process converts one of the proteins in
x-rays, seldom possess sufficient individuality plasma, fibrinogen, to fibrin, which forms the
and the media—especially skin—do not pre- matrix for the clot to form.The fluid left after
serve a good enough impression. the clot has formed is called serum. Blood
removed from the body, for example for
See also Odontology blood grouping, will always clot unless treated
Bowers, C. M. Forensic Dental Evidence:An with an anticoagulant.
Investigator’s Handbook. Amsterdam and Boston: Nutrients, hormones, drugs, and other
Academic, 2004. substances are carried around the body either
Blood Grouping 89

in solution or chemically bound to some of The largest group of cold case examples
the plasma proteins. comes from the Innocence Project, where
See also ABO Blood Groups; Blood Grouping;
DNA testing has been used to exonerate many
Blood Spatters; Bloodstain Identification; Color Tests of the falsely convicted. Testing of the most
References minute traces of evidence remaining after
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, exhaustive testing more than a decade previ-
MA: Elsevier, 2005. ously has resulted in DNA profiles being
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle developed that prove that the material did
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic not originate from the convicted persons.
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, Only DNA has the combination of stability,
1998. sensitivity, and discriminating power to be
successful in these circumstances of traces of
material remaining after many years.
Blood Alcohol Analysis DNA databases are producing evidence
See Alcohol associating individuals with samples from
crime scenes. Even where there is no data-
base reference material, DNA testing can be
Blood Alcohol and Driving While a powerful adjunct to careful police investiga-
Intoxicated tion, as for example in the Jarrett case in
See Alcohol South Australia. Briefly, a widow in her eight-
ies, living alone, was found dead in her home.
She had been raped and died during the
Blood Grouping assault. Various features of the scene led the
Blood grouping is the process of characteriz- police to conclude that her assailant was
ing blood, whether in a stain or as liquid sam- known to her. They therefore interviewed
ple, by identifying inherited characteristics in family members and men (such as workmen)
it.The clinically important ABO system is the who would be well enough known to the
oldest of the many hundreds of grouping clas- deceased that she would allow them into the
sifications (see ABO Blood Groups).To be house. Each was asked to donate a sample for
of use in forensic science, a characteristic sub- DNA testing. The sixteenth person inter-
stance must show variation between people viewed, David Jarrett, was a youth who had
(sometimes expressed as “discriminating repaired her roof a few months earlier. His
power”), not change with time in an individ- DNA matched that of the semen on the body.
ual, be stable in stains, and be capable of reli- He was subsequently convicted of the mur-
able detection in stains or other evidence der. One of the features of this case—and of
samples. Because most cases in which body those like it—was that the DNA types are so
fluids are typed in the laboratory are sexual rare that they constitute compelling evidence
offenses, the group should be found in semen of association.
and other body fluids as well as in blood. See also ABO Blood Groups; Blood; DNA in
The overwhelming advantages of DNA Forensic Science
typing as a grouping system are clear, and References
there are very few places still routinely using Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
other systems.The advantages of DNA work MA: Elsevier, 2005.
out in many different circumstances: for Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
example, cold cases in which there is no White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
usable eyewitness testimony, and cases in Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
which there are no other leads. Each of these 1998.
can be illustrated with examples.
90 Blood Spatters

Blood Spatters of the car, yet the wound was to her right
The physical nature of bloodstains can con- temple and there was a spent cartridge case
tain valuable information. Blood shed from caught in the folds of her dress.
any violent impact, such as a blow with a The dash of the car was covered with a fine
club, is broken up into small droplets. The spray of blood, and the laboratory tried to
higher the energy of the impact, the smaller group it to ascertain whether it came from Mr.
the droplet size. As the blood makes contact or Mrs. Bajada. They were unsuccessful in
with a solid surface, it leaves elongated stain developing sufficient markers. However, the
patterns, the linear direction of the stain bloodstains showed directional characteristics,
pointing back to the point of impact. Blood and a reconstruction was instituted using
cast off from the club can be distinguished cords to align with the splashes. It was discov-
from that originating from the point of ered that there were two points of origin. One
impact by the larger drop size and the pattern was from inside the car at the level of the dash
of the stains. Blood spatters can also be created and just to the left of center. The other was
by secondary energy transfer such as running high on the right side near the driver’s door.
through a pool of blood. This information, along with the distribution
The value of blood spatter examination is of cartridge cases, was consistent with Mrs.
seen in distinguishing between blood trans- Bajada being pulled down toward the driver
ferred during an attack and that transferred to and shot inside the car, and then Mr. Bajada
someone rendering assistance. The first will shooting himself in the arm. Angelo was sub-
take the form of small spatters. However, sequently convicted of the murder of his wife.
blood transferred from wet stains or bleeding See also Blood
injuries will take the form of streaks and References
smears. Bevel,T., and R. M. Gardner. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis:
Investigations in the Bajada case in Malta With an Introduction to Crime Scene Reconstruction. 2nd
illustrate the power of blood spatter exami- ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2001.
James, S. H., and W. G. Eckert. Interpretation of
nation. Police were called to a scene on a Bloodstain Evidence at Crime Scenes. 2nd ed. Boca
quiet road late one night. There they found Raton, FL: CRC, 1998.
Angelo Bajada standing outside of his car with Wonder, A.Y. Blood Dynamics. San Diego, CA:
a wound to his left arm and his wife in the Academic, 2001.
passenger seat dead from a bullet wound to
the right temple (cars are right-hand drive
and drive on the left of the road in Malta). Bloodstain Identification
Bajada told the police that he and his wife When initially shed, blood is red in color. As
were returning home after dining at a restau- it dries into a stain, the color darkens to red-
rant when their car was flagged down by a brown and then to brown. The color is used
pedestrian who subsequently pulled a gun, to identify possible blood during the visual
demanded money, and shot Bajada and his examination of evidence items or crime
wife when they did not comply. Bajada was ill scenes. Thereafter, blood identification pro-
with blood loss as the bullet to his arm had ceeds in four stages.These are:
penetrated his chest and ruptured a blood
vessel. He was taken to hospital by ambu- • A screening, or presumptive, test to
lance.There were sufficient inconsistencies in see if the material could be blood
the story presented at subsequent interviews • A confirmatory test to prove that it is
that the police began to doubt his story and blood
suspect that he had killed his wife and shot • A test to prove that it is human blood
himself as a cover-up. For example, he • A typing test to investigate the origin
claimed his wife had been shot from outside of the blood
Bombs 91

The screening test uses the peroxidase DNA. Thus, today many laboratories go
activity of the heme component of the hemo- straight to DNA testing after obtaining a pos-
globin in red cells to catalyze the conversion of itive screening result.
a colorless chemical to a colored oxidized See also Blood; Blood Grouping; Color Tests; DNA
form. Other substances such as vegetable in Forensic Science; Species Identification
material can also catalyze the conversion. The References
timing of the reaction is critical and the test Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
should only be called as a positive if the color MA: Elsevier, 2005.
is developed within thirty seconds of treating De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
with reagent. McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Although it is almost unknown for a brown James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
stain giving a positive reaction to the screen- Introduction to Scientific and Investigative
ing test to be anything other than blood, the Techniques. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis,
lack of specificity of the test means that it 2005.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
must always be regarded as a screen only. River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Phenolphthalein (Kastle-Meyer test) and White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
benzidine are examples of screening tests. Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
There are several confirmatory tests. The 1998.
most well established is the hemochromogen
or Takayama test in which characteristic crys-
tal forms are produced when the stain extract Bombs
is mixed with a pyridine reagent. Four things are needed to produce a bomb:
The third step traditionally used a specific (1) an energy source, (2) a material that will
antiserum to human serum.The stain extract undergo a rapid exothermic reaction to pro-
and the antiserum are allowed to diffuse duce a large volume of gas when ignited by
through a gel. When the two solutions come the energy source, (3) a method of contain-
into contact, an antigen-antibody complex is ment so that the energy of the phase transi-
formed that precipitates out of solution and tion is not dissipated harmlessly, and (4) a
forms a visible mark in the gel.This is known method of initiation so that the bomb
as a precipitin reaction, and the technique of explodes where and when intended.
allowing the solutions to diffuse through the The fragments of the container impart
gel is known as the Ouchterlony method. A damage and can cause serious injury to any-
variant is to drive the serum and antiserum one in the vicinity of the exploding bomb.
together using an electric field. However, it is the very fast shockwave from
The steps of confirming the presence of the explosion that is responsible for most of
blood and proving human origin can be the damage to property. (See Ammonium
combined using antihuman hemoglobin Nitrate–Based Explosives; Explosions
rather than antihuman serum. Some DNA and Explosives.)
markers are primate specific and so give A pipe bomb typically contains black pow-
species information as well as typing. How- der in a pipe with ends closed by threaded
ever, strictly speaking, material that gives caps. Detonation from within the pipe causes
a positive screening test and a DNA result a huge volume of gas that expands almost
in a system that is primate specific should instantaneously into the surrounding air when
be described as “bloodlike” rather than the pipe bursts. The effect is like a gale, but
blood. one traveling at up to 7,000 miles per hour.
The fourth step is blood typing. Modern In contrast, disposal of a bomb by exploding
DNA typing includes a step that will only it from outside results in a harmless phase
respond to human (or in some cases primate) change, as there is no compression release.
92 Bradley, Stephen

See also Ammonium Nitrate–Based Explosives; and was reported to speak with a heavy
Arson and Explosives Incident System (AEXIS); accent. An old photograph was found in the
Explosions and Explosives
house of Bradley and his family sitting on the
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic rug in which the boy’s body had been
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: wrapped, and a missing tassel from the rug
McGraw-Hill, 1983. was actually found in the house. It was found
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle out that Bradley had recently sold a blue Ford
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. Customline, and when this was located at a
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, local dealership, the same pink granular
1998. material was found in the trunk. It was then
discovered that Bradley and his family had
booked passage to sail to England aboard
Bradley, Stephen the Himalaya, which was already en route to
Shortly after Bazil and Freda Thorne of Colombo, Ceylon, and his Pekinese dog was
Australia won the lottery, their son Graeme found at a local veterinary hospital with
was kidnapped while on his way home from instructions left to send it to England.
school. The Thornes received a phone call Detectives waited for Bradley in Colombo
from a man with a heavy accent demanding and he was taken back to Australia. Stephen
$25,000. Following the call, however, they Bradley was found guilty of the murder and
heard nothing more. sentenced to life imprisonment.
Five weeks later, the body of the boy was See also Fibers; Hair
found wrapped in a rug approximately ten References
miles from home. It was determined that he Evans, C. The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science
had been suffocated and then clubbed to Solved 100 of the World’s Most Baffling Crimes. New
death. On the boy’s clothing was found a pink York:Wiley, 1998.
granular substance together with human and Owen, D. Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How
Forensic Science Helped Solve Them. Willowdale,
animal hairs, and traces of mold were found Ontario: Firefly, 2000.
on his socks. Several types of plant material
were also found with the body.The mold sug-
gested that the boy had been dead for some Breath Alcohol
time and so was probably killed soon after he See Alcohol
was taken. The animal hairs were examined
and identified as being from a Pekinese dog.
The pink substance was found to be a type of Bulbs (Automobile, Examination of
mortar used in house building, and examina- in Accidents)
tion of the plant material revealed the pres- When a vehicle is involved in an accident
ence of rare cypress seeds that did not grow after dark, whether or not its lights were illu-
in the area in which the body was found. minated can be an issue. This can often be
Given these findings, police then made a public resolved by examination of the bulb. A light-
request to be informed of any house that con- bulb consists of a filament contained in an air-
tained both the pink mortar and the rare tight envelope filled with inert gases under
cypress. A mailman suggested a house in low pressure. The filament glows when an
Clontarf, Australia, where police found the electric current passes through it and the
pink mortar and the rare cypress, as well as inert atmosphere prolongs the life of the bulb
other plants that had been found with the by preventing oxidation. The filament also
body. The previous tenant of this house was heats up when the bulb is on.The effects of an
found to be Stephen Bradley, who moved out impact on the filament can differ depending
of the house on the day the boy was kidnapped on whether it is on or off.
Bullets 93

When the bulb is off, the filament may right twist is consistent with bullets fired
experience a cold break. This is a clean dis- from Smith and Wesson, Taurus, Ruger, and
ruption of the wire and there are no other I.N.A. revolvers.
effects.When the bulb is on, the hot wire will The bullet will also bear individualizing
be stretched by the force of the impact, characteristics, in the form of fine striations
rather than breaking. If the glass envelope is caused by imperfections made during the
broken, the filament will be covered with a barrel rifling process. The individualizing
coating of fused glass dust. marks are unique to the individual gun.
The gross physical characteristics of a bul-
See also Glass; Headlight Filaments
let can be determined by examination under
Caddy, B. Forensic Examination of Glass and Paint: very low-power magnification.The finer indi-
Analysis and Interpretation. London and New York: vidualizing markings require a higher magni-
Taylor and Francis, 2001. fication. Typically, a comparison microscope
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic is used so that the evidence bullet and one
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: from the suspect gun can be mounted and the
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle images viewed side by side.The bullets can be
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. rotated and the markings aligned. A photo-
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic graphic record can be made to illustrate the
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, agreement in detail.
1998. Today, many laboratories use digital image
capture. The information can be stored in a
database and an evidence bullet compared
Bullets with those from other shootings or known
Bullets are the projectiles in a round of guns. The main difficulty is that bullets can
ammunition. They are generally made of be deformed by the impact, and cartridge
lead and may be encased partially or entire- cases are therefore more widely used in
ly with a metal—typically copper, alu- examinations.
minum, or steel. Lead bullets, especially The automated search and database com-
0.22 caliber, frequently have a coating of parison systems currently used in the
copper or brass, which reduces fouling of United States and in most other countries
the bore and allows the projectile to travel use the IBIS system developed by Forensic
through the barrel more easily. Bullet styles Technology Incorporated. The system can
typically include round nose, wadcutter (for develop images from cartridges and bullets.
target shooting), semiwadcutter, full metal It uses an automated algorithm to search for
jacket, soft point, hollow point, and semi- possible matches and displays candidates for
jacketed hollow point. Metal-jacketed bul- review by an experienced operator.
lets are typically used in semiautomatic
weapons. Their harder surfaces are less like- See also Ammunition; Firearms
ly to jam when feeding out of the magazine References
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
and into the chamber. Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
Bullets are marked as they pass through McGraw-Hill, 1983.
the barrel of the gun. There are two types of Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
marks imparted. Class characteristics are typ- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
ical of the type of gun. They include the bul- Warlow,T. Firearms, the Law, and Forensic Ballistics. 2nd
let caliber and the number and direction of ed. London and Bristol, PA:Taylor and Francis,
twist of the lands and grooves left by the White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
rifling of the barrel. For example, a 0.38 cal- Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
iber bullet with 5 lands and grooves and a 1998.
94 Bundy, Ted

Bundy, Ted for assistance. A tan-colored VW beetle was

The Bundy case is of forensic significance due also seen in many of the areas.
to its reliance on bite-mark evidence. In 1974 a young woman was attacked by
During the period of 1969 to 1975, a Ted Bundy in his VW Beetle, but managed to
series of killings occurred in California, fight back and escape, and was later able to
Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Colorado. identify Bundy as her attacker. However,
The dozens of victims all looked alike— Bundy escaped prison, was recaptured eight
young females, most with long hair parted in days later, and then somehow a few months
the middle—and they were all attacked in the later escaped again.
evening. At first it was difficult to realize In January 1978 a resident of Chi Omega
the similarities between the murders because sorority house at Florida State University
they occurred in multiple states, but it soon (FSU) in Tallahassee returned home to find the
became clear that one link among the mur- front door open. On entering, she heard some-
ders was that a young law student,Ted Bundy, one running upstairs, followed by footsteps
was present in the vicinity of each of the coming downstairs. Assuming the footsteps
crimes. In each case, a man fitting Bundy’s were that of a burglar, she hid until they were
description was seen around the area with a gone and then went upstairs to alert the other
cast on an arm or leg asking female passersby residents. However, what she found was two

Dr. Lowell J. Levine, a NewYork forensic odontologist, testified that the bite marks found on the buttock of Florida State
University coed Lisa Levy reflect characteristics of Ted Bundy’s teeth. Photos of Ted Bundy’s teeth and bite marks are displayed
on the chalkboard behind Dr. Levine. ca. 1979,Tallahassee, Florida. (Bettmann/Corbis)
Burns 95

sisters alive and another two dead in their crimes involving the above and so has devel-
beds. All had been beaten and sexually oped substantial expertise in areas such as
assaulted. One of the girls who had been examination of fire debris for accelerant and
found dead, Lisa Levy, was found to have bite explosive traces.The laboratory headquarters
marks on her legs, buttocks, and one of her are in Rockville, Maryland.
nipples. When pictures were taken of these
bite marks, a ruler was included in the pic- ATF Online, Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms and
ture. It was these bite marks that provided the Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice; http://
most compelling evidence in the conviction (Referenced July 2005).
of Ted Bundy for the murders. Initially, Bundy
refused to allow moulds of his teeth to be
made, but a search warrant was obtained and Burns
investigators were authorized to obtain the Burns are well-recognized, painful injuries
moulds they needed by force if necessary. caused by excessive heat or some chemicals
During his trial for the FSU murders, an such as acids and caustics. In forensic science,
overlay was shown of Bundy’s teeth over the examination of burns is required when there
bite marks, and the fit was determined to be is suspicion that the burn was nonaccidental
exact. Ted Bundy was found guilty and was or when the victim has died.
executed by electrocution. Shortly before his As is the case with most injuries, it can be
execution, Bundy indicated that he had killed difficult to differentiate accidental and delib-
between forty and fifty young women. erate burn injury. Often the history of the
See also Bite Marks; Odontology
victim, the testimony of witnesses, and the
References specific nature of the burn will be important.
BBC Website, Crime Case Closed, Infamous For example, severe burning from immersion
Criminals; in hot water requires the heat to be applied
caseclosed/tedbundy1.shtml (Referenced July for more than the transient exposure result-
2005). ing from reflex withdrawal of the exposed
Court TV’s Crime Library, Criminal Minds and
Methods; part. Face burns from acid or alkyl sprays are
bundy/attack.htm (Referenced July 2005). also unlikely to be due to accident.
Evans, C. The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science Examination of fire victims is directed to
Solved 100 of the World’s Most Baffling Crimes. New ascertaining the cause of death.The main fac-
York:Wiley, 1998. tor is usually inhalation of smoke and poison-
Owen, D. Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How
Forensic Science Helped Solve Them. Willowdale,
ing from carbon monoxide or toxic products
Ontario: Firefly, 2000. of combustion of materials such as polyure-
thane and nylon (which produce cyanide).
There is always the rare possibility that the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and deceased may be a homicide victim and that
Firearms (BATF) the fire was an attempt to cover up the true
The Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, and Firearms cause of death.
(BATF) is a federal government agency that The effects of heat cause certain artifacts.
was part of the Department of the Treasury One of the first to develop is the body taking
until the creation of the Office of Homeland up what is referred to as the “pugilistic
Security in 2002. Its responsibilities include position” in which heat causes muscle shrink-
laboratory examinations in tax law cases con- age and results in the hands being raised in
cerning alcohol and tobacco products, and front of the face, similar to the stance of a
examination of explosive devices and weapons boxer.This must not be taken as an indication
in cases covered by federal law. The bureau that the deceased was defending against
also examines material from the scenes of attack.
96 Burns

Determination of the timing of injury and that will induce burns. Technically, any envi-
death, relative to the events caused by the ronmental situation that causes the body tem-
fire, depends on several factors. Someone perature to rise above 41o C (105.8o F) can
alive when the fire started will inhale smoke; cause death from hyperthermia. Risk factors
someone who was dead will not. The pres- include severe heatwaves, exercise in hot
ence of soot in the airways is therefore a good weather, and improper use of saunas. Most
indicator. The question of whether some of deaths from environmental heat are related to
the burns themselves may have been inflicted preexisting conditions such as heart disease,
before the fire is less clear. Antemortem obesity, and alcoholism.
(before death) burns will usually have signs References
associated with injury and the subsequent Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
healing response, whereas those caused by James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
the fire will not. Typical signs include a red London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
rim to the injury and blistering. However, Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
these are not infallible indicators and occa- New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
sionally occur in postmortem burn injuries. Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
Death can result from exposure to heat Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
well below the degree encountered in fires or
California Association of cannabis contains an entire family of con-
Criminalists (CAC) stituents known as the cannabinoids, of which
There are seven regional forensic science over sixty have been identified.
societies in the United States. The California
Association of Criminalists (CAC) is the oldest Preparations
and the one with the most well-established Marijuana refers to the dried leaves and flowers
format. The CAC holds well-attended scien- of the cannabis plant. It is usually smoked in a
tific meetings twice a year, the proceedings of cigarette, cigar, or pipe, or may be baked in
which are published by the internationally cookies or brownies.
acknowledged journal Science and Justice. Bhang refers to dried leaves of female plants
from which the resin has been removed. Bhang
California Association of Criminalistics; http:// does not normally have a great deal of psy- (Referenced July 2005). chotropic activity.
Ganja is made from the tops of female
plants from which the resin has not been
Cannabis removed. This is three or four times more
Cannabis preparations are obtained from the potent than bhang.
perennial plant Cannabis sativa, which is thought
to have originated somewhere in central Asia. • Note that the distinction between bhang
The leaves of this plant are distinctive—they and ganja is only really made in India.
are long and slender with serrated edges. • In the West Indies, the term ganja is
There are both male and female plants (it is used in place of marijuana because their
dioecious)—the female plants are tall and cannabis was largely introduced from
bushy, while the male plant is smaller and not India.
so bushy. In order for the female plant to • In Jamaica, ganja refers to the entire
become fertilized and produce seeds, a sticky cannabis plant.
resin is produced from the flowering top of
the female plant to allow it to collect air- Hashish (or charas in India) refers to the
borne pollen from the male flower. dried resin from the top of the female plant.
The main active ingredient of cannabis is This resin is a pale yellow color when har-
∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, vested, but turns almost black when dried.
98 Cannabis

A police officer examines a marijuana plant during a raid on a marijuana grower. (Phil Schermeister/Corbis)

This can be smoked alone or mixed with number of important physiological effects
tobacco. It can also be baked in cookies or that may be experienced by users, including:
brownies. This preparation typically contains
6 to 10 percent cannabinoids. • Tachycardia—heart rate may increase
Hash oil is a more concentrated version of by 20 to 50 percent.
hashish. It is made by boiling the hashish in a • Increased blood pressure (however,
solvent such as alcohol, filtering the residue, note that when a user stands up after
and then allowing the solvent to evaporate. lying down, he or she may experience a
This oil can be dropped onto a regular ciga- drop in heart rate and blood pressure).
rette and then smoked, or can be dropped • Decreased body temperature.
onto hot aluminum foil, and the smoke • Dry mouth and throat.
inhaled.This oil is very potent and may contain • Reddening of the conjunctivae of the
up to 60 percent cannabinoids. eyes.
Cannabis has been shown to have legitimate • Decreased intraocular pressure.
clinical uses in the treatment of nausea and • Decreased size of pupils.
vomiting in cancer patients undergoing • Hunger.
chemotherapy and in stimulation of appetite in
AIDS and cancer patients. (However, its use Note that because cannabis is often
in AIDS patients is controversial because smoked, many of the adverse effects associ-
cannabis may further suppress the immune ated with smoking may also be experienced.
system.) These include lung disease, and wheezing
Despite the widespread belief that and coughing. It is often difficult to distin-
cannabis is a relatively harmless drug, it has a guish which effects are due to cannabis use
Carbon Monoxide 99

and which are due to tobacco products

because many cannabis users use both. (Referenced July 2005).
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Cannabis also has a number of behavioral Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
effects that tend to be dependent not only on 1998.
the dose and form of cannabis taken, but on
the state of mind, mood, and expectations of
the individual prior to use of the substance, Carbon Monoxide
as well as the atmosphere and setting. At Carbon monoxide is formed when fuels such
moderate doses these effects include eupho- as propane or butane burn in an oxygen-defi-
ria, heightening of the senses, altered sense cient atmosphere. It is also a product of gaso-
of time (time appears to pass much more line combustion in engines. It is a colorless,
slowly), and short-term memory impair- odorless gas that is very poisonous. It com-
ment. At higher doses, other more serious bines with the sites on hemoglobin in blood
effects may be (though are not usually) expe- and prevents oxygen uptake and transporta-
rienced, including anxiety, confusion, tion. The effects depend on the degree to
aggressiveness, hallucinations, nausea, and which the carbon monoxide replaces the oxy-
vomiting. gen, usually expressed as percent saturation.
Cannabis alters the ability of a user to per- Carbon monoxide poisoning is associated
form skilled tasks, and this includes the ability with a cherry-red coloration of the skin and
to drive. It is illegal to drive while under the muscles.
influence of cannabis. Normal, healthy people can have carbon
One of the major concerns of cannabis use monoxide present in their blood at concen-
is the likelihood that it will lead to use of trations of up to 5 percent, depending on
other, more harmful drugs such as cocaine whether they live in the country or city and
and heroin. Studies have found that if whether or not they smoke. Levels between
cannabis use starts at a young age, there is 10 and 50 percent are associated with breath-
more likelihood that the user will go on to lessness and headache. Levels over 50 percent
use other drugs such as these. are associated with coma and death. Like all
See also Drugs; Hashish; Marijuana
toxic chemical effects, these are average fig-
References ures for healthy people and actual responses
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic will vary between individuals. For example, a
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: frail elderly person could die due to carbon
McGraw-Hill, 1983. monoxide poisoning with a level of the order
Drummer, O.H. The Forensic Pharmacology of of 25 percent.
Drugs of Abuse. New York: Oxford University
Press, 2001. Death in suicide by inhalation of automo-
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science: bile exhaust fumes is due to the carbon
An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative monoxide in the exhaust gases. Accidental
Techniques. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis, carbon monoxide deaths occur in winter in
2005. cold climates due to incomplete combus-
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
tion in propane-burning stoves in poorly
1999. ventilated areas. Sealing the room to pre-
Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Facts, vent drafts also prevents air renewal,
Marijuana; reduces the oxygen supply to the fire, and
drugfact/marijuana/index.html (Referenced July prevents dissipation of the products of
2005). incomplete combustion. Because the gas is
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. odorless, there is little or no warning to the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug room’s occupants of the buildup of carbon
Descriptions, Marijuana; monoxide.
100 Casts

See also Toxicology in the same way? If homicidal, can the infor-
References mation assist in identifying the perpetrator?
Goldfrank, L., N. Flomenbaum, N. Lewin, M. A.
Howland, R. Hoffman, and L. Nelson. Goldfrank’s
However, many of the situations that present
Toxicologic Emergencies. 7th ed. New York: McGraw- themselves are not amenable to specific
Hill Professional, 2002. assignment of cause. There is a spectrum of
Klaassen, C. Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology:The Basic possible causes that merges into probable
Science of Poisons. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill causes, and mostly the forensic evidence is
Professional, 2001. corroborative—supportive of other evidence
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry, but not in itself clear-cut and compelling.
1999. Even when clear presentation of facts is pos-
sible, different doctors can provide different
Casts References
Impressions left by tires, footwear, and tool Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
marks can show individual characteristics due James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
to wear and manufacturing defects.These can London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
be used to provide a link between source and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
scene as good as that of a fingerprint. How- Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
ever, the impression must be collected so that Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
its characteristics and dimensions can be Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
recorded and compared. For samples such as
tire tracks in mud, footprints in snow, and
crowbar impressions in wood, the mark has Chain of Custody
to be collected by casting. Plaster and silicone There must be no doubt about the integrity
are used. Casting may also be used in forensic of objects admitted as evidence. The usual
odontology to cast bite marks for comparison way to establish integrity is through what is
to potential suspects. known as the chain of custody. The chain of
custody, through written or secure electronic
See also Fingerprints; Footwear;Tire Tracks;Tool
records, is a way to show the history of the
References object from the time it was first collected
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic until it is admitted in court as evidence. The
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: chain is an unbroken audit trail, which per-
McGraw-Hill, 1983. mits identification of all of the people who
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An have handled the item and the transfers of
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. custody that they make. The item itself is
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle identified by some unique marking affixed
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. directly to it or to its proximal container.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, References
1998. De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
Cause of Death Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Identifying the cause of death is a recurring Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
issue in forensic investigations.Was death by Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
accident, suicide, or murder? What was the White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
manner of death? If accidental, can the infor- Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
mation be used to prevent others suffering 1998.
Cocaine 101

Charred Documents References

It is sometimes possible to read writing or Christian, D. R. Forensic Investigation of Clandestine
Laboratories. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2004.
printing on documents that have been damaged James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
by fire. Provided that the surface is not com- Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
pletely destroyed, examination using infrared Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
or reflected light will sometimes reveal the Lee, H. C.,T. Palmbach, and M.T. Miller. Henry Lee’s
original text. Crime Scene Handbook. London and San Diego, CA:
Academic, 2001.
See also Document Examination
Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned
Documents. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1993. Class Characteristics
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle Markings on physical objects such as ammu-
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. nition, door frames forced by screwdrivers or
crowbars, and footwear and tire tracks can
contain information about the source. For
Clandestine Drug Laboratories example, a sneaker print may be of a pattern
Some illicit drugs, such as cocaine, opiates, that reveals it was made by one of the Nike
and marijuana, have their origins in plant Air Jordan series. However, these patterns
materials. Others, like speed, ecstasy, and are designated class characteristics and do not
LSD, are manufactured in the laboratory. Even contain any individualizing features that
those of natural origin are usually laboratory would permit the impression to be linked to
processed to make the final preparation sold a specific item.
on the street.The laboratories can be anything
from a small setup in the kitchen of a house to See also Individual Characteristics
a fully equipped facility.Whatever the size and De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
complexity, clandestine drug laboratories Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
present challenges to the scientific and McGraw-Hill, 1983.
enforcement arms of illicit drug control. James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
Coca- and opium-processing laboratories Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
require little by way of special chemical appa- Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
ratus and are easy to conceal. Laboratories River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
producing amphetamine analogs such as White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
ecstasy are more difficult to hide (some of the Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
processes make use of intermediates with a 1998.
strong and unpleasant odor).All can be poten-
tially dangerous to the enforcement agencies,
either through the hazards from the chemicals, Cocaine
booby trapping, or the danger of serious Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant
intoxication from exposure to the highly that directly affects the brain. Pure cocaine was
potent product. first extracted from the leaf of the Erythroxylon
Investigation of a clandestine laboratory is coca bush, which grows primarily in Peru and
thus a task best left to properly trained tech- Bolivia, in the mid-nineteenth century. In the
nical experts. As well as the safety issues, early 1900s, it became the main stimulant
identification of apparatus and precursor chem- drug used in most of the tonics and elixirs that
icals can reveal valuable information about were developed to treat a wide variety of ill-
the drugs being manufactured. nesses. Today, cocaine is a Schedule II drug,
See also Amphetamines; Drugs; Methamphetamine; meaning that it has high potential for abuse, but
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) can be administered by a doctor for legitimate

medical uses, such as a local anesthetic for to the detriment of their health and lives in
some eye, ear, and throat surgeries. general.
There are basically two chemical forms of The effects sought by users of cocaine
cocaine: the hydrochloride salt and the free- include feelings of euphoria and increased
base. The hydrochloride salt, or powdered energy and alertness, as well as appetite-
form of cocaine, dissolves in water and, when suppressant effects.
abused, can be taken intravenously (by vein)
or intranasally (in the nose). Freebase refers to See also Crack Cocaine; Drugs
a compound that has not been neutralized by De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. The Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
freebase form of cocaine is smokable. McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a Drummer, O. H. The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs of
fine, white, crystalline powder, known as Abuse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
“coke,” “C,” “snow,” “flake,” or “blow.” Street Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
dealers generally dilute it with such inert sub- Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
stances as cornstarch, talcum powder, and/or Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
sugar, or with such active drugs as procaine (a DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
chemically related local anesthetic) or with 1999.
such other stimulants as amphetamines. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Facts,
Common cutting agents are similar to drugfact/cocaine/index.html (Referenced July
those found in heroin and include inert sug- 2005).
ars (glucose, mannitol, lactose) as well as Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
other drugs, including caffeine, codeine, and River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
amphetamines. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug
Descriptions, Cocaine;
Cocaine was previously recommended for dea/concern/cocaine.html (Referenced July
use in eye surgery because it has local anes- 2005).
thetic properties as well as a vasoconstrictor White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
action that limits hemorrhage. It is no longer Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
the agent of choice for this purpose because 1998.
of damage to the eye, but it is still used in the
surgery of ear, nose, and throat.
Cocaine activates the brain’s pleasure cen- CODIS
ters, which results in euphoria, increased See Combined DNA Index System
motor activity, and psychotic symptoms. It is
also a potent vasoconstrictor and produces
increased heart rate, a combination that can Color Tests
lead to sudden changes in blood pressure. Color or spot tests are widely used for pre-
Cocaine-related deaths are typically associated liminary screening in the forensic laboratory.
with cardiac failure or cerebral hemorrhage. They share the property that a target sub-
Cocaine use can lead to severe psychological stance will produce a color when mixed with
dependence, but there is no evidence that it a test reagent. Color tests are not chemically
leads to physical dependence. Cocaine con- specific and cannot be used as proof of the
sumption is a major health and social prob- presence of the material. Examples include
lem and a major revenue generator for the the Kastle-Meyer test for blood, the Marquis
traffickers. test for opiates and amphetamines, the
Stimulant drugs have a very strong psycho- Duquenois-Levine test for marijuana, the
logical dependence associated with them— Scot test for cocaine, and the Griess test for
users exhibit extreme drug-seeking behavior explosive residues.
Color Tests 103

Principles of Color Tests most common ones depend on the oxidation

A reagent is added to the unknown substance, of colorless reduced indicators, many of
and any color change is noted. There may be which are unconjugated systems and are
no change, one color change, or a series of known or suspected carcinogens.
color changes. Spot tests are commonly used Color tests for semen are based on the
in the preliminary identification of drug sub- hydrolysis of phosphate esters and detection
stances. The reagent used may be specific for of the liberated organic moiety by production
a compound under investigation, but is gen- of a color complex.Acid phosphatase, present
erally more indicative of a certain class of in seminal fluid, reacts with sodium alpha-
drugs. The resulting color can usually be napthylphosphate and the dye Fast Blue B to
attributed to a particular aspect of the drug’s produce a purple-blue coloration.
structure and so can be indicative of particular As with the screening test for blood, a posi-
functional groups (components of chemical tive result is the rapid formation of the
structure that determine reactivity), or intensely colored product. It is important to
groups of drugs. In general, these tests have note that a number of vegetable and fruit
wide applicability and provide useful and juices can result in the generation of false
diagnostic information. The color of each positive results with this test.
reaction may vary depending on the condi- Color tests for organic and inorganic
tions of the test, drug concentration, salt explosives can be conducted on acetone
form, pH, and the presence of extraneous washes of debris.The three main test reagents
material in the sample. A negative result for a are Greiss reagent, diphenylamine, and potas-
color test may be used to rule out a drug. sium hydroxide. Greiss reagent changes to a
Some of these tests are also used as sprays or pink-red color in the presence of nitrate,
locating agents for thin-layer chromatography. nitroglycerin, PETN, RDX, and tetryl.
As well as being used for the preliminary Diphenylamine produces a blue color in the
identification of chemical substances, with presence of most of the common explosives,
minor modifications these tests may be used but not TNT. Alcoholic potassium hydroxide
in the preliminary identification of chemical produces color changes only with TNT and
substances in biological fluids, tissues, and tetryl substances.
stomach contents. See also Blood; Explosions and Explosives; Saliva;
The advantages of color tests are that they Semen Identification
are sensitive and fairly quick.The disadvantages References
are that they are nonspecific, destructive, Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
and may be affected by the conditions of the MA: Elsevier, 2005.
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
test. Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
Screening tests for body fluids depend on McGraw-Hill, 1983.
detection of constituent chemicals. Pre- James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:
sumptive blood tests are rapid chemical tests An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative
that may be used to locate and differentiate Techniques. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and
between blood and other similarly colored Francis, 2005.
Lee, H. C.,T. Palmbach, and M.T. Miller. Henry Lee’s
stains. They are sensitive, easy to perform, Crime Scene Handbook. London and San Diego, CA:
and allow minute traces of blood to be located Academic, 2001.
when they otherwise might not be easily Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
noticed.They are sensitive enough to apply to River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
areas of scenes that may have been cleaned in White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
an attempt to hide the evidence. 1998.
Most screening tests for blood depend on
the peroxidase activity of hemoglobin. The
104 Combined DNA Index System

Combined DNA Index System The microscopes can be low power, capable
(CODIS) of viewing and comparing three-dimensional
The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) objects such as bullets or cartridge cases, or
is a national database of DNA profiles. It is high power for viewing the features of fibers
administered by the FBI. The value of DNA or hairs.
databases is now thoroughly established by The main use of the comparison micro-
results from CODIS and from the DNA data- scope is exactly what the name suggests—the
base operated in Britain by the English Home comparison of microscopic features in the
Office Forensic Science Service. examination of physical evidence.
All states have now passed legislation per- See also Fibers; Firearms; Hair; Microscope
mitting the taking of reference samples from References
persons convicted of certain offenses. Usually De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
these are the more severe offenses against the Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
person such as homicide and rape. DNA results McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
from the scene or the body of a victim are com- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
pared with the reference profiles in the data-
base. There have been many successes, even
though the systems have only been operating Contact Gunshot Wounds
for a short time and even though not all states Scientific testing can sometimes produce infor-
are currently contributing reference samples. mation as to the distance between the weapon
Experience with the British system, which and the victim of a shooting.There are many vari-
accepts data from a wide range of offenses ables, but one relatively clear-cut situation is
including burglary and traffic violations, where the gun was in contact with the victim.
shows that 300 to 400 matches per week can When the muzzle of the gun is in firm con-
be obtained on a regular basis. DNA databases tact with the body of the victim, the combi-
are thus a powerful tool for public safety. nation of heat and a partial seal of discharge
However, there remain concerns regarding residues results in typical blackening of the
the impact on civil liberties. For example, skin and clothing.There is searing at the entry
there is a fear the data could be used for health wound and there may be an imprint of the
screening of job or insurance applicants, if one muzzle. In the case of a contact wound to the
of the forensic markers turned out to be asso- head, the gases blow out between the soft
ciated with a genetically determined disease, skin of the scalp and the hard bone of the
or even a predisposition to a disease. skull. Back pressure can result in a star-
See also DNA in Forensic Science shaped, or stellate, entry wound.
References Where the gun is not in firm contact with
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, the body, there is still a concentrated black-
MA: Elsevier, 2005. ened discharge pattern, but searing and an
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Combined DNA imprint of the muzzle will be absent or slight.
Index System;
codis/index1.htm (Referenced July 2005). The patterns that result as the distance of the
weapon from the victim’s body increases
depend on the type of gun and ammunition
used, and distance determination becomes
Comparison Microscope more approximate.
The comparison microscope is made up of
See also Firearms
two microscopes joined by an optical bridge. References
The images of the objects in the light path Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
are viewed side by side in a split screen. The Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
physical characteristics can thus be compared. Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
Counterfeit Currency 105

Schwoeble, A. J., and D. L. Exline. Current Methods in Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
Forensic Gunshot Residue Analysis. Boca Raton, FL: River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
CRC, 2000. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; http://
Warlow,T. Firearms, the Law, and Forensic Ballistics. 2nd (Referenced July 2005).
ed. London and Bristol, PA:Taylor and Francis, White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
1996. Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,

Controlled Substances
One of the ways to manage drug abuse is to Corroborative Evidence
place the chemicals on a list of controlled There are very few situations in which foren-
substances. In that way, trading or possession sic evidence is definitive of an offense and the
of medicines without a prescription or of perpetrator. These include driving while
nonmedical substances becomes a defined intoxicated and drug possession offenses. In
legal offense. The principal legislation in the other situations, such as trying to link some-
United States is the federal Controlled one to a scene or to contact with someone
Substances Act. There are five schedules to else, the forensic evidence is less firm. The
the act, controlling the manufacture, distri- best instance would be DNA typing of semen
bution, use, and pharmacy dispensing of the recovered from the vagina of a rape victim.
listed substances, as well as establishing There is no doubt about intimate contact or,
norms for record keeping and reporting, and with modern typing systems, the biological
penalties for trafficking of the listed drugs. origin of the material. However, the issue
Schedule I drugs are those with no accept- may be one of consensual rather than forced
ed medical use and a high potential for abuse. intercourse. Fingerprinting is also definitive
Heroin and LSD are in this category, as is as to biological origin but does not provide
marijuana. Schedule II drugs also have a high information about the circumstances of the
potential for abuse but with some restricted deposition of the print. In both cases, non-
medical applications. Examples include matching forensic evidence will eliminate the
methadone and amphetamines. Schedule III suspect as the source of the material (semen
drugs have an accepted medical use but with or fingerprint).Thus the forensic science cor-
a potential for moderate abuse. Anabolic roborates some other evidence, lending a
steroids and some codeine preparations are in degree of weight to it that depends on the
this schedule. Schedule IV and V drugs are nature of the test and the circumstances of
those with more medical and fewer illicit rea- the alleged offense.
sons for use. Phenobarbital and valium are See also Associative Evidence
in Schedule IV, and some opiate—but non- Reference
narcotic—preparations are in Schedule V. Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
See also Amphetamines; Cannabis; Cocaine; Crack
Cocaine; Drugs; Ecstasy; Gamma Hydroxybutyrate
(GHB); Hashish; Heroin; Lysergic Acid
Diethylamide (LSD); Methadone; Methamphetamine; Counterfeit Currency
Morphine; Narcotics; Opium; Phencyclidine, Fraudulent reproduction of currency, whether
Phenylcyclhexyl, or Piperidine (PCP); Psilocybin coins or notes, is called counterfeiting. Because
References higher denomination currency is in note form,
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic these are the main target of counterfeiters.
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: Counterfeit currency notes used to require
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An considerable skill to produce, through prepara-
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. tion of accurate engraved printing plates. Color
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. copiers and digital scanners make it easy to
106 Crack Cocaine

National Basketball Association star Kobe Bryant arrives at the Eagle County Courthouse October 9, 2003, after he attended
a preliminary hearing in a case against him by an alleged victim for rape. Evidence was presented at the hearing. Bryant
claimed that the sex was consensual and the Lakers guard denied that he raped the woman.The preliminary hearing was
extended to October 15, 2003, Eagle County, Colorado. (Corbis)

produce a facsimile of a banknote. Currency Crack Cocaine

now contains security features to prevent suc- Crack cocaine is made by heating a solution of
cessful reproduction. Some currency, for cocaine and baking soda, then drying the prod-
example in Australia, goes so far as to use plas- uct and breaking it into small pieces or rocks.
tic, rather than paper, for banknotes. Exami- It is a more potent form of the drug as it is in
nation of counterfeit currency consists of the form of the freebase and can be smoked to
examination for the presence of security fea- produce an intense high of rapid onset.
tures, examination of the paper, and of the inks. See also Cocaine; Controlled Substances; Drugs
See also Document Examination References
References Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Facts,
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle Cocaine;
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. drugfact/cocaine/index.html (Referenced July
U.S. Department of the Treasury; 2005). Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
(Referenced July 2005). River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, Descriptions, Cocaine;
1998. concern/cocaine.html (Referenced July 2005).
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Criminalistics 107

Crime Laboratories evidence. Different jurisdictions approach

Government forensic science laboratories are crime-scene examination in different ways.
often termed “crime laboratories,” reflecting Some use police officers with minimal training;
the purpose of the examinations conducted. others use police officers specially trained in
There are some private laboratories con- scene examination and evidence collection.
ducting forensic examinations (for example Some use laboratory personnel as a support
companies offering forensic DNA testing) in especially difficult circumstances. There is
and there are government laboratories doing no evidence that one system is best, as long
forensic work not in a criminal context (for as the personnel concerned understand the
example, medical examiners seeking informa- basic principles. One important example is
tion as to cause of death, and civil insurance the examination of a clandestine laboratory.
investigations). See also Chain of Custody; Clandestine Drug
There is a view that crime laboratories Laboratories
should not be part of police departments, on References
the grounds that they must be independent of De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
law enforcement and that being part of the Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
police department will lead to some conscious James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
or unconscious bias in the work of the scien- Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
tists. There is no good objective evidence to Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
support this assertion. On the contrary, there Lee, H. C.,T. Palmbach, and M.T. Miller. Henry Lee’s
is evidence that it is not so and that the key Crime Scene Handbook. London and San Diego, CA:
Academic, 2001.
factor in keeping testing unbiased is the scien- Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
tific independence of the laboratory director. River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
For example, many of the headline cases of White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
error in crime laboratories in the 1990s Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
involved private, nonpolice laboratories: the 1998.
dingo baby case in Australia, the several
cases associated with Allan Clift in England,
and the Guy Paul Morin case in Canada, to Criminalistics
name a few. By contrast, one of the most The term “criminalistics” was first used by
highly regarded laboratories internationally Hans Gross in 1891. It is widely used in the
was the Metropolitan Police Forensic United States, especially in California, but is
Science Laboratory in England. The “Met almost unknown elsewhere. Sometimes used
Lab,” as it was known, had a policy of always synonymously with forensic science, it is com-
appointing a distinguished scientist to the ing to have a more restricted meaning, namely
post of director. the general examination of evidence in the
crime laboratory. Criminalists are those who
conduct such examinations.
Crime Scene References
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Examination of the crime scene is the critical Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
first step in a forensic investigation.The scene McGraw-Hill, 1983.
must be protected against contamination but James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
still permit access to key investigation person- Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
nel such as photographers and pathologists. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
The crime scene investigator must be able to River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
recognize potential evidence, to collect and White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
preserve it so that it is not lost or degraded, Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
and to establish the chain of custody for the 1998.
108 Crystal Tests

Crystal Tests the military. RDX, also known as cyclonite or

See Microcrystal Tests hexogen, is a white crystalline solid usually
used in mixtures with other explosives, oils,
or waxes. RDX compositions are mixtures
Cyanide of RDX, other explosive ingredients, and
Beloved of mystery writers, cyanide is an desensitizers or plasticizers.When combined
extremely toxic chemical that kills by inter- with other explosives or inert materials,
fering with the metabolic pathways within RDX forms the base for detonator charges in
the cell. Cyanide is used in industries such as common military explosives, projectiles,
electroplating and is a toxic by-product of rockets, and land mines.
combustion of certain plastics. It is found nat- RDX gives a pink to red coloration with
urally in almonds and apricots. Greiss reagent and a blue color with diphenyl-
Cyanide poisoning can result from inhala- amine spot test reagent. Analysis for the
tion of cyanide gas, ingestion of solutions of presence of explosive materials requires the
cyanide salts, or from skin contact. It is fast rinsing of blast debris using acetone.The ace-
acting—less than thirty minutes—but the tone rinses of trace materials can then be ana-
effects can be reversed by inhalation of amyl lyzed by thin layer chromatography (TLC)
nitrite and oxygen. Intravenous sodium and high performance liquid chromatography
nitrite administration has also been used. (HPLC). When sufficient sample is recov-
See also Poisoning;Toxicology
ered, confirmatory tests can be conducted by
References infrared spectroscopy or x-ray diffraction.
Goldfrank, L., N. Flomenbaum, N. Lewin, M. A. See also Color Tests; Explosions and Explosives;
Howland, R. Hoffman, and L. Nelson. Goldfrank’s High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC);
Toxicologic Emergencies. 7th ed. New York: Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC)
McGraw-Hill Professional, 2002. References
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington, Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry, River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
1999. White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) is one
of the most powerful high explosives used by
Databases identified (for example, a masked rapist).There
Identification of a suspect from a fingerprint are smaller databases dealing with drugs and
left at a scene is one of the more usual repre- footwear sole patterns.
sentations of forensic science in fictional The largest fingerprint database in the
works. In this case, fiction is indeed close to world is that established by the FBI in 1930.
fact. The success of fingerprint identification Thus, the concept and practice of using data-
is a well-established example of a forensic bases in forensic science to identify suspects
database in action. The reference source is a from materials left at the scene is very well
collection of exemplar prints collected as established indeed. However, the most recent
inked fingerprint cards, and the suspect sample application, that of DNA databases, has gen-
is a print recovered from an item associated erated some controversy. The controversy is
with the crime or the scene. Comparison can not about the successful applications: More
be made using the inked impressions or digital than 100 wrongfully convicted prisoners
images.The print recovered from the scene is have been freed in the United States alone,
compared to those in the database and the sus- and many victims of long-unsolved serious
pect identified, provided of course that there crimes have had their cases resolved through
is a print in the reference set and that the DNA testing. By September 2005, the
matching has been conducted correctly. CODIS database had produced over 25,900
Other significant databases currently used hits assisting in more than 27,800 investiga-
in forensic science deal with DNA testing to tions since its establishment in 1998 (http://
compare biological material left at a scene In
with the DNA of people in a database, and Britain, with a population about one-
with comparison of fired ammunition to fifth that of the United States, the DNA
associate shootings with each other or with database is producing over 1,700 hits per
seized weapons.There is a great potential for week, providing associations between crime
enhanced public safety through application scenes and between scenes and indivi-
of these three database comparisons. The duals (
main attractions are that the information is uk_finaldraft.pdf).
objective, can be fast, and allows crime-scene The concerns relate to possible misuse
material to be compared to a range of pos- of data. Most of the U.S. states applying
sible suspects, even where no suspect is DNA databasing have legislation that restricts
110 Databases

the reference source to samples taken from that law enforcement resources would be more
convicted felons, and often only those con- efficiently deployed.
victed of sexual offenses or homicide. In There has been less controversy about
contrast, the highly successful British data- firearms databases. The National Integrated
base permits the taking of samples from sus- Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) pro-
pects and from those convicted of offenses gram is a network of 16 multistate regions
such as house breaking and motor vehicle law established by the BATF.The regions encom-
infringements.The fear associated with DNA pass over 225 sites, each equipped with IBIS
database entries contrasts with the accept- imaging technology and a link to the BATF
ance of fingerprint records. It is hard to see database.
why there is such a difference in acceptability. The system has produced many hits, link-
One possible reason is that the reliability of ing ammunition to ammunition and or guns.
fingerprinting has been established in the For example, NIBIN has assisted Chicago
courts and community from decades of use, police in finding a link between an armed
whereas DNA testing is relatively modern suspect and a shooting with no other inves-
and complex. tigative leads available. In the first incident, a
Another possibility is that people fear victim was shot and wounded in Chicago.
that information about their DNA could be Although a physical description was given,
misused—for example, by allowing genetic no suspect was identified. One cartridge case
information about their intelligence, alco- was recovered at the scene and submitted
holism, social problems, or degenerative dis- for IBIS entry at the Illinois State Police
eases to fall into the hands of employers, Department’s Chicago laboratory. A few
insurance companies, or others who might months after this incident, a confidential
use it to deny the individual benefits or dam- informant told police that one of his asso-
age his or her reputation. ciates had committed a shooting and was in
Three things would all need to happen for possession of a firearm. After the suspect was
this fear to be realized. First, a single gene arrested, his weapon was seized and submitted
would have to be identified that played a for test firing and NIBIN entry. Correlation
major role in determining the characteristic. highlighted a potential link between the
The examples cited are not ascribable to a arrested suspect and the shooting four months
single gene. Next, one of the markers used in earlier, and this link was confirmed by
forensic DNA testing would need to be asso- firearms examiners who compared the original
ciated with that gene and so act as a marker evidence in the cases.
for it. Finally, there would need to be a
See also Arson and Explosives Incidents System
breach of the stringent security controls that (AEXIS); Automated Fingerprint Identification
protect the databases. Taking all of these System (AFIS); Combined DNA Index System
together, it is just not likely that there would (CODIS); DNA Databases;Drugfire; Integrated
be real risk to personal privacy rights from Ballistic Identification System (IBIS)
forensic DNA databases. References
Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives,
In contrast, the real prospect of crime-scene National Integrated Ballistic Information
personnel having testing technologies to iden- Network; (Referenced
tify the evidence material and use wireless July 2005).
communication to enter the results into data- De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
bases would mean that perpetrators could Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
be identified and apprehended before they McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Combined DNA
could flee or commit another offense. It would Index System;
also mean that innocent people would be hq/lab/odis/index1.htm (Referenced July
spared the trauma of needless investigation and 2005).
Daubert Ruling 111

Forensic Technology, IBIS/Ballistic Identification; obtained. It has been associated with deaths. Flunitrazepam is the active ingredient of a pre-
(Referenced July 2005).
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
scription drug, Rohypnol. When taken with
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. alcohol it reduces inhibitions, and like GHB,
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. causes amnesia. It is used as a recreational drug
Komarinski, P. Automated Fingerprint Identification often with alcohol or marijuana to increase the
Systems (AFIS). Amsterdam and Boston, MA: high. The manufacturer has reformulated the
Elsevier, 2005. medicine form so that is it a bright blue color
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. and thus hard to disguise if used to spike a
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic drink. Ketamine is a veterinary anesthetic that
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, can be used to spike drinks or cigarettes.
1998. Date-rape drugs are short acting.They are
removed from the blood rapidly and so it can
be difficult to detect their use from analysis of
Date Rape samples taken more than a few hours after
Date rape is the popular name for nonconsen- the incident.
sual sexual relations that take place when the See also Gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB); Rape;
victim is incapacitated due to the effects of Sexual Offenses;Time Since Intercourse
drugs, including alcohol. The nature of the References
incapacity can be physical inability to resist or Goldfrank, L., N. Flomenbaum, N. Lewin, M. A.
an impairment of the faculties required to Howland, R. Hoffman, and L. Nelson. Goldfrank’s
Toxicologic Emergencies. 7th ed. New York:
give a true consent. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2002.
Without doubt, the most common date- Turvey, B. E., and J. Savino. Rape Investigation
rape drug is alcohol. It is not generally ac- Handbook. Amsterdam and Boston: Elsevier
knowledged as such, partly because it can be Academic, 2004.
difficult to separate the social environment of
alcohol use from one that constitutes clear
nonconsensual sexual activity. However, it is Daubert Ruling
the general experience of laboratories that The 1993 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in
alcohol is found in the blood (or urine) of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a
about half of the samples from rape victims. landmark decision on the admissibility of sci-
Media attention is focused on a few drugs entific evidence. Before Daubert, admissibility
that are more unequivocally implicated in of scientific evidence was determined by the
setting the scene for nonconsensual sexual Frye ruling and its various state derivatives
activity. These are drugs with pharmacologi- (see Frye Rule) and, for federal courts, Rule
cal actions that facilitate date rape and that 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. In brief,
are readily available. The relevant properties the Frye test for admissibility is whether or not
are that they can be administered without the the technique at issue is one that has “general
recipient knowing, and cause loss of inhibi- acceptance in the field,” while Rule 702
tions or consciousness, and amnesia; that is, assesses the potential usefulness of the prof-
they can be used to spike drinks, impair the fered evidence. Daubert moved the focus to
awareness of what is happening, and cause the scientific reliability of the testing and set
blackouts and memory loss in the recipient. out four basic principles to help determine it.
There are three drugs that fit this description: The four Daubert criteria are: (1) whether
gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB), flunitrazepam the methods upon which the testimony is based
(roofies), and ketamine. are centered upon a testable hypothesis; (2) the
GHB is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It known or potential rate of error associated
is not available legitimately but is easily with the method; (3) whether the method has
112 Daubert Ruling

been subject to peer review; and (4) whether 1. Can it be expressed as a hypothesis
there is any remaining uncertainty, then the that predicts an outcome?
Supreme Court advocates a return to Frye by 2. Is the hypothesis capable of
considering whether the method is generally falsification—can it be tested in a way
accepted in the relevant scientific community. that will show that the predicted
The criteria will be considered briefly in outcome has not been satisfied?
turn. 3. Have such tests been conducted and
Testable hypothesis. There can be no better have they failed to falsify the
way of determining the admissibility of sci- hypothesis?
entific evidence than by asking whether the
scientific method has been used in the inves- For example, DNA testing of semen from
tigation or in formulating the opinion a vaginal swab meets this Daubert criterion.
expressed. It is the scientific method that dis- We can formulate the hypothesis that the
tinguishes science from other activities that DNA came from the suspect.The outcome of
also require care and knowledge in their the hypothesis is that the DNA types in the
conduct. The scientific method demands semen will be the same as those from the sus-
that the matter can be expressed as a pect. We can falsify this by conducting the
hypothesis and that the validity of the DNA typing—if any types are found that dif-
hypothesis can be tested. Let us take fer from those of the suspect then the semen
Newton’s law of gravity as an example. We is not his.
could express the hypothesis as “the huge The ability of the testing used to detect a
mass of the Earth exerts an attractive force on falsification of the outcome predicted by the
objects around it.” We can test the hypothe- hypothesis is a vital part of the scientific
sis by seeing what happens to an object method, as is the ability to repeat the testing
exposed to the hypothetical attraction. As far itself.Tests, or a combination of testing circum-
as we can see, it will behave as hypothe- stances, that are not likely to find a falsification
sized—the apple falls from the tree to the if one exists or that cannot be repeated on other
ground every time and does not remain sus- occasions or by other observers do not present
pended in midair or take off into outer space. a sufficient challenge to the hypothesis for its
The scientific method is a little more com- subject matter to be regarded as “scientific.”
plex than this but we need only concern our- This is why the second and third criteria of the
selves with two features in regard to applying Daubert ruling, which require that the testing is
Daubert. One is that the hypothesis must reliable in itself (error rates) and has been sub-
predict something. The other is that testing jected to the scrutiny of peers (published in the
the hypothesis consists of conducting tests scientific literature), are important.
designed to disprove it, and that the only Error rates. The Daubert opinion included
thing we can do with certainty is to disprove the following statement:
the hypothesis—no amount of testing can
prove it.The laws of nature are just hypotheses . . . in the case of a particular scientific
that have considerable value in regard to the technique, the court ordinarily should
things that they predict and that have with- consider the known or potential rate of
stood the many tests of time.The focus on dis- error, see, e.g., United States v. Smith,
proving the hypothesis is called falsifiability and 869 F. 2d 348, 353–354 (CA7 1989)
is associated with the scientific philosopher (surveying studies of the error rate of
Karl Popper. spectrographic voice identification
To pass this first of the Daubert ruling cri- technique), and the existence and
teria, to be admissible the matter proposed as maintenance of standards controlling the
scientific evidence must satisfy the following: technique’s operation. See United States v.
Daubert Ruling 113

Williams, 583 F. 2d 1194, 1198 (CA2 1978) or moisture), the presence of similar materials
(noting professional organization’s standard (such as metabolites of a drug), the specificity
governing spectrographic analysis), cert. of the analytical technique employed (for
denied, 439 U.S. 1117 (1979). example, gas chromatography combined with
mass spectrometry is much more specific that
Both sides, law and science, seem to have dif- gas chromatography alone), and the amount of
ficulty with this part of the opinion.There are the target material in the sample (the more the
two parts to the requirement: (1) providing better).
the court with information that will allow it Finally, there may be instances of testing or
to consider error rates and (2) demonstrating data manipulation where there is no available
the existence and maintenance of standards data on uncertainty of measurement. In these
controlling the technique. cases, it may be possible to derive an “uncer-
Error rate is better termed uncertainty of tainty budget” by considering the likely
measurement. There is a mass of published data sources contributing to the overall uncertainty
on uncertainty of measurement.The results of of measurement and estimating the magnitude
every test contain an element of uncertainty. of each.
For example, performing ten replicate analy- The second element of this part of the opin-
ses on a blood sample with a true alcohol con- ion, the existence and maintenance of stan-
centration of 0.100 percent will not produce dards controlling the technique’s operation, is
an answer of 0.100 each time. Comparing the much easier to deal with. Every test can be val-
average test result with the true value and idated using controls and standards, and the
measuring the spread of results around the court would be entirely justified in refusing to
mean can tell us much about the reliability of accept results from uncontrolled testing.
the test.The degree to which the mean of the Peer review. Peer review is an integral part of
ten tests approaches the true value is a meas- science. Whether it concerns data on the dis-
ure of the accuracy of the test. The spread of covery of a fundamental subatomic particle or
results tells us the repeatability of the test.The one of many refinements of a measuring tech-
spread is usually expressed by means of a sta- nique, the acceptance or rejection of the work
tistical parameter, the standard deviation. An hinges on peer review.The experimenter must
alternate expression of standard deviation be able to present the findings to peers for
used in analytical chemistry is the coefficient their scrutiny, normally by publication in a ref-
of variation (CV), which is the standard devi- ereed journal. Confirmation or refutation of
ation expressed as a percent of the mean. the findings will follow as others attempt to
Calculation of accuracy and CV is a normal replicate the data. Findings that stand the
part of validation of a quantitative (that is, one scrutiny of peers and are of sufficient impor-
that measures the amount of material present tance or utility become an accepted part of the
in the sample) assay. field of science in which they are grounded.
However, it is more difficult to give an There is a particular peer review process
objective measure of the potential error rate of value in determining the acceptability of an
in a qualitative (that is, one that identified the analytical technique, namely the develop-
presence of a target substance) assay. There ment and publication of consensus “standard
will sometimes be information on the inci- methods.” The American Society for the
dence of false positive and false negative Testing of Materials (ASTM) is the main body
results, but these can be situational and active in consensus method development
depend on the exact circumstances of the in the United States.ASTM works through vol-
testing. Factors affecting confidence in the unteer committees, including one for forensic
result of a qualitative test include the condition testing (E30). The FBI and DEA support sci-
of the sample (perhaps degraded by heat, light, entific working groups in various areas that
114 Death

also contribute to development of consensus According to the report of the Ad Hoc

standards in forensic science; for example the Committee in the Journal of the American Medical
Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Association, four criteria must be met to declare
Methods (SWGDAM) has developed quality death. These became known as the Harvard
assurance standards for DNA testing. Criteria and are: (1) a total unawareness of
General acceptance. The Daubert Court also externally applied stimuli; (2) no movements
recognized the role of general acceptance as or breathing during a period of at least one
an indicator of reliability, just as the Frye court hour in which the patient is continuously
had some seventy years earlier. In essence, observed by physicians; (3) no reflexes, such as
general acceptance says that there is a degree blinking, eye movement, and stretch-of-tendon
of intrinsic reliability in a technique that has reflexes; and (4) a flat electroencephalogram.
passed the test of time. The Harvard Criteria have proven to be reli-
As determined, the Daubert ruling applies to able indicators of brain death, and physicians
scientific testimony and not to expert testi- have generally reached a consensus about con-
mony in general. However, the more recent tinuing to apply them.
ruling of Kumho Tire v.Carmichael (1999) extends Notwithstanding that, someone is not
the principles to technical investigations. legally dead unless a qualified person (most
See also Admissibility of Scientific Evidence; Frye
jurisdictions specify a registered medical
Rule; Kumho Tire Ruling practitioner) certifies life extinct due to a
References specified reason, such as natural causes, acci-
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. dent, or homicide. There are very few cases
579 (1993). indeed where it is necessary to call on the
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An Harvard Criteria.
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. One problem that is unique to the forensic
Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999). specialist is assigning a time of death. This is
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle certainly not an exact science, but there is a
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. wealth of experiential data that can give a rea-
sonably reliable estimate in most circum-
stances.The data fall into four main categories:
Death physical characteristics, temperature, bio-
Death, in the context of most forensic cir- chemical measurements, and putrefaction.
cumstances, is simply diagnosed as cessation
of the heartbeat and breathing. If a doctor or Physical Characteristics
paramedical detects no heart sounds during a The main physical characteristics used are
five-minute period then it is reasonable to hypostasis and rigor mortis. When the heart
pronounce life extinct. However, there is a stops, blood circulation also stops.There is no
broader and more complex set of factors sur- blood pressure and some of the structural bar-
rounding the definition of death. It is known riers that in life keep blood in the veins and
that some circumstances, such as severe arteries are impaired. As a result, gravity acts
hypothermia, or administration of paralyzing to pull fluids to the lowest point of the
drugs, can mimic death. They can induce a body—this is hypostasis.The observable con-
state where no heart sound is detected by the sequence is coloration as blood accumulates in
human ear or sign of breathing detected by the capillaries in the skin.To begin with there
the classical feather or mirror, yet the indi- are small scattered patches, but these merge
vidual is not dead. Patients on life-support with time.The color starts as pink but changes
systems add to the complexity. to dark pink and then to blue as oxygen is
There is a general consensus that the key removed. Carbon monoxide or cyanide poi-
indicator of death is cessation of brain activity. soning each produce a bright cherry pink.
Death 115

In the earlier stages, the lividity is not indicator of any use. In general, a clothed body
fixed: Finger pressure will cause blanching in a temperate climate, not in water, and in
and turning the body will produce a new low calm conditions, will cool at about 1.5 degrees
point for the hypostatic shift in blood. Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) per hour for
However, as the interval increases, the blood the first six hours and somewhat less thereafter.
loses its fluidity and these changes in response
to pressure and rotation will not be seen.The Chemical Measurements
time frame of hypostatic changes is: Many attempts have been made to correlate
postmortem intervals with chemical changes.
• First patches seen at up to thirty These, too, fail to be of any significant preci-
minutes sion. Potassium levels in the vitreous humor
• Coalescence seen from then to about (the clear fluid found inside the eye) are the
four hours most studied and most useful.The underlying
• Shifting in rotation seen at about two principle is that metabolic processes in the liv-
to twenty-four hours, lessening with ing body maintain the chemical content of the
passage of time fluid, including a low concentration of potas-
• Disappearance on pressure seen at ten sium.As cells die, the high levels of potassium
to twenty-four hours, the extent of inside them diffuse throughout the body and
disappearance lessening with passage so levels rise in fluids with a low concentra-
of time tion of potassium in life.This is what happens
to the potassium in vitreous humor. It takes
Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the body as about five to six days for the potassium in vit-
biochemical changes cause muscles to become reous humor to equalize with that in blood.
rigid. Rigor typically is first seen in the face, The increase in the early period occurs at a
at about six hours postmortem, moving down fairly constant rate.
the body to the arms (about nine hours) and
legs (about twelve hours). Full rigor will last Putrefaction
about twelve hours and disappear over the The organs of the body decompose after
next twelve hours. However, rigor is one of death, as microorganisms invade the tissues.
the least certain of indicators and is affected Intestinal and chest organs are affected first,
by things like ambient temperature and body followed by brain and muscles. In temperate
temperature. climates, with no special extraneous factors,
putrefaction begins to be noticeable about
Temperature forty-eight hours after death, and spreads over
Biochemical and physiological events maintain the following weeks. At two weeks, the abdo-
the temperature of a healthy adult at about 37 men is distended and organs are disrupted by
degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). gas. By three weeks, organs are disrupted and
These homeostatic mechanisms are lost on there is substantial disfigurement. At four
death and the body obeys the laws of physics weeks, there is slimy liquefaction of the
and cools to ambient temperature. whole body.
Like all the other indices of time since death,
body temperature is an approximation influ- Overall Estimate of Postmortem Interval
enced by many factors; for example, the ambi- None of these methods are intrinsically pre-
ent temperature, the environment (dry or cise, but an experienced forensic specialist
wet), whether there is a significant wind, working in conditions that are not abnormal
extent and type of clothing, body weight, and can give a reasonable estimate of the post-
body position. It is of most value in the early mortem interval. The techniques have a se-
period after death when indeed it is the only quence of applicability:Temperature is best in
116 Dental Records and Disaster Victim Identification

the early stages, then rigor and lividity, and documents can. The main difference is in the
finally putrefaction. reliable recovery of the data. “Reliable” encom-
passes the process of recovery without cor-
Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and rupting or destroying the information, and also
J. Payne-James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal having checks in place to prove that there has
Medicine. London: Elsevier Academic, 2005. been no alteration of the digital record.
Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and Information recovery has been very suc-
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. cessful. Mail messages and web-page files
Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London: contain information that shows the routing of
Greenwich Medical Media, 2003. the mail. Erased data is most often not actu-
ally removed from the storage media, but
rather the references to it in the computer
Dental Records and Disaster file management system are deleted.
Victim Identification (DVI) Reference
Mass disasters, such as the Swissair Flight 111 Casey, E. Digital Evidence and Computer Crime. 2nd ed.
accident, 1998, and the World Trade Center London and San Diego, CA: Academic, 2004.
terrorist attack in the United States in 2001
have shown the power of DNA typing for Digital Imaging
identification of remains. However, dental Digital imaging is quite distinct from digital
identification is still one of the most rapid and evidence. It is the capture of images in digital
reliable techniques available. The method is form, rather than as physical entities. The
based on comparison of teeth in remains to advantages are that the images can be stored,
dental records. recalled, and manipulated readily from a
See also Odontology computer workstation, unlike physical rec-
References ords.These benefits are also the problem with
Bowers, C. M. Forensic Dental Evidence:An Investigator’s digital evidence. Proving the integrity of
Handbook. Amsterdam and Boston: Academic,
images demands detailed and stringent secu-
Bowers, C. M., and G. Bell. Manual of Forensic rity procedures.
Odontology. 3rd ed. Saratoga Springs, NY: References
American Society of Forensic Odontology, 1995. Blitzer, H. L., and J. Jacobia. Forensic Digital Imaging
Dorion, R. B. J. Bitemark Evidence. New York: Marcel and Photography. San Diego, CA: Academic, 2001.
Dekker, 2004. Russ, J. C. Forensic Uses of Digital Imaging. Boca Raton,
FL: CRC, 2001.

Digital Evidence
Digital evidence is the term used to describe Disaster Management
information of evidential value that has been From a forensic science perspective, a dis-
stored or transmitted in digital form. It is aster is a major incident that has caused or
popularly referred to as “computer forensics.” has the potential to cause death or serious
There are many examples, from child porno- injury to many people. There are three pri-
graphy and Internet fraud to recovery of e-mail ority categories to be observed in the man-
and business records in cases of environmental agement of a disaster site: first is the safety of
crime and illicit drug dealing. personnel (victims, bystanders, and respond-
The premise on which digital evidence is ers); second is recovery of information
based is that examination of the computer- that could indicate the cause of the disaster;
storage media may permit recovery of data. and third is identification of the victims.
The recovered data can aid an investigation Management of the scene has to deal with
in the same way that written or printed transportation of the injured or dead, and
Distance Determination 117

the calls from family and others affected by fingerprints, DNA, and dental records. All
the incident as well. All are best served by need a sensitive liaison with the victim’s family
implementation of a rational plan that clearly in order to obtain reference samples.
identifies available resources to be called on There is a significant stress in DVI, even
and the roles and responsibilities of the for hardened forensic pathology and labora-
many responders. tory personnel. The numbers of victims and
Safety ranges from protection of everyone the contact with family personalize the
at the site to safety of an extended area in the activity in a way that forensic investigations
case of biological, chemical, or explosive of crime do not. Post-incident counseling
hazards. Good disaster-scene management should be available.
often requires resolution of competing See also Mass Disaster Victim Identification
demands among or even within categories. Reference
For example, the first terrorist attack on Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
New York City’s World Trade Center, 1993, James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
took place in freezing winter conditions. London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
Water sprayed by fire department personnel
to render the site safe from fire froze. The
power to the site was out, and investigators Distance Determination (Firearms)
were faced with finding their way around a Determination of the distance from the vic-
dark subterranean garage with a hole through tim at which a gun was fired can help in
several floors and sheet ice underfoot. reconstruction of the shooting.A self-inflicted
The disaster site should be regarded as a shot is made from very short range; one
crime scene until proven otherwise.The rules made during a struggle would also be short-
of crime-scene management apply: (1) control range. The principle behind the range deter-
access to prevent loss and contamination; (2) mination is that the debris from the firing of
record the site thoroughly and establish a chain the ammunition disperses as it leaves the gun
of evidence system; and (3) identify, preserve, muzzle. Thus contact or near-contact shoot-
and collect materials that constitute or may ings have a high density dispersed over a nar-
contain evidence. Evidence items should be row radius and the density decreases and
selected for their contribution to identifying radius increases with distance. Contact
what happened and any associative links with wounds also show burning from the heat of
individuals. the propellant blast.
Identification of bodies is a stressful but The materials that make up the debris
necessary part of all mass disaster inves- include lead from the bullet and residues of
tigations, whether accidental or criminal. burnt propellant, typically nitrites from
Disaster victim identification (DVI) begins nitrocellulose in smokeless powder. The
with inspection of the bodies and the immedi- chemical tests used are the Griess test for
ate personal possessions. Physical appearance nitrite and sodium rhodizonate for lead
characteristics to be recorded include height particles.
and weight, sex, hair color, and distinguishing Testing is conducted by shooting the
marks such as tattoos or surgical scars. weapon at a target from various distances and
Fingerprints should be taken. An inventory of comparing the radius of detectable residues
personal items such as jewelry and clothing on the clothing or body of the victim with
and the contents of pockets—wallets and per- those from the test fires.There is considerable
haps even a driver’s license or some other variation and the results are to be taken as
picture ID—should be made. estimates and not as reliable determinations
Technical procedures that can permit of firing distance.
identity to be assigned include checks of See also Color Tests; Firearms
118 DNA Databases

References precise about the possible sources of biologi-

De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic cal material.
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
There are many ways to express how well a
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle system used to type body fluids can differenti-
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. ate between people.The simplest is to estimate
Schwoeble, A. J., and D. L. Exline. Current Methods in the proportion of the population with the type
Forensic Gunshot Residue Analysis. Boca Raton, FL: or combination of types measured. Thus, a
CRC, 2000. stain of group O is found in about half of the
Warlow,T. Firearms, the Law, and Forensic Ballistics. 2nd
ed. London and Bristol, PA:Taylor and Francis, population. The typing systems used prior to
1996. the introduction of DNA testing would usually
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic give frequencies of the range of 1 in 50 to
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 1 in 200 of the population. DNA immediately
1998. offered figures of 1 in several million of the
population and, as systems have developed,
DNA Databases now offers results of 1 in a billion or more.
The ability of DNA typing to get close to As of this writing in 2005 it is barely fifty
individualization of a sample means that data- years since Crick and Watson elucidated the
bases can be used effectively (see Databases). structure of DNA and hence how it was able to
In the United States, the DNA database is function as the body’s carrier of genetic infor-
maintained by the FBI and is titled CODIS, mation. In that time, DNA and the genetic
for Combined DNA Index System. Data is code have moved from the realm of Nobel
fed into the database at local and national lev- Prize theory to basic school science. Almost
els. CODIS is proving to be a very powerful every school student knows that the DNA mol-
tool for public safety, with many cold hits ecule is a double helix, held together by the
being achieved even in the early stages of the attraction between the constituent nucleotide
system. bases adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G),
and thymine (T); the chemical structure of the
See also Combined DNA Index System (CODIS); bases is such that G pairs to C and A to T.The
Databases; DNA in Forensic Science; DNA sequence of the bases provides the code for
Population Frequencies; Exclusion of Paternity;
Phenotypes; Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR); the structure of a protein.The entire sequence
Population Genetics; Restriction Fragment Length that produces a single protein is called a gene,
Polymorphisms (RFLP) and the genes are contained in chromosomes,
References found within the nucleus of cells.
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, However, most of the DNA in chromo-
MA: Elsevier, 2005.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Combined DNA
somes is not in the genes and does not serve
Index System; as a carrier of genetic information.
codis/index1.htm (Referenced July 2005). The DNA used in typing body fluids came
from the discovery of variable number tan-
dem repeats (VNTRs) in the noncoding
DNA in Forensic Science DNA. These are segments in which a se-
Methods to type stains of body tissues such quence of nucleotide bases is repeated end to
as blood and semen were developed in the end. The number of repeats varies between
1950s and refined in the 1960s and 1970s. people, but because they are part of chromo-
However, the greatest advance in the identifi- somes, everyone inherits a sequence from
cation of the origin of biological material each parent. There are many VNTR regions,
came with the introduction of DNA typing in each characterized by the number and the
the mid-1980s. The immediate impact of order of the nucleotide bases that make up
DNA typing was in its ability to be more the repeating unit.
DNA in Forensic Science 119

A scientist holds a hair for a DNA sample. (Andrew Brookes/Corbis)

The form of DNA typing introduced to sequence. The probe binds more or less
forensic science in the late 1980s and early specifically to the sequence and can be located
1990s is called restriction fragment length through visualization of an attached chemical
polymorphism (RFLP).The name comes from or radioactive label.The size of the fragments
the way in which the testing is performed.The determines how far they move in the electric
complete DNA molecule is broken into hun- field. A value is assigned to the fragment by
dreds of smaller units using a chemical called comparison with a standard run at the same
a restriction enzyme—the smaller units are time.
the “restriction fragments.” Restriction frag- Each VNTR region utilized gives an inde-
ments made up mainly of a VNTR will have a pendent typing.Typing results from different
size that varies according to the number of regions, identified by specific probes, can be
repeat units, provided that the size of the multiplied together. Using between four and
repeat unit is large enough. Hence the “length eight probes gives types so rare that they
polymorphism.” are effectively unique, other than in identical
The restriction fragments are then separat- siblings.
ed according to size by applying them to a RFLP analysis takes some time to com-
slab of gel and applying an electric field, a plete and needs fairly large samples to be
technique named electrophoresis. Recognition successful—times of the order of two weeks
of the fragment with the target VNTR is and samples the size of a dime are needed for
achieved by application of a probe of comple- RFLP analysis. RFLP also requires undegraded
mentary nucleic acid to the VNTR repeat DNA. For these reasons, in the early 1990s
120 DNA Population Frequencies

RFLP analysis began to be replaced by poly- there were insufficient points for identifica-
merase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. tion from the morphology of the print.
PCR is based on the way the body manufac- Future DNA developments include the
tures DNA.The double helix is separated and typing of DNA from mitochondria and DNA
a particular area on one chain targeted by specific to the Y chromosome. Mitochondrial
adding a primer. The primer is a nucleic acid DNA is not found in the nucleus, but is in
sequence complementary to a stretch of DNA structures in the cytoplasm. It is inherited
adjacent to the region of interest. The primer solely from the mother, and is found in rela-
will thus bind to that site. A cocktail of chem- tively high levels. It is of value in identification
icals, including DNA polymerase (the enzyme of old tissue or skeletal remains and of hairs.
that synthesizes DNA in the nucleus) and the Y chromosome DNA is of value because of
nucleotides A, C, G, and T, is added.The single the problems that can arise in unique identifi-
chain acts as a template and the DNA molecule cation of the male fraction in typing vaginal
is rebuilt for the region of interest. The reac- samples from rape victims. The sensitivity of
tion is stopped, the chains are separated, and PCR analysis is such that low levels of female
the process is repeated twenty to thirty times. DNA carry through the separation process.
In that way the amount of DNA containing the Identifying DNA that is unique to the male
target sequence is multiplied about a million material avoids this problem.
times, the quantity doubling each cycle. See also DNA Databases; DNA Population
Most PCR methods are variations on the Frequencies; Exclusion of Paternity; Phenotypes;
theme of VNTR analysis. Unlike RFLP, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR); Population
repeat units are short (four bases in the most Genetics; Restriction Fragment Length
common example of short tandem repeats Polymorphisms (RFLP)
[STRs]) and the overall size of the repeat seg- References
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
ment of DNA is about one-tenth of that in MA: Elsevier, 2005.
RFLP analysis. For example, the TH01 marker, De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
human tyrosine hydroxylase, has between Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
five and eleven repeats of the sequence McGraw-Hill, 1983.
AATG. National Research Council. The Evaluation of Forensic
DNA Evidence. Washington, DC: Academy, 1996.
PCR is extremely sensitive, the assay is Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
rapid, and degraded DNA can be typed suc- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
cessfully. By combining results from several
STR regions, population frequencies rare
enough to approach individualization are pos- DNA Population Frequencies
sible. For example, there are thirteen standard The power of DNA as a tool in forensic sci-
core loci for STR data entry to the CODIS ence is its ability to give reliable assignment of
database, together with a sex-specific marker, the source of a sample. Source attribution
and combined frequencies of 1 in 10 billion depends on two things: the true rarity of the
or rarer are regularly encountered. DNA characteristic typed and the ability to
The success of DNA typing in forensic measure that rarity and express it in a meaning-
science depends on the ability to reliably ful way. (See also Blood Grouping.)
detect the DNA types in shed material. STR Recall that a genotype represents a pair of
technology has been successfully applied to alleles, one inherited from each parent. A
old case samples to exonerate convicted pris- DNA profile is composed of the individual’s
oners. It has given probative evidence from gentotypes at several locations (loci). Esti-
fingernail scrapings and from the mouth area mation of the rarity of a blood type (DNA or
of masks. It has even been used successfully in any of the more traditional systems previously
DNA recovered from a fingerprint where used) is seemingly straightforward. Blood
DNA Population Frequencies 121

collected from a number of people drawn at there will be sufficient instances in the sam-
random from the population is analyzed and ple to give a reliable estimate of its frequency
the profiles stored in a DNA population data- in the population as a whole. However, many
base and the frequency of the characteristic is of the DNA types are so uncommon that they
measured.This group is called a sample of the may not be encountered in any of the blood
population and is typically somewhere between from the samples. Even if we keep looking
30 and 300 people. The frequency of occur- and increase the size of the sample, the fre-
rence of specific alleles in the genotypes can be quency of occurrence will be so low that the
counted. These frequencies can be used as estimate of the population frequency will not
inference tools for determining the prevalence be as precise as we would wish. Note that
of a particular allele or genotype or entire pro- there is no doubt that the characteristic is
file in the population as a whole. For example, present in the population or that it is rare.
if 16 percent of the sample has the allele 17 at The question is, exactly how rare is it?
the DNA location (locus) called D3S1179, it is When dealing with more than one typing
assumed that 16 percent of the entire popula- characteristic (for example, type O blood that
tion has that same allele at that locus. is also Rhesus positive) the frequency of
Because the loci examined in a forensic occurrence of the combination is found by
DNA profile are unrelated to one another, multiplying the frequencies of the individual
the allele frequencies can be multiplied to components (the frequency of type O times
determine a frequency for the profile. Based the frequency of Rhesus positive in the illus-
on recommendations from the National Re- tration, or 50 percent of the population times
search Council, calculations of frequency are 90 percent of the population or about 45 per-
made for the genotype at each locus. These cent of the population overall). This means
are then multiplied following the product that the uncertainty in the frequencies of the
rule. DNA population frequencies are also individual DNA types are increased as we
influenced by the composition of the ref- apply the multiplication rule. However, the
erence or target population.A correction fac- frequency of occurrence of any combination
tor is incorporated in the final calculation of thirteen STR types is so rare that there is no
to account for the possibility of population alternative but to arrive at it using the multi-
substructure or inbreeding. Calculating the plication rule.
rarity of a profile according to the NRC’s DNA population frequencies are also influ-
recommendations and using population data- enced by the composition of the reference or
bases are relatively straightforward.Whenever target population.
a particular allele is observed in the sample Because scientists have no firsthand knowl-
population at a frequency of less than 0.01, edge of the ethnicity of an individual involved
a minimum allele frequency of 5/2n where in a crime, they often report a statistical value
n = number of individuals in the database is called a random match probability (RMP) for
used. For isolated populations, such as the entire population and/or the RMP for the
islanders or Native Americans, databases may profile in various ethnic groups. Differences
be constructed using samples from those do not often reach a single order of magni-
populations. For larger ethnicity classifica- tude. Another commonly presented value is a
tions, such as Caucasian Americans or black likelihood ratio, which is essentially the recip-
Americans of African descent, more broad rocal of the random match probability. In
generalizations or inferences can be made. other words, the random match probability
Two other commonly used databases in gives a value for the probability that any indi-
forensic calculations are those for South- vidual drawn at random from the population
eastern and Southwestern Hispanics.Any rea- would have a particular profile. In the forensic
sonably common type will be detected and context, a profile developed from a piece
122 Document Examination

of evidence may be presumed to have been References

contributed by a particular perpetrator.A ref- Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
MA: Elsevier, 2005.
erence standard obtained from that perpetra- National Research Council. The Evaluation of Forensic
tor can then be collected and compared. If DNA Evidence. Washington, DC: Academy Press,
these profiles are the same, it is considered a 1996.
match. For example, if a profile is obtained
from a sample of blood taken from a broken
window, and the profile obtained from a ref- Document Examination
erence sample collected from John Johnson Since humans began using paper in the con-
is a match, a random match probability is duct of their affairs, there has been a need
calculated to indicate the rarity of the profile. to establish the authenticity (or lack thereof)
We know that John Johnson matched the of the information contained in paper docu-
blood on the window. How likely is it that ments regardless of how it was applied (i.e.,
anyone out there would have that same pro- by hand or by machine). The early handwrit-
file? Often, RMP is expressed in the 1 in X ing experts were teachers of penmanship,
billion or trillion or even quadrillion range. If bankers, lithographers, engravers, or court
the RMP was 1 in 2,000,000,000,000, the clerks. They were self-taught and used simple
statement would be that the probability of equipment—magnifying lenses, rulers and,
finding the particular profile in question in perhaps, monocular microscopes. The cases
any given individual in the population would they examined were primarily for the purpose
be one in 2 trillion.The alternative calculation of detecting forgery, and the evidence was
or statement, the likelihood ratio, is a meas- almost exclusively handwriting.Today, the pro-
urement based on the hypothesis that the two fessional document examiner must deal not
profiles in question (the one from the window only with the determination of the genuineness
and the one from John Johnson’s standard) did of handwriting but also with the identification
in fact come from the same person, namely of printing instruments and photocopiers,
John Johnson, versus the likelihood that they detection of erasures, additions or alterations
came from different sources or that someone to documents of all kinds, dating of docu-
other than John Johnson deposited the blood ments, and the analysis of inks and papers, and
on the window and had the same DNA profile. must be familiar with all types of writing and
In the example above, the likelihood ratio reproduction implements. Indeed, the manner
would be 2,000,000,000,000, indicating that it in which documents are produced today pro-
is 2 trillion times more likely that John Johnson vides a much greater variety of challenges for
is the source of the blood on the window than the forensic document examiner than former-
someone else. Keep in mind that these values ly. One thing they would emphasize that they
relate solely to the DNA profiles and are not do not do, however, is attempt to determine
related to guilt or innocence. It is not the job of character or personality from handwriting.
the forensic DNA analyst to determine how That they leave to so-called graphologists.
John Johnson’s blood was deposited on the Prior to the 1890s, there is little informa-
window or if a crime was committed. tion about the persons who were testifying in
Although these values can be seemingly the courts about handwriting identification. In
astronomical, the manner in which DNA pro- fact the only evidence that such testimony was
file frequencies are calculated is relatively con- being provided is contained in early court
servative and thus tends to favor a defendant. reports. The most publicized case (at least
See also DNA Databases; DNA in Forensic Science; until 1934) in which handwriting identifica-
Exclusion of Paternity; Phenotypes; Polymerase tion played a major role was the notorious
Chain Reaction (PCR); Population Genetics; Dreyfus Affair in France, which began in
Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms (RFLP) 1894.A French spy in the German embassy in
Document Examination 123

Paris discovered a one-page handwritten source. Bertillon was embarrassed by his

document listing secret French army docu- flagrant error, and the affair cast a dark cloud
ments that had been turned over to the over the remainder of his career.
Germans. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French In the United States during the 1890s,
general staff officer, was accused of being the handwriting identification had become suffi-
author and was tried for treason by court- ciently well-known that two New York
martial. The main evidence against him was experts published books on the subject;
the testimony of Alphonse Bertillon, director William E. Hagan published Disputed
of the Police Identification Service in Paris.As Handwriting and Persifor Fraser A Manual for
the father of the system for the identification the Study of Documents. Within a few years,
of criminals that bore his name, Bertillon was Daniel T. Ames published Ames on Forgery in
held in high esteem in France and, although he 1900.Although these authors were prominent
had no training or true expertise in handwrit- in this emerging discipline, it was dominated
ing identification, his testimony that the for over half a century by Albert S. Osborne,
incriminating document had been written by also from New York.
Dreyfus was sufficient to result in a conviction. Osborne, originally a teacher of penman-
Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment ship in Rochester, New York, began perform-
at the infamous Devils Island. Anti-Semitism ing handwriting identifications around 1887
was rampant in the French army at the time, and remained active until his death in 1946.
and Dreyfus was a Jew. His defenders claimed He had published several papers on document
that was the only reason for his conviction and, examination, including one on typewriting
for the next twelve years, France went through identification in 1901, but it was the first edi-
turmoil over the affair. tion of his book Questioned Documents in 1910
In 1896 another French officer, Ferdinand that cemented his position as the leader of the
Esterhazy, was accused of having written the profession. This work totally overshadowed
damning document, but he was acquitted at the earlier works and, with a revised version in
his court-martial in a matter of minutes and 1929, formed the cornerstone for much of
promptly fled to England.This prompted one what document examiners do even today. In
of the most famous open letters of all time— 1922 Osborne published a second book, The
Emile Zola’s J’ Accuse—written to the presi- Problem of Proof, in which he discussed court-
dent of France, asserting that the army had room procedure, primarily from the point
framed Dreyfus. In 1898 it was discovered of view of the document examiner. In
that much of the evidence used against 1937, following another revision of Ques-
Dreyfus had been forged by another army tioned Documents, he also published The Mind
officer, and the high court of appeals ordered of the Juror and, in 1944 with his son
a new court-martial. There was worldwide Albert D. Osborne, Questioned Document
indignation when Dreyfus was again convicted, Problems. His professional stature was such that
the military court apparently being unable to John H.Wigmore (1863–1943), dean of law at
admit error. Nevertheless, the president of Northwestern University in Chicago, wrote
the Republic issued a pardon, and in 1906 the the introduction to several of Osborne’s books.
court of appeals fully exonerated Dreyfus. He In the 1910 book, Wigmore wrote that with
was reinstated into the army with the rank of this book Osborne had established “a new pro-
major and awarded the Legion of Honor. His fession.” Another prominent jurist, Roscoe
innocence was confirmed in 1931 with the Pound (1870–1964), dean of the Harvard Law
release of the private papers of the German School, wrote about Osborne in the 1944
officer who had obtained the original incrim- book: “It is not too much to say that he has cre-
inating document. These revealed that it had ated the profession of examiner of questioned
indeed been Esterhazy who had been the documents in this country and has turned what
124 Document Examination

had been largely a matter of superficial guess although a $50,000 ransom was paid, the
work or plausible advocacy into a matter of child’s battered body was not found until May
scientific investigation and demonstration.” 12. Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German-
Osborne was awarded a doctor of science born carpenter, was subsequently arrested
degree by Colby College, a small liberal arts and tried for the kidnap/murder. Fourteen
college in Waterville, Maine, and, in 1942, ransom notes were examined by eight docu-
became the first president of the American ment examiners for the state, including
Society of Questioned Document Examiners, a Osborne, Stein, Sellars, Tyrrel, Walter, and
formalization of an informal group of “friendly Souder, all of whom concluded that
document examiners” whom Osborne had Hauptmann was the writer. After his convic-
been inviting to meet together since 1913. tion, Hauptmann was quoted in the New York
Other prominent workers in the field dur- World Telegram as complaining that “Dot hand-
ing this early period included John F. Tyrrell writing is the worstest thing against me.” He
of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who later pub- was executed on April 3, 1936.
lished a technique for the decipherment of Following World War II, major changes
charred documents; Elbridge W. Stein of began to develop in the work of the ques-
Pittsburgh, who published a paper on the use tioned document examiner as a result of
of ultraviolet light to detect forgery in 1913; advances in the technology of writing and
J. Fordyce Wood in Chicago; Clark Sellars printing instruments. In 1945 the Reynolds
and John L. Harris in Los Angeles; Herbert J. ball-point pen was introduced (it sold for $16
Walter in Winnipeg; and Rafael Fernandez and the advertising claimed that one could
Ruenes in Cuba. All were examiners in pri- write under water with it, if one ever needed
vate practice, as it was not until 1921 that the to). By the mid-1950s, the price had fallen to
U.S. Treasury Department established the about $1 and the ball-point pen had almost
first government position for a document completely replaced the fountain pen, just as
examiner, Bert C. Farrar, followed by Wilmer the fountain pen had replaced the dip pen in
Souder at the National Bureau of Standards. the thirties. The characteristics of the ball-
When the Scientific Crime Detection point pen had a direct effect on handwriting
Laboratory of Chicago was established in identification because the examiner had to
1930, the staff document examiner was learn to differentiate between faults from for-
Katherine Applegate Keeler, one of the first gery and those due to defects in the ball
women document examiners and wife of point. Around 1960 the fiber-tipped pen
Leonarde Keeler, the prominent practitioner started to become popular and brought its
of polygraphy, who was also on staff. In own challenges to identification work. In
Europe, Wilson R. Harrison of England pub- 1979 the PaperMate Company introduced an
lished his massive work Suspect Documents,Their erasable ball-point pen, presenting an addi-
Scientific Examination in 1958, and the great tional concern to the document examiner.
Edmond Locard of Lyon in France published Typewriter technology also began to
Les Faux en Écriture et Leur Expertise in 1959. change with the introduction of the electric
After the Dreyfus Affair at the turn of the typewriter in the 1930s, proportional spacing
century, the next case to direct the attention typewriters in the early fifties, the single-
of the public to handwriting identification element typeball machine in 1961, and the
was what was described then as “The Trial of correcting “lift off ” typewriter ribbon in 1973.
the Century” in the small community of The ability to change balls easily between
Flemington, New Jersey. On March 1, 1932, machines and correct errors quickly presented
the infant son of Charles and Anne Morrow another tool for the forger and challenge to
Lindbergh was abducted from the family the examiner.The print-wheel typing unit that
home in Hopewell, New Jersey, and, became common in word processing and
Document Examination 125

computer systems was introduced in 1972, Because of the natural variation in writing,
followed not long after by the dot-matrix and collection of exemplars is important.
laser printers that are so common today. All Requested handwriting exemplars must pro-
of the more recent developments in “type- tect against attempts by the writer to disguise
writing” reveal much fewer of the conspicuous the normal hand. Some factors to consider are
defects that the document examiner relies on that they should:
to identify the product of a particular
machine. • Be taken without distraction to the
As the office photocopier became com- writer
mon, it introduced a whole new set of chal- • Be free from any knowledge on the
lenges to the document examiner, including part of the writer as to the questioned
the identification of the machine on which a material (content, spelling)
particular copy had been produced. Initially, • Use writing instruments similar to
the major problem for the examiner was how those used in the questioned material
to make a meaningful examination of the poor • Should contain the same words and
quality of the copies received. The thermo- phrases as those in the questioned
graphic process that used infrared energy to material (i.e., be a good representation
develop the image was introduced in 1950 but of it)
was quickly replaced by the much superior • Should be repeated (to avoid successful
electrostatic plain-paper reproduction process disguise by the writer)
in the late fifties. • Should be a mixture of written
The tools available to the document exam- material (e.g., not solely signatures)
iner have also expanded. Electronic ultraviolet
and infrared viewers and chromatography for If the exemplars are preexisting writing,
the differentiation of inks, electrostatic they must be contemporaneous with the
detection apparatus for revelation of pressure questioned writing. There must be enough
patterns and indented writing, specialized examples or text to cover the range of normal
photographic procedures, and computerized variations.
digital imaging equipment have all been
added to the examiner’s arsenal. Questioned Writing Instruments
document examination has become a well- Ball-point pens leave a single rounded line.
accepted part not only of criminal and civil Worn ball-point pens accumulate ink on the
litigation proceedings but also in dealing with side of the ball housing, and when the direction
problems of personnel, security, and com- of movement is reversed, the ink is picked up
mercial affairs. It is a distinct discipline within by the ball and deposited as a smudge on the
the forensic sciences. line. Wear and manufacturing imperfections
can leave class or individualizing characteristics
Collection of Document Evidence in the form of striations in the ink.These can be
Excessive handling of questioned documents used to tell the direction of the stroke.
should be avoided. When collected, they Fountain pens have more or less rounded
should be placed in a clean envelope of prop- nibs.As pressure is increased there is a separa-
er size, and identification should be made on tion of the nib, producing two marks that can
the container and not on the document. If it is be readily detected.
absolutely essential to mark the document, it Fiber-tip pens often given a thicker line
should be done on one corner on the back. compared with ball-point pens. The ink fluid
Standard or reference examples are called is uniform and constant, unless the ink supply
exemplars or knowns, and the suspected is running low or the tip of the pen has been
material is called the questioned material. exposed to the air for too long a time. They
126 Document Examination

usually do not leave indentations like other as the videospectral comparator, which uses
pens. Individualization of ball-point and fiber- light sources, filters, and TV tubes.
tip pens is very difficult.
Pencil markings can easily be determined Handwriting Comparison
by their appearance. The lead of a pencil is a Handwriting comparison accounts for more
mixture of graphite and clay, the proportion than 90 percent of document examination.
determining the hardness of the pencil. The gross features of writing are class charac-
teristics.They include features such as relative
Paper dimensions of letters, capitalization, and
Most paper is made from wood pulp. Other punctuation. Individual characteristics are less
nonwood fibers may be introduced to impart conspicuous and include features such as the
special characteristics. A bond paper, for formation of loops of letters such as l and k
example, contains 25 to 50 percent cotton and whether letters such as m and n have
fiber. Paper made from mechanically produced rounded or pointed tops.
pulp is known as a ground wood. Newsprint is Careful observation of letter constructions,
an example. Wood pulp used in making writ- for example, by photographic enlargements, is
ing papers is generally treated with sodium the key tool.
sulfite.The product is known as sulfite paper.
The characteristics of paper used in its iden-
tification are color, size, shape, inclusions, Alterations, Erasures, Obliterations, and
pattern design, ruling and framing, water- Indented Writing
marks, thickness, weight, bleaching, dying or Microscopic examination for damage to the
other special processes, surface appearance, paper fibers can reveal attempts to alter or
and fluorescence. erase. Alterations can be detected from ink
composition (nondestructive testing by light
Inks and filter choices; destructive chromato-
India ink. This is the oldest form of ink and is graphic testing by thin layer chromatography
also known as Chinese ink. It is a fine suspen- [TLC] or high performance liquid chromato-
sion of carbon black in water and gum or in a graphy [HPLC] of ink dyes). Intersecting
solution of shellac and borax. It gives the most lines can also reveal which writing was first.
permanent of all ink colors. Opaque obliterations can be read through by
Log wood ink. An extract of wood chips of choice of light and filters, or from the reverse
the log wood tree, its chief color ingredients (clarify paper with oil). Oxidation erasures
are hematoxylin and potassium chromate. It is leave chemical changes to the paper (visible
not used today. or UV light). Indentations resulting from
Iron gallotannate ink.This is made from tan- writing on a page originally on top of the
nic acid, gallic acid, ferrous sulfate, and an one being examined can be revealed using
aniline based dye.This has been used for a long oblique lighting or a method known as elec-
time and still is in many commercial inks. trostatic deposition analysis (ESDA). This
Dye inks. These are another chief color instrument uses changes in surface charge on
source in inks.They are organic dyes and can the paper to detect writings through several
be identified by thin layer chromatography. pages.
The most generally applicable technique for See also Charred Documents; Hitler Diaries
the chemical analysis of ink is thin layer chro- References
matography. Ultraviolet (UV) illumination will De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
reveal any fluorescent components and infrared McGraw-Hill, 1983.
luminescence may also be useful. UV and lumi- Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned
nescence can be observed in instruments such Documents. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1993.
Drug Enforcement Administration 127

James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An somewhat controversial test and it is probably
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. best not to base a conclusion of drowning
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
solely on the presence of diatoms.
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. References
Vastrick,T.W. Forensic Document Examination Techniques. Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
Institute of Internal Auditors Research James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
Foundation, 2004. London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
1998. Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
Driving while Intoxicated/Driving
under the Influence
See Alcohol Drug Enforcement Administration
The mission of the Drug Enforcement
Drowning Administration (DEA) is to enforce the con-
Drowning is death due to immersion in a fluid. trolled substances laws and regulations of the
The fluid fills the lungs, prevents oxygen from United States and bring to the criminal and
entering the blood, and so causes death by civil justice systems of the United States, or
hypoxia. Immersion gives rise to a sequence of any other competent jurisdiction, those organ-
responses: breath holding, then involuntary izations and principal members of organiza-
inhalation of fluid and gasping for air under tions involved in the growing, manufacture, or
water.The amount of water inhaled is variable distribution of controlled substances appear-
but can be large enough for it to pass through ing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United
the alveolar membrane, which is the fine tissue States; and to recommend and support nonen-
separating the air sacs in the lungs from the forcement programs aimed at reducing the
capillary blood, and through which oxygen is availability of illicit controlled substances on
taken into the blood and carbon dioxide the domestic and international markets.
removed from it. Laboratory support is one of the critical
Demonstrating that a body recovered from functions provided to DEA special agents and
water died by drowning, rather than was dead other law enforcement officers and officials.
before entering the water, depends on autop- This support covers a variety of forensic disci-
sy findings. In life the lungs are lined with a plines and functions including the analysis of
surfactant and drowning washes this away. drugs, field assistance at clandestine laboratory
The autopsy will probably reveal frothing at seizures, and crime-scene investigations by
the mouth or in the airways, but this is not a forensic chemists. Specialists perform latent
definitive diagnostic feature. fingerprint identification and photographic
Water contains tiny silica-covered plant development; evaluate digital evidence such
bodies called diatoms.There is some evidence as computers, diskettes, electronic organiz-
that diatoms enter the body in inhaled water ers, and cameras; and develop, monitor, and
and are carried through the lungs and to other process hazardous-waste cleanups and dispos-
organs in the blood before circulation ceases. als.This support also includes the presentation
The “diatom test” consists of examination of of expert testimony that is essential for the
tissues from sites such as the lungs, liver, and successful prosecution and conviction of drug
kidneys. The presence of significant numbers traffickers.
in microscopic samples is used to support the Additionally, the laboratory system provides
diagnosis of drowning. However, this is a support for intelligence activities through the
128 Drugfire

Heroin, Cocaine and Methamphetamine Drugs

Signature Programs to determine the origin of Drugs are encountered in forensic science
the controlled substance and to highlight for- laboratories in two main areas. These are the
eign drug distribution patterns. Intelligence testing of suspected controlled substances and
activities are also supported through the in toxicology, which is the testing of blood and
Domestic Monitor Program, which helps other body tissues for the presence of drugs
monitor domestic drug distribution patterns that may have contributed to death or altered
and price/purity data at the retail level. behavior.
Reference Testing suspected controlled substances is
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; http:// by far the most commonly encountered foren- (Referenced July 2005). sic examination. It is the greatest workload in a
typical crime laboratory and can account for as
much as three-quarters of the total laboratory
Drugfire resources. It is generally routine work but
Firearm evidence can be significant in crimes demands the very highest standards of security.
ranging from murder, attempted murder, sui- In contrast, many laboratories do not even
cide, and assault and rape cases to drug-related have a toxicology section. However, the testing
crimes. Using firearm evidence to its full itself and the interpretation of the results can
potential can answer a number of significant be among the most interesting of the types of
questions, such as the nature of the weapon work conducted in a crime laboratory.
used, the condition of the weapon, the firing The drug chemistry section of a forensic
distance from the target, which direction the laboratory tests suspected controlled sub-
fire came from, what type of weapon fired a stances using color tests, and chromatographic
specific bullet, and who fired the weapon. and spectroscopic techniques. These tests are
Fundamental to firearms forensic examina- also used in the toxicology section, but with
tions is the fact that no two firearms, even the immunoassay being used as the screening
same make or model, ever produce the same technique.
marks on fired bullets and cartridge cases.
When a gun is fired, the firing leaves its own See also Amphetamines; Cannabis; Cocaine; Color
Tests; Crack Cocaine; Ecstasy; Gamma
“fingerprint” in the form of unique microscopic Hydroxybutyrate (GHB); Gas Chromatography;
grooves and striations on the bullet and its cas- Hashish; Heroin; High Performance Liquid
ings. The integrity of these characteristics Chromatography (HPLC); Infrared Spectroscopy;
changes little with time, allowing the potential Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD); Mass
identification of firearms recovered months or Spectrometry; Methadone; Methamphetamine;
years after an incident. Significant develop- Morphine; Narcotics; Opium; Phencyclidine,
Phenylcyclhexyl, or Piperidine (PCP); Psilocybin;
ments in firearms identification technology Ultraviolet (UV) and Visible Spectrometry
have occurred over recent years. Drugfire is an References
automated computer technology system Christian, D. R. Forensic Investigation of Clandestine
developed to assist the FBI and state and local Laboratories. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2004.
law enforcement agencies in making links De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
between firearms-related evidence. The sys- McGraw-Hill, 1983.
tem is used to digitize and compare evidence Drummer, O. H. The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs of
through image analysis, allowing comparisons Abuse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
to be made between images taken from cases James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
within a single jurisdiction, or via networking, Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
with images anywhere in the world. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
See also Databases; National Integrated Ballistic DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
Information Network (NIBIN) 1999.
Dynamite 129

Office of National Drug Control Policy; Dyadic Death Homicide followed by the suicide of the
(Referenced July 2005).
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle perpetrator is termed dyadic death. It is
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. not common, and the most usual setting is
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; within the family, including parents murdering (Referenced children.
July 2005).
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic References
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
1998. James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Duffy, John Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
This case presents the first British murder Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London.
Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
case in which psychological profiling played a
major role.
Following a series of violent rape and mur-
der cases, “Operation Hart” was implemented Dynamite
to find the offender. Included in the database of The Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invented
this operation was a profile of John Duffy, dynamite in 1867. He found that nitroglycer-
arrested for related but minor offenses. A psy- ine could be made safe to handle by mixing it
chological profile was sought, which predicted with an inert substance, kieselguhr.The nitro-
the offender would live in the Kilburn area of glycerine did not lose its explosive force, but
northwest London, be married and childless, required a detonator to set it off.
have a history of violence, be unhappily mar- See also Explosions and Explosives
ried, and probably have two close male friends. References
Running this profile with the Operation Hart James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
database resulted in a match for John Duffy, Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
who, until the profile was run together with Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
the database was a minor and relatively insignif- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
icant suspect. Duffy was later arrested and sen- White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
tenced to serve several life sentences. Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Evans, C. The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science
Solved 100 of the World’s Most Baffling Crimes. New
York:Wiley, 1998.
Ecstasy alcohol is reputed to diminish its pharmacolog-
Ecstasy, or XTC, is the street name for methy- ical effects. MDMA also produces perceptual
lenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) a distortions that promote an intensification
Schedule I hallucinogenic amine and designer of feelings and emotions, the overwhelm-
drug. MDMA was first synthesized in 1914 ing desire to communicate, euphoria, and
by the Merck company for use as an appetite empathy.
suppressant, but never actually made it to the Adverse effects associated with ecstasy use
pharmaceutical market. During the 1970s include nausea, hallucinations, chills, sweating,
and 1980s MDMA was used as a chemical aid hyperthermia, and tremors. There may also
to psychotherapy in marriage counseling in be aftereffects of anxiety, paranoia, and
the United States, but was never officially depression. Studies on the long-term effects
approved for that use. MDMA is composed of MDMA use indicate damage to serotonergic
of chemical variants of amphetamine or neuronal pathways that may manifest as
methamphetamine and a hallucinogenic psychiatric and neuropsychotic disorders
compound, which is most often mescaline. such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
The drug is usually administered orally, in Deaths associated with ecstasy use have been
tablet or capsule form, resulting in effects related to hyperthermia, dehydration, and
that last for four to six hours. MDMA exerts internal bleeding.
its pharmacological effects by stimulating Ecstasy is synthesized in clandestine labora-
the central nervous system and recently tories mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium,
gained popularity as a “rave” or “club” drug. in tablet, powder, and capsule form. Most of
The drug is reputed to produce feelings of the drug encountered in the United States
well-being in the user and creates a high that comes from overseas laboratories, although a
stops fatigue, thus providing the ability to limited number of MDMA laboratories
“rave all night.” Some users have reported the operate in the United States. Other suggested
stamina to party for two or three days contin- sources for U.S. drug distribution groups
uously, and because MDMA has suppressive are foreign organized crime syndicates.
effects on eating and drinking, users often Drugs are smuggled to the United States in
suffer from extreme dehydration and exhaus- large shipments via express mail, couriers,
tion. Reports indicate that the drug is not usu- and freight shipments from large European
ally used in conjunction with alcohol because cities.
132 Ejaculate

See also Controlled Substances; Drugs References

References Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic MA: Elsevier, 2005.
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
McGraw-Hill, 1983. Science: An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
Drummer, O. H. The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs of McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Abuse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington, River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry, White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
1999. Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Policy 1998.
Information Clearing House;
(Referenced July 2005). Electrical Injuries
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle Electric shock can be lethal due to induction
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. of cardiac arrest. High-voltage shock, such as
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug results from a lightning strike, will also cause
Descriptions, MDMA; burn injuries. Factors affecting the response
dea/concern/mdma/mdma.html (Referenced to contact with an electricity source are,
July 2005)
White, P. Crime Scene to Court: The Essentials of Forensic principally, the current, voltage, and duration
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, of contact.
1998. A current of 5 mA (milliamperes) is
painful and one of over 50 mA can be fatal.
The normal domestic supply of 120 volts is
Ejaculate sufficient to cause death, particularly if the
Human ejaculate consists of about 2 to 4 ml time of contact is of the order of 10 seconds
of fluid, containing 70 to 150 million sper- or longer. The contact site often, but not
matozoa. More than half of the ejaculate always, shows a burn mark.
comes from the prostate and about a third Injury from a lightning strike is quite dif-
from the seminal vesicles, with traces from ferent.The discharge is intensely powerful. It
other sources. The first part of the emission can cause burn and physical shock injuries.
consists mainly of spermatozoa and prostatic About half of the people hit by lightning
secretions, with seminal fluid making up the strikes die as a result.
bulk of the later parts.
The chemicals used in screening tests for See also Burns
semen—acid phosphatase and P30 (or pros- Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and
tate specific antigen)—are therefore carried J. Payne-James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal
in the earlier fraction of the ejaculate. Medicine. London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
Postcoital samples are obtained by swabs Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
from the female genital tract. Drainage of New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
ejaculate can result in stains on underclothing Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
and bedding. Obviously, all postcoital samples Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
will contain mixtures of male and female
secretions, and therefore contain genetic
markers from both. Entomology
See also Color Tests; Rape; Semen Identification; Forensic entomology is the study of the
Sexual Offenses biology of insects to obtain evidence in legal
Erased Writing 133

A postmortem is carried out by German forensic entomologist Mark Benecke who has worked worldwide on forensic
entomology, the study of insects to solve crime. Dusseldorf University Clinic, Germany. (Volker Steger/Photo Researchers, Inc.)

investigations. Typically, the application is one Greenberg, B., and J. C. Kunich. Entomology and the
of estimation of time of death from the history Law: Flies as Forensic Indicators. Cambridge and New
of fly larval development. York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Blowflies will settle on a body and lay their
eggs in it. The hatching of the eggs and the Erased Writing
cycle of development of larvae to pupa to Documents may be altered after the original
adult fly is well documented for many species preparation in an attempt to hide the original
and the time required to reach each stage of meaning or contents, or perhaps as a means to
the cycle is known. Examination of the larvae commit a document forgery. Erasure of indi-
will therefore allow a minimum time since vidual words, phrases, letters, or numbers is
death to be estimated. one of the most common ways in which a doc-
Environmental temperature influences the ument can be altered. Erasures are always
rate of larval development, with the rate of mechanical or chemical in nature, and often
development being faster at higher tempera- accompany alterations or obliterations. Over
tures. Temperature also affects egg laying, as the years, an array of different tools have been
flies will not lay eggs if it is too cold. used to try to mechanically erase writing,
some of which include India rubber erasers,
See also Time of Death sandpaper, and razorblades or knives that may
Byrd, J. H., and J. L. Castner. Forensic Entomology:The be used to scratch the writing from the sur-
Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations. Boca face of the document. Due to the damage
Raton, FL: CRC, 2000. caused in the process, mechanical erasures are
134 Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol

very difficult to restore. Regardless of which sources such as ultraviolet or infrared, re-
method is used, the process of erasure dam- vealing the erased writing.
ages and disturbs the fibers in the upper layers See also Document Examination
of the paper. Fiber damage can usually be References
seen quite easily using a microscope to exam- De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee.
ine the suspect area using direct or oblique Forensic Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New
lighting. This technique can generally show York: McGraw-Hill, 1983.
where an erasure has been made, but it will Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned
Documents. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1993.
not necessarily expose the original writing or James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
letters that had been present. In most cases, Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
so much of the paper has been removed during Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
the erasure process that it is not possible to Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
see the original writings. Chemicals have also River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Vastrick,T.W. Forensic Document Examination Techniques.
been used to erase writing. The chemical Institute of Internal Auditors Research
applications are usually strong oxidizing Foundation, 2004.
agents that conceal the ink; the oxidation White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
reaction that occurs produces a colorless Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
reaction product that usually can’t be seen 1998.
with the naked eye. The chemical erasure
doesn’t actually remove the ink, but changes
the properties of the colored substance. Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol
However, microscopic examination may See Alcohol.
show areas of discoloration on the paper
where the treatment was carried out, or
there may be obvious staining on the docu- Ethics
ment. In some situations, examination of the Ethics means a set of guiding beliefs, stan-
document using ultraviolet or infrared lighting dards, or ideals that define a group. They are
will reveal any chemically treated area on the situational and are codified; that is, they vary
paper. Infrared luminescence is another tech- from place to place and exist as a formal or
nique that has been used successfully to dis- informal code for the organization. By com-
close erased writing by highlighting invisible parison, morals are generally agreed-upon
residues of the original ink left embedded in behaviors.
the paper. It is the duty of a forensic expert to be
Fuming the questioned document with a ethical in his or her approach to the selection,
variety of chemicals may also reveal chemical performance, and interpretation of all test
erasures on a document. Chemicals such as results and analyses. It is his or her duty to
ammonium sulfide and thiocyanic acid will conduct sufficient, appropriate tests to allow
react with lead residues left after the erasure rational, truthful, and scientifically sound
of most inks. Iodine vapor, which is absorbed conclusions to be made, while conducting the
by paper, may also reveal areas where the best science at all times. Examination and
paper fibers have been disturbed or damaged. interpretation of evidence must always be
Although erasure by overwriting or crossing conducted without bias. Scientists or investi-
out occurs infrequently, it does occur. When gators employed by government agencies
the erasure is made using the same ink used in have a duty to approach, analyze, and report
an original writing, it is virtually impossible information as it presents, regardless of the
to recover the original writing. However, if a potential outcome of a case. It’s common
different ink is used, the inks may react dif- for an expert to be called to testify by the
ferently in the presence of specialized lighting prosecution, but the jury may inadvertently
Exclusion of Paternity 135

consider him or her as a prosecution witness. • Testify in a clear, straightforward

Many scientists have fallen prey to the prose- manner and refuse to extend oneself
cutorial way of thinking and should be aware beyond one’s field of competence,
of peer pressure from supervisors, attorneys, phrasing one’s testimony in such a
and law enforcement agents to change report manner so that the results are not
notes or evidence descriptions, because the misinterpreted.
way the evidence is described, or an outcome • Do not exaggerate, embellish, or
is stated, biases the results toward the otherwise misrepresent qualifications
defense. An expert witness must know and when testifying.
stay within the limitations of his or her • Maintain an attitude of independence
expertise, reporting exactly what he or she and impartiality to ensure an unbiased
observes. He or she must be aware of provid- analysis of the evidence.
ing an opinion on topics outside his or her See also American Board of Criminalistics (ABC)
field, and must not embellish notes or make Reference
assumptions because it fits in with the prose- American Board of Criminalistics; http://
cution’s case. When testifying, an expert (Referenced July 2005).
must answer truthfully and to the best of his
or her ability.An expert should never attempt
to guess at answers or cover up when he or Exclusion of Paternity
she does not know an answer. If mistakes are Every child inherits one allele (DNA code for
made, honesty carries a lot of weight, even if a gene) from the mother and one from the
it is embarrassing. father. If we take it that the mother is known,
The code of conduct of the American Board then questions of paternity can be answered
of Criminialistics contains some excellent by testing blood from the mother, putative
examples of ethical guidelines for forensic sci- father, and child. If the child has an allele not
entists, for example: found in either parent, then the putative
father cannot be the true biological father.
• Treat all information from an agency This is sometimes referred to as first-order
or client with the confidentiality exclusion. Also, if the putative father is
required. homozygous (both his copies of the gene are
• Ensure that appropriate standards and the same) for an allele and that allele is not
controls to conduct examinations and found in the child, then, again, he cannot be
analyses are utilized. the true biological father. This is second-
• Ensure that techniques and methods order exclusion.
that are known to be inaccurate However, in practice it is not quite as cut
and/or unreliable are not utilized. and dried. Genes mutate and there is always a
• Ensure that a full and complete slight chance that an apparent exclusion is
disclosure of the findings is made to due to mutation. For that reason, most labo-
the submitting agency. ratories will not attest to nonpaternity on the
• Ensure that work notes on all items, basis of a single exclusionary allele in the child.
examinations, results, and findings are Laboratories are even more conservative in
made at the time that they are done calling nonpaternity from second-order
and appropriately preserved. exclusions, as the father may not have been
• Render opinions and conclusions homozygous but rather may have a silent or
strictly in accordance with the recessive allele.
evidence in the case (hypothetical or There is also the chance that no exclusion is
real) and only to the extent justified by revealed in testing but the match in alleles is a
that evidence. coincidence.Various statistical techniques have
136 Exhumation

been evolved to deal with such circumstances. References

The paternity index (PI) is the most widely Byard, R.T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
accepted of these.The underlying principle is London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
that if there is no exclusion found on testing, Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
then either the man is indeed the biological New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
father or someone else is and the results Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
match by chance. The paternity index is the Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
ratio of these probabilities. For one allele, the Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
ratio is the probability of the father passing on
the allele divided by the frequency of the
allele in the population. The value of the Expert Testimony
numerator of the ratio is 0.5 where the father The general rule governing admissibility of
is heterozygous and 1.0 where the father is evidence is that witnesses may only testify to
homozygous for the allele in question, unless what they have personally observed or expe-
the mother shares both alleles with the child. rienced.Witnesses are not allowed to testify
In that case the numerators are 0.25 and 1.0. with respect to their opinions except in cer-
The total PI for more than one allele is tain circumstances. One of these exceptions
obtained by multiplying all the individual PI is the expert opinion. An expert witness is
values together. considered to possess a particular knowl-
See also Parentage Testing edge gained through education or training
Reference in the course of a trade or profession and
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, is permitted to give evidence whenever it
MA: Elsevier, 2005. would assist the jury in resolving questions
outside the realm of experience of the average
person. Expert evidence does not have to be
Exhumation scientific.
Forensic investigation of unnatural death The forensic expert has a duty to evaluate
sometimes requires that exhumations of scientific evidence and provide opinions on
remains be carried out. It may be the disin- the significance of scientific findings regard-
terment of a legally buried body, the exami- less of whether the information provided is
nation of a homicide victim buried to conceal indicative of guilt or innocence. At all times,
the crime, or the examination of one or more an expert witness must remain objective and
victims of war crimes. be an advocate of his or her opinion and the
All cases present problems, in that careful truth. An expert should be able to defend the
investigation to preserve all relevant informa- techniques and conclusions of any scientific
tion is critical. It is important that the forensic analysis that he or she conducted pertaining
investigation team is aware of its goals before to the case in question, and must be willing to
beginning the exhumation: For example, if discuss the shortcomings or limitations of a
time of death is an issue, then the collection scientific technique, even though it may
of maggots and other infestations is impor- decrease the significance of a result, as well as
tant. If cause of death is an issue, then collec- any advantages.
tion of body tissues and control material from The foundation for pretrial preparation,
the surrounding soil is important. If it is a settlement negotiations, and courtroom tes-
war crime site, then the nature of the body— timony are the complete written crime-scene
arms tied behind the back, for example—and or laboratory reports.These reports and their
wounds are important. conclusions may result in the expert witness
See also Cause of Death; Entomology;Time of not being called to testify, lead to settlement,
Death and actually prevent trial.
Explosions and Explosives 137

For testimony to be of value to a case, it Explosions and Explosives

must impact the jury. An expert’s testimony Terror incidents occurring in the United
should be coherent, professional, and useful. States that involve explosive and incendiary
The more expertise and educational and devices historically have been attributed to
experiential background the witness can isolated individuals rather than organized ter-
prove, the more impact the testimony will rorist groups. Because such occurrences are
have on the jury. It is imperative that a witness relatively uncommon, regular crime labora-
is able to explain the intricacies of scientific tories in the United States are rarely involved
data and conclusions clearly and logically to in the investigation of explosion scenes or
a judge and jury composed of nonscientists. explosive evidence. Investigation of simple
An expert should never present biased testi- homemade explosive and incendiary devices,
mony to help the case of the prosecution or including pipe bombs, may be conducted
defense. It is the jury who is responsible for locally, but the investigation of major acci-
determining whether experts’ opinions are dental or terrorist incidents generally uses
accepted or ignored during deliberations. the resources of the Bureau of Alcohol,
Testimony usually begins with qualification Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), the Federal
or establishing the ability and competence of Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or other major
the witness to testify in the area. Questions state facilities. However, in other countries
are presented to address training, education, where terrorist activities using such devices
and experience. For most forensic scientists, are more commonplace, the evidence is rou-
the prosecuting counsel presents these ques- tinely investigated by appropriately equipped
tions. If the information received is consid- regular crime laboratories.
ered to be satisfactory, the court will declare The chemical and physical reactions that
the witness to be an expert in a specified occur in an explosion involve the processes of
field. Direct examination gives the expert an combustion. Combustion is an oxidation
opportunity to demonstrate his or her pro- reaction in which oxygen combines with
fessionalism, demeanor, and communication other substances to produce new products.
skills to the jury. Oxidation reactions always result in the
Direct examination is followed by cross- release of large amounts of energy. An explo-
examination by the opposing attorney. During sion is the result of combustion processes that
cross-examination, opposing counsel will try produce a very large volume of gas almost
to uncover weaknesses in the background, instantaneously. The expanding gas produces
knowledge, and experience of the witness. At the physical shock wave associated with explo-
times during the expert testimony, counsel sions. By confining the explosive charge in a
may raise an objection to some aspect of the container, additional damage is caused, as the
expert testimony, usually founded on hearsay initial confinement of the generated gases pro-
or the improper foundation for an expressed vides sufficient energy to break the container
opinion. Objections can be made to a question into fragments, producing flying shrapnel.
asked or to the answer the witness provides. The fragments of the container or shrapnel
See also Admissibility of Scientific Evidence; Daubert cause damage and serious injury to anyone in
Ruling; Frye Rule the surrounding area of the exploding bomb.
References However, it is the very fast shock wave from
Daubert on the Web; http://www.daubertontheweb. the explosion that is responsible for most of
com/(Referenced July 2005). the damage to property.
Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S.
579 (1993).
Explosives can be classified according to
Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). the speed at which the gases expand. Low
Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999). explosives are extremely rapid-burning reac-
tions that result in a pressure wave that travels
138 Explosions and Explosives

at speeds up to 1,000 meters per second violently under normal conditions is called
(about 3,000 feet per second). The burning initiating explosives, and they are used as
rate for low explosives is called the speed of primers to detonate other explosives through
deflagration. Low explosives are more often a chain reaction.These explosives are so sen-
used as propellants, but can become highly sitive that they are rarely included in the main
destructive if contained. Commercially avail- charges of homemade bombs but usually
able low explosives include black and smoke- form the main ingredient in blasting caps.
less powders, but almost any fuel and oxidizing This group of explosives includes lead azide,
agent combination can be made into an lead styphnate, and mercury fulminate.
explosive. The ingredients required to make The second group of high explosives is
low explosives are readily available and can be quite insensitive to heat, shock, and friction,
purchased from gun stores and chemical sup- burning instead of detonating when ignited in
ply houses. Potassium chlorate and sugar are small amounts under normal conditions.These
well-known examples. noninitiating explosives are commonly used
Pipe bombs often contain low explosives. for commercial and military blasting and
The pipe provides the containment, and a include compounds such as dynamite, trinitro-
safety fuse—often made of black powder in toluene (TNT), pentaerythritol tetranitrate
a fabric or plastic casing—is used to carry a (PETN), and cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine
flame to the explosive charge.With appropri- (RDX).
ate lengths of safety fuse, the fuse burns at a Quite often high explosives used for com-
rate slow enough to allow an individual time mercial or terrorism purposes are based on
to leave the site of the upcoming explosion.A ammonium nitrate and fuel mixtures. The
pipe bomb typically contains black powder in explosive called ANFO is based on ammonium
a pipe with ends closed by threaded caps. nitrate soaked in fuel oil.
Detonating the explosives from inside the Dynamite is an explosive that is used when
pipe results in a huge volume of gas that a quick-shattering effect is needed. Dynamite
expands almost instantaneously into the sur- was developed by Alfred Nobel when he
rounding air when the pipe bursts, with quite discovered that mixing nitroglycerin with an
devastating effects. Bomb disposal processes, inert diatomaceous earth called kieselguhr
whereby a bomb is exploded from the out- resulted in a more stable product with equal
side, results in a more harmless phase change, explosive power. The pulp dynamite first
as there is no compression release. developed by Nobel became the precursor to
High explosives have a faster pressure wave, the straight dynamite series, the gradations of
moving at more than 1,000 meters (3,000 which were are based on the percentage of
feet) per second. The subsonic pressure wave nitroglycerin present. Industrially available
occurs inside the explosive charge.The burn- nitroglycerin-based dynamite has been super-
ing rate for high explosives is called the speed seded over recent years by ammonium
of detonation.The instant detonation and rapid nitrate–based explosives, such as water gels,
shock wave produce a shattering and shearing emulsions, and ANFO.
effect on the physical surroundings. Some Many terrorist organizations outside the
high explosives, such as lead azide, are sensi- United States have easy accessibility to a range
tive to shock and are used as primers. of common military explosives for use in
Others, such as TNT, will not burn unless homemade bombs. One of the most common
detonated. is RDX—more commonly known as C-4—
High explosives can be divided into two that is encountered in a plastic, pliable
groups based on their sensitivity to heat and doughlike form.
shock. The group that is highly sensitive to In general, four things are required to
heat, friction, and shock and will detonate make a bomb: (1) an energy source; (2) a
Eyewitness Testimony 139

material that will undergo a rapid exothermic detonating mechanism, wires, switches,
reaction, producing a large volume of gas clockworks, and any artifacts that may not be
when ignited by the energy source; (3) a normal to the environment.
means of containment so that the energy pro- See also Ammonium Nitrate–Based Explosives;
duced by the gas expansion and combustion Arson and Explosives Incidents System (AEXIS);
processes is concentrated, causing as much Black Powder; Bombs; Dynamite; Nitrocellulose;
destruction as possible when it finally dissi- Nitroglycerin;World Trade Center Bombing
pates; and (4) a method of initiation so the References
bomb explodes where and when intended. De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
Most homemade bombs delivered or hidden McGraw-Hill, 1983.
in packages, suitcases, or other containers are James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
initiated with an electrical blasting cap wired Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
to a battery. Many different switching mech- Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
anisms have been designed for setting off Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
these devices, but the most common are White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
clock and mercury switches. Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
There are many tests available for detec- 1998.
tion of explosives and their residues. They
range from simple color tests (for example
chlorate turns diphenylamine reagent blue, Eyewitness Testimony
but does not give a color with Griess reagent) Forensic science evidence has been under
to expensive and complex field mass spec- considerable public and legal scrutiny during
trometer tests. the last few decades. It is important that the
For investigation purposes, explosions can value of scientific investigations is not lost in
be classified as diffuse or concentrated, regard- concerns about some instances of tests not con-
less of the nature of the chemicals involved. ducted properly. Sometimes forensic science
Diffuse explosions are usually caused by mixed lives up to its name of “the silent witness,” for
gases and dusts such as grain and coal dusts and example in a murder or when the perpetrator
are usually accidental in nature. Concentrated was disguised or hidden.
explosions are usually caused by the detona- The alternative to scientific evidence is
tion of high or low explosives and are incendi- eyewitness testimony. Despite the routine use
ary and deliberate in nature. of interrogation, examination-in-chief and
Once the explosion scene is carefully stud- cross-examination in the investigative and
ied, and wherever possible photographed, the trial processes, the fact is that eyewitness tes-
explosion is classified as diffuse or concen- timony can be extremely unreliable. Mind
trated. If a diffuse explosion has occurred, and memory do not function as a camera.
investigators will try to trace the origin of the They are perturbed by the circumstances sur-
explosion and the nature of the explosive rounding the event being recalled and the
material. This can be often inferred from the manner in which the recall is elicited. The
type of the premises and the nature of the most obvious example is in the prohibitions
activities associated with it. in most jurisdictions regarding the conduct of
When a concentrated explosion is indicated, lineup identifications. These include avoiding
thorough searches must be conducted of the unconscious bias by conducting the lineup
entire site in an attempt to recover any and all after showing the witness photographs and by
parts of the incendiary device, including the avoiding clothing clues.
Falls fall.Although there is an intuitive assuredness
Falls that require forensic investigation vary that the greater the height, the greater the
from falling out of bed to a lethal descent damage, it has not proved possible to develop
from a height of many feet.They present two a reliable relationship between observed
forensic challenges: Could the injuries on the injuries and the height of the fall. Variables
body have been caused by the fall alone or do include the physical condition of the victim
they conceal others, and how did the fall (especially age), the course of the fall (wheth-
contribute to death? A fall can easily result in er there was any contact to dissipate energy
death, for example, if there are head injuries before the final collision), and the nature of
and if the injured is aged or infirm. The fall the impacted surface.
need not be from a great height. The most See also Autopsy
difficult cases to work through are those, for References
example, in abuse of the very young or very Byard, R.,T. Corey, C. Henderson, and J. Payne-
old, in which there may have been repeated James. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
injury by intent or neglect, but in which the London: Elsevier Academic, 2005.
sufferer is quite likely to have had several Knight, B. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. London and
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
accidental falls. There is little that an Payne-James, J. A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
investigation can do to provide a clear-cut Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
differentiation between accident and abuse. Greenwich Medical Media, 2003.
Frequently the best that can be done is to
consider fairly and honestly the postulate
presented as the cause and reply as to Feces
whether it could have resulted in the injuries Feces are food residues passed out of the
observed. body after completion of travel through the
Postmortem investigation will usually digestive system. A laboratory may be asked
answer the question of whether injuries from to examine materials for feces in cases of anal
the fall were fatal: Gross physical damage to rape, or in vandalism acts. Feces have a char-
brain tissue, intracranial hemorrhage, frank acteristic odor mainly due to skatole.
cardiovascular injury, and/or spinal damage Urobilinogen is a bile pigment excreted in
will usually suffice, for example. Sometimes feces, which may be detected using its fluo-
the question is asked about the height of the rescent reaction to Edelman’s reagent.

142 Fibers

Reference that are quite different from animal hairs.The

Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, classic features of silk include crossover marks
MA: Elsevier, 2005.
and a triangular cross section with rounded
corners.The remarkable properties of silk are
its tensile strength, toughness, luxurious
Fibers appearance, and a large capacity for absorbing
Textile fibers provide associative evidence in dyes. Because silk is a smooth-surfaced con-
many crime situations. For instance, they can tinuous filament fiber, fiber transfer during
be easily transferred back and forth from contact is minimal or unlikely.The best appre-
clothing, furnishings, floor coverings, and ciation of form and structure requires viewing
vehicles. The forensic examination of fibers actual images in full color—this can be
relies on the measurement of the characteris- achieved by going to the following website:
tics of the fiber type and associated dye mate-
rials. The color, diameter, and other physical examhair.htm.
features can be used for comparison and identi- The most commonly encountered natural
fication purposes.Textile fibers can be divided fiber is cotton, but the widespread use of
into two categories: natural or synthetic. white cotton limits its forensic value. Cotton
Fiber examination used to be one of the fibers also have very characteristic micro-
centerpieces of crime laboratory investigation, scopic features, and appear flat and spiraled
as seen, for example, in the Wayne Williams or twisted under the microscope. Cotton is a
case.Williams murdered twenty-seven young seed fiber of the cotton plant shrub. These
black boys in Atlanta in the period from fibers can be dyed with a wide range of dyes,
October 1979 to May 1981.The first signifi- and because of their convoluted structure
cant link came from fibers found on one of transfer easily during contact.
the bodies that could have come from the Other commonly encountered plant fibers
trunk of Williams’s car. However, as time has include linen and hemp. Linen fibers, made
gone on, fiber evidence has become regarded from flax, are twice as strong as cotton and
as very much second-rate to DNA testing in are used in both heavy and lightweight fab-
regard to reliability and evidential value. This rics. Hemp fibers are three times stronger
is not a true reflection on properly conducted than cotton; very resistant to mildew,
fiber testing and this section of the text there- microbes, and rotting; and take up dyes very
fore attempts to provide a good base for under- well. Plant fibers may be encountered as
standing what is involved in fiber evidence. technical fibers, such as those found in cords,
ropes, sacks, and mats, or as individual plant
Natural Fibers cells found in some fabrics and papers.
Natural fibers are produced or manufactured Microscopic examination of technical fibers
from plant or animal materials. Animal fibers may reveal epidermal tissue, cellular crystals,
are made from the hairs of an animal and and cross-sectional features. Chemical tests
include wool (sheep), mohair (goats), furs for the presence of lignin can also be used to
(mink), and angora (rabbits).They are protein positively identify plant materials. During the
in structure, and a number of distinct mor- examination process, technical fibers can be
phological features can be used in their iden- macerated, fabrics teased apart, and paper
tification.The main morphological features of can be repulped for the examination of indi-
animal hairs and wools are the root, medulla, vidual plant cells. Characteristics such as the
cortex, and cuticle. relative thickness of cell walls and lumen; cell
Silk is another natural fiber composed of the length; and the presence, type, and distribu-
protein fibroin, produced by the caterpillar tion of dislocations are important in sample
Bombyx mori, but with morphological features identification and comparison. The direction
Fibers 143

of twist of the cellulose in the plant cell wall extracting the dye using chemical solvents
can also be of use. and performing thin layer chromatography
(TLC) or high performance liquid chro-
Synthetic Fibers matography (HPLC) analysis. However, these
The majority of modern fabrics are made from techniques unfortunately result in sample
synthetic fibers. There are hundreds of trade destruction. Thin layer chromatography can
names and many generic classes of synthetic be used in some cases to detect and compare
fibers, but some of the more commonly dye components.This is an inexpensive, simple
encountered fiber types include acetate, technique that can be used to complement
acrylic, aramid, nylon, polyester, and rayon. the use of visible spectroscopy in comparisons
The first synthetic or man-made fibers, of fiber dyes. TLC should be considered for
including rayon and acetate fibers, were made fiber comparisons only when it is not possible
from regenerated cellulose. The first truly to discriminate between the fibers of interest
synthetic fiber was nylon. These synthetic using other techniques, such as comparison
fibers are polymers that are treated to pro- microscopy and microspectrophotometry.
duce a fine filament. Often the extrusion
processes used to make a fiber filament leaves Analysis of Fiber Evidence
characteristic striations on the fibers that are In the preparation of fiber evidence in the
usually visible using microscopy and can be laboratory, evidentiary items are visually
used to characterize them. inspected, and fine forceps are used to
Other physical characteristic features remove fibers of interest. Simple magnifiers
include surface pitting due to the addition of and stereomicroscopes with a variety of illu-
delusterant to remove the sheen associated mination techniques are useful in the recovery
with synthetic fibers, variations in fiber diam- process. Once a visual examination has been
eter, and differences in cross-sectional shape. completed, tape lifting or scraping may be
When viewed longitudinally by a microscope, conducted to recover loose fibers. Tape lifts
the apparent cross-sectional shape of fibers are placed on clear plastic sheets or glass
can often be determined by slowly focusing microscope slides, which eases the search and
through the fiber, a technique called optical removal of individual fibers of interest. Tape
sectioning. The presence or absence, size, lifts or scrapings are usually examined using a
shape, distribution, and relative abundance of stereomicroscope and fibers of interest are
delusterant particles can also be used for isolated for further analysis. Fibers on tape
comparison purposes. lifts can be easily removed for further exami-
nation using fine forceps, microscopic tools,
Dyes and a solvent such as xylene.
Textile fibers are usually dyed to impart color During the recovery and examination of
to the fabrics made from them. Colors can be fiber evidence, care must be exercised to
the product of the application of several dyes, ensure that contamination does not occur and
and fabrics with the same bulk color may have can be minimized by examining questioned
dyes with different chemical compositions. and known items in separate areas or rooms,
Fiber color may be uniform along the length by thoroughly cleaning examination tools,
of a fiber, or it can vary. and by changing lab coats before examining
Characterization of fibers by color begins items that are to be compared. Contamina-
with visual observation under the microscope. tion is most likely with fibers that have high
A degree of objectivity can be obtained by shedability. Shedability is the ease with which
using a microspectrophotometer to record the fibers are released from a fabric by rubbing or
visible spectrum of the dyed fiber, but greater gentle contact. Generally wools, furs, and
discrimination of fiber dyes is obtained by loosely woven and piled fabrics have high
144 Fibers

shedability, transferring a large number of retarded in one plane relative to the rays pass-
fibers on a single contact. Fibers with low ing through the perpendicular plane. For a
shedability include tightly woven, smooth birefringent fiber, the sign of elongation is
synthetic fabrics. Shedability tests are easily positive (⫹) if the light passing through the
conducted by applying, and rapidly removing, length is retarded in relation to the light pass-
a strip of sticky tape to a garment of interest, ing across the fiber, and negative (⫺) if the
and examining the resultant fiber transfer by light passing across the fiber is retarded in
eye or stereomicroscope. relation to the light passing along the length
Microscopic examination is the quickest, of the fiber. Generally, all common manufac-
most accurate, and least destructive means of tured fibers with a birefringence higher than
determining the microscopic characteristics 0.010 have a positive sign of elongation.
and polymer type of textile fibers. Side-by- The retardation of the slower ray can be
side microscopic comparison is usually the estimated by observing the interference color
most discriminating means of determining displayed at a point where the thickness of the
whether two or more fibers are consistent fiber is known, and by comparing it to a
with originating from the same source. chart—the Michel-Lévy chart. For a full-color
Fibers are first examined with a stereo- presentation on the Michel-Lévy chart go to
microscope, noting physical features such
as crimp, length, color, relative diameter, lus- polarized/michel-levy.html.
ter, apparent cross-section, damage, and any To see what a nylon fiber looks like (a)
adhering debris. At this point, fibers can be under normal illumination, (b) under polar-
tentatively classified into broad groups such ized light with crossed polars, and (c) viewed
as synthetic, natural, or inorganic. with a wedge compensator in place for
If all of the compared characteristics are the estimation of retardation, go to http://
same under the stereomicroscope, the fibers
are then examined by comparison microscopy. polarizedintro.html.The differences are quite
The physical characteristics of the fibers are dramatic and show how compelling micro-
then compared visually side by side under a scopic identification of fibers can be.
comparison microscope, using the same A polarized light microscope equipped
lighting and magnification, to determine if with a hot stage can be used to observe the
they are the same in the known and ques- effect of heat on thermoplastic fibers. Using
tioned samples. slightly uncrossed polars, it is possible to
Many synthetic fibers display a feature observe droplet formation, contraction, soft-
known as birefringence, which can be ob- ening, charring, and melting of fibers over a
served using a polarizing light microscope.This range of temperatures.
characteristic arises from the alignment of the Many synthetic fibers exhibit fluorescent
polymer molecules in the filament during properties that can also be used in their iden-
extrusion. The regular arrangement of atoms tification and comparison. Fluorescence is the
imparts crystallinity to the structure of the fin- emission of light of a certain wavelength by an
ished fiber, subsequently producing a number object when excited by light of a shorter
of optical effects that can be used in fiber char- wavelength and higher energy. Fluorescence
acterization, identification, and comparison. may result from the chemical composition of
Light passing through a synthetic fiber fibers or from dyes and other additives.
emerges polarized, perpendicular and parallel, Examination and comparison can be carried
to the axis along the fiber. Each polarized plane out using different combinations of excitation
shows a characteristic refractive index depend- and barrier filters and noting the color and
ing on the polymer type. Plane polarized light intensity or absence of fluorescence emission
passing through a birefringent fiber is always at each excitation wavelength.
Field Sobriety Tests 145

Solubility testing is a destructive method References

that can provide supplemental information to De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
nondestructive methods of fiber comparison McGraw-Hill, 1983.
and identification. Possible reactions of fibers James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
to solvents include partial and complete sol- Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
ubility, swelling, shrinking, gelling, and color Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
change. Microscopy U, Michael-Levy Birefringence Chart;
The chemical compositions of synthetic
michel-levy.html (Referenced July 2005).
fibers are routinely determined using infrared Microscopy U, Polarized Light Microscopy;
analyses. Infrared spectra of fibers can be
obtained using an infrared spectrometer with polarizedintro.html (Referenced July 2005).
an IR microscope attachment. Fiber polymer Robertson, J., and M. Grieve. Forensic Examination of
identification is made by comparison of the Fibers. 2nd ed. London and Philadelphia, PA:
Taylor and Francis, 1999.
fiber spectrum with reference spectra. Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Mineral Fibers White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
In certain crime scenarios an investigator may Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
also encounter mineral fibers, including glass 1998.
fibers and asbestos. Asbestos fibers are often
found alone or mixed with other components
in building materials and insulation products. Field Sobriety Tests
Asbestos minerals can be easily identified by Field sobriety tests are preliminary tests con-
their optical properties using polarized light ducted by law enforcement officers to enable
microscopy. Scanning electron microscopy them to assess the level of a person’s physical
with energy dispersive spectrometry can also impairment due to alcohol or drug use, and
be used. Nonmicroscopic techniques for to determine whether a breath or blood
asbestos identification include x-ray diffraction test is required or justified for evidential pur-
and infrared spectroscopy. poses. Up until the mid-1970s, there was no
Glass fibers, often found in building mate- consistency in the field sobriety tests used by
rials and insulation products, can be classified police departments around the United States.
into three groups: (1) fiberglass (continuous Because there were many tests being used with
and noncontinuous), (2) mineral wool (rock no standardization, the National Highway
wool and slag wool), and (3) refractory cera- Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initi-
mic fibers (glass ceramic fibers). Light micro- ated studies to identify the best tests for
scopy can be used to determine the refractive enforcement use and standardize the way they
index for the classification and comparison of were administered and scored. From the many
glass fibers, and solubility tests can also pro- different tests in use at the time, researchers
vide important identifying information. An identified three that were considered suffi-
ultraviolet fluorescent binder resin may also ciently accurate, practical, and reliable for
be present on some glass wool products. assessment of sobriety: the walk-and-turn,
Scanning electron microscopy with energy one-leg-stand, and horizontal-gaze nystagmus
dispersive spectrometry can also provide ele- tests. Further studies conducted in 1981 led
mental composition that can be used for to the development of a standardized set of
comparison of glass fibers. administration and scoring values to promote
consistency in the application of these tests.
See also Comparison Microscope; Gas
Chromatography; High Performance Liquid These three tests are now known as the stan-
Chromatography (HPLC); Mass Spectrometry; dardized field sobriety test battery and are the
Microscope; Microspectrophotometry basis of an NHTSA training program for
146 Fingernail Examination

police officers. Although the three-test battery The one-leg-stand requires that the suspect
is currently used in all states, their use is not maintain his or her balance while standing with
mandatory, and many other field sobriety heels together during the time the test instruc-
tests still remain in use. tions are given.The suspect then has to lift one
The standard field sobriety test (SFST) foot off the ground and main-tain balance while
battery is made up of a series of psychophysi- counting out loud for thirty seconds.
cal tests and a preliminary breath test, if the If the test subject is a disabled driver who
breath test is available or authorized for use in physically cannot perform the standard field
that jurisdiction. Portable handheld roadside sobriety tests, other tests may be supple-
breath-test devices can be used, but any mented. In these cases tests may include
results obtained are considered to be prelim- counting out loud, reciting the alphabet, or
inary and nonevidential. These breath-test finger dexterity tests.
results can be used only to establish the prob- See also Alcohol
able cause for requiring a person to submit to References
a more thorough breath or blood test. Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
jerking of the eye as it moves to the side. 1999.
Under normal physiological conditions, nys- Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
tagmus occurs when the eyes are rotated at a
high peripheral angle. A person is usually
unaware of the nystagmus and is unable to
stop or control it. During the test, the test Fingernail Examination
subject is asked visually to follow a penlight or Useful evidence can be developed from
a pen as it is moved horizontally in front of his material found under the fingernails in some
or her field of view.The more intoxicated the circumstances. For example, if a victim
person is, the less distance the eye is able to scratched the assailant, then the DNA of the
track an object before jerking or nystagmus assailant may be found in the scrapings from
occurs. It is considered that the higher the victim’s nails. If a sexual assault included
the blood-alcohol level or impairment, the digital penetration then material from the
smaller the angle of movement to the side victim may be found in nail scrapings from
before the eye jerks. Phencyclidine, barbitu- the suspect. This is one of the areas in which
rates, and other depressant drugs can also the sensitivity and discriminating capability of
cause nystagmus, and the combination of such DNA testing has proved so valuable.
drugs with alcohol is thought to decrease the Fingernails have longitudinal ridges.These
angle at which nystagmus occurs even further. have been an attractive source of potential
The walk-and-turn and one-leg-stand tests evidence for a long time. The hypothesis is
are called divided attention tasks.These exer- that the ridges are produced randomly, and
cises test the suspect’s ability to understand so nail clippings can be associated with an
and carry out two or more simple instructions individual with the same certainty as fracture
at one time. The ability to complete divided matches or ammunition to weapon associa-
attention tasks is significantly affected by tions from individualization characteristics.
increasing blood-alcohol concentrations. The See also DNA in Forensic Science
walk-and-turn test requires the suspect to References
maintain his or her balance while he or she Payne-James, J., A. Busuttil, and W. Smock. Forensic
Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects. London:
walks heel to toe for nine steps in a straight Greenwich Medical Media, 2003
line, to turn around on the line, and then Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
repeat the process, all while listening and River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
responding to the test instructions.
Fingerprints 147

Fingerprints anatomical structures, but of interest to

Fingerprinting is the most well established of fingerprint formation are the sweat glands
the forensic sciences used for identification of that exude perspiration via the sweat ducts
individuals. The first paper on its application and the sebaceous glands that secrete oily
was published in Nature in 1880 by a physi- substances. The epidermis is made up of a
cian, Dr. Henry Faulds. Over 100 years of stratified layer of cells, produced by the
application and acceptance were shaken in papillae of the basal layer, which is an undu-
the United States in 2002 when Judge Louis lating layer of cells that divide constantly. As
Pollak ruled in the Pennsylvania Supreme the cells divide, they pass upwards through
Court that experts could not testify that fin- the layers of the skin until they are shed from
gerprints matched because the procedure did the surface as dead cells.
not meet the standards required by the U.S. The skin found on the palms of the hands
Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Phar- and the soles of the feet is called friction-ridge
maceuticals, Inc. (1993).The judge later modi- skin. The basal layer has more pronounced
fied his view, but the decision has had major undulations that produce the patterning
repercussions on the image of fingerprinting called ridges and furrows.The undulations of
as the most reliable of identification sciences. the ridges and furrows produce fingerprints,
The uniqueness of fingerprint patterns and palm prints, and sole prints.The ridge patterns
the ability to visualize even faint (latent) are formed by the number and distribution of
residues deposited on surfaces result from the the dermal ridges or papillae. The basal layer
way that skin and its friction ridges are formed. contains many sweat glands, and the sweat
Skin is composed of two layers known as the will leave a negative of the patterning—the
outer skin, or epidermis, which is constantly latent print. Fingerprint impressions are
worn off and replaced, and the inner skin, or the marks left when a finger is placed on a
dermis. The dermis layer contains several surface.

A set of fingerprints for both hands. (

148 Fingerprints

Fingerprints are formed from around the Fingerprint Classification

thirteenth week of gestation. Their pattern There are four basic principles of fingerprints,
never changes during a person’s life. In similar to the basic requirements for an effec-
adults, the skin on the ball of the finger is tive forensic science blood-typing system:
approximately one- to two-twenty-fifths of
an inch thick. In men, a fingerprint ridge is • They are an individual characteristic.
approximately one-fiftieth of an inch wide, • They remain unchanged throughout a
but slightly less in women and even smaller in person’s lifetime.
children. Men usually have coarser finger- • They do not alter when deposited on a
print ridge patterns than women. Friction surface.
ridges may be temporarily or permanently • An accurate representation of the print
destroyed due to some kind of trauma or can be obtained from the surface on
injury. If the ridges are permanently which it was deposited.
destroyed, by extreme injury to the epider-
mis, extending into the dermal ridges and The ten to fifteen years following Faulds’s
dermal papillae, scarring will result, altering paper in Nature saw considerable advances in
the original pattern. If temporary damage the documentation of systems that would
occurs, through trauma to the upper layers of allow fingerprints to be classified and so
the epidermis, the ridges will eventually retrieved from a database. Juan Vucetich, an
return to their original pattern. Historically, Argentinean police officer, established his
attempts that have been made to remove or own fingerprint classification system in 1891.
obliterate fingerprints by deliberate mutilation The following year, Francis Galton published
or plastic surgery have all failed. “Fingerprints,” which was the first manu-
There are three types of glands producing script on the role of fingerprints in identifica-
secretions that may produce fingerprints on a tion and crime investigation. A few years
surface. These are the eccrine, apocrine, and later, Edward Henry developed a fingerprint
sebaceous glands. Ecrine glands are particularly classification scheme and cataloged sets of
prevalent on the palms of the hands and the prints that could be used for identification
sides of the feet. These secretions are mainly purposes. Henry’s classification was adopted in
water, with a small percentage of inorganic and Europe and North America in the early 1900s.
organic components.The sebaceous glands are Fingerprints are classified in three ways:
associated with hair follicles and are not found
on the soles of the feet or the palms of the • By the shapes and contours of ridges
hands. However, secretions from these glands in individual patterns
can be transferred to the hands by touching • By noting the finger positions of the
skin that contains sebaceous glands, such as the pattern types
face. The sebum functions as a lubricant • By relative size, determined by
and contains a high percentage of glycerin, free counting the ridges in loops and by
fatty acids, wax esters and squalene, and a tracing the ridges in whorls
small percentage of sterol esters, steroids, and
hydrocarbons. Due to the anatomical distribu- Traditional classifications are based first on
tion of apocrine glands, apocrine secretions the general pattern of the print, which can be
contribute little to fingerprint deposits. in the form of an arch, a loop, or a whorl.
It is accepted that it was Henry Faulds, liv-
ing in Japan at the same time, who was first Arches
to recognize and publish the idea that latent Arches are the least common but simplest
prints from a crime scene could provide evi- fingerprint patterns. The pattern is formed
dential value. when ridges running across the fingerprint
Fingerprints 149

rise in the center to form an arch.The flow of combination of a loop and a whorl, a loop
the ridge is continuous from one side of the and a central pocket loop, or any combina-
print to the other. In a plain arch the curve tion of two different loop and whorl type
is gentle, giving a wave-like appearance. The patterns.
curve may be more acute and rise sharply,
giving the appearance of a tent—hence the Ten Print Records
description of tented arch. About 5 percent The original Henry fingerprint classification
of prints are classified as arches. system converted ridge patterns for each fin-
ger into letters and numbers. However, the
Loops system was too cumbersome to deal with
Loops are the most common pattern, more than about 100,000 sets of prints. The
accounting for about 65 percent of all prints. basic system used in the United States today
The flow of the ridge becomes reversed and is a modification of the Henry system. There
the ridge exits on the same side that it are a number of subsets in the classification,
entered. Each loop must be bounded by two but the primary set is a record of the pres-
diverging ridges, called type lines. There are ence or absence of whorls on each finger.The
two other features of a loop: the core, which record pairs right index and thumb, right ring
is the visible center of the loop, and the and middle, left thumb and right little finger,
delta, which is a point or ridge end nearest left middle and index, and left little and
the place where the type lines diverge. All left ring fingers to give five ratios. If no whorl
loops have at least one delta. Ridges entering is present, a value of zero is recorded for that
and exiting from the little finger side of the finger. If a whorl is present, the value de-
hands result in an ulnar loop; the ridges slant pends on which finger. If it is in the first finger
toward the little finger. If ridges enter and set it has a value of sixteen, falling to eight,
exit from the thumb side the pattern is a radi- then four, then two, then one as we go from
al loop; the ridges slant toward the thumb. (R index/R thumb) to (L little/L ring). The
values are added to give a numeric ratio that
Whorls classifies the patterns of the set of prints from
The remaining classification category is that of the ten fingers of the individual.These refer-
whorls. Whorls have type lines and at least ence classification sets are termed ten print
two deltas.There are four subtypes of whorl; records.
two are characterized by an easily recogniza- To be used for comparison purposes, fin-
ble loop formation.They are the plain and the gerprint impressions taken from a person
central pocket loop whorls, each of which has need to be absolutely clear and visible. A
at least one ridge that makes a complete rolled impression can be obtained to provide
perimeter to the whorl.The positioning of the the entire friction surface of a finger or
deltas is used to differentiate between plain thumb, from the tip to one-fourth inch below
and central loop whorls. An imaginary line the first joint.These impressions are made by
between the two deltas will cross through the rolling the finger or thumb from one nail
enclosed ridges in a plain loop but not in a edge to the other and can be used to provide
central pocket loop. A double loop whorl is an investigator with sufficient ridge character-
found when two loops are combined into one istics for a correct classification. Plain impres-
print.Any other print that meets the definition sions can be used to verify the order of the
of whorl (type lines and at least two deltas) is rolled impressions and to show characteristics
classified as an accidental whorl. that may be distorted in rolled prints.
Accidental whorls contain more than one Palm prints are sometimes found on evi-
pattern, but not the plain arch, and often dence or at a crime scene, where the whole
have more than the two deltas. It can be a hand can leave a distinctive impression. Major
150 Fingerprints

case prints are a complete set of prints made prints left in blood or imprints from greasy
of all parts of the hand including the finger- materials such as lubricants that might have
tips, palm, sides of the fingers, and sides of been used in a rape.
the palm, and can be very useful in forgery The main factor arising from the nature of
cases. Major case prints are always obtained the touched surface is whether or not it is
from corpses associated with an investigation, porous. Porous surfaces include paper, unfin-
and are used to identify or eliminate latent ished wood, and cardboard. Prints on these
print evidence and in the identification of the are usually preserved well because print
deceased. Prints can be obtained before or residue can soak into the porous surface.
after the onset of rigor mortis, or after the Nonporous evidence, like the prints that are
start of decomposition.The hardest prints to found on plastic, glass, metal, and foil, is con-
obtain are those from a body that is already sidered more fragile because the print
undergoing decomposition, especially when residue usually just lies on the surface and is
the hands are badly charred or decomposed. not absorbed. Even the most careful handling
Problem prints and impressions can also can wipe away or destroy a latent print on a
come from hands that are too dry or wet nonporous surface. However, treatment of
from perspiration, and deformities and scar- porous surfaces may react with the surface
ring can also be a problem when obtaining material and damage it or obscure the latent
impressions. image.
The most common process for processing
Fingerprint Detection latent prints is by powdering or chemical
Fingerprint impressions are the marks left by treatments.
a finger that has been placed on a surface.
They can be faint or sometimes even invisible Powders
to the naked eye, hence the adjective latent. Most powders come in kits in a variety of col-
They also represent only a part of the print ors that can be applied with brushes or other
from the whole finger.There are a number of application instruments. The crime-scene
different categories of impressions that can be technician uses the powder that provides the
encountered, and the parameters that affect best contrast with the background for pho-
the quality of those impressions and the nature tography purposes, but black and white pow-
of the surface will have some bearing on the ders are used most. Specialized powders are
fingerprinting techniques required to recover also available for processing prints on brightly
those prints. colored or textured surfaces. Powders are
The first step in fingerprint detection at a applied to the surface with brushes that are
crime scene is the examination of all surfaces made from a variety of materials including
and objects. Location of fingerprints can be by camel hair, squirrel hair, and fiberglass. The
naked-eye observation (perhaps aided by a brush type chosen for dusting is generally the
magnifier), by physical enhancement such as a preference of the investigator. The investiga-
laser or alternative light source illumination, tor’s experience and comfort with brushing
or by chemical treatment (including tradi- and the brush type are a large factor in obtain-
tional powdering processes). Once located, ing useable or the best prints. The powder is
all prints must be recorded and items collected applied to the surface using a light touch,
and preserved for laboratory examination. with more powder being added as necessary.
The print is deposited as direct residues The brush is used with gentle, light strokes to
from eccrine sweat glands, or from secondary avoid wiping away print residues with too
residues from sebaceous or apocrine glands much pressure.
picked up on the fingers by touching and then Regular, nonmagnetic powder is the most
left in the fingerprint. Other sources include commonly applied powder for processing
Fingerprints 151

prints on windows, countertops, television reveal high-quality latent prints on most paper
sets, metal surfaces, painted doors, mirrors, and hard, smooth surfaces.
and broken glass. Magnetic powders are used Fuming with cyanoacrylate esters, such as
as part of more specialized processing and are superglue and similar adhesive products, can
good for the development of latent prints left also be useful in the development of latent
on shiny magazine covers, coated surfaces, prints. Known as the superglue technique, it
and plastic materials, like food storage con- is now used on many surfaces that at one time
tainers or storage and sandwich bags. were considered unsuitable for the recovery
Fluorescent powders for the appropriate sur- of latent fingerprints. The superglue reacts
face usually include the use of an ultraviolet with amino acids, fatty acids, and proteins in
light source while applying the powders. the latent print and the moisture in the air,
producing a visible, sticky white material
Chemical Processing along the ridges of the fingerprint.
Chemical processing of fingerprints is usually
conducted in the laboratory. Latent prints on Dye Stains
paper products are traditionally developed Dye stains like Sudan black are also used in
with chemicals. Paper provides a porous detecting latent prints. Sudan black is a dye
surface that absorbs skin secretions; latent that stains the fatty components of sebaceous
prints tend not to rub off paper as they would gland secretions and is used for developing
a nonporous surface. The quality of latent latent prints on smooth or rough nonporous
prints on paper is determined by the amount surfaces contaminated with greasy, oily, and
of finger contact and the amount of pressure sticky substances. The dye works well on
applied. These prints can be developed by glass, metal, or plastic surfaces and is good
exposure to chemicals that react with minerals for candles or waxed-paper milk cartons.
and organic matter in the skin secretions left Sudan black can also be used to enhance glue-
on the print residue. developed latent prints.
Chemical processes include ninhydrin, Ardrox is a fluorescent dye stain also used
which can be used to develop latent prints to enhance cyanoacrylate-developed latent
on porous surfaces (paper, cardboard, and prints. Once applied, the dye can be illumi-
wood). Ninhydrin reacts with amino acids nated with an ultraviolet lamp, causing the
commonly found in latent print residues, latent prints to brightly fluoresce. This tech-
forming a purple compound. The prints nique allows the visualization and subsequent
appear reddish-purple to brownish-purple in photography of weakly developed latent
color. A frequently used analog of ninhydrin prints that can’t be seen under normal lighting
1,8-diazafluoren–9-one (DFO), when applied conditions.
to paper, develops 2.5 times more latent Amido black, naphthalene blue-black, or
prints than ninhydrin alone. naphthalene black 12B is a protein dye that is
Sticky-side powder is a chemical process sensitive to proteins including those found in
used for the processing of latent prints on the blood. The application of this dye will stain
sticky side of adhesive tapes and labels. protein residues in a blood-contaminated
Iodine fuming is a chemical process that can latent print blue-black in color.This dye does
be applied to surfaces that are impractical for not stain the normal protein constituents
dusting with fingerprint powder or may have found in latent print residues.
residue that will damage the dusting brush. On Crystal violet, also known as gentian violet,
surfaces that are greasy, the iodine fumes will is another protein dye that stains the fatty
be absorbed at different rates by different fats components of sweat a deep purple color.This
or oily residues, but the latent impressions protein dye can also be used to enhance the
may still be visible.This technique can usually appearance of bloody fingerprints. Crystal
152 Fingerprints

violet dye can also be used on many types of photographed. However, the most conven-
adhesive tapes, as normal powders stick to the tional treatment for blood prints is amido
entire sticky side of the tape and not just the black. DFO can also be used for processing
latent prints. blood prints on porous paper surfaces. Once
treated with DFO, stains can be visualized and
Mechanical Methods photographed under ultraviolet illumination.
A number of mechanical methods are also Depending on the crime scene, it may be
routinely employed in fingerprint detection. necessary to develop latent prints on skin.
When a secreted material is left on a surface, Skin has a number of qualities that distinguish
the properties of that surface are modified. it from other specimens examined for latent
By applying an electrostatic field using elec- prints. Live skin is a dynamic surface; the skin
trostatic detection apparatus (ESDA) these tissue constantly renews itself, shedding old
modifications can be made apparent. For this cells that might contain the imprint of an
technique to be successful, the prints have to assailant’s grip. Skin is a pliable medium that
be very fresh to obtain significant results. allows movement, allowing the possible dis-
Another mechanical method is x-ray. The tortion of fingerprints. Latent prints left on a
latent prints are revealed by dusting with lead skin surface can be washed away with water
powder and then x-rayed. This rather diffi- excreted through perspiration or with general
cult technique, which is rarely used, has many hygiene. In the situation of homicide victims,
advantages for use on difficult surfaces, such the skin may have been exposed to harsh con-
as multicolored paper, fabric, wood, rubber, ditions, including mutilation, contamination
leather, and human skin. with body fluids, weather effects, and decom-
Vacuum metal deposition is a mechanical position.Additionally, during crime-scene pro-
recovery method that works on the principle cessing, several people may handle the body,
that fingerprint contamination hinders the which may partially or fully destroy existing
deposition of a metallic film following evapo- prints, as well as add new prints to the skin.
ration under vacuum.This extremely sensitive There are a number of recommended proce-
technique for fingerprint detection on a variety dures for processing a corpse for latent
of surfaces can be used in conjunction with prints.These include the application of fuming
cyanoacrylate fuming. techniques and encompass the complications
caused by refrigeration and temperature
Fingerprint Impressions effects on the outcome of processing.
Fingerprint impressions in blood are generally
processed using specialized light techniques. Identification from Fingerprints
Weak fingerprints can be visualized and pho- It should be obvious that identification of
tographically enhanced using excitation someone from a recovered print from a scene
wavelengths at 400 nm.With older blood, the does not use the features of the Henry classi-
protein hemoglobin absorbs light at 400 nm. fication system.The latent is from one finger
If the surface reflects light at 400 nm then the only and is probably a partial record of the
prints are visible as dark ridges against a light complete fingerprint. Identity by fingerprints
background. If the bloodstain is on a shiny is established by comparing the type and posi-
surface, then the natural luminescence of tion of certain ridge characteristics. Where
blood can be used to enhance the print. Blood they appear in the same order, in the same
exhibits a weak photoluminescence with exci- relationship to each other, and in sufficient
tation at 360 nm. Chemical processing should number, then it is established that they were
only be carried out on blood if visual tech- made by the same digit.
niques fail. Leuchomalachite green can be used Identification from scene prints uses detail
to stain fingerprints in blood that can then be in the ridges as its basis.These minutiae are of
Fingerprints 153

three basic types: endings, bifurcations, and made by the same friction skin, not made by
dots. Endings of short ridges are sometimes the same friction skin, or insufficient detail to
called spurs, and sometimes short ridges join form a conclusive decision. Verification is the
longer ones in a crossover.Traditional manual independent analysis, comparison, and evalu-
matching compares individual latent prints to ation by a second qualified examiner of the
candidate reference specimens on the basis of friction-ridge impressions. Evaluation is a
the nature and arrangement of minutiae. subjective step and that is why the verification
The concept of point matching has stirred process is so important.
considerable controversy in recent years. Automated fingerprint identification
Different jurisdictions traditionally required systems (AFISes) use computer algorithms to
different numbers of matching points in order locate the presence of ridge characteristics and
to call a match. For example, continental their special locations. A map of the detail and
Europe accepted eight to twelve points, the its direction is created and stored. Com-
United Kingdom required sixteen, and the parisons are based on comparisons of the maps.
United States accepted twelve. However, an
expert panel convened by the International Fingerprint Age Determination
Association for Identification reported in There is no reliable way to determine the age
1973 that there was no valid basis in requiring of a latent fingerprint. The best approxima-
a minimum number of friction ridge charac- tion will be from corroborated history of the
teristics to provide a positive identification. object on which the print was deposited.
That view is now generally accepted and For example, a print on a window that was
identifications are made on a sequence of cleaned fourteen days earlier must be less
increasingly specific observations, referred to than fourteen days old.
as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 characteristics.
Level 1 deals with the general ridge flow and Fingerprint Forgeries
pattern configuration. It is not sufficient for Because fingerprints are created by the papil-
individualization, but can be used for exclusion lae in the dermis, surface damage to the finger
and for preliminary sorting of data. Level 2 will not destroy the intrinsic fingerprint
detail includes the traditional minutiae and pattern. Thus, attempts to alter or destroy
permits individualization. Level 3 detail fingerprints will not work unless the finger
includes all dimensional attributes of a ridge, is severely damaged. Probably the best-
such as ridge-path deviation, width, shape, known example is that of the gangster John
pores, edge contour, incipient ridges, breaks, Dillinger, who tried to destroy his finger-
creases, scars, and other permanent details. prints using acid. However, prints collected
Many examiners in the United States now from his body at the morgue after his death
follow the so-called ACE-V method for iden- by shooting matched those taken at an arrest
tification: analysis, comparison, evaluation, before the acid treatment.
and verification.Analysis consists of the objec- Because latent prints are a physical deposit,
tive, qualitative, and quantitative assessment it is theoretically possible to lift a print from
of Level 1, 2, and 3 details to determine their one solid object and transfer it to another.The
proportion, interrelationship, and value to transfer could also be made from a facsimile
individualization. Comparison is the objective of the original finger. The case involving the
examination of the attributes observed dur- Mickelberg brothers illustrates some of the
ing analysis in order to determine agreement issues surrounding fingerprint forgery.
or discrepancies between two friction-ridge A well-planned sting operation netted
impressions. Evaluation is the cyclical proce- gold bullion worth $650,000 Australian
dure of comparison between two friction- from the Perth (Australia) mint in 1982. In
ridge impressions to effect a decision; that is, brief, two men posing as dealers made some
154 Firearms

legitimate small purchases, followed by the References

larger one for $650,000 in gold bullion. In De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee.
Forensic Science: An Introduction to Criminalistics.
this instance, their check bounced. West New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983.
Australian police eventually arrested and James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
charged three brothers, Peter, Ray, and Brian Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Mickelberg. The brothers were tried and Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
convicted in 1983, largely on the basis of Komarinski, P. Automated Fingerprint Identification
confessions and a partial print recovered Systems (AFIS). Amsterdam and Boston: Elsevier,
from the check that was a match to Ray. The Lee, H. C., and R. E. Gaensslen. Advances in
Mickelbergs protested their innocence, Fingerprint Technology. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL:
claiming to have been beaten by police, that CRC, 2001.
the confessions were fabricated, and that the Lee, H. C.,T. Palmbach, and M.T. Miller. Henry Lee’s
fingerprint was a plant. Police had raided Crime Scene Handbook. London and San Diego, CA:
Academic, 2001.
their apartment and found a bucket of sili- Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
cone rubber casts of the hand and fingers of River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Ray.The brothers claimed that the police had White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
then used one of the finger casts to plant the Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
partial print by coating it with sebaceous 1998.
secretions from the nose and rolling it over
the check. None of the appeals succeeded,
including a lengthy inquiry that involved Firearms
many independent fingerprint experts. Issues Firearms examination in the laboratory deals
raised at the hearing included whether or not with the weapons and their ammunition.
the latent image was of the shape expected
from a soft finger pad or the harder rubber Ammunition
cast and whether or not the images of the A live round of ammunition is properly
pores were negatives. The arguments were referred to as a cartridge. The bullet is the
that the impression from a real finger is projectile that is fired through the barrel of
always somewhat flattened with indistinct the firearm by ejection from the cartridge
boundaries and so would be different from case when the firing mechanism detonates
one from the relatively rigid casting. Further, the primer that in turn ignites the propel-
the pores on a true print are the source of the lant. Bullets are generally made of lead, but
sweat that reacts with chemical treatment. In may be encased partially or entirely in a
contrast, rubbing a cast of a finger over the jacket of copper, aluminum, or steel. Bullets
nose and rolling a false print has the body are also found with a coating of copper or
fluid on the ridge, not the pore. The hearing brass, which reduces fouling of the bore and
was not able to resolve these questions. allows the projectile to travel through the
After twenty years the affair resurfaced barrel more easily. A variety of bullet styles
when one of the original investigators con- exists, such as round-nose, wadcutter (for
fessed that the officer in charge had indeed target shooting), semiwadcutter, full metal
beaten the accused and that the confes- jacket, soft-point, hollow-point, and semi-
sions were fabrications. However, he had no jacketed hollow-point. The harder surfaces
comment to make on the fingerprint, and it is of metal-jacketed bullets make them more
still not known whether it was a plant or a real suitable for use in semiautomatic weapons,
impression. as they are less likely to jam when feeding
See also Automated Fingerprint Identification out of the magazine and into the chamber.
System (AFIS); Integrated Automated Fingerprint The cartridge case is usually made of brass.
Identification System (IAFIS); Latent Prints It bears a stamp (the headstamp) on the base
Firearms 155

with information on the caliber and manu- the very high pressures that result from the
facturer.The case holds all the components of ignition of the propellant, which forces the bul-
the cartridge: the primer, the powder or pro- let out through the barrel.Access to the cham-
pellant, and the bullet, which is held in place ber is achieved through the breech. The stock is
by the crimp. The end of the case has a rim, the means by which the shooter holds and con-
which holds the ammunition round in place trols the firearm.
in the chamber and which is the part that is The mechanism for firing, loading, and
caught by the mechanical ejector.The primer unloading is known as the action.
is usually a mixture of chemicals that may
include lead styphnate, barium nitrate, and Barrel Rifling
mercury and antimony sulfide. These are A rifled barrel consists of a series of spiral
toxic chemicals, and it has been estimated grooves cut into the inner surface of the barrel,
that about 80 percent of the lead in the air in known as the bore.The uncut areas between the
a firing range originated in the ammunition. grooves are known as the lands. The lands cut
The powder or propellant in modern ammu- into the bullet and cause it to rotate on its lon-
nition is smokeless powder, which is made up gitudinal axis as it passes along the barrel.This
largely of nitrocellulose and burns very rapidly rotation gives the bullet stability in flight, pre-
on ignition. Before smokeless powder, the vents it from tumbling end over end, and gives
low-explosive black powder was used. Shot- the weapon greater accuracy.The tools used to
gun cartridge cases are essentially similar, produce the rifling leave unique, individual
except that they have sides of paper and the microscopic imperfections on the lands and
shot is contained within the cartridge. grooves.These imperfections change each time
Rimfire cartridges were common in many the tools are used, and so each rifled barrel has
older cartridges but are now exclusively 0.22 its own unique set of characteristic micro-
caliber. They are not reloadable. Centerfire defects that it in turn imparts on the bullet as it
cartridges have the primer located in the cen- passes through the barrel.
ter of the cartridge case. Almost all calibers There are four main ways to create rifling
other than 0.22 are centerfire. The primers of a gun barrel.These are called hook, broach,
can be removed after firing and replaced, button, and hammer. The hook and broach
making this type of cartridge reloadable. methods are based on pulling cutters through
Bullets are traditionally made from lead. It the tube that will become the rifled barrel. In
is malleable and heavy and so responds to the the hook method, a cutter is pulled from end
rifling of the barrel and transfers high energy to end repeatedly until the desired depth is
on impact. Safety concerns about lead expo- achieved. In the broach method, a series of
sure are resulting in alternative materials progressively larger cutters form rifling with a
being used to make bullets. Iron powder, single pass.The button method pushes or pulls
tungsten, copper, and steel have all been a carbide plug with a rifled cross-section
used. through the bore. In hammer-forged rifling, a
mandrel with a rifling configuration is forced
Firearm Components into the bore by external hammering. One
The basic components of a firearm are its pass of the tool creates the rifling.
barrel, firing chamber, stock, and action.
The barrel of a firearm is simply a metal Firearms Evidence
tube created by a series of drilling, reaming, Marks on bullets and cartridge cases are
and smoothing operations performed on a compared by microscopy. In a traditional
piece of steel rod. Barrels may be rifled or setup, a comparison microscope is essential
smooth.The firing chamber holds the cartridge for side-by-side viewing of tests and evidence.
in the gun and must be capable of containing Oblique, reflected lighting is used to highlight
156 Firearms

individual characteristics.Today, most firearms leaving a negative impression. Ignition of the

examiners use digital images from the National propellant forces the base of the cartridge
Integrated Ballistics Information Network case backward against the breech face, leaving
(NIBIN) database systems to prepare high- another set of impressed markings on the
resolution magnified images that are then the base of the primer and/or cartridge case.
bases of their comparisons. These images also Pressure from the expanding gases from
provide an excellent record of the work done. the burning gunpowder forces the sides of the
Every man-made object (not just bullets) cartridge case into tight-fitting contact with
shows generic characteristics arising from the inside surfaces of the chamber. Markings
its manufacturing process. These are known from irregularities in the chamber can be
as class characteristics. Even when no suspect scratched into the sides of the cartridge case
weapon is available, information that can aid when it is extracted from the chamber.
investigators may be obtained from a detailed The loading and ejector systems leave
examination of a fired bullet’s class character- characteristic markings on the casing. Mark-
istics. These characteristics serve to reduce ings caused by pressure, scratching, and
the population of firearms that may have been scraping on the sides of the cartridge case by
involved in a shooting incident. Determining the magazine or loading mechanism may also
the bullet’s caliber, the number of lands and bear individual characteristics.
grooves, the direction of twist, and land and The clawlike extractor, which grips the
groove width dimensions can provide valu- base of the cartridge case and pulls it out of
able information about the type of weapon the chamber, may also leave striated tool
that was used. However, it is rare to be able marks. In the same manner, the ejector may
to state with absolute certainty the exact leave its mark when it strikes the base of the
make or model of a weapon based only on cartridge case, throwing it out of the
class characteristics of a bullet fired from it. weapon.
The ammunition manufacturer can some- In addition to determining the type of
times be determined from a bullet’s weight, weapon that may have fired a bullet, an
shape, and composition. examiner can also check to see if a bullet
Individual characteristics are the result of bears sufficient individual characteristics for
tool marks impressed onto the bullet as it trav- comparison, either with other bullets from
els through the barrel, and of tool marks the same or different crime scene, or with
impressed on the cartridge case by the firing test bullets fired from a specific weapon.
and ejector mechanisms.These markings result Test firing must be done in a manner that
from microscopic imperfections transferred prevents damage to the test bullets.Traps con-
from the tools used to create the barrel or fir- taining cotton waste used to be used, but most
ing mechanisms. These markings are unique laboratories now conduct test firing into
to each gun. Just as with class characteristics, water in a recovery tank. It is essential that the
any manufactured physical object (not just same type of ammunition be used for test
bullets) will show individual characteristics firing. Differences in ammunition can cause
that may be used for individualization. They differences in the individual characteristics
may also arise from random wearing patterns. between the evidence and tests. Test speci-
These characteristics can be altered by mens are first compared with each other to
extensive use, cleaning, or abuse.The areas of determine if the weapon produces identical
ammunition bearing identifying marks are markings each time it is fired. Finally, one of
the primer area, the rim, the side of the case, the tests is chosen and compared with the evi-
and the bullet. dence. Occasionally, all tests may have to be
When a gun is fired, the firing pin is compared individually with the evidence, due
pressed into the soft metal of the primer, to poor reproducibility.
Firearms 157

Cartridge Cases science is the examination of guns and their

Cartridge cases left at the scene of a shooting ammunition for a variety of reasons. Most
can contain evidence that allows them to be work in firearms examinations is carried out
associated with the particular gun that fired to determine if a bullet, cartridge case, or
the ammunition. The evidence consists of other ammunition component was fired by a
physical marks left by the various mechanical particular firearm. The tool marks created
actions involved in inserting the ammunition, during the firing and ejection of ammunition
detonating the primer, removing the car- provide the basis of the testing.
tridge case, and ejecting it. Firearms testing also includes:

Shotgun Pellets and Wadding • Checking a weapon for proper

Shotgun pellets are usually lead spheres, function.These tests have safety and
although pellets used for hunting waterfowl investigative implications.
must be made of materials other than lead, • Identifying weapons by class
such as steel, bismuth, or tungsten. Pellets characteristics.This is helpful to
are surrounded by wadding and are clas- investigators so they know what type
sified by number sizes, with the larger the of weapon they are looking for.
number, the smaller the pellet. Birdshot • Testing for gunshot residue. Residues
pellets are smaller than buckshot pellets, may provide information on whether a
ranging in size from 0.05 to 0.17 inch in gun was fired and, if so, whether or
diameter. Buckshot pellets range from 0.24 not it was recent.
to 0.36 inch in diameter. In addition to pel- • Distance determination. A muzzle-to-
lets, elongated, hollow lead rifled slugs may target determination estimates the
be used. Pellets can be sized by weight and distance that the muzzle of the firearm
diameter if they are not badly deformed. was from the target when the weapon
Wadding helps to cushion and protect the discharged.
shot from the hot gases produced by the burn- • Serial number examination. Obliterated
ing gunpowder, as well as to keep the shot serial numbers are treated to attempt to
together as it exits the barrel. On close-range restore the original number.
shots, the wadding may enter the wound
along with the shot.Wadding may be made of Firearm Types
paper, felt, plastic, or plastic granules. The There are thousands of types of firearms in
wadding usually helps to identify the ammu- existence.They can be classified either as long
nition manufacturer. The type of wadding guns or shoulder weapons (such as rifles
used is often characteristic of a particular and shotguns), or as handguns, which are
ammunition manufacturer. Plastic wadding designed to be held and fired with one hand
may be marked with identifying markings, (such as revolvers, pistols, derringers, and
particularly when fired from sawed-off bar- single-shot pistols).
rels with rough edges, or when the wadding
scrapes against adjustable chokes or front Rifles and Shotguns
sights that protrude into the barrel. A rifle has a rifled barrel, with a bore diame-
ter between 0.17 and 0.50 inches, and fires
Firearms Identification and Testing single projectiles. A shotgun has no rifling and
The field of firearms identification is some- a larger bore (except for the 0.410), and
times referred to as forensic ballistics or simply fires multiple projectiles.
ballistics. Strictly speaking, ballistics is the Single-shot weapons are usually break-open
physics of the trajectory of a projectile. types and must be loaded and reloaded by
Firearms as a discipline within forensic hand after each shot.
158 Firearms

Repeating weapons have a manually operat- In a single-action revolver, the cylinder rota-
ed loading and unloading mechanism. The tion and alignment takes place when the
ammunition is fed from a magazine. This hammer is pulled back and cocked. Because
group includes guns with bolt, lever, and the shooter does part of the work, the force
pump action. required to pull the trigger is substantially
In semiautomatic rifles and shotguns the reduced, usually falling in the three to five-
forces generated by the burning of the pro- pound range.
pellant operate the action. In a gas-operated In the double-action mode, pulling the trig-
weapon, the combustion gases are siphoned ger rearward causes the cylinder to rotate
out of the barrel and push a piston rearward and align itself with the barrel, as well as to
to operate the action. In recoil-operated sys- cock and release the hammer. This requires
tems, the action is operated due to rearward more force to be applied to the trigger by the
pressure against a spring-loaded breech. The shooter, typically about twice that required in
ammunition is magazine fed. Fully automatic single-action guns.
weapons are similar to semiautomatic in how Revolvers may operate with single action
the action operates, but the major difference only, double action only, or both single and
is that the weapon will continue to fire as double action.
long as the trigger is depressed and ammuni- In a semiautomatic pistol, the forces generated
tion remains in the magazine. by the burning gunpowder force the slide
rearward against spring pressure. In a recoil-
Hand Guns operated weapon, the breech and barrel
A revolver is a repeating weapon with a revolv- move rearward locked together for a short
ing cylinder that contains between five and time after discharge. In a blowback opera-
nine firing chambers. With each shot, the tion, the barrel is fixed, and only the breech
cylinder turns and aligns with the barrel, moves rearward. Cartridges are loaded into a
locking in place before the weapon is dis- spring-loaded box device known as the maga-
charged again. The cylinders may be fixed zine and inserted into the grip of the weapon.
within the gun or may be detachable. As the slide is forced back by the firing of the
Revolvers with fixed cylinders are loaded by weapon, the empty cartridge case is extracted
inserting ammunition through a loading gate, from the chamber and ejected from the
and spent cases are ejected through the same weapon, and a new cartridge is stripped from
gate. Other revolvers have a detachable cylin- the magazine and fed into the chamber as the
der, held in place by a locking device. slide moves forward under spring tension.
The top-break revolver has a latch at the top These weapons typically have higher maga-
of the frame that allows the hinged barrel to zine capacities (typically six to fifteen
be tipped downward, exposing the rear of rounds) and can be either single action only,
the cylinder.This action usually causes a star- double action only, or both single and double
shaped extractor at the rear of the cylinder action.
to lift all the cartridges or cartridge cases Derringers have been around for years and
partially out of their chambers so they can be consist of multiple barrels—usually two but
manually removed. This type of design was sometimes four—cut into the same piece of
popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. steel.The barrels are very short, typically not
In a swing-out revolver, the cylinder rod is much longer than the cartridge itself, and are
attached to a hinge-like device known as a designed solely for personal defense. Because
crane, which is unlocked by sliding a cylinder of their size, they are difficult to fire. They
release located on the side of the frame. An usually fire only in the single-action mode
ejector rod is manually activated to expel all and have very small grips. Because of the
the cylinder contents at one time. short barrel, they have poor accuracy.
Firearms 159

Single-shot pistols must be manually loaded to conduct the particle searches automatically.
and unloaded one at a time, usually by means Samples are collected by dabbing surfaces
of a break-open breech. They have a single- with adhesive tape fixed to the stub that is
action trigger mechanism and are largely inserted directly into the SEM apparatus.
used for target shooting. The major problem with gunshot residue
is that it can easily be washed or rubbed off,
Firearms Discharge Residue Testing meaning a negative result does not eliminate
Discharge residues consist of unburned propel- the possibility that an individual may have dis-
lant and the gaseous products of the discharge charged a weapon. Deceased subjects may
reaction.The gaseous-phase products are emit- retain residues longer, and their hands may be
ted from the muzzle and breech of firearms covered with paper bags when being trans-
upon firing. The metals from the primer— ferred to a morgue to protect these residues
such as antimony, lead, and barium—condense before sampling.The best way to ensure pos-
into tiny particles with a characteristic shape itive results is sampling as soon as possible
when seen in the scanning electron micro- after a shooting. Investigators should have an
scope, as well as having a distinctive elemental ample supply of kits available at all times.
composition. Most 0.22 rimfire ammunition (other than
Firearms discharge residue (FDR) or gun- Federal brand) does not contain barium and
shot residue (GSR) tests are all based on antimony.
identification of these materials. Most are
based on identification of the metals, as the Distance Determination—Muzzle to
combination of antimony, barium, and lead is Target
not common in the environment. Early tests When a firearm is discharged, unburned and
used techniques such as atomic absorption partially burned particles of gunpowder, as
spectrophotometry to measure the elements well as gunpowder and primer combustion
in bulk samples obtained by washing the hands residues, are propelled out of the barrel along
of a suspect with weak acid solutions. Controls with the bullet by the tremendous pressures
consisted of washings from the nonfiring hand. developed by the burning gunpowder. Some
The technique is not very sensitive, and for a of these residues also escape from the open-
time neutron activation analysis was pro- ing breech in semiautomatic weapons and
posed as a better alternate. It is certainly from the gap between the cylinder and barrel
much more sensitive but requires specialized on revolvers. Some of these residues can be
facilities (to produce the neutron source and deposited on the hands of the shooter.
detect the radioactive decay) to conduct the When a firearm is discharged within close
testing. The currently accepted method of proximity to the target, gunpowder and
choice is scanning electron microscopy in con- primer residues can also be deposited on the
junction with x-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX). target.The appearance of a residue pattern can
This offers the required sensitivity but couples be helpful in estimating the distance that the
the chemical analysis with the well-nigh unique muzzle end of the barrel was from the target
morphology of the discharge residue particles when the weapon was fired. If the weapon was
in a single test. The SEM uses an electron perpendicular to the target, the residue pat-
beam to visualize the particles, but at the tern is usually circular around the bullet
same time, the beam results in emission of entry hole. The residue typically consists of
x-rays that have energy spectra characteristic unburned and partially burned gunpowder
of the elements in the target.An analyzer unit particles and residues from the combustion of
can be coupled to the SEM to detect and the gunpowder and primer.The diameter and
record the spectrum of the emitted radiation. density of the residue pattern can be repro-
Modern instruments also have the capability duced by making a series of test firings using
160 Fires

the same firearm and ammunition from various Lee, H. C.T. Palmbach, M.T. Miller. Henry Lee’s Crime
distances into a material similar to the evi- Scene Handbook. London and San Diego, CA:
Academic, 2001.
dence. Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
The type of firearm, barrel length, and River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
type of ammunition are all factors that affect Warlow, T. Firearms, the Law, and Forensic Ballistics. 2nd
the size and density of residue patterns. For ed. London and Bristol, PA: Taylor and Francis,
this reason, all cartridges recovered in the 1996.
weapon and any partial boxes of ammunition White, P. Crime Scene to Court: The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
associated with the scene of the shooting or in 1998.
the possession of the subject should be sub-
mitted for testing.
Residue patterns can be compared by a Fires
visual examination and by utilizing a stereo- See Arson;Accelerant Residues
microscope. In addition to residues, observa-
tions about tearing and singeing of cloth should
be noted, as this is indicative of a contact shot. Footwear
Chemical tests, such as the Griess test for Footwear evidence may be recovered from
nitrite residues and the sodium rhodizonate crime scenes in the form of an impression in
test for lead, can also be very beneficial, espe- soil, as a print on a piece of paper, or perhaps
cially when dealing with colored garments. as an impression of a bloody footprint on a
Infrared photography may also be used to floor or carpet surface made by the footwear
visualize vaporous lead (soot) residues on tread or sole. Like all other impression evi-
heavily bloodstained clothing. dence, the primary goal is to preserve the
impression or to reproduce it for examina-
Firearms Function Testing tion in the laboratory. Several recovery and
Functional tests are carried out on firearms enhancement techniques can be applied to
held in evidence to answer the following basic achieve this.The first step is usually to photo-
questions: graph the print using a measurement scale to
show all the details of the impression.Various
• Does the weapon actually fire side-lighting techniques may be utilized to
ammunition? highlight many ridge details, which can then
• Do the safety mechanisms operate be photographed and compared with print
properly? details from a suspect shoe. For shoe marks
• Will the weapon discharge without that are impressed in soil, the best recovery
pulling the trigger? method is photography and casting of the
• Has the weapon been modified print.A number different chemicals are avail-
(shortened, made to fire fully able that can be used to enhance and develop
automatic, etc.)? footwear impressions made in blood, snow,
and underwater.
See also Ammunition; Bullets
The number of class and individual
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic characteristics associated with a print deter-
Science: An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: mines the evidentiary value of such an impres-
McGraw-Hill, 1983. sion. Characteristics that are associated with
Heard, B.J. Handbook of Firearms and Ballistics: size, design, and shape can be used to illus-
Examining and Interpreting Forensic Evidence. New trate that a particular shoe could have made
York:Wiley, 1997.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science: An an impression, but cannot be used to exclude
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. other shoes with the same class characteris-
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. tics as the source of the print. Individual
Forensic Science 161

characteristics that are present as a result of the forensic sciences and that can trace their
wear, cuts, gouges, or damage are much more origins to the American Society of Crime
significant in determining the source of the Laboratory Directors. The most significant
print.With sufficient individual characteristics contribution of FQS to quality assurance in
providing several points of comparison, it may forensic science is from its accreditation pro-
be possible to say that both the test impressions grams. Provided under the title “FQS-I,”
and the evidence originated from only one these were the first forensic accreditation
source. programs in the United States to comply with
An automated shoeprint identification sys- the ISO 17025 international standards for
tem has been developed in England that may testing laboratories, the first to be offered
help the forensic scientist in making shoe-print without conditions to all forensic science lab-
comparisons. The Shoeprint Image Capture oratories, and the first to be recognized by
and Retrieval (SICAR) system uses specialized the National Cooperation for Laboratory
software and multiple databases to search Accreditation (see for
known and unknown footwear files for information on FQS, and for
comparison against footwear specimens. information on NACLA).
Impressions can be compared to a reference
database to find out the type of shoe that made
a specific imprint. Such impressions can also be Forensic Science
searched in suspect and crime databases to Forensic science can be defined as science as it
determine if that shoeprint matches a shoeprint pertains to the law. That simple definition
of someone who has been in custody or match- encompasses many different scientific or
es shoeprints found at other crime scenes. technical procedures and at least three basic
principles. The basic principles describe the
See also Casts; Individual Characteristics; Shoe evidential use to which testing is applied.The
testing may elicit inceptive evidence, in which
Bodziak,W. J. Footwear Impression Evidence. New York: the information shows that a crime has been
Elsevier, 1991. committed. Measuring the amount of alcohol
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic in the blood or identifying a white powder in
Science: An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: someone’s possession as cocaine are examples.
McGraw-Hill, 1983. Scientific testing can be used to address the
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science: An
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. identity or origin of something—a blood-
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. stain, a fingerprint, or a paint chip recovered
Lee, H. C.,T. Palmbach, and M.T. Miller. Henry Lee’s from a scene. If the properties of the material
Crime Scene Handbook. London and San Diego, CA: tested differ from those of the putative
Academic, 2001. source, then a conclusion of nonidentity can
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
be safely drawn.This is the principle of testing
White, P. Crime Scene to Court: The Essentials of Forensic for exclusion. However, if no differences are
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, found, the specific nature of the test results
1998. has to be considered. If it is a fingerprint,
then a conclusion of identity can be made.
For other evidence, the evidence may be best
Forensic Quality Services regarded as corroborative. DNA is a good
Forensic Quality Services (FQS) is a not- example of the distinction: Some DNA testing
for-profit corporation established by the results in a combination of types so rare as to be
National Forensic Science Technology Center regarded by any reasonable measure as being
in 2003. It is the third in the series of compa- unique and therefore identifying the origin of
nies that provide quality systems support to the body tissue. Others may be less compelling
162 Fracture Matching

and leave the probability of a chance match in unequivocally individualized, such as finger-
types as worthy of consideration. print and DNA evidence. All other types of
Exclusionary and corroborative evidence evidence, if appropriately identified, can be
are specific examples of the general class of said to be consistent with originating from a
associative evidence. Many of the examples of particular source, site, or individual.
associative evidence are based on the principle References
enunciated by Edmund Locard in the early De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
twentieth century, usually quoted as “every Science: An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
contact leaves a trace.” However, the Locard McGraw-Hill, 1983.
principle is not a defining law for forensic sci- James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science: An
ence (and indeed there is no clear statement Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
of it in Locard’s writings). Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
When examining and interpreting associa- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
tive evidence, the results must be given careful White, P. Crime Scene to Court: The Essentials of Forensic
consideration. With this type of evidence, Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
there is a link with the falsification approach to 1998.
basic science (see Daubert Ruling). Testing
may produce evidence to exclude an associa-
tion. For example, DNA types in recovered Fracture Matching
sperm may differ from those of the suspect. If Fracture lines in glass are formed when the
they do not exclude, then we are left with cor- glass is bent by an applied force.An impinging
roborative evidence that supports but does not force that stretches the glass beyond its limits
prove the hypothesis of association. of elasticity will result in the glass fracturing
The objective of forensic science is the and breaking apart. The fracturing process
identification, individualization, or classifica- results in a pattern of fracture marks that are
tion of physical evidence. For some types of left on each fragment that, when examined
evidence, identification or individualization is closely, can provide information on the force
only possible after a number of thorough and direction of the impacting force.This frac-
chemical or scientific tests are conducted. ture information may be useful in the recon-
The types of evidence that require such exten- struction of events that happened at a crime
sive testing to ensure accurate identification scene.
include bloodstains, body fluids, drugs, arson When a projectile penetrates a glass win-
accelerants, and other chemicals.The identifi- dow, it leaves a characteristic fracture pattern:
cation of unknown substances or objects may Cracks radiate outwards from the center of
be achieved by comparing their characteristics the site of penetration and encircle the site of
with those of known standards or references, penetration or impact. The radiating lines are
well-established criteria, or database informa- called radial fractures and the circular lines are
tion. In the forensic examination of fibers and called concentric fractures. A high-velocity pro-
hairs, determinations, of fiber type, form, dye jectile, such as a bullet, will generally produce
composition, elucidation of color, species, or a round crater-shaped hole surrounded by an
anatomical origins use class characteristics for almost symmetrical pattern of radial and con-
such identification. Class characteristics can centric cracks.The hole tends to be wider on
place an item into a distinct class or group. the exit side of the glass and can be a means of
However, the ultimate goal of forensic identi- determining the direction of impact. As a
fication is individualization—to be able to say force pushes against one side of a pane of glass,
that the evidence in question originates from a the natural elasticity of the glass medium
specific single source, locus, scene, or person. allows it to bend in the direction of the force.
In reality, few types of evidence can be As the elasticity of the glass is exceeded, the
Frye Rule 163

glass begins to crack and the first fractures See also Bulbs (Automobile, Examination of in
begin to form on the opposite side of the pene- Accidents); Glass
trating force and form into radial lines. The Curran, J. M.,T. N. Hicks, and J. S. Buckleton.
application of more force will place more ten- Forensic Interpretation of Glass Evidence. Boca Raton,
sion on the front surface of the glass, resulting FL: CRC, 2000.
in the formation of the characteristic stress or De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
fracture marks—arch-shaped striations that Science: An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
are present on the edge of each broken glass McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
fragment. These marks run perpendicular or Introduction to Scientific and Investigative
begin at right angles to one surface and curve Techniques. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis,
to become nearly parallel with the opposite 2005.
surface. The perpendicular edge always faces Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
the surface on which the crack originated, so River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court: The Essentials of Forensic
looking at the stress marks on a radial crack Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
close to the point of impact, the perpendicular 1998.
striations are always on the edge opposite the
surface on which the force was applied (the
side on which the first cracks begin to form). Frye Rule
When examining concentric fractures, the The skills of a forensic scientist incorporate
stress-mark striations are always perpendicu- the application of scientific principles and
lar to the edge of the glass on the side that techniques to the analysis of many different
was dealt the extreme force, or the side of types of evidence that is recovered from a
impact. crime scene. In applying and conducting their
The patterns of fracture and stress lines scientific tests and methodologies forensic
can be used to show a mechanical fit between scientists must also be aware of the eviden-
two pieces of broken glass. Because the struc- tiary demands and constraints imposed by the
ture of glass is naturally amorphous, two glass judicial system. Any analytical or scientific
objects will never break in the same way and techniques, principles, or methods used in
will therefore produce different fracture-line the investigation and examination of evidence
patterns. The fracture lines and ridges are not only must be scientifically sound, but
minutiae that can help in reconstructing glass must also satisfy the criteria of admissibility
fragments. Photography of groups of fracture imposed by the judicial system. The guiding
ridges and lines can be used to demonstrate principles that were adopted as standard
identifying points between two glass frag- guidelines on the judicial admissibility of sci-
ments. When it is possible to demonstrate a entific evidence, in thirty-one states in the
mechanical fit, the stress and fractures ridges United States, were first presented in 1923,
of the two matching glass fragments will in the case of Frye v. United States, when the
mesh or fit together. The two matching frag- Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
ments can be viewed edge to edge using low- rejected the scientific validity of the poly-
power microscopy, allowing the analyst to graph test:
observe, compare, and verify the matching
ridges and lines and to obtain a photographic Just when a scientific principle or
record of the evidence. discovery crosses the line between the
The so-called three-R rule is a convenient experimental and demonstrable stages is
means of remembering the directionality difficult to define. Somewhere in this
of glass fracture markings for radial and twilight zone the evidential force of the
concentric cracks: Radial cracks form a right principle must be recognized, and while
angle on the reverse side of the force. courts will go a long way in admitting
164 Frye Rule

expert testimony deduced from a well- debate on the Frye principle and its flexibility
recognized scientific principle or to cover the many new scientific issues and
discovery, the thing from which the deduction techniques that are now being accepted in the
is made must be sufficiently established to have scientific community. In a significant ruling
gained general acceptance in the particular made in 1993, in the case of Daubert v. Merrill
field in which it belongs (293 F. 1013, Dow Pharmaceutical Inc., the U.S. Supreme
at 1014, emphasis added). Court concluded that the Frye standard
should not be an absolute prerequisite to the
For any procedure, scientific technique, or admissibility of scientific evidence.According
principle to meet Frye standards, the courts to the Court, Rule 702 of the Federal Rules
must first determine if the procedures or of Evidence provides that trial judges are now
methods in question are generally accepted assigned the responsibility for the admissibility
by an appropriate segment of the scientific and validity of scientific evidence presented
community. In the process of a Frye challenge, in their courts.
an advocate for the test presents a series of
appropriate experts to the court, who testify See also Admissibility of Scientific Evidence; Daubert
that the questioned test is scientifically reliable, Ruling
meets sound scientific principles, and is accept- Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S.
ed by that scientific field or community. Over 579 (1993).
the years, there has been much discussion and Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923).
Gacy, John Wayne The bodies were all young teenage boys, and
This case demonstrates the difficulties faced so this presented a problem to investigators
with identification of human remains. tasked with identifying them. Many of the
John Wayne Gacy was an active member
of his community and well respected for his
involvement in many community groups,
despite some rumors of his homosexuality.
Gacy was first married in 1964 and soon after
was accused of sexually harassing his employ-
ees. He was convicted in 1968 of sodomizing
a teenage boy, for which he was sentenced to
serve ten years in state prison. After serving
eighteen months, he was released and remar-
ried after moving back to Chicago. He bought
a house, and it later came to light that both his
wife and neighbors were known to complain
about the stench coming from the house. He
started a contracting business, through which
he employed several teenage boys (supposedly
to save money). Soon, however, rumors of his
homosexuality reappeared and again he was
divorced. In 1978 a fifteen-year-old boy was
reported missing after having left to meet
with a contractor who had offered him a
job—John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was questioned
by police who, after researching his back- John Wayne Gacy, 36, seen in this undated file photo. Gacy,
ground and discovering his prior record, a convicted sodomist who acted as a part-time clown for
returned to question him further. Soon after, neighborhood children, was charged with the slaying of a
Gacy voluntarily showed police the crawl suburban Des Plains youth and is suspected in the sex
space beneath his home where he was eventu- slayings of as many as 32 young men and boys. December
ally found to have buried around thirty bodies. 28, 1978, Chicago, Ill. (Bettmann/Corbis)

166 Gamma Hydroxybutyrate

bodies were identified using dental records, bodybuilders for anabolic effects, as it has
x-rays, and fingerprints. However, due to an alleged ability to release growth hormone
the homosexual nature of the crime, many and stimulate muscle growth. At one time
families did not come forward to assist in the GHB was considered to be a safe and “natural”
identification of their missing family members. food supplement, and was commercially
Even after using the technique of facial recon- available in health food stores. A number of
struction and releasing the resulting images adverse effects are associated with GHB use,
to the media, nine bodies remained unidenti- including drowsiness, dizziness, nausea,
fied. In 1994 John Wayne Gacy was executed unconsciousness, seizures, severe and poten-
by lethal injection. tially fatal respiratory depression, vomiting,
See also Identification
discoordination, and coma. A major concern
References is the fact that the recreational dose range of
Court TV’s Crime Library, Criminal Minds and GHB is extremely narrow. It has a high toxicity
Methods; index, and a minor overdose can cause
serial/gacy/gacymain.htm (Referenced July unconsciousness; large overdoses can be fatal.
2005). At higher overdose levels, GHB can produce
Evans, C. The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science
Solved 100 of the World’s Most Baffling Crimes. both unconsciousness and vomiting, an
New York:Wiley, 1998. extremely dangerous combination, leading to
aspiration or inhalation of vomit and possible
suffocation. A recreational dose of pure GHB
Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) powder is generally between one and three
Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is also grams, but frequent users who have devel-
known on the street as “Liquid X,” “Georgia oped a tolerance may take as much as four or
Home Boy,” “Goop,” “Gamma-oh,” “E-Z Lay,” five grams in a single dose.The liquid form of
and “Grievous Bodily Harm.” This drug is a GHB also prevalent on the streets comes in
powerful, rapidly acting central nervous sys- widely variable concentrations. The onset of
tem depressant and putative neurotransmitter action of GHB is usually between ten and
that is actually produced in the body naturally twenty minutes, and the main effects of GHB
in very small amounts, but its physiological last for one to one and one-half hours.
function is largely unclear. GHB was first syn- Secondary effects of the substance, which are
thesized in the 1960s as a human anesthetic generally milder, may last for a further one to
and was discontinued because of intolerable two hours. Recreational users may also con-
side effects. The drug was used as a sleeping sume a single dose of GHB slowly over the
aid and bodybuilding supplement during the period of an evening rather than taking a
1980s and was abused as a recreational psy- full dose at one time. GHB is most commonly
choactive substance in the 1990s, and as a produced by combining gamma butyrlactone
result was designated as a scheduled sub- and sodium hydroxide. Two other chemicals
stance in the United States in 2000. GHB is often used as GHB counterparts are 1,4-
encountered on the street as an odorless, col- butanediol and gamma butyrlactone.
orless liquid or in white-powder form. It is Young adults and teenagers at nightclubs and
used most commonly in the form of a chem- parties are the most common users of illicit
ical salt, which is mixed with water.The drug GHB. High school students, college students,
is generally taken orally, quite often in com- and rave partyers often use it as a pleasure
bination with alcohol, and is abused for its enhancer that depresses the central nervous
euphoric effects, hallucinations, and sedation. system and causes intoxication. It can also be
At low doses the drug produces physiological used as a sedative, both to reduce the effects of
effects similar to those experienced with alco- stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine,
hol. Reports also document GHB abuse by and ephedrine, or hallucinogens such as LSD
Gas Chromatography 167

and mescaline, as well as for the prevention Gas Chromatography

of physical withdrawal symptoms. The Chromatography refers to the technique used for
development of physical dependence has the analysis and separation of chemical com-
also been demonstrated with consistent use pounds or analytes. There are many different
of high doses of the drug. There also are types of chromatographic procedures that are
numerous documented cases in which GHB routinely used in the forensic analysis, separa-
has been used to incapacitate women with tion, and quantitation of chemical evidence.
the purpose of committing sexual assaults. The types of evidence routinely analyzed by
GHB is illegal to possess or sell in the chromatographic methods include illicit drug
United States. In March 2000 GHB was substances, fiber dyes, inks, petroleum prod-
placed on Schedule I of the Controlled Sub- ucts, solvents, and blood-alcohol samples.Thin
stances Act. layer chromatography is a separation method
See also Controlled Substances; Date Rape; Drugs using a thin layer of an adsorbent material such
References as silica gel. Liquid and gas chromatography
Drummer, O. H. The Forensic Pharmacology of Drugs involve the separation and quantitation of ana-
of Abuse. New York: Oxford University Press, lytes based on their chemical and physical
2001. interaction between a liquid solvent or gas and
Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
a stationary phase within a column.
1999. With gas chromatography, a form of parti-
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle tion chromatography, chemical separation is
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. achieved by the partitioning of the analytes

A technician injects samples into a gas chromatograph. (

168 Gasoline

between an inert gas, called the mobile phase, does this by separating the constituents
and a liquid stationary phase held in place on according to their boiling points.The shorter-
a fine capillary column. Different compounds chain, more volatile hydrocarbons distill off
have different affinities for each of these two at lower temperatures. Gasoline is the second
phases and partition between the two phases fraction recovered after naphthas and consists
accordingly. At constant temperatures and gas- of a mixture of chains of seven to eleven car-
flow rates, different compounds will be bon atoms. Gasoline is volatile and flammable
retained by the stationary phase for different and, aside from its legitimate role as auto-
amounts of time. A compound that preferen- mobile engine fuel, is encountered as an
tially partitions into the stationary phase will be accelerant in arson fires and as a constituent
retained longer on the column than a com- of Molotov cocktail incendiary devices.
pound that preferentially partitions more into Traces of gasoline are readily detected and
the gaseous mobile phase. identified in the laboratory.
One of the major drawbacks of gas chro- See also Accelerant Residues; Arson
matography is that it requires the analyte to References
be volatilized at an elevated temperature, a Almirall, J., and K. Furton. Analysis and Interpretation
process that may break down heat-labile com- of Fire Scene Evidence. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2004.
pounds. Many compounds may not be suitable Nic Daeid, N. Fire Investigation. Boca Raton, FL: CRC,
for analysis by gas chromatography because of Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
their lack of volatility, resulting in poor separa- River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
tion. By producing a chemical derivative of the
drug of interest, using a suitable derivatizing
agent, these problems can be circumvented. Genetic Markers
Several derivatizing reagents are commonly Genetic markers used in forensic science have
employed for this purpose and include silylat- three essential properties related to their
ing and acetylating agents. variability and constancy. First, they are sta-
An appropriate detector is chosen based ble in stains and other shed material—that is,
on the requirements of the analysis, including they persist long enough to be measured in
sensitivity and specificity. the laboratory and will not change from one
See also Drugs; Fibers; Mass Spectrometry form of the marker to another as they
References degrade. Second, they are stable in the
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic body—that is, the characteristic will not alter
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: with time and so can be compared reliably with
McGraw-Hill, 1983. the corresponding marker in a stain or shed
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. material no matter when the reference blood
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. sample is taken. Third, they show sufficient
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle variability among individuals that they offer a
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. degree of discrimination between people.
Tebbett, I. Gas Chromatography in Forensic Science. New The first two properties are a matter of
York: Horwood, 1992.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
chance, depending on the chemical nature
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, of the potential marker and the way in which it
1998. responds to environmental challenge outside of
the body.The third is achieved if the marker of
interest is the result of expression of a gene,
Gasoline because genes are stable within an individual.
Crude oil is a mixture of aliphatic hydro- Mutations at a sufficiently early point in the
carbons, which can be characterized by the human evolutionary tree can result in there
length of the carbon chain. Petroleum refining being a number of alternate forms of any
Glass 169

gene within the population. These alternate Glass

forms are called alleles. Glass was first made as early as 2000 BC and
When someone inherits the same allele is an amorphous substance made of silica and
from each parent, he or she is said to be borates or phosphates that have been melted
homozygous for the inherited characteristic. and fused at extremely high temperatures.
When a person inherits a different allele from Glass also occurs naturally as a volcanic-based
each parent, he or she is said to be heterozy- substance called obsidian. Glass is neither a
gous. The combination of alleles present is the solid nor a liquid, but exists in a vitreous, or
genotype of the individual.The observed char- glassy, state. Although its molecules are
acteristic that results from the expression of the arranged in a noncrystalline manner, sufficient
alleles is the phenotype of the person.There are intermolecular cohesion still exists to impart
some alleles that do not result in a measurable mechanical rigidity. Glasses can come in a
characteristic in the individual.These are said to variety of forms and can be transparent, trans-
be recessive, while those that do produce an lucent, or opaque—the color varying with
observable characteristic are said to be domi- changes in chemical composition. Glass as a
nant. Thus, in the ABO system, the A and B al- medium is a poor conductor of heat and elec-
leles are dominant, but the O allele is recessive. tricity. Molten glass is plastic in nature and can
Two people who are type B can have a different be shaped using a range of techniques. At low
genotype, either BB (homozygous) or BO temperatures glass is extremely brittle and
(heterozygous), for the same phenotype of B. will break and fracture easily.The basic ingre-
See also ABO Blood Groups; Blood Grouping; DNA dient of most glasses is silica, which is derived
in Forensic Science from sand, flint, or quartz. Silica can be melt-
References ed at very high temperatures to form fused
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, silica glass.
MA: Elsevier, 2005. For most glasses, silica is combined with
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. other raw materials in varying proportions.
Carbonates of sodium or potassium lower the
fusion temperature and viscosity of silica.
Geology Limestone or dolomite (calcium and magne-
The field of geology is one of the physical sci- sium carbonates) are added as stabilizers, and
ences and is defined as the science of the additional ingredients such as lead and borax
earth’s history, composition, and structure, are added to impart certain physical proper-
and their associated processes. Geology draws ties. Most manufactured glass is a soda-lime
upon other scientific disciplines, such as composition used to make bottles, tableware,
chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, and lightbulbs, and window and plate glass. Fine-
mathematics in its application. Geologists may quality glass or glass crystal is made from
play a role in forensic investigations of soil evi- potassium-silicate formulas that include lead
dence. The forensic examination of soil can oxide. Leaded glass is heavy and refracts light,
involve the analysis of naturally occurring making it suitable for lenses and prisms, as
rocks, minerals, vegetation, and animal mat- well as imitation jewels. Borosilicate glass
ter. A geologist having knowledge of local contains borax as a major ingredient, along
geology may be able to help police by indicating with silica and alkali. This type of glass is
the general area where soil may have been orig- extremely durable, resistant to chemicals and
inally picked up and a crime committed. high temperatures, and is often used for
cooking utensils, laboratory glassware, and
Murray, R. C. Evidence from the Earth: Forensic Geology chemical processing equipment.The color of
and Criminal Investigation. Missoula, MT: glass is usually the result of impurities that
Mountain, 2004. are present in the raw materials. Manganese
170 Glass

may be added to clear or colorless glass to are finished simultaneously. By using the float-
offset traces of iron that tend to impart green glass process, flat surfaces are ensured on both
and brown tints. Glass can also be colored by sides by floating a continuous sheet of glass on
dissolving in it metallic oxides, sulfides, or a bath of molten tin at temperatures high
selenides, or by the addition of microscopic enough to enable surface imperfections to be
particles that become dispersed throughout removed by the fluid flow of the glass against
the glass. Generally, most glass formulas the tin.
include the addition of broken waste glass of Wire glass is a safety glass that doesn’t
a similar composition, called cullet. Cullet shatter when it is struck.This glass is made by
promotes melting and homogeneity of the introducing wire mesh into the molten glass
new batch of glass, as does the addition of fin- before it is passed between the rollers.
ing agents such as arsenic or antimony. Laminated glass is a safety glass used for vehi-
The melting temperature of a specific glass cle windshields and is made by laminating a
is determined by its chemical composition. sheet of transparent polyvinyl butyral plastic
Some glasses will melt around 500° C (900° F), between two sheets of thin plate glass. The
while others won’t melt until temperatures plastic adheres tightly to the glass and holds
reach at least 1650° C (3180° F). The tensile the broken pieces in place when the glass is
strength of glass normally ranges from 280 to broken or smashed.
560 kg per sq cm (4000–8000 lb per sq in), Bottles and glass containers are manufac-
but can exceed 7000 kg per sq cm (100,000 lb tured using an automated process that com-
per sq in) in glasses that have undergone spe- bines pressing and blowing to form the hollow
cialized treatments. Specific gravity tends to body and the open end of the container.
range from 2 to 8, which is less than the spe- Lenses used in eyeglasses, microscopes, tele-
cific gravity of aluminum but greater than that scopes, and cameras are made from optical
of steel. glass, which differs from other glass in the
There are many different types of glass. way in which it bends, or refracts, light.
Window glass, which has been used since the Optical glass is made from extremely pure
first century AD, was first made by casting, or materials.
blowing hollow cylinders that were then slit
and flattened into sheets.Today, window glass Forensic Significance of Glass
is made mechanically by drawing molten glass Broken and shattered glass fragments that are
through a slotted block submerged on the produced in the perpetration of a crime can
surface of the molten glass pool, into an be used to link a suspect to that crime scene.
annealing furnace. Once the glass emerges Chips or fragments of broken glass from a
after the annealing process, it is cut into window may become stuck in the perpetra-
sheets. tor’s shoes or clothing during a burglary, and
Because of the nature of the manufacturing particles of headlight or reflector glass found
process, ordinary drawn window glass is usu- at hit-and-run scenes may be used to link a
ally not uniformly thick. It is this variation in suspect car back to the locus and may be
thickness that can result in distortions in the used to confirm the identity of the hit-and-
appearance of objects viewed through the run vehicle. Due to the prevalence of glass in
glass. The use of ground and polished plate today’s environment, the evidentiary value of
glass, or the use of float-glass manufacturing glass is maximized when it can be individual-
processes, can be used to correct the problem ized to a single source. This only happens
of variable thickness and, hence, distortion. when the suspect and crime-scene glass can be
Plate glass is manufactured by rolling assembled and physically fitted back together.
molten glass sheets between double rollers. This process involves piecing together the
After the sheet has been annealed, both sides irregular edges of broken glass and matching
Glue Sniffing 171

any irregularities and striations found on the which include using a plummet and balance
glass surfaces (see Fracture Matching). or a density meter.

Identifying Glass Particles Elemental Analysis

Glass particles can be identified by three phys- Elemental analysis of glass can also be con-
ical characters: conchoidal fracture, amor- ducted for forensic comparison purposes.
phous structure, and isotropism. During the Wet chemical analysis, neutron activation,
examination of glass and debris, a few simple atomic absorption, mass spectrometry, and
tests can be applied to eliminate particles that emission spectrography are techniques that
might be confused with glass. Fragments of may be applicable to the analysis of silicate
plastic can be separated and eliminated by test- materials, including glass.The problems asso-
ing for indentation with a needle; cubic crystals ciated with these techniques result from the
such as salt can be identified by shape, fracture, fact that particles of glass routinely recovered
and water solubility; and mineral grains can be in forensic work are small, irregularly
identified using polarized light. Under the shaped, and often recovered in insufficient
polarized light microscope, isotropic particles amounts for successful analyses. Elemental
remain dark, whereas anisotropic or birefrin- analysis for the determination of the presence
gent particles show up colored or bright. or absence of detectable amounts of arsenic,
cobalt, titanium, sulfur, lead, boron, zirco-
nium, strontium, barium, iron, and chromium
Refractive Index may be significant, as these elements may be
In the forensic analysis of glass, one of the first deliberately added in small amounts to glass
measurements made is the refractive index of during the manufacturing process or be pres-
the glass fragments. Determination of refrac- ent in trace levels in the raw materials.
tive index is usually carried out using an
immersion method and involves finding the See also Bulbs; Fracture Matching; Refractive Index
temperature and wavelength at which a parti- Curran, J. M.,T. N. Hicks, and J. S. Buckleton.
cular glass fragment, immersed in a liquid, has Forensic Interpretation of Glass Evidence. Boca Raton,
the same refractive index as that liquid.There FL: CRC, 2000.
are a number of different methods that can be De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
applied to achieve this, including the Becke Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
line method, dispersion staining, and phase McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
microscopy. Most refractive index testing Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
today is conducted using the unfortunately Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
titled GRIM equipment (for Glass Refractive Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
Index Measurement). River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Density Determinations 1998.
Density gradient techniques can also be used
to identify particles, including glass. A density
gradient can be made by layering a number of Glue Sniffing
miscible oils or liquids in a tube.The heaviest The recreational inhalation (also called “huff-
liquids are layered at the bottom, and liquids ing” or “sniffing”) of volatile hydrocarbons and
of lesser density are then sequentially added. anesthetics, including substances such as ether
Over time, the solution forms a uniform gra- and nitrous oxide,first became a common activ-
dient and any particles added to the tube will ity in Europe,Great Britain,and NorthAmerica
settle at the level of equivalent density.There in the 1800s. It was during the early 1900s that
are a number of variations on this technique, alcohol, ether, and chloroform became the
172 Glue Sniffing

most commonly inhaled substances, and during whipping cream and is also used as a boosting
the 1940s and 1950s there was a trend toward agent to accelerate combustion in auto racing.
gasoline sniffing.The 1960s heralded the onset Inhalation of nitrous oxide provides an
of inhalant abuse of glues and acetone,which are intense, brief “high” that lasts for only a few
still popular inhalants today. minutes. Nitrous oxide does not completely
Inhalant substances are gases or vapors block pain, but is used to relieve anxiety and
that are inhaled to induce psychoactive, or create a dreamy or floating sensation for the
mind-altering, effects. There are three main patient.
groups of inhalants: nitrous oxide, volatile Volatile nitrites are stimulant drugs with
nitrites, and petroleum distillates. Most associated powerful cardiac effects. Amyl
inhalant abusers don’t consider these kinds of nitrite is prescribed for people suffering from
substances to be harmful or deadly because angina pectoris and asthma and is usually dis-
most are found in commonly available house- pensed in the form of a clear yellow liquid in
hold items such as cleaning fluids, modeling single-dose glass ampoules. The ampoule is
glues, nail-polish remover, hair sprays, paints, crushed between the fingers and the vapors of
cooking sprays, and aerosol propellants that the drug inhaled.The pharmacological effects
include freon.Toluene is one of the most com- of the drug cause vasodilation and an
mon solvents that is inhaled recreationally, but increased heart rate. The effect of sudden
other solvents such as naphtha, methyl ethyl peripheral vasodilation reduces blood flow
ketones, gasoline, and trichloroethylene also and oxygen to the inner regions of the brain,
produce comparable physiological effects. resulting in the onset of sudden, intense
Immediately after the user inhales the sub- weakness and dizziness that may last from
stance, he or she generally experiences feelings thirty to sixty seconds.
of exhilaration and euphoria, accompanied by As a means of circumventing current drug
slurred speech, impaired judgment, double regulations, butyl nitrite products can often be
vision, and, in some situations, drowsiness and sold in bars and specialty shops as room
stupor. These depressant effects then grad- deodorizers called “Locker Room” or “Rush.”
ually wear off and the user returns slowly to a The pharmacological effects of this drug are
normal state. identical to those of amylnitrite and include
Consistent inhalant abuse can significantly brief euphoria, changes in blood pressure,
affect the day-to-day functions of a user. The flush, dizziness, and headaches. Again, the
first signs of regular abuse begin when the euphoric effects have a rapid onset and dissipate
user starts to neglect his or her personal quickly. More experienced users try to main-
appearance and shows a lack of interest in tain or prolong the euphoric effects by using
school or work, with the loss of any profes- increasing doses of the drug.
sional or academic drive. These behaviors are Petroleum distillates are gases or vapors of
commonly accompanied by the gradual with- liquids made from petroleum.They are inhaled
drawal from family, friends, and social and or abused for their powerful depressant, intox-
athletic activities. Conversations with the user icating, and mind-altering effects. Commonly
may become senseless and silly and often the abused sources of petroleum distillates include
user may exude a chemical odor on his or her gasoline, lighter fluids, kerosene, toluene,
breath or clothing.The user is also often in the naphtha, model airplane glue, typewriter cor-
possession of inhalant paraphernalia such as rection fluids, magic markers, and aerosol
bags, discarded aerosol cans, or rags. gases used as propellants in cooking sprays,
Among the most commonly abused inhal- spray paints, and cleaning agents.
ants, nitrous oxide is a light anesthetic gas used Although there is some debate on the issue,
legally as a painkiller in medicine and dentistry. many experts believe that these substances are
It may be present as a propellant in cans of physiologically addictive. Addictive or not,
Guns 173

inhalant abusers undoubtedly have a high risk were made to increase the discriminating
of inducing liver, heart, and brain damage or power of tests used to type blood and its
even death from the chemicals they inhale. stains by adding to the range of genetically
Inhalant abuse has also been associated with determined protein markers uses. One such
some other serious side effects, including example that showed initial promise was the
central nervous system (CNS) effects, such as polymorphisms on the gamma and kappa
chronic tiredness; depression, irritability, and chains of immunoglobulins. These are two of
poor balance or lack of coordination; nervous the protein structures that make up antibody
system and brain damage; and nosebleeds, molecules. They were found to have geneti-
headaches, eye pain, anemia, muscle and joint cally determined variations in structure that
pain, loss of muscle control, and sores around could be identified by reactions with antibod-
the nose and mouth. ies. Those on the gamma chains were named
In some states glue sniffing is considered a Gm and those on the kappa chains were
Class B misdemeanor. A person is considered named Km.
guilty of glue sniffing if he or she inhales However, the reliability of the testing never
or ingests “model glue, or any substance con- achieved the standards required for routine
taining toluene, acetone, benzene, N-butyl application in forensic science, and no further
nitrite, or any aliphatic nitrite,” for the pur- research was conducted due to the introduc-
poses of becoming intoxicated. It is also con- tion of successful DNA typing systems.
sidered a Class B misdemeanor to distribute See also DNA in Forensic Science
nitrous oxide for the purpose of producing Reference
intoxication. Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
MA: Elsevier, 2005.
See also Controlled Substances; Drugs
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. Gun Shot Residues
Winger, G., F. G. Hofmann, and J. H.Woods. A See Firearms
Handbook on Drug and Alcohol Abuse:The Biomedical
Aspects. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1992. Guns
See Firearms
Gm and Km Typing
In the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s, just
before DNA typing was discovered, attempts
Haigh, John George References
Police in London, England, became suspicious Court TV’s Crime Library, Criminal Minds and
when John George Haigh, together with sev- Methods;
serial/haigh/ (Referenced July, 2005).
eral rich elderly women, reported the disap- Owen, D. Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How
pearance of Olivia Durand-Deacon, another Forensic Science Helped Solve Them. Willowdale,
wealthy older woman. Initial checks revealed Ontario: Firefly, 2000.
that Haigh had prior convictions for forgery,
conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by
false pretences, and fraud. Further investiga- Hair
tions led police to Haigh’s place of business, Hairs are commonly encountered as physical
where they found such items as containers evidence and can count as crucial evidence in
for storage of acid, rubber boots, rubber any type of case.Traditionally, they have partic-
gloves, and a gas mask.A dry-cleaning receipt ular importance in cases of personal contact,
was also found, which police were able to including rape and homicide, as associative
trace back to Olivia Durand-Deacon. When evidence. Human head hair and pubic hair are
questioned by police, Haigh initially attempt- commonly encountered, but hairs from other
ed to explain away the receipt, among other body regions are encountered occasionally.
things, but eventually confessed to one detec- Animal hairs as evidence can come from
tive what he had done. Haigh had dissolved domesticated animals, pelts and furs used for
Olivia Durand-Deacon in acid, but boasted to clothing, and wild animals or game.With the
the detective that without evidence they could advent of refined and more sensitive analytical
not charge him with anything. He wrote methods, the presence of cellular materials
police a complete statement detailing that he adhering to the root and hair shaft can be a
had killed eight other people in the same way, source of samples for DNA analysis, which
saying that he had an uncontrollable desire can be further utilized as a means of personal
to drink their blood. When the remaining identification. New developments in chemi-
“sludge” was examined, recovered were three cal analysis can now be exploited to illustrate
gallstones, twenty-eight pounds of human fat, patterns or timelines of drug use or poison
part of a left foot, eighteen human bone frag- exposure in hair samples obtained for toxi-
ments, and a set of dentures. Haigh was sen- cology studies.
tenced to be hanged in the summer of 1949.

176 Hair

Anatomy of Hair inclusions.Their distinctive shape can be used

Hair is an appendage of mammalian skin. On to identify them from the rounded pigment
some animals the hair serves to keep the animal granules. In colored hairs, the cortex also
warm and to protect it from environmental houses the pigment granules. These ellip-
assault. The hair shaft that protrudes above soidal granules contain the pigment melanin.
the skin surface is made of a strong structural Two types of melanin impart hair color;
protein called keratin—the same protein that black-brown eumelanins give dark colors and
makes up the nails and the outer layer of skin. red-yellow phaeomelanins give lighter colors.
There are three types of hair associated with There are fewer pigment granules in graying
humans. Lanugo hairs are formed in the hair and none in white hair.
embryo beginning at five months gestation, The third or outer layer is called the cuticle,
and are shed in the seventh to eighth month of a thin layer of flattened, overlapping, colorless
gestation. Lanugo hairs, which are fine, soft, cells that protect the cortex.The cuticle cells
and nonpigmented, are similar to, but often slope outwards with their edges pointing
thicker and longer than vellus hairs. Vellus hair, toward the tip of the hair. The overlapping
which replaces lanugo prior to birth, is color- cuticle cells form a distinctive pattern, called
less and very fine and is typically located on the scale pattern, which can be observed
the forehead and balding scalp. Terminal hair is microscopically. The pattern varies between
the type of hair we normally consider when species and can be used for species identi-
talking about human hairs; these hairs, which fication. The cuticle surface of a fully devel-
replace some areas of lanugo and vellus hair oped hair is very hard when it is dry and
after birth, are usually pigmented, medullated, imparts protection to the cortex. Cuticles
and are coarser and thicker than vellus hair. can become damaged as a result of environ-
These hairs are the same as the underhairs, mental assault, combing, brushing, washing,
wool, and fur of other mammals. and abrasion. Because the hair shaft is com-
Each strand of hair consists of three layers posed of dead material and is unable to repair
constructed like that of a pencil in cross sec- itself, the majority of damage will be found
tion.The first or inner layer is composed of a closer to the tip than to the root area.
core of condensed cells and is called the The root of the hair lies below the surface
medulla. It is usually present only in large, of the skin and is housed within a hair follicle.
thick hairs. During the formation of the The estimated total number of hair follicles
medulla, medullary cells collapse, resulting in for an adult human is in excess of 5 million,
the appearance of a cellular network with with approximately 1 million of those folli-
spaces and gaps that are filled with air. The cles distributed on the head. At the base of
medullary appearance can be distinctive each active hair follicle is a pear-shaped organ
between different species of mammals. called the dermal papilla. In normal hair follicles
The second or middle layer is called the the dermal papilla consists of a highly active
cortex and provides tensile strength, as well as group of cells responsible for the production
color and texture.The cortex is made of spin- of a hair. The dermal papillae are surrounded
dle-shaped cells that form a core surrounding by cortical or matrix epidermal cells, which
the medulla. Cortical cells may contain some divide and proliferate rapidly during the
nuclear remnants and pigment granules, but growth phase of the follicle.As the cells prolif-
they are mainly filled with keratin microfibrils erate and the follicle grows, the epidermal
embedded in a matrix of sulfur-rich proteins. cells are pushed up the follicle to produce the
In some hairs small structures called cortical hair shaft that protrudes above the skin sur-
fusi may appear in the cortex. These struc- face.The epidermal cells undergo differentia-
tures, which may be confused with pigment tion to produce the keratinized hair fiber.The
granules, are actually spindle-shaped air natural growth process of the follicle causes
Hair 177

the regular shedding of hairs. It is this periodic Telogen (Resting Phase)

shedding that results in a person’s hair being The telogen, or resting, phase follows the
found on clothing and at crime scenes. catagen phase and normally lasts from five to
The part of the hair shaft that remains six weeks. During this time metabolism and
inside the follicle, below the skin surface, is hair growth are arrested; the hair does not
called the root. The root is surrounded by an grow but stays attached to the follicle, while
inner root sheath and an outer root sheath. the dermal papilla remains in a resting phase
The inner root sheath is also made of three below. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of all
layers (the cuticle, Huxley layer, and Henle hairs are in this phase at any given time.
layer) and stops at the level of the sebaceous At the end of the telogen phase, the hair
gland, leaving only the hair cortex and the follicle reenters the anagen phase.The dermal
surrounding cuticle to protrude above the papilla and the base of the follicle join togeth-
epidermis. The outer root sheath is distinct er again and a new hair begins to form. If the
from other epidermal components of the hair old hair has not already been shed, the new
follicle and is continuous with the epidermis. hair pushes the old one out, and the growth
The outer root sheath is the site of attachment cycle starts all over again.
for the erector pili muscle.When the erector
pili muscle contracts, the hairs are erected or Forensic Examination and Analysis
stand on end, and goose bumps appear on the The forensic investigator is often asked to
skin. A glassy membrane called the basement associate recovered hairs with an individual.
membrane separates the outer root sheath and This is a difficult task that can’t be done with
the dermal sheath by providing a physical any degree of certainty unless DNA analysis
dividing line between epidermal and dermal is possible. However, known and questioned
cells. The basement membrane also acts as a hairs can be unequivocally excluded from
physical barrier, which is vital to our immuno- having a common origin if they are found to
logical protection. Hair follicles grow in be significantly different.
repeated cycles, and can be divided into three
distinct phases. Each hair passes through the Collection
phases independent of the neighboring hairs. Hairs are most often collected by visual
Anagen (Growth Phase) inspection, as they are large enough to be
Approximately 85 percent of all hairs are in seen by the human eye, but special collection
the growing, or anagen, phase at any given methods might be required to meet the needs
time. This active growth phase can vary from of special cases. For example, the collection
two to six years. Hair grows approximately of pubic hairs from a sexual assault victim and
10 cm (4 inches) per year but any individual the suspect (if in custody) requires visual
hair is unlikely to grow to lengths any greater inspection for loose hairs, hair combings, as
than 1 meter (3 feet). During anagen, the fol- well as plucked hairs for comparison purposes.
licle is at full size and maximally biochemically
active. Control Samples
Catagen (Transitional Phase) If known head hairs are submitted for
At the end of the anagen phase, hairs enter comparison, then representative hair samples
into the catagen phase, which lasts one or two should be obtained from all over the scalp.
weeks. During the quiescent or regressive Hairs should not be cut; rubbing, massaging,
catagen phase, the hair follicle shrinks to or combing the scalp will yield about thirty
about one-sixth of the normal length; the telogen hairs. If the suspect sample contains
lower part is destroyed, and the dermal papil- anagen hairs, then plucked hairs must be
la breaks away. During this phase metabolic obtained for comparison. Each sample should
activity and hair growth begins to slow down. be packaged and labeled separately.
178 Hair

Laboratory Examination • Mongoloid hairs tend to be very

Microscopy is the main technique used in straight with circular cross-sections.
the forensic examination of hairs. The first The hairs are deeply pigmented with
step is to determine that the sample is really thick cuticles.
hair. This is carried out by a quick micro- • Caucasian hairs come with a broad range
scopic examination for the presence of cuti- of colors, pigment densities, and shades.
cle scales, medulla, and pigment granules. The cross-sectional shape, degree of
The next step is to determine whether it is of curl, and range of variability of the hair
human origin or from some other species. diameter are partway between those of
Determination of human origin is based on Negroid and Mongoloid.
the relative size and appearance of the medul-
la, the appearance of the scales, and the dia- Hairs from one area of the human body dif-
meter of the hair shaft. Most animal hairs fer from hairs from other areas. Head hairs
have a smaller diameter and larger medullary grow to the longest length of human hairs, but
index than human hairs.The medullary index generally do not exceed one meter (3 feet) in
is the ratio of the medulla to that that of the length. Because human head hair is often cut at
overall hair shaft, which for human hairs is regular intervals, it is quite uncommon to find
about one-third, but one-half or greater for a head hair that naturally tapers at the tip.The
most other animals.The medulla of most ani- tips of human hairs are usually abraded or cut.
mal hairs is more regular or geometrically The length of scalp hair can vary enormously
patterned than human hair, which tends to on an individual. Finer scalp hairs may not have
have no regular structure. The tips of human a medulla, but when a medulla is present it can
hair may be blunt from cutting and styling be fragmented or continuous. Medullae tend
processes, whereas animal hair tends to be to be more prominent in coarser hairs.
more pointed. Cuticular scales that extend Pubic hairs are generally shorter and coars-
from the shaft of an animal hair tend to be er than head hair.They tend to be curlier, with
more uniform in shape and size and are flatter cross-sections, and the medulla usually
arranged in more regular patterns than those continuous and very broad, which may impart
of human hairs. the wiry characteristic of these body hairs.
Gross characteristics of hairs can also pro- Pubic hairs tend to show fluctuations in diam-
vide information on racial origin. However, eter, and the tip may be somewhat tapered but
overlap of features can also make racial iden- abraded.
tification impossible, especially in cases that Eyebrow and eyelash hairs are usually
involve mixed racial background where hairs short and curved with finely tapered tips.
may have a blend of characteristics or show These hairs usually have a thinner diameter
predominant characteristics of a particular than pubic hairs and are usually some of the
race. The characteristics that are most obvi- darkest hairs on the body.
ous in race determination include pigmen- Axillary hairs from the underarm are very
tation, cuticle thickness, hair diameter, the similar to pubic hairs with respect to coarse-
cross-sectional shape of the hair, and the ness, medullation, twisting, and curling.These
degree of wave or curl. hairs tend to show less fluctuations in diameter
Common Racial Characteristics include: than pubic hairs.
Morphological Comparison by Microscopy
• Negroid hairs tend to be deeply Microscopic examination of hair usually
pigmented, with a coarse clustering of includes the comparison of color, diameter
pigment granules.The hairs are usually range, degree of twist or curl, pigment
tightly curled, due to having flattened granule distribution, and size or shape of
elliptical cross-sections. granules. Because nearly all these factors can
Hair 179

vary widely throughout a sample or even in a include toxic elements such as arsenic, cad-
single hair, the overall objectivity of a compar- mium, mercury, and lead. Although there is
ison tends to be quite limited. Even after a significant variability in the elemental composi-
lengthy comparison is made, and the investi- tion of hairs among individuals and on a single
gator is unable to determine two separate ori- individual, studies have shown that there is
gins, the results are usually reported as “the little variability between the physiological
two hairs could have had a common origin.” elements. However, it is thought that signifi-
cant variability in the presence of nonessential
Genetic Markers elements may allow for individualization of a
Some genetic markers are present in hair and hair sample. From a forensic standpoint, the
can also be helpful in the comparison of sam- deposition of chemical elements from the
ples. ABO blood grouping and enzymatic blood into a hair shaft that grows about 1 cm
analysis is theoretically possible in hair sam- (0.4 inch) each month could provide a record
ples that contain root sheaths. For this reason, of the elemental status of an individual over a
plucked anagen samples are necessary when determined time period.
collecting test samples. However, this type of However, the value of chemical profiling
analysis has not been quite as successful in and elemental analysis of hair for forensic pur-
practice, partly because most evidentiary hairs poses is a highly debatable issue. Skepticism
are recovered as loose hairs in the telogen stems from the fact that elemental tests are
phase. Hairs in the anagen phase can be used traditionally clinical diagnostic tests.There are
for mitochondrial DNA analysis, which is also a number of published limitations and
addressed in the DNA entries of this book. problems associated with inconsistency in
The presence of an external root sheath results from intra- and interlaboratory studies;
can also help determine the gender of a per- difficulties in interpretation of results because
son. These cells can be removed and stained of variation in factors such as age, gender,
to determine the presence of Barr bodies— color, and anatomical region of hair growth;
cellular structures associated with the nuclei and problems associated with control and
of female cells. If Barr bodies are found in a evaluation of external contamination and lack
high percentage of cells, the donor is most of correlation between elemental concentra-
likely female. Again, this determination is not tions in hair and metabolically important or
clear-cut because male hairs may show a small related tissues. Factors affecting elemental
percentage of Barr bodies. Another method composition of hair are as follows:
for gender determination involves staining the Gender
cells with the fluorescent dye quinacrine.This The effects of gender on the elemental com-
stain highlights the Y chromosome of freshly position of hair are largely unclear. Some
formed cortical cells in the hair root. studies have suggested that there is no differ-
ence in elemental concentrations in hairs
Elemental Analysis from either gender. Other studies have indi-
A large number of chemical elements have cated that there were higher concentrations
been identified in human hair. Those present of trace elements in the hairs of female test
in the highest concentration tend to be the subjects compared to those of male test sub-
essential elements, which play a significant jects, which may be attributable to differ-
physiological role in the body as catalysts ences in organic content between male and
and biochemical cofactors. These elements female hair.
include sodium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, Age
and zinc. Other elements that are considered From a forensic perspective there seem to be
nonessential are thought to be ingested in some no clear trends in the elemental composition
form as environmental contaminants and may of hair that can be attributed to age.
180 Hair

Color invasive and the sample itself is susceptible to

The relationship between color and elemental adulteration and alteration. Because most
composition of hair is very complex. Studies drugs are eliminated in the urine within two or
have suggested that blonde hair tends to have three days after administration or use, urine as
higher levels of zinc than brown and black a test matrix is considered to provide limited
hair, but also has lower levels of other ele- information on drug exposure.
ments than darker hair. Differences were also Like trace elements, which have been
found between brown, black, and red hair. shown to accumulate in hair over time, illicit
Racial Origin and licit drug substances are also thought to
The effect of racial origin on the elemental pass into and be incorporated into the matrix
composition of hair is equally unclear, of the growing hair. Although the actual
although it has been proposed that racial dif- mechanism involved in drug absorption and
ferences in hair type and color may be the incorporation has not been fully determined,
reason for observed differences in elemental recent finding suggest that drugs may be
composition. incorporated into hair in a variety of ways.
Although it has been established that there One proposed mechanism of drug incorpora-
are indeed population differences in the ele- tion suggests that drugs present in the circu-
mental composition of hair, the credibility of lating blood may passively diffuse from the
elemental hair testing is undermined by the highly vascularized hair follicle into the grow-
uncertainty of the source of the elements ing hair shaft. Another mechanism suggests
identified. Are the elements measured a that drugs may passively diffuse into the hair
result of endogenous elements supplied to shaft via secretions from the sebaceous glands
the hair follicle by the abundant vasculariza- and from the external environment. Others
tion of the area, being deposited and incorpo- have suggested drug uptake into hair is a
rated into the growing hair? Or, is there an result of metabolic processes and membrane
exogenous route of exposure due to environ- transport systems in conjunction with the
mental factors? For example, hair products drug’s affinity for the pigment melanin.
can contain zinc, mercury, and selenium, Whatever the mechanism, hair can potentially
including heavy metals in hair colorings and provide a record of a person’s drug history
dyes.Also, it has been demonstrated that sub- and may be a more appropriate matrix for the
stances may enter and permeate the hair shaft measurement of drug exposure. The use of
via the edges of the cuticle, and that this may hair as an analytical sample for the determi-
provide a route for entry of chemicals present nation of the presence of drugs of abuse has
in soil and dust residue that may settle on the several advantages compared to the use of
hair. Several studies have shown longitudinal other body fluids:
differences in elemental composition that
may be related to environmental and not • The hair sample for testing can be
dietary exposure to certain elements in obtained without using invasive
structurally altered hair. It is the uncertainty techniques.
of whether an elemental profile is a result of • Acquisition of a test hair sample
both endogenous and exogenous elemental doesn’t require specialized facilities or
exposure that hinders the use of elemental training.
profiling for forensic purposes. • The sample obtained for analysis is less
prone to adulteration or alteration.
Drug Analysis of Hair • The stability of drugs in hair has been
Urine is the most commonly utilized biological demonstrated.
specimen for drug testing. However, the acqui- • Hair samples do not need specialized
sition of the sample is generally considered storage after being obtained for analysis.
Hallucinogens 181

• Because the growth rate of hair is phosphate buffer to remove surface materials.
approximately 1 cm (0.4 inch) per Drugs are then extracted from the hair matrix
month, the sample may provide a using solvent-based extraction methods that
history or long-term record of drug involve boiling in solvents for extended peri-
use, holding several weeks, or months, ods of time, acid-base extractions, or alkali
worth of information. digests of the hair sample. Other enzymatic
digestions using the enzyme protease have
Like other types of forensic hair examina- also been suggested as appropriate extraction
tion, a sample size of 50 to 100 hairs is recom- techniques.
mended for analysis. Hair from the crown Once a hair sample is decontaminated and
of the head is considered to be the best analyt- the hair extracted, the same analytical tech-
ical sample; however, hairs from other head niques that are applicable to blood and uri-
regions, as well as different body regions, have nalysis can be applied to hair analysis. Such
been successfully tested. techniques include immunoassay, thin layer
As with the elemental analysis of hair, the chromatography, high performance liquid
reliability of forensic hair testing is steeped in chromatography, gas chromatography, gas
controversy. The main concern is that the chromatography mass spectrometry, and
interpretation of data obtained from analysis Fourier transform infrared analysis. Fluore-
can be very difficult.This is based on the con- scent polarization immunoassay also is often
sideration that drugs sequestered in different used for drug-screening purposes.
body compartments may be selectively See also Comparison Microscope; Genetic Markers;
released to the tissues surrounding the hair Microscope
follicle, while others are not readily released References
from tissue compartments.This would result in De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
some drugs being easier to detect than others, Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
which would in turn provide inconsistent his- McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
tories of drug use and abuse. This validates Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
the need for further elucidation of the mech- Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
anisms involved in the incorporation of drugs Robertson, J. Forensic Examination of Human Hair.
by hair. London:Taylor and Francis, 1999.
The same factors that affect trace-element Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
incorporation into hair—such as age, gender, White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
hair color, and disease state—are also consid- Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
ered to affect drug incorporation. Concerns 1998.
also lie with certain practicalities of hair
analysis, such as the lack of standard reference
materials for the validation of techniques, the Hallucinogens
lack of standardized techniques and proce- Hallucinogenic compounds are a group of
dures for the analysis of hair samples, and the drugs that have no prescribed medical use and
fact that the relative abundance of drugs and are abused or used recreationally to induce
their metabolites in hair is still unknown. perceptual alterations. These drugs are more
In the laboratory the first test applied to hair correctly termed psychomimetics, drugs that
analysis, back in the 1970s, was immunoassay. simulate natural psychoses. These drugs are
Immunoassay methods are now available for also associated with physiological effects such
heroin/morphine, phencyclidine, cocaine, as intense and variable emotional changes; ego
marijuana, and benzodiazepines. Prior to assay- distortions; and thought disruption accompa-
ing test hair samples, the samples must first be nied by marked changes in normal thought
decontaminated by washing with ethanol and a processes, perceptions, and moods. Drugs in
182 Hallucinogens

this group include lysergic acid diethylamide mechanism is unclear, some people who use
(LSD), which was first created in a laboratory these compounds develop chronic mental
setting in the 1940s.This drug is considered the disorders. PCP is considered to be an addic-
prototypical hallucinogen because of its exten- tive drug, but LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline
sive use and its extensive study. Mescaline, are not.
found in the Lophophora cactus and used by Another group of hallucinogenic agents that
North and Central American Indians in the promote the same physiological effects as LSD
form of cactus buttons, and psilocybin, found are the hallucinogenic amphetamines that have
in a number of species of mushrooms and used no approved medical use.These synthetic sub-
as magic mushrooms, share some chemical and stances are chemically related to amphetamine
pharmacological features even though they are and mescaline. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
chemically distinct compounds. LSD is a semi- was first synthesized in 1931 and demonstrated
synthetic drug related to the ergot alkaloids, to be hallucinogenic in 1956.This compound is
whereas mescaline and psilocybin are phenyl- present in many different plants and can be syn-
ethylamine and indolethylamine derivates that thetically produced. It has been used in a few
are naturally occurring compounds. The three common hallucinogenic snuffs and intoxicating
compounds also chemically resemble three beverages, but is ineffective when taken orally
main neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, sero- unless combined with another drug that
tonin, and dopamine. inhibits its metabolism. Generally, it is sniffed,
Phencyclidine, also called PCP and “Angel smoked, or injected. A number of other hallu-
Dust,” is a central nervous system (CNS) cinogens have very similar structures and prop-
depressant that causes hallucinogenic effects. erties to those of DMT. Diethyltryptamine
It was first used as a dissociative anesthetic (DET) is a less potent analogue of DMT that
back in the 1950s. These drugs were utilized produces the same pharmacological effects.
to make patients insensitive to pain by sepa- Methyldimethoxymethyl-phenethylamine is
rating their body responses and functions also called STP (“serenity, tranquility, and
from their minds without inducing uncon- peace”) on the streets. Alphaethyltryptamine
sciousness. PCP was first used in the 1960s (AET) is another tryptamine hallucinogen
and had the reputation of being a “bad” drug. that was recently added to the list of Schedule
PCP became widely accepted in the 1970s I substances in the Controlled Substance Act
and quickly became one of the most common- (CSA) of the United States.
ly used hallucinogens. Ketamine replaced See also Controlled Substances; Drugs; Lysergic
PCP as an anesthetic for use in humans, but it Acid Diethylamide (LSD); Phencyclidine,
also produces hallucinogenic effects. Phenylcyclhexyl, or Piperidine (PCP)
Other hallucinogenic compounds include References
marijuana, which is a depressant drug, and so- De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
called Ecstasy, which has pharmacological McGraw-Hill, 1983.
effects like amphetamine; both can cause hallu- James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
cinogenic effects when used in very high doses. Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
Hallucinogens have powerful mind-altering Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
effects and have the ability to change how the Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
brain perceives time, everyday reality, and the River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of
surrounding environment. These drugs affect Forensic Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of
regions and structures in the brain responsible Chemistry, 1998.
for coordination, thought processes, hearing, Winger, G., F. G. Hofmann, and J. H.Woods. A
and sight, and consequently cause people who Handbook on Drug and Alcohol Abuse:The Biomedical
use them to hear voices, see images, and feel Aspects. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1992.
sensations that do not exist. Although the
Handwriting 183

Handwriting Signs of deception include broken or deliberate

The most requested type of forensic document strokes, wavering lines, retouching of individ-
examination is handwriting comparison. ual letters and parts of letters, changes in signs
Handwriting comparison, and hopefully, the of speed, accentuation at the end of words, and
identification of the writer, is based on the an overemphasis and deliberation associated
assumption that no two people have the same with initial strokes at the beginning of script or
handwriting characteristics. Each person’s individual words. When the investigator has
writings reflect the anatomy of the hand; the sufficient and appropriate writing samples
manner in which he or she learned to write; available for comparison purposes, attention
and the effects of writing habits developed and consideration should be given to other
over the years, which eventually become con- important individual characteristics such as
sistently and unconsciously reproduced in the spacing and alignment of the script, the use
his or her writings. Even if a person tries to of margins, common spelling, phraseology,
disguise his or her writing, characteristic and grammatical details.
peculiarities and traits will still be seen. The To provide a correct and valid interpreta-
careful comparison, analysis, and interpreta- tion of handwriting analyses, the investigator
tion of the class and individual character- must have sufficient and appropriate control
istics of questioned and known or exemplar samples for comparison purposes. These con-
writings can often determine whether a ques- trol samples are usually obtained from two
tioned writing and known standard were in sources—collected writings and requested
fact written by the same person. writings.
Class characteristics associated with hand- Collected writing refers to written mate-
writings are gross features that include the rials collected from a period prior to the
main features and shapes of letters, the rela- onset of the investigation. Collected writings
tive dimensions of the letters, connections are prepared in the normal course of daily
within and between letters, the style of letter activities and are expected to illustrate the
capitalization, and styles of punctuation. normal writing habits and individualities of
Individual characteristics are less obvious the author. Possible sources of collected writ-
features and include the characteristic forms ings may include business and personal corre-
of individual letters, the nature of pen spondence, canceled checks, school records,
strokes, and flourishes.The individual charac- and handwritten applications.
teristics of a writer tend to develop over a Requested writing refers to written mate-
long period of time and are very difficult to rials specifically requested as part of an inves-
duplicate. In most cases, very similar writings tigation for use as comparison samples.These
can be differentiated by the comparison of kinds of samples ideally will duplicate, as
these individual characteristics. closely as possible, the paper type, ink, and
The features of individual and class charac- writing implement used in preparation of the
teristics can be affected by many factors, such questioned document. In obtaining this type
as the speed at which a document is written of sample, the investigator generally dictates
and the physical condition of the writer. Fast what needs to be written.
writing speeds tend to result in an increase in To make a positive handwriting identifica-
the slant of the writing, with an accompanying tion, the investigator must find sufficient indi-
simplification of the letters. In quickly written vidual characteristics in both the questioned
documents there may also be visible differences and control scripts. In many cases, inconclusive
in emphasis and an increased illegibility to- results may arise when the questioned writing
ward the end of individual words. During a sample is too limited, distorted, or disguised;
forensic examination, the investigator must if there are insufficient or improper standards
also be alert to possible signs of deception. for the investigator to conduct a thorough
184 Haptoglobin

comparison; or if a questioned or control in pipes and smoked. Hashish can also be

sample fails to show sufficient individual obtained on the streets in the form of com-
characteristics. pressed vegetation containing a high percent-
See also Document Examination
age of resin. Hashish preparations average
References about 3.5 percent in tetrahydrocannabinol
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic (THC) content.THC is the pharmacological-
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York: ly active substance that is mainly responsible
McGraw-Hill, 1983. for the hallucinogenic properties of cannabis.
Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned Another commonly encountered form of
Documents. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1993.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An hashish is liquid hashish; a dark green, vis-
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques. cous tarlike substance. Liquid hashish is also
Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005. produced by extracting the THC-rich resin
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle from the marijuana plant with an appropri-
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. ate solvent. Liquid hashish has a variable and
Vastrick,T.W. Forensic Document Examination Techniques.
Institute of Internal Auditors Research
higher THC content ranging from 20 per-
Foundation, 2004. cent to 65 percent. This substance is very
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic potent and one drop can cause a “high.”
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, Liquid hashish can be used by adding a drop
1998. to a regular or marijuana cigarette before
Haptoglobin The main suppliers of hashish include sev-
Haptoglobin is a protein found in the blood- eral countries in North Africa, Pakistan, and
stream to which traces of free hemoglobin Afghanistan.
in the blood are strongly bound. There are See also Cannabis; Controlled Substances; Drugs;
two main forms of the haptoglobin mole- Marijuana
cule, type 1 and type 2. The form found in References
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
the blood of an individual is inherited from Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
the person’s parents; thus haptoglobin was of McGraw-Hill, 1983.
interest to forensic serologists as a typing sys- James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
tem. Its avidity for hemoglobin provided the Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
basis of a very sensitive detection system, Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
although its discriminatory power was very Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Facts,
limited. Like most other traditional systems, drugfact/marijuana/index.html (Referenced July
haptoglobin is no longer used in forensic sci- 2005).
ence testing. Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Reference U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug
Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington, Descriptions, Marijuana;
MA: Elsevier, 2005. concern/marijuana.html (Referenced July 2005).
White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
Hashish 1998.
Hashish is the name given to the sticky
resinous material secreted from the plant
Cannabis sativa. This resin can be extracted Hay, Gordon
from the plant by soaking in alcohol and then In 1967 this landmark case was the first
dried and compressed into balls, cakes, or in which bite-mark evidence was deemed
cookies for sale on the illicit drug market. admissible in court for identification of an
Pieces of the cakes are broken off and placed offender. The body of a young woman, Linda
Heroin 185

Peacock, was found in the local cemetery of References

Biggar, Scotland. Although it was determined Curran, J. M.,T. N. Hicks, and J. S. Buckleton.
Forensic Interpretation of Glass Evidence. Boca Raton,
that she had not been raped, the clothing on FL: CRC, 2000.
the top half of her body was in disarray, and a
bite mark was noted on her right breast.The
bite mark was examined by a forensic odon-
tologist, who was able to determine that the Heroin
offender had a tooth that was particularly Heroin is classified as an opiate. Opiates are
jagged. The investigation focused very much drugs commonly used by the medical com-
on a detention center in the locality where munity to relieve moderate to severe pain.
the girl’s body was found. A number of the Opiates can be naturally occurring, semi-
inmates were asked to give dental impres- synthetic, or synthetic. Naturally occurring
sions so they could be compared to the bite opiates are extracted from opium, which is
mark. It was found that the impression of one harvested from the opium poppy, also called
of the inmates, Gordon Hay, matched that of the Papaver somniferum. The opium poppy
the bite mark on the body. Individual charac- grows in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and
teristics found on a jagged tooth impression parts of Central and South America.
from Hay were found to match the bite on Semisynthetic opiates, such as heroin, are pro-
Linda Peacock’s breast. When the evidence duced using a naturally occurring opiate as a
was presented in court, there was a signifi- starting point. Synthetic opiates are manufac-
cant legal battle over its admissibility. It was tured completely in the laboratory. The fol-
eventually deemed admissible, and Hay was lowing are examples of each of these classes.
found guilty of murder.
See also Admissibility of Scientific Evidence;
Bite Marks; Odontology Occurring Semisynthetic Synthetic
References Morphine Heroin Methadone
Court TV’s Crime Library, Criminal Minds and Codeine Hydrocodone Propoxyphene
Methods; Thebaine Hydromorphone Meperidine (Demerol)
criminal_mind/forensics/bitemarks/ Oxycodone Fentanyl
3.html?sect=14 (Referenced July 2005).
Evans, C. The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science
Solved 100 of the World’s Most Baffling Crimes. New Heroin was first synthesized in 1874. It is
York:Wiley, 1998. produced from morphine by a relatively simple
chemical process. Heroin remained somewhat
obscure until the Bayer Chemical Company of
Headlight Filaments Germany introduced it as an ingredient in
Collection of evidence from hit-and-run acci- some medications in 1898. By 1900 a signifi-
dents or vehicle crash scenes includes the col- cant portion of the American population was
lection of all broken headlamp and reflector addicted to opium, morphine, or heroin. In
glass. Examination of a vehicle’s headlight fil- 1956 heroin became a Schedule 1 drug and all
ament can provide information as to whether stocks of heroin were required to be surren-
the headlight was on or off at the time of a dered to the U.S. government. It should be
crash or impact. The presence of oxides on noted that heroin is still manufactured and
the headlamp filament indicates the filament administered therapeutically in several coun-
was hot when it was exposed to air; therefore tries, including England, France, and Belgium.
the filament must have been on prior to the Heroin is typically seen in powder form. It
vehicular impact. ranges in color from pure white to dark brown.
See also Bulbs (Automobile, Examination of in The range of colors is attributed to impurities
Accidents) left from the manufacturing process or the
186 High Performance Liquid Chromatography

The overall effect of heroin is that it

depresses the central nervous system. Short-
term effects include sedation, reduced anxi-
ety, hypothermia, reduced respiration and
pulse rate, reduced coughing, disorientation,
sweating, dry mouth, and possible death due
to overdose, because—as with any illicit
drug—the exact purity and content is
unknown to the user. An overdose can lead to
suppressed respiration, coma, and death.
See also Controlled Substances; Drugs; Methadone;
Morphine; Opium
De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1983.
James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:
An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative
Techniques. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis,
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug
Descriptions, Heroin;
concern/heroin.html (Referenced July 2005).
Opium collected from poppies in Afghanistan. Opium is White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
used in both illegal and pharmaceutical drugs such as
heroin and morphine. (Ash Sweeting/Courtesy of
The Senlis Council)

addition of adulterants to the final product. High Performance Liquid

“Black tar” is another form of heroin originat- Chromatography (HPLC)
ing in Mexico. It is a tarlike substance varying High performance liquid chromatography
in color from brown to black. (HPLC) was first introduced in the late
Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. 1960s. It is now a key tool in the examination
The most rapid and intense effects are pro- of many materials and can be used to separate,
duced by intravenous injection. Effects are felt identify, and quantify unknown substances of
in seven to eight seconds. Effects from smoking forensic significance, including drugs and poi-
or snorting heroin develop slower, in about ten sons, inks, and explosive residues.
to fifteen minutes. Snorting or smoking heroin HPLC is a form of chromatography that
has become more popular in recent years due employs a column packed with solid particles
to the spread of AIDS through needle sharing as the stationary phase and a solvent/buffer
and the availability of high purity heroin. mixture as the mobile phase. An HPLC unit
After ingestion, heroin users experience a consists of an injector, a pump, an analytical
“rush,” a sense of relaxation and well-being. column, a detector, and a computer to display
The user is driven to take repeated doses of the the results.
drug to continue experiencing this euphoria. A small amount (around 5 to 10 micro-
Effects of heroin last about six hours.The body liters) of liquid is injected into the system
rapidly develops a tolerance to heroin, requir- using an injection port or a syringe. Mobile
ing larger doses to achieve the same effect. phase is continually being pumped through the
Hitler Diaries 187

instrument at a rate specified by the operator, This is commonly achieved by the covalent
and so when the sample is injected, it is binding of n-alkyl chains to the silica. For
inserted into the stream of mobile phase and example, a C-8 column has an octyl chain
is pumped along to the column. When the bonded to the silica, whereas a C-18 column
sample enters the column, the individual designation signifies an octadecyl ligand. A
components making up the sample are sepa- polar mobile phase is used in this type of sys-
rated due to each component having a differ- tem and normally is composed of mixtures of
ent affinity for the column particles or the water and polar solvents such as methanol or
mobile phase. Some components will have acetonitrile. Elution is opposite to silica
stronger interactions with the column parti- columns, such that polar compounds elute
cles and so be retained in the column for a first and nonpolar compounds are more
longer time, while other components will strongly bound to the stationary phase.
interact more strongly with the mobile phase Reducing polarity increases the eluting
and so will move at that flow rate and elute strength of the mobile phase.
from the system more quickly.As components Significant progress has been made in
emerge from the system they are detected by recent years with regard to HPLC detector
the detector. The detector signal is recorded types. It is desirable for an LC detector to have
and displayed on the computer so that the a low drift and noise level. This is especially
results can be interpreted by the analyst. The important in trace analysis. A high degree of
chromatogram is displayed as a graphical repre- sensitivity is also desirable. Commonly used
sentation with time (in minutes) on the x-axis detector types are ultraviolet detectors, pho-
and peak area or height on the y-axis.The elu- todiode array detectors, fluorescence detec-
tion of the individual components from the tors, and more recently, mass spectrometers.
system is viewed as a peak on the chro- Recent advances in liquid chromatography–
matogram, and the time at which each compo- mass spectrometry have led to this technique
nent elutes is referred to as the retention time. becoming increasingly more used in the foren-
There are basically two forms of HPLC to sic field.
be considered here: normal phase and reverse A major advantage of HPLC in forensic
phase. Both normal and reverse phase chro- analysis is that the sample does not have to be
matography separate components on the vaporized as it does during gas chromatography
basis of polarity. analysis. This makes this an amenable tech-
In normal phase HPLC, the column is nique for analyzing organic explosives. Some
packed with an adsorbent material that is drug samples such as LSD are analyzed using
polar in nature, usually silica, and the mobile HPLC analysis.
phase is relatively nonpolar (e.g., n-hexane or See also Drugs; Gas Chromatography
tetrahydrofuran). The affinity of individual References
sample components for the column is depen- De Forest, P., R. E. Gaensslen, and H. C. Lee. Forensic
dent on their relative polarities. Polar com- Science:An Introduction to Criminalistics. New York:
pounds have strong affinities for the column McGraw-Hill, 1983.
and so are retained for longer periods of Levine, B. Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Washington,
DC: American Association for Clinical Chemistry,
time, hence resulting in their having longer 1999.
retention times. To elute a polar compound, Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
the polarity of the mobile phase must be River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
increased. Normal phase HPLC is mainly used
for the separation of nonpolar or moderately
polar materials. Hitler Diaries
Reverse phase HPLC consists of a silica This case is an important illustration of doc-
support with a nonpolar phase bonded to it. ument analysis. Points to note are the
188 Human Leukocyte Antigen

importance of document examination for name of his source. The source was a petty
potentially fraudulent materials, as well as criminal named Konrad Kujau and both he and
the selection of an appropriate examiner the journalist were given jail sentences for
and, of course, the importance of ensuring their part in the operation.The cost of the case
adequate control or “known” samples. to Stern was estimated to be more than $16
In 1981 the publishers of Stern magazine in million.
Germany were approached by one of their See also Document Examination
senior journalists, who claimed to have a References
source that had the diaries of Adolf Hitler and Court TV’s Crime Library, Criminal Minds and
also a third previously undiscovered volume of Methods;
Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf. They pur- criminal%5Fmind/scams/hitler%5Fdiaries/
(Referenced July 2005).
chased all of the materials for a total price of Evans, C. The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science
$2.3 million and only later had the diaries Solved 100 of the World’s Most Baffling Crimes. New
examined by scientists for authentication.The York:Wiley, 1998.
diaries were then analyzed by two examiners, Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
who pronounced them genuine. However, the River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
documents were ultimately revealed to be for-
geries. There were several reasons the initial Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)
analyses failed to reveal the materials as fraud- The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) is an
ulent. First, many of the “known” samples of individualizing characteristic, or genetic mark-
Hitler’s handwriting actually came from the er, obtained from blood. HLA markers are
same source as the diaries. Second, one of the histocompatibility antigens of the white blood
examiners did not speak German and so could cells and are composed of a large number of
only analyze the diaries by simple observation. factors. These factors are found on white
The magazine prepared to publish the blood cells and tissues but not on red cells,
diaries and recruited international partners for and play a role in determining the fate of
the publication. In the meantime, however, the transplanted tissues or organs. The HLA test
West German police had conducted an inves- was routinely performed as part of paternity
tigation that determined the diaries to be testing in the days before DNA analysis. If a
forgeries.They did this by examining the paper suspect could not be excluded as the father
on which the diaries were written. It was found after this test was performed, then there was
to contain blankophor, a paper-whitening agent a greater than 90 percent chance that he was
known not to have been used until 1954! the father.
Much of the money for the transaction was
See also DNA in Forensic Science
found in the bank account of the journalist Reference
involved in the purchase of the diaries, who, Butler, J. Forensic DNA Typing. 2nd ed. Burlington,
when faced with criminal charges, gave up the MA: Elsevier, 2005.
Identification that existing analytical techniques will allow.
Pretty well everything that a forensic scientist This could be the chemical identification of
does can be categorized as comparison or an illicit drug or the identification of blood
identification. Increasingly, even comparisons or biological fluids and hairs for species
are coming to be based on testing that results identification, and it requires the application
in identification, with conclusions being of stringent testing procedures that provide
based on data that shows that the items characteristic results for known standard
have (or do not have) the same identity. materials.
Reconstruction of a crime scene and testing For example, to identify a questioned sub-
of a tire to see if failure was the result of stance as heroin, the analytical data must be
an accident or was its cause are examples of identical to the data obtained from a known
important areas of forensic science that do heroin sample.The number and types of tests
not depend on establishing identity. administered must be sufficient to give
The most common instances of identity the analyst assurance that they will in-
testing are those to establish personal identity deed differentiate the test sample from other
and those to identify the nature of a material. substances.
The entity that is the subject of testing for There is an accepted practice of laboratories
personal identity can be a person or part of a using at least two tests that depend on
person—a fingerprint, ear morphology, or a different principles for their operation.
bloodstain for example. Materials tested However, there is no intrinsic justification
include chemical or botanical drugs, drugs and for that. Some tests, such as fingerprint
poisons in blood, weapons and ammunition, identification, DNA analysis using multiple
and accelerant traces in fire-scene debris. In STR loci, and drug detection using mass
some cases the identification is not based on a spectrometry, are sufficiently discriminating
physical object per se—for example, audio or in their own right. Others, such as blood
video tapes and the recovery of data from a typing by ABO groups and drug testing by
computer. color screening and thin layer chromato-
With most laboratory testing, however, graphy (TLC), will never achieve the degree
the principle of identification is to deter- of differentiation needed for reliable identi-
mine the physical or chemical identity of a fication unless supported by a battery of
substance to the best degree of certainty much more than two tests.
190 Identity

See also Associative Evidence; DNA in Forensic indented impressions are highlighted when a
Science; Drugs; Fingerprints toner powder is applied to the charged film.
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
This technique has been used to produce read-
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. able images from impressions that could not
be seen or were barely legible under normal
Identity ESDA impressions can be obtained from
Identity (uniqueness) is defined as the sameness sheets that were several pages below the orig-
of essential or generic characters in different inal when it was made. For example, additions
instances and the distinguishing character or made to an apparently authentic record on
personality of an individual. a page from a notebook were detected by
DNA or fingerprints are considered identity ESDA development of the notebook. The
evidence. page was nine sheets below that on which
See also DNA in Forensic Science; Fingerprints
the questioned entries were made. The ESDA
Reference impression was a perfect match to the original,
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle other than for the absence of the questioned,
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. and therefore additional, entries.
See also Document Examination
Inceptive Evidence Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned
Inceptive evidence is used to address the Documents. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1993.
question of whether or not an offense has Vastrick,T.W. Forensic Document Examination Techniques.
occurred. Controlled substance analysis, iden- Altamonte Springs, FL: Institute of Internal
tification of accelerants in residues from a fire Auditors Research Foundation, 2004.
scene, and alcohol testing are examples of
inceptive evidence.
Individual Characteristics
See also Accelerant Residues; Alcohol; Drugs
Evidence that can be associated with a common
source with a very high degree of probability is
Indented Writing considered to have individual characteristics.
Indented writing is the partially indented Examples of individual characteristics are the
impression left on a sheet of paper that was matching ridges of two fingerprints; the com-
present under an original written document parable random striation markings on bullets;
when it was made. The indented impressions and the comparable random, or mechanical
were made by the pressure of the writing and accidental wear marks on footwear and
implement on the document above. Indented vehicle tires and their impressions.The common
writings can often be valuable evidence thread in all these cases is that the mark or
when the original document is unavailable. marks in question were produced by random
Indented writing impressions can be ob- events and so can be taken as being one of an
served more clearly by using oblique lighting infinite number of possible patterns with infin-
or using a technique developed by the London itesimally small odds that the marks match by
College of Printing in collaboration with the chance.
Metropolitan Police Forensic Science labora- See also Class Characteristics
tory in London, England. The electrostatic References
document analyzer (ESDA), now commer- James, S. H., and J. J. Nordby. Forensic Science:An
Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques.
cially available, applies an electrostatic charge Boca Raton, FL:Taylor and Francis, 2005.
to the surface of a polymer film placed in Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
contact with the questioned document. Any River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Infrared Spectroscopy 191

Infrared Spectroscopy the same for molecules with similar functional

The visible part of the electromagnetic spec- groups. (Functional groups are parts of the
trum can be illustrated by a rainbow (red, chemical structure that determine reactivity.
orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Thus, molecules with similar functional
Just beyond the red side of this lies infrared groups have similar chemical reactivity.)
light, invisible to humans.When this infrared The spectrum is essentially a graph show-
light is directed at molecules, it induces ing the wave numbers on the x-axis and the
vibrations in the chemical bonds holding percentage of light that is transmitted (passes
them together.The type of vibrations induced through the sample without being absorbed)
by the infrared light depends on the atoms on the y-axis. Bands are areas where the trans-
making up the molecule.Thus, this technique mitted light drops (i.e., the light is being
allows the forensic scientist to obtain struc- absorbed and inducing vibrational changes),
tural information about the substance being and these can be described as strong, medi-
analyzed. This makes infrared spectroscopy a um, or weak, depending on how far down the
confirmation technique in forensic science. chart the band drops. An experienced analyst
The region of light used in infrared spectro- can read the bands on the spectrum to gain
scopy is 2.5 to approximately 15 micrometers structural information about the identity of a
in wavelength, and this corresponds to wave specific sample.
numbers of 4,000 to 600 cm⫺1 (proportional
to frequency).Wavelength is the length of the Instrumentation
wave from peak to peak, and wave number In its basic form, an infrared spectrometer
is the number of cycles of the wave in each consists of the following:
centimeter. Hence, wavelength is measured in
micrometers and wave number is measured • A light source
in reciprocal centimeters. When light in this • A prism to disperse the incident light
range is absorbed by an organic molecule, its • A monochromator to select and vary
chemical bonds undergo vibrations, bending, quickly the wave number of light to be
stretching, or rotation. Molecules undergoing shone on the sample
stretching exhibit changes in the length of • A sample to be analyzed
their bonds—alternately between being • A detector to detect the amount of
stretched to longer than normal and com- light passing through the sample
pressed to shorter than normal. Molecules • A data recorder to provide a graphical
may undergo a vibrational change known as representation of the amount of light
scissoring or rocking, which results in changes transmitted of each wave number.
in bond angle. Different vibrations occur with
each different wave number. For example, Sample Preparation
bending and stretching occur at higher wave Liquid samples can be analyzed using infrared
numbers, while vibrations like scissoring and spectrometry by sandwiching them between
rocking occur at lower wave numbers. salt discs. Salts such as sodium chloride used
The infrared spectrum obtained from the for this purpose do not absorb any infrared
analysis may be likened to a fingerprint or light and so do not result in any interference
“photograph” of a molecule. There are two on the spectrum.
regions of the spectrum—a fingerprint Solid samples can be analyzed in two ways.
region and a functional group region. The First, they can be finely ground in a mortar and
fingerprint region is specific to each individual pestle and mixed with liquid paraffin such as
molecule and provides the forensic scientist nujol.This is often referred to as a nujol mull.
with a unique identification of the substance The second method by which solids may be
at hand, while the functional group region is analyzed is by grinding them very finely and
192 Ink

mixing them with potassium bromide salt.This analysis of drugs. However, it should be noted
mixture is then pressed under high pressure to that it is very difficult to analyze mixtures in
create a disc of the mixture suitable for analysis. this way unless the FTIR is used as a detector
for a chromatographic method such as gas
Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy chromatography. FTIR analysis is commonly
(FTIR) performed if a substance is suspected to be
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) because
(FTIR) is the method of infrared spectroscopy analysis of this drug by the “gold standard” gas
that is now more commonly used. It provides chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS)
the same end result as infrared analysis as method requires an additional derivatization
described above, but arrives at the spectrum method prior to analysis. FTIR is also com-
by a slightly different method. It has several monly used to allow drug chemists to differ-
advantages over conventional infrared spec- entiate between cocaine hydrochloride and
troscopy, including increased sensitivity and cocaine base. FTIR may also be used in the
decreased analysis time. FTIR uses an inter- analysis of fiber, paint, glass, and other trace
ferometer in place of a monochromator. This evidence.
means that the sample is exposed to all wave- See also Fibers; Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB);
lengths of light in the selected range and a Gas Chromatography; Glass; Paint
composite response is recorded. A mathemat- References
ical transformation known as the Fourier trans- BioForum Applicable Knowledge Center Fourier
form is performed on the results to produce a Transform Infrared;
spectrum like that described above. HPLC/FTIR_page.html (Referenced July 2005).
Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Attenuated Total Reflectance–Fourier
Transform Infrared Spectroscopy
The recent advent of attenuated total The most common writing material is ink. An
reflectance–Fourier transform infrared spec- indefinite number of inks are available with up
troscopy (ATR–FTIR) has provided forensic to twelve different classifications, but only four
scientists the ability to perform infrared general classes of ink are regularly encoun-
spectroscopic analyses on samples without tered.These include ballpoint, liquid, printing,
destroying the evidence.This technique elim- and—less commonly—typewriter inks. The
inates the need for destructive sample prepa- forensic examination of ink can be divided into
ration because the sample is simply placed on tests for three characteristics: color, chemical
the crystal surface of the ATR (often made of composition, and the age of the writing.
diamond or germanium).An infrared beam is Inks are made by incorporating a number
focused on and totally internally reflected by of dye substances into a carrier vehicle.
the crystal, creating a wave that extends into Different ink manufacturers use different ink
the sample contained on the crystal. Because compositions, but the colored components of
some regions of this wave will be absorbed ink contain only a few basic substances:
by the sample, the resultant wave will be
altered and detected as an interferogram • India ink.The oldest form of ink, it is a
suitable for mathematical transformation into suspension of carbon black in a binder
an infrared spectrum. solution and is the most permanent of
all ink colors.
Uses in Forensic Science • Logwood ink. Its main color
FTIR as a conformational technique has many ingredients are hematoxylin and
uses in forensic science. It may be used in the potassium chromate.
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System 193

• Iron gallotannate ink.This ink is and infrared luminescence. The pattern of

composed of tannic acid, gallic acid, separation can easily be compared with
ferrous sulfate, and an aniline-based those of known standards. The samples are
dye.This ink penetrates and reacts with prepared for thin layer chromatography
paper fibers and is the basis for many (TLC) or other chromatographic analysis by
commercial writing inks.The aniline taking scrapings or microdot punches of the
dye produces the immediate pigment, sample and extracting the ink into a suitable
but the other components react solvent system for analysis.
together with time to produce the Dating of inks can be of forensic use when
permanent dye. trying to determine whether a document is
• Nigrosine ink.This was an early black as old as it claimed to be. When questioned
dye ink made from reacting aniline and and standard inks are found to match, the
nitrobenzene. It is now used manufacture’s files can be checked to see when
infrequently due to its water solubility the ink was first produced. Current methods
and weathering effects. of ink aging utilize high performance liquid
• Dye inks.These are composed of a chromatography and gas chromatography–mass
basic, acidic, or neutral organic dye, spectroscopy to separate and measure the
derived mainly from coal tar or amounts of volatile components present in
petroleum, which are the main sources ink. As ink on a document ages, the amount
of color in most inks. Dyes can be of volatile substances in the ink decreases.
readily removed from an ink mark and See also Document Examination
the colors separated by thin layer References
chromatography.The separation Hilton, O. Scientific Examination of Questioned
components of different dye inks vary Documents. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1993.
sufficiently to allow comparison and Saferstein, R. Criminalistics. 8th ed. Upper Saddle
determination of whether known or River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004.
Vastrick,T.W. Forensic Document Examination
questioned writings were prepared Techniques. Altamonte Springs, FL: Institute of
with the same type of ink. Internal Auditors Research Foundation,
Analysis and Comparison White, P. Crime Scene to Court:The Essentials of Forensic
The first methods applied in the analysis and Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry,
comparison of questioned inks with known
ink standards are nondestructive in nature.
These tests include color comparisons; the
determination of the type of ink; and creating Integrated Automated Fingerprint
a profile of its infrared absorption, lumines- Identification System (IAFIS)
cence, and fluorescence properties. If the Personal identification is an important com-
unknown ink differs in any of these proper- ponent of most forensic investigations, from
ties from the standard ink—then it could not linking a person to a specific crime scene to
have originated from the same source. At this identification of corpses. As explained in the
stage questioned and standard inks that entry on fingerprints, the traditional fin-
exhibit the same properties are further tested. gerprint classification is not a very good tool
Chemical tests involve thin layer chro- for comparing latent images recovered from
matography to separate the colored and crime scenes. However, there are many