Monthly Archives: January 2013

Footwear, the Missed Evidence

Dwayne S. Hilderbrand, CLPE
Lead Latent Print Examiner
Scottsdale Police Crime Lab

This article originally appeared in Minutiae, The Lightning Powder Co. Newsletter, Nov-Dec 1995, p. 2-5, 11.

“The scope of a complete examination consists of two main functions: first,
the recovery process, which includes the discovery and preservation of the
prints, and second, the identification process, which involves evaluations,
comparisons, and findings related to the recovered impression.”

(Grieve 1988).

Introduction

“Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even
unconsciously, will serve as silent witness against him. Not only his
fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothing,
the glass he breaks, the tool mark he leaves, the paint he scratches, the
blood or semen he deposits or collects.. All of these and more bear mute
witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused
by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses
are, it is factual evidence, physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot
perjure itself; it cannot be wholly absent, only its interpretation can err.
Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its
value.”

(Paul L. Kirk 1974).

On September 19, 1991, two German tourists were hiking in the mountains on the border between Austria and Italy when they spotted a body buried in the ice. The two tourists, suspecting foul play, contacted the authorities. As it was not clear at the time exactly where the body was found, police authorities from Austria and Italy responded. Following the normal procedures for the recovery of the body, they attempted to free it from the ice using jack hammers. Unfortunately, the jack hammers were damaging the body, pickaxes and ski poles were then used.

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Fingerprinting the Dead

by Daryl W. Clemens

Plastic Tape

Plastic Tape

Obtaining fingerprints for identification is a long established law enforcement practice. When the practice started, is was most common to use printers ink applied to the fingers which were then pressed onto paper cards. Later specialized inks were employed to improve the quality of the prints obtained. While ink is still used today, many agencies are now using computer “live-scan” methods to record reference prints. Continue reading

Elements of Expert Testimony

By Pat A. Wertheim

This article originally appeared in Minutiae, the Lightning Powder Co. Newsletter, #44, Sep-Oct 1997

When offering testimony as an expert witness, regardless of the witness’ discipline, five distinct topic areas must be covered. These five areas are the witness’ qualifications, the science practiced by the witness, the introduction and chain of custody of the evidence, the analysis or examination process, and the expert’s opinion. By adequately covering each area in sequence, the witness will five the judge or jury all of the information necessary to understand the opinion presented.
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The Role Of Entomology In Forensic Investigations

Written by Katherine Steck-Flynn (2003)

Prologue

This paper is intended for use by police and other emergency personnel who have occasion to be in contact to the recently and not so recently deceased. When first introduced I will mention the scientific name of the various species of insects which colonize bodies after death. After the first mention I will use the common name which is easier to both remember and pronounce.

All too often insect evidence is accidentally destroyed be emergency personnel who fail to realize the importance of this evidence. This author has personally witnessed well meaning emergency personnel shooing away insects and maggots at a scene. I have even observed emergency personnel stomping on maggots as they attempt to flee from the activity around the body. Education in the proper collection and preservation procedures is essential. Continue reading

Ear Identification

Presented at the conference for Shoeprint and Toolmark Examiners Noordwijkerhout, 24 April 1997.

Introduction:
The subject of my presentation for this conference is ear research / ear identification. It concerns not only the research into the adversity of ears but also the finding of earprints especially in relation to committed penal acts. My further reasoning will be separated into four parts.

1. A piece of history according to ear research and what is known about that subject in literature.

2. The history of ear research in the Netherlands in which I will indicate the present state of affairs.

3. International developments (as far as I’m concerned).

4. The criminological value of earprints in the future, especially my views on the internationalization of earprint research, standard norms and co-operation. Continue reading

Latent Prints in Dust

by Captain Curtis C. Frame,
Criminal Investigation Division
Jasper County Sheriff’s Office
Jasper, Texas
Article Copyright © 2000, Curtis C. Frame

A Latent print found in dust, may be the only clue to a case in which there are no other leads. And because the areas that are routinely touched by the victims are not normally dusty, the dust print we find may be the only link we have of the perpetrator to the crime scene. However, most crime scene and latent print examiner experts will say that, regardless of their importance, latent prints in dust are a nightmare. This is due to the fact that a latent print in dust was actually left there due to the dust being removed by adhering to the ridges of the skin that touched it. Continue reading

Deceptive but Truthful: Is it Possible?

A Tangled Web

Detective Wesley Clark
Connecticut State Police Department
Western District Major Crime Squad

The Question is Raised

This may sound like an oxymoron, however in light of the adjoining article, “Statement Analysis Put to the Test, a Case Study”, I felt this question should be addressed. With this statement – Deceptive but Truthful – I am raising the question; If a statement is found to have many indications of deception, does that mean that the event reported did not happen? The answer is NO! Continue reading

Deception and its Detection

Detective Wesley Clark
Connecticut State Police
Western District Major Crime Squad

This article originally appeared in Connecticut Trooper Magazine, Fall 1998.

As a member of the law enforcement community for the past twelve years, I have made it my commitment to seek the truth in all matters, personal and professional. During my career I have encountered, as all other police officers throughout the state and country, those individuals who do not necessarily hold tight to the same values when it comes to truth. Though the reasons for this deception may vary, as do the investigations in which they arise, the intent of the subject in question is always the same; to mislead you and/or your investigation. As a detective with an ever-increasing caseload, that is something I am not willing to accept. With Statement Analysis as one additional tool available to you in your pursuit of the truth, you will be able to focus your investigations and reach an accurate conclusion to many cases. Continue reading

The Death Penalty on Trial

by Bill Kurtis
Interviewed by Daryl W. Clemens

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Bill Kurtis about his new book “The Death Penalty on Trial- Crisis in American Justice”. The book outlines the current state of affairs with regards to the death penalty, and the reasons why its opponents say it doesn’t work. DNA results have called numerous cases into question, and prompted a moratorium in Illinois. Death row inmates in Illinois have now had their sentences commuted to life in prison. Continue reading

Review: Cracking Cases

Review by Julie Sobocinski for Crime and Clues

In Cracking Cases, Dr. Lee abandons the style of his previous publications, and instead introduces the reader to a new format. In contrast to a manual of instruction (Henry Lee’s Crime Scene Handbook and Physical Evidence in Forensic Science), this text is an account of Lee’s involvement in, and interpretation of five independent homicide investigations. Continue reading