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Forensic Science International
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.981
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  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0379-0738
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3182 journals]
  • Volatilised Pyrene: A Phase 1 Study Demonstrating a New Method of
           Visualising Fingermarks with Comparisons to Iodine Fuming
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ingram Chang, Ashton C.A. Stone, Oliver C. Hanney, William J. Gee Pyrene is a fluorescent polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that can be volatilised under mild conditions. When fumed, pyrene is rapidly absorbed into the sebaceous residues of fingermarks, enabling their fluorescent visualisation upon excitation with ultraviolet radiation. This new means of fluorescent fingermark detection is more sensitive than the non-fluorescent iodine fuming approach for nonporous surfaces. This is demonstrated here in a phase 1 study using split-print comparisons on metal and glass surfaces. Pyrene-treated fingermarks also retain the volatile fluorophore for comparably long time periods relative to iodine fuming (in the order of hours). The phase 1 study comprised four donors, and 80 natural fingermarks that were grouped into two time periods; aged 24 hours and 1 week. Iodine fuming was chosen as a reference to showcase the effectiveness of pyrene given it is the most closely-related chemical fuming method in routine use. This study demonstrates that pyrene fuming increases the quantity and quality of fingermark visualisations relative to iodine fuming, and is free of many of the latter method’s drawbacks. Preliminary results shown here also show the effectiveness of pyrene fuming on highly patterned surfaces, and its compatibility with the use of gelatine lifters. Pyrene fuming is thus easy to effect, low-cost, and shows great promise as a new means of visualising fingermarks on non-porous surfaces.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Distribution of synthetic opioids in postmortem blood, vitreous humor and
           brain
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Rachel Chesser, Justine Pardi, Marta Concheiro, Gail Cooper In the US, the use of synthetic opioids (e.g. fentanyl and derivatives) has become an increasing health issue with thousands of overdose deaths being observed since 2013. With the high mortality rate associated with these substances, postmortem analyses and interpretation of synthetic opioids has become extremely important. However, due to the novelty of these compounds, the available data are limited and provides challenges to toxicologists. The objectives of this study were (1) to develop and validate analytical methods for the determination of synthetic opioids in vitreous humor and brain, and (2) to investigate the postmortem distribution of new synthetic opioids in blood, vitreous humor, and brain tissue. Vitreous humor (0.5 mL) and brain tissue (5 g) homogenized in water (diluted 1:3, w/w) were extracted by mixed mode cation exchange-reversed phase solid phase extraction. Extracts were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS). The chromatographic separation was performed by reversed-phase with 0.1% formic acid in water and in acetonitrile as mobile phases in gradient mode, with a total run time of 19 min. Data were acquired with ESI + in dynamic multiple reaction mode (dMRM), monitoring 2 transitions per compound. The methods were succesfully validated following SWGTOX guidelines, with limits of quantification of 0.1 ng/mL in vitreous humor and 0.1 ng/g in brain. Fifty-eight authentic case samples from the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (NYC-OCME) were analyzed to assess the distribution and detectability of synthetic opioids in these postmortem samples. Of the fifteen synthetic opioids included in the method, six synthetic opioids and metabolites (4-ANPP, acetylfentanyl, fentanyl, furanylfentanyl, norfentanyl, U-47700) were detected in the authentic cases. Concentrations for most analytes were within the 0.1 to 100 ng/mL or ng/g calibration range across all three matrices, with only concentrations from acetylfentanyl and U-47700 exceeding 100 ng/mL or ng/g. The highest concentrations were observed in brain (except norfentanyl), followed by blood and vitreous humor. Most analytes were detected in all three matrices in a given case. This was followed by detection of an analyte in combinations of brain and another matrix or brain only.Through the case analyses, vitreous humor and brain demonstrated to be viable alternatives to blood when performing postmortem analyses of synthetic opioids. Brain exhibited a higher detectability for most analytes when compared to blood and vitreous humor.
       
  • Analysis of cannabinoids in urine samples of short-term and long-term
           consumers of hemp seed products
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Seungkyung Baeck, Byungjoo Kim, Byungsuk Cho, Eunmi Kim With the increasing consumption of hemp seed products, it is important to establish whether biological samples from consumers contain trace cannabinoids that could mistakenly be attributed to cannabis abuse. Thus, we analyzed whether the cannabinoids, 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, and cannabinol, can be detected in the urine of short-term (1 week) and long-term (12 weeks) consumers of hemp seed products. Using three hemp seed products that have recently been highly distributed in Korea, subjects consumed 30 g of hemp seeds (Group A, 53.1 (±0.5) µg THC and Group B, 124.81 (±1.5) µg THC) or 2 capsules of hemp seed oil (Group C, 11.1 µg THC) once a day at 10am. In the short-term study, the hemp seed product was consumed for 7 days, after which a single urine sample was collected. In the long-term study, the hemp seed product was consumed for 12 weeks, and urine samples were collected at 7 day intervals. For screening of the urine samples, we used COBAS C311, and for the confirmatory analysis we used gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. In the screening, all 64 samples from the short-term study were below the detection cutoff level of 25 ng/mL. In the long-term study, out of the 480 samples, 3 samples from 2 participants were above the cutoff level, but these samples were all negative in screening. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that when hemp seed products sold in Korea are consumed in normal quantities over the short- or long-term, urine samples do not test positive for cannabinoids.
       
  • Commentary – Trends and issues in the communication of forensic
           science
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Loene M. Howes Reporting, as the final stage of doing forensic science, typically refers to formal expert reports and testimony, although it can include less formal communication during investigations and pre-trial phases. Forensic standards exist in Australia for each phase of the forensic science process: collection, transport and storage; analysis; interpretation; and reporting. The inclusion of reporting reflects the idea that communicating science is doing science. Without sharing the findings and interpretations, forensic science is incomplete.However, what is reported is not necessarily understood. Unless criminal justice practitioners understand the expert opinion expressed, there is little point in having reported it. After all, forensic science is used to aid decision making. It cannot be used effectively if it is not well understood by those who rely upon it. Cases of wrongful convictions have highlighted that poorly communicated or misunderstood forensic science can lead to flawed decision making. This commentary focuses on the reporting phase of the forensic science process. It assumes that the previous phases of the forensic process have been completed with the utmost scientific rigour and integrity.
       
  • An Assessment of a Portable Cyanoacrylate Fuming System (LumiFumeTM) for
           the Development of Latent Fingermarks
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Calum Jones, Joanna Fraser, Paul Deacon, Maurice Lindsay, Felicity Carlysle-Davies, Kevin J. Farrugia The effectiveness and suitability of a portable cyanoacrylate fuming system (LumiFume™) with Lumicyano™ at detecting latent fingermarks was assessed. The first phase of the study compared the LumiFume™ system with traditional cabinet fuming and black/white powder suspension for the development of latent fingermarks on a variety of surfaces (glass, plastic bin bag, laminated wood and tile) by means of depletion series’ from 10 donors and four ageing periods (1, 7, 14 and 28 days). The portable fuming system provided superior quality of developed marks on glass and laminated wood whereas powder suspension was better on bin bags and all three techniques were comparable on tile. A decrease in mark quality was recorded from 1-14 days for the fuming techniques before an increase at 28 days. Lumicyano™ fluorescence stability studies over a 28 day period by means of depletion series’ on glass slides and plastic bin bags revealed better quality marks for the portable system LumiFume™; however, storing marks under light conditions expedited deterioration for both systems. All marks developed with Lumicyano™ were subsequently treated with BY40 resulting in further improvement in mark quality for all substrates and ageing periods, with the exception of laminated wood which absorbed the fluorescent stain reducing the contrast in the process. The second phase of the study consisted of a pseudo-operational trial on 300 various substrates (e.g. glass bottles, aluminium cans, plastic bags) recovered from recycling bins. LumiFume™ and Lumicyano™ yielded 1,469 marks whereas Lumicyano™ cabinet fuming and powder suspension yielded 1,026 and 641 marks respectively. Similar to the first phase of the study, further treatment of the Lumicyano™ treated marks with BY40 resulted in further quality improvement as well as additional new marks. The LumiFume™ system produced results at least equivalent to the traditional cabinet fuming with Lumicyano™ highlighting its potential for implementation into casework to process crime scenes.
       
  • Facial Soft Tissue Thicknesses in Craniofacial Identification: Data
           Collection Protocols and Associated Measurement Errors
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): C.N. Stephan, B. Meikle, N. Freudenstein, R. Taylor, P. Claes Facial soft tissue thicknesses (FSTT) form a key component of craniofacial identification methods, but as for any data, embedded measurement errors are highly pertinent. These in part dictate the effective resolution of the measurements. As herein reviewed, measurement methods are highly varied in FSTT studies and associated measurement errors have generally not been paid much attention. Less than half (44%) of 95 FSTT studies comment on measurement error and not all of these provide specific quantification. Where informative error measurement protocols are employed (5% of studies), the mean error magnitudes range from 3% to 45% rTEM and are typically in the order of 10-20%. These values demonstrate that FSTT measurement errors are similar in size to (and likely larger than) the magnitudes of many biological effects being chased. As a result, the attribution of small millimeter or submillimeter differences in FSTT to biological variables must be undertaken with caution, especially where they have not been repeated across different studies/samples. To improve the integrity of FSTT studies and the reporting of FSTT measurement errors, we propose the following standard: (1) calculate the technical error of measurement (TEM or rTEM) in any FSTT research work; (2) assess the error embedded in the full data collection procedure; and (3) conduct validation testing of FSTT means proposed for point estimation prior to publication to ensure newly calculated FSTT means provide improvements. In order to facilitate the latter, a freely available R tool TDValidator that uses the C-Table data for validation testing is herein provided.
       
  • Fired Bullet Signature Correlation Using the Congruent Matching Profile
           Segments (CMPS) Method
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Zhe Chen, Wei Chu, Johannes A. Soons, Robert M. Thompson, John Song, Xuezeng Zhao We introduce the Congruent Matching Profile Segments (CMPS) method for objective comparison of striated tool marks and apply it to bullet signature correlations. The method is derived from the congruent matching cell (CMC) method developed for the comparison of impressed tool marks. The proposed method is designed to increase comparison accuracy by addressing the comparison challenges caused by striae profiles with different lateral scales, varying vertical (height) scales, and sections that are poorly marked or have little to no similarity. Instead of correlating the entire profiles extracted from striated tool marks, the method divides one of the compared profiles into segments. Each segment is then correlated with the other profile. The CMPS method uses the normalized cross-correlation function with multiple correlation peak inspection to determine the number of profile segments that have both significant topography similarity and a congruent registration position. Initial tests were performed on the land engraved areas (LEAs) of 35 bullets fired from 10 consecutively manufactured pistol barrels. The results show clear separation between the CMPS scores of the 549 known non-matching (KNM) LEA profiles and the 46 known matching (KM) LEA profiles. These results are an improvement over those obtained using the correlation coefficient score of whole profiles. The large number of CMPS segment correlations may facilitate a statistical approach to error rate estimations.
       
  • Identification and Analysis of Man-Made Geological Product Particles to
           aid Forensic Investigation of Provenance in the Built Environment
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Duncan Pirrie, Allan J. Pidduck, Daniel E. Crean, Timothy M. Nicholls, Roy P. Awbery Small (sub-mm) fragments of construction materials derived from geological products are common components of soil and dust samples from urban and industrial environments. These particles increase the complexity of a soil through the admixture of man-made materials with natural minerals within the soil matrix. One application of such indicators is in nuclear security investigations, where there is a requirement to determine the origin and process history of a nuclear material discovered outside of regulatory control. In such cases, analysis of trace environmental materials accumulated from locations where the material was produced, transported and stored may help to establish material provenance. Given a suitable sample, the recognition of particles derived from construction materials can aid such investigations by helping to determine potentially distinctive properties of the originating environment, such as types and potential sources of building materials. Correct identification of man-made particles is also necessary to prevent misidentification of soil mineral particle profiles, and therefore enable determination of the natural mineralogy of associated soil material. In this paper the application of automated mineralogy (based on scanning electron microscopy) analysis for the characterisation of sub-mm particles of man-made construction materials is tested. Thirty-three examples of concrete, construction blocks, cement, brick, plaster and render were analysed. Based on both the particle texture and the minerals / chemical phases present, it is shown that the different construction materials can be readily recognised and characterised. Comparison of natural and artificial cemented particles derived from sedimentary rocks and concrete, and of natural and artificial fine-grained particles derived from mudstone and brick fragments highlights how salient features can be recognised from automated mineralogy data to distinguish man-made geological products from soil mineral assemblages.
       
  • Hair testing for cortisol by UPLC–MS/MS in a family: External
           cross-contamination from use of cortisol cream
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Xin Wang, Johannes Rødbro Busch, Jytte Banner, Kristian Linnet, Sys Stybe Johansen In the present study, an ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS/MS) method was developed, validated, and applied for measuring cortisol in human hair. Baseline levels of cortisol in hair were taken from 12 control subjects, with concentrations for adult controls (n = 8) of 1.7 to 9.1 pg/mg and a median of 4.7 pg/mg and for child controls (n = 4) of 1.1 to 7.2 pg/mg and a median of 3.1 pg/mg. However, the concentrations in the hair of two children whose mother had been applying a cortisol-containing hand cream 2–3 times per week ranged from 30–390 pg/mg. No external contamination was observed with the children as judged from wash water concentrations. The mother had hair cortisol concentrations of 80–220 pg/mg. External contamination was observed in her proximal hair segments (0–4 cm) but not in distal ones (8–12 cm). In an experiment, cortisol cream (1%) was applied on the fingers of a subject, who then scratched the head hair once in a while. Hair was collected 1, 5, and 30 days after exposure to the cream. The cortisol level in the hair one day after exposure was 20–186 times higher than the pre-exposure level. High levels in the wash fraction agreed with external contamination. Cortisol concentrations in the hair at 5 and 30 days after exposure were 15–38 and 9–11 times higher, respectively, than the pre-exposure levels. However, no external contamination was suggested from the wash water concentrations in the hair collected 5 and 30 days after exposure. The results showed that the externally applied cortisol had, after some time, been incorporated into the hair matrix and was not removed by a pre-analysis washing. Therefore, the use of a standard decontamination procedure prior to analysis of hair may not be able to prevent the spread of cortisol from applied hand cream within a family.
       
  • Stature estimation based on tibial length in different stature groups of
           Spanish males
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Gonzalo Saco-Ledo, Jordi Porta, Izzet Duyar, Ana Mateos It is well-known that secular trends affect human stature and constitution, and this fact should be taken into consideration in forensic anthropology, especially in stature estimation. Recently, stature-group-specific equations have been developed to take into account these variations. The aim of the present study is to estimate living stature according to tibial length in different stature groups in a sample of Spanish adult males in order to improve the accuracy of previous equations. A cross-sectional study was conducted on a sample of 495 Spanish Caucasian participants who were randomized into two groups, the study group with 249 participants and the cross-validation group with 246 participants. Specific equations were obtained according to stature groups using the 15th and 85th percentiles as cut off points. The results showed that the coefficient of determination (R2) and standard error of estimation (SEE) were lower with the specific equations based on stature groups (R2 = 0.22–0.57; SEE = 2.12–2.66 cm) than the equation with all participants of the study group (R2 = 0.77; SEE = 3.29 cm). The equations were tested in the cross-validation group, whose results showed more accuracy in the equations for a stature < 185.9 cm (i.e., in people with short and medium statures). In conclusion, the stature-group-specific equations based on tibial lengths of Spanish adult males are more accurate for stature estimation than other equations that have been formulated in the Spanish population. In forensic settings, it is recommended to use regression equations specific to stature groups when estimating stature.
       
  • Application of Hair Analysis to Document Illegal
           5-Methoxy-N,N-dissopropyltrptamine (5-MeO-DiPT) use
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Roujia Wang, Ping Xiang, Zhiguo Yu, Yan Shi 5-Methoxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine (5-MeO-DiPT) is a designer hallucinogen that is a synthetic tryptamine derivative. It is highly abused and is involved in criminal activities because of its psychotropic properties. Herein, we presented an UHPLC-MS/MS method allowing for the qualitative and quantitative determination of 5-MeO-DiPT in human hair. The hair was first decontaminated and then cut into pieces. Thirty milligrams of hair samples was pulverized below 4 °C in the presence of 0.5 mL deionized water containing 0.1% formic acid. After centrifuging twice, 5 μL of supernatant was injected into the LC-MS/MS system. A T3 column (100 mm × 2.1 mm, 1.8 μm) was used, and mobile phases consisted of 20 mmol/L ammonium acetate, 5% acetonitrile and 0.1% formic acid in water (solvent A) and acetonitrile (solvent B). The gradient elution was used at a flow rate of 0.3 mL/min. The resulting calibration curve for 5-MeO-DiPT was y = 281.50213x+0.00231 (R2 = 0.992), the limit of detection (LOD) was 0.05 pg/mg, and the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) was 0.1 pg/mg. The accuracy was between 92.1% and 105.6%, and the intra- and interday precision, recovery and matrix effect were acceptable. The validated method was successfully used in 106 real cases, and the concentration of 5-MeO-DiPT in hair samples of these suspected users was 0.2-7532.5 pg/mg. These cases present data to document illegal 5-MeO-DiPT use.
       
  • Mix of new substances psychoactive, NPS, found in blotters sold
           in two Colombian cities
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Catrin Y. Mendoza-Valencia, Diana Jazmín Mariño Gaviria, Nancy Patiño Reyes, Fabian Lopez-Vallejo, Álvaro Emilio Sarmiento Gutiérrez, Daniel Trespalacios Rodríguez The new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Colombia are detected by national authorities, in blotters strip, in different circumstances and places: airports, music concerts, discos and parks. Blotters are marketed as LSD and cause several cases of intoxication and death in some consumers: due to acute intoxication or when mixed with other drugs and may have different effects on the central nervous system (CNS). This study was conducted to research into and identify the chemical composition of the drugs impregnated in the blotters sold in two Colombian cities. This research provides the analysis of 70 doses coming from forensic cases of the Colombian Attorney General's Office in Bogota and from the Laboratory of Narcotics of the Colombian National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (North Headquarter) in Barranquilla. Mixtures of drugs, such as DOB, 25I-NBOMe, MDMA and 25I-NBOMe imine were found within the blotters through gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (CG-MS); these drugs are classified by international authorities as NPS belonging to the phenylethylamines group. The results clearly warn about a growing public health problem in the country.
       
  • Case Report of Sudden Death in a Twin Infant Given Melatonin
           Supplementation: A Challenging Interpretation of Postmortem Toxicology
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Eric T. Shimomura, Alice J. Briones, Christopher J. Gordon, Wendy S. Warren, George F. Jackson Melatonin (MEL) is a neurohormone in humans produced in a number of locations. Starting with the amino acid tryptophan, MEL is produced through a number of enzymatic steps that includes serotonin as an intermediate compound. The primary production of MEL is in the pineal gland located in the brain. It is directly associated with the the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the hypothalamus. In young and adult humans, the blood levels of MEL are typically in the picogram levels and produced in a cyclic schedule highly regulated by light detected in the retina by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), resulting in production primarily during periods of darkness. During periods of light, MEL levels are typically very low or undetectable. Basal levels of MEL in infants have been observed to be either undetectable or also in the picogram levels, although some medical treatment has involved administration of exogenous MEL resulting in peak levels in the nanogram range. MEL is considered to be well tolerated and there have been limited reports of toxicity. In this case, an infant was found unresponsive and cause of death was ruled as Undetermined. Melatonin was detected in the peripheral blood at a concentration of 1,400ng/mL.
       
  • Virtual forensic anthropology: the accuracy of osteometric analysis of 3D
           bone models derived from clinical computed tomography (CT) scans
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kerri L. Colman, Hans H. de Boer, Johannes G.G. Dobbe, Niels P.T.J. Liberton, Kyra E. Stull, Maureen van Eijnatten, Geert J. Streekstra, Roelof-Jan Oostra, Rick R. van Rijn, Alie E. van der Merwe Clinical radiology is increasingly used as a source of data to test or develop forensic anthropological methods, especially in countries where contemporary skeletal collections are not available. Naturally, this requires analysis of the error that is a result of low accuracy of the modality (i.e. accuracy of the segmentation) and the error that arises due to difficulties in landmark recognition in virtual models. The cumulative effect of these errors ultimately determines whether virtual and dry bone measurements can be used interchangeably.To test the interchangeability of virtual and dry bone measurements, 13 male and 14 female intact cadavers from the body donation program of the Amsterdam UMC were CT scanned using a standard patient scanning protocol and processed to obtain the dry os coxae. These were again CT scanned using the same scanning protocol. All CT scans were segmented to create 3D virtual bone models of the os coxae (‘dry’ CT models and ‘clinical’ CT models). An Artec Spider 3D optical scanner was used to produce gold standard ‘optical 3D models’ of ten dry os coxae.The deviation of the surfaces of the 3D virtual bone models compared to the gold standard was used to calculate the accuracy of the CT models, both for the overall os coxae and for selected landmarks. Landmark recognition was studied by comparing the TEM and %TEM of nine traditional inter-landmark distances (ILDs). The percentage difference for the various ILDs between modalities was used to gauge the practical implications of both errors combined.Results showed that ‘dry’ CT models were 0.36-0.45 mm larger than the ‘optical 3D models’ (deviations -0.27 mm to 2.86 mm). ‘Clinical’ CT models were 0.64-0.88 mm larger than the ‘optical 3D models’ (deviations -4.99 mm to 5.00 mm). The accuracies of the ROIs were variable and larger for ‘clinical’ CT models than for ‘dry’ CT models. TEM and %TEM were generally in the acceptable ranges for all ILDs whilst no single modality was obviously more or less reliable than the others. For almost all ILDs, the average percentage difference between modalities was substantially larger than the average percentage difference between observers in ‘dry bone’ measurements only.Our results show that the combined error of segmentation- and landmark recognition error can be substantial, which may preclude the usage of ‘clinical’ CT scans as an alternative source for forensic anthropological reference data.
       
  • Evaluation of Interferers in Sampling Materials Used in Explosive Residue
           Analysis by Ion Chromatography
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Filipe G.M. Mauricio, Victória R.M. Abritta, Ricardo de Lacerda Aquino, João Carlos Laboissiere Ambrósio, Lúcio Paulo Lima Logrado, Ingrid T. Weber Analysis of explosive residues is of special interest in forensic science. It can be crucial for investigating acts of terrorism or robberies. Ion Chromatography (IC) is a standard technique used by many forensic labs in these cases. Due to the common nature of many explosives and the inherent dirtiness of samples from explosion scenes, sometimes inconclusive or false positive results are obtained by IC, making the identification of interferers extremely important. One possible source of interferer can be the sampling materials themselves, as investigated in this work. First of all, interferers from forensic swabs and syringe filters were evaluated, as these are commonly employed in explosive residue IC analysis. Among the 6 tested samples, only two syringe filters were considered free of interferers. Significant amounts (> 0.2 mg/L) of Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+, Cl-, and SO42- were found in all forensic swabs and two syringe filters. Then, some ordinary commercial materials, such as cotton swabs, cotton balls, and cotton discs were also tested, as they are often employed in a forensic routine, also. These also showed significant amounts (> 0.2 mg/L) of Na+, K+, Cl-, NO3-, and SO42-. However, the total concentration of interferers in ordinary commercial materials was lower than in the forensic swabs. Then the effectiveness of removing interferers by washing sampling (swabs, and cotton balls, rolls and disk) and pre-processing (syringe filters) materials was evaluated. This revealed that the interferers could be removed with at least three washes. The results indicated that the sampling materials used for explosion scene analysis should be carefully addressed in forensic analysis. First, by making a previous analysis of the sampling material, preferably prior to use, to evaluate the presence of interferers to ensure that only material free of interferers is used. When it is not possible to perform a prior analysis of sampling materials, they should be analyzed concomitantly with the samples from the post-blast residue in order to estimate the presence of interferers. This would reduce the risk of false positives. Additionally, when interferers are detected, washing can be employed for more reliable routine analysis. We suggest at least 3 wash cycles. This method could be used for ordinary commercial materials, which are cheap and easily obtained.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • 3D crime scene reconstruction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ursula Buck
       
  • Age-at-death estimation by cementochronology — Somewhere between
           indifference and overconfidence
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Benoit Bertrand
       
  • A method of smart phone original video identification by using unique
           compression ratio pattern
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Min Gu Hwang, Hyung Ju Park, Dong Hwan Har Due to enhanced camera performance and easy using convenience, most videos are taken and distributed by smart phones. However, smart phone video file as an evidence needs to be verified. We analyzed digital videos with basic information (resolution, shooting time, frame rate, bit depth, sample rate, and so on) and compressed patterns with unique compression algorithm adjusted to certain models. We also classified them based on their original characters. For analysis, we first estimated the virtual data quantity of a real digital video EXIF information without compression. We then analyzed the correlation between real recorded data and virtual data to calculate the original unique compression pattern. We then proposed a technical standard to identify the origin by comparing original compression ratio and remade video's compression ratio through a video editing software.
       
  • A critical response to “A critical review of sub-adult age estimation in
           
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 27 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Hugo F.V. Cardoso
       
  • Estimation of the time since death—Even methods with a low precision may
           be helpful in forensic casework
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 27 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Burkhard Madea, Jan Ortmann, Elke Doberentz Gold standard for the estimation of the time since death in the early postmortem period is the temperature based nomogram method together with time of death dependent criteria of postmortem lividity, rigor mortis and supravital reactions. There is also a huge literature on chemical methods proposed for estimating the time since death which however play obviously no role in forensic practice. Especially the rise of vitreous potassium has been studied intensively. Also immunohistochemical methods have been proposed for estimating the time since death but obviously not yet applied in casework. We present a case where a woman was found murdered 8 days after having been seen last alive. Due to lack of putrefactive changes postmortem interval was thought to be not more than 2 days. However, immunohistochemical stainings and vitreous potassium concentration revealed that time since death was more than 6 days and the woman was obviously murdered immediately after she was seen lastly alive.
       
  • Greek land borders and migration fatalities – Humanitarian disaster
           described from the standpoint of Evros
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 27 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Pavlos Pavlidis, Maria-Valeria Karakasi The area of the regional unit of Evros in northern Greece is considered the main gateway to the East and marks the end of the European territory and the beginning of the Asian continent. The natural boundary of the Evros River has been the last major obstacle to overcome before entering the Schengen area for hundreds of thousands of migrants on the eastern Mediterranean route. The river stands, however, for the main place of death for thousands of people who try to enter the country, and therefore the European Union, illegally.The international social, political and economic conditions that prevail at times often determine the flows of migration on the eastern Mediterranean route and eastern land border of Greece into the European Union.On the Greek side of the Greek-Turkish border, for the last nineteen years, 398 cadavers of deceased migrants have been recovered. The majority of the illegal immigrants, or asylum seekers, who pass away in the Evros region are found after several days, weeks or even months. The diagnoses of the causes of death and the determination of the time of death are questions the coroner seeks to answer. Consequently, as the majority of the deceased are in an advanced state of putrefaction, the identification and attribution of the corpses to their relatives become matters of crucial importance and a high degree of difficulty. Until today, drowning in the Evros River remains the leading cause of death among border-related death incidents.The present article aims to depict the humanitarian disaster as it unfolds in the regional unit of Evros in northern Greece and the easternmost land border of the European Union along the Mediterranean route as well as the contribution of forensic science to the possible extent.
       
  • Fatalities related to new psychoactive substances in Singapore—A
           case series
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Shijia Chan, Jiahao Wu, Belinda Lee The use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) has become a serious global issue with increasing number of reports of their toxicities and fatalities. Likewise, in Singapore, the number of exhibits containing NPS detected had increased 80% from 2011 to 2014. This is a case series of the first four autopsy cases of fatalities due to or related to the use of NPS in Singapore. In one case, we present the first reported case of death due directly to ADB-FUBINACA toxicity (post-mortem blood concentration of 56 ng/ml). Another case was due to 25B-NBOMe toxicity (post-mortem blood concentration of 10 ng/ml) while the last two cases were deaths related to 5-Fluoro ADB, where the metabolites of the drug were detected.
       
  • Comment on Cognitive bias research in forensic science: A systematic
           review
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): William R. Oliver
       
  • Sub-adult aging method selection (SAMS): A decisional tool for selecting
           and evaluating sub-adult age estimation methods based on standardized
           methodological parameters
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Louise Corron, Pascal Adalian, Silvana Condemi, François Marchal, David Navega ObjectivesA decisional tool was developed to select sub-adult age estimation methods referenced in a centralized database. Through a freely accessible webpage interface, this tool allows users to evaluate how much the sampling and statistical protocols of these referenced methods comply with methodological recommendations published for building and applying methods in forensic anthropology.Materials and methods261 publications on sub-adult age estimation were collected. Three search parameters describing the anatomical element(s) and the indicators used to obtain age estimates are chosen by the user to filter the database and present the publications that best correspond to the user’s selection. A simple algorithm was created to score age estimation methods according to their relevance and validity. “Relevance” and “Validity” parameters indicate how much a publication complies with user queries and published methodological recommendations, respectively; “Score” is a combination of “Relevance” and “Validity”. The closer these parameters are to 1, the better the method complies with the user’s choice and standardized protocols.ResultsThe publications resulting from the user’s query appear as search results alphabetically. They are characterized by their “Relevance”, “Validity” and “Score” values and descriptors relating to their methodology, sampling and statistical protocols. The reference of the publications and an URL to access them online are also provided.ConclusionsSAMS is a decisional tool based on a centralized database for selecting, accessing and evaluating sub-adult age estimation methods based on published methodological recommendations. Protocol validity can be easily and fully accessed to provide the necessary information for method evaluation. The database will be gradually updated and implemented as new sub-adult age estimation methods are made available online.
       
  • Detection of prostate specific antigen and salivary amylase in vaginal
           swabs using SERATEC® immunochromatographic assays
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Janine M. Kishbaugh, Samantha Cielski, Amber Fotusky, Sarah Lighthart, Kathleen Maguire, Lawrence Quarino, Jillian Conte Immunochromatographic assays are used by crime laboratories to conduct simple and quick analyses of bodily fluids. These streamlined tests are ideal for decreasing the sexual assault kit backlog in the United States. A large-scale analysis of the frequency of positive results of amylase and prostate specific antigen (PSA) endogenously found in the vaginal cavity was conducted using the SERATEC PSA Semiquant and Amylase tests. Vaginal swabs were self-collected by participants after 7–10 days of no oral contact or male ejaculation. In this study of 50 participants, 98% were negative for PSA and 92% were negative for amylase. Positive results were confirmed to contain no exogenous DNA by male-specific quantitation, short tandem repeat (STR) typing, and Y-STR typing. These results can be used by crime laboratories to help guide interpretation of immunochromatographic test results from vaginal swabs and aid in decision-making in downstream DNA testing.
       
  • Fatal inhalation of nitrogen inside a closed environment: Toxicological
           issues about the cause of death
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 July 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Alfredo Fabrizio Lo Faro, Filippo Pirani, Antonino Paratore, Adriano Tagliabracci, Francesco Paolo Busardò Asphyxia due to inhalation of nitrogen, as accidental or suicidal event, has been seldom reported in the forensic field. Death usually occurs because of a displacement and decrease of environmental and alveolar oxygen concentrations, but taking into account that nitrogen is a normal component of atmosphere, autopsy findings, which may be in certain cases unremarkable, must be corroborated with a careful scene investigation in order to determine the cause of death.We present a case of a 37-year old male found unresponsive inside his car with five liquid nitrogen tanks placed in the trunk, three of them with clear losses because of incomplete lock. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. Autopsy findings and histological analyses were unremarkable, but toxicological analyses were crucial. Percentages of nitrogen were high in blood collected from the inferior vena cava (85.2%), left ventricle (81.01%) and the right lung (80.73%). Concentrations of nitrogen were higher than those detected in control samples: 14 autopsy cases, room air and water. The cause of death was identified as an inert gas asphyxiation, which was classified as accidental in accordance with the police report.
       
  • Differentiation of o-, m-, and p-fluoro-α-pyrrolidinopropiophenones by
           Triton B-mediated one-pot reaction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 June 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Takaya Murakami, Yoshiaki Iwamuro, Reiko Ishimaru, Satoshi Chinaka, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Rahul D. Kavthe, Naoki Asao Positional isomer differentiation is crucial for the analysis of forensic drugs. Presently, it is difficult to distinguish among ortho, meta, and para positional isomers of ring-fluorinated synthetic cathinones, a major class of new psychoactive substances (NPSs), because they exhibit similar chromatographic properties and mass spectral patterns. We describe herein that the ring-fluorinated synthetic cathinone positional isomers, viz. o-, m-, and p-fluoro-α-pyrrolidinopropiophenones (o-, m-, and p-FPPPs), can be discriminated by their benzyltrimethylammonium hydroxide (Triton B)-mediated one-pot reaction with methanol at ambient temperature, followed by chromatographic and mass spectral analyses of the corresponding products. For p-FPPP, fluorine was nucleophilically substituted by the methoxy group to afford p-methoxy-α-pyrrolidinopropiophenone, while o- and m-FPPPs afforded the corresponding FPPP-enamine–pyrrolidine adducts, which allowed the above positional isomers to be unambiguously differentiated by comparing the reaction product chromatograms and mass spectra. The adopted approach, which does not require excess heating or use of metallic catalysts and features the advantages of simplicity and convenience, is expected to contribute toward practical NPS identification.
       
  • Chronic alcohol abuse may lead to high skin iron content, but not to
           hepatic siderosis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 June 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Alexander Paulke, Nicolas Söhling, Hannelore Held, Mario Wurglics, Gisela Skopp, Stefan W. Toennes IntroductionIn forensic cases, ante mortem chronic alcohol abuse can be of central importance in clarifying circumstances of death. However, reliable markers of alcohol consumption, which are still available postmortem, are needed. In addition to medical history data which may not be always authentic, the determination of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in hair as a promising parameter is of no value in cases of missing or cosmetically treated hair. On the other hand, there exist reports that iron ions accumulate in liver tissue (siderosis) during chronic, excessive alcohol consumption, which, therefore, may be useful to serve as alcohol abuse correlate. However, the influence of ethanol on iron stored in the liver has not been adequately investigated and the study situation appears to be inconsistent.AimsThe aim of the present study was to assess the suitability of assaying iron concentrations in liver and other tissues as postmortem alcoholism marker.MethodsThe iron concentration in tissue samples (liver, brain, skin, pancreas, spleen), vitreous fluid and blood taken during autopsy was analyzed by atomic absorption spectroscopy. The analytical method has been validated before. Cases were divided into two groups: chronic alcohol abusers and non-chronic alcohol consumers including total abstainers using ethyl glucuronide levels in hair as well as anamnestic data as criteria.ResultsNo elevated iron concentrations in the liver of chronic alcohol abusers were detected. Surprisingly, the iron concentration in skin tissue was found to be significantly higher in cases of chronic alcohol abuse, independent on whether fatty liver or liver cirrhosis was present (as diagnosedduring autopsy).In 18.5% of the cases, chronic alcohol abuse was not confirmed by the EtG concentration in hair. Thus, anamnestic data should not be overestimated.ConclusionThe general assumption that chronic alcohol abuse induces hepatic siderosis, i.e. high iron concentrations in liver tissue, has not been supported by results of the present study. However, there seems to exist a correlation between chronic alcohol abuse and high iron concentrations in the skin.
       
  • Model cannons causing lethal traumata
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 June 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): W. Grellner, H. Bratzke, G. Bode Model cannons are usually considered to be harmless toys; therefore no legal regulations are required. Nevertheless, suicidal intentions or playful experimentation can turn this toy into a lethal weapon. This paper describes two cases of misuse of model cannons, leading to severe injuries and consequently death: the first case was the result of a suicidal intention, where the cannon caused a bullet injury into the forehead with marked signs of close-firing and intensive brain damage. The second case was an accidental event, where the cannon induced an entry wound at the left chest wall with surrounding carbonization and a fatal rupture of the heart. Circumstances of the lethal situations and mechanisms of the cannons leading to fatal injuries including ballistic considerations are described. The report is supported by a thorough literature research.
       
  • Forensic analysis of Sync.com and FlipDrive cloud applications on Android
           platform
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 June 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Wasim Ahmad Bhat, Mohammad Faid Jalal, Sajid Sajad Khan, Faiqah Farooq Shah, Mohamad Ahtisham Wani The complex architecture and legal restrictions associated with cloud services make the acquisition of data from servers almost impossible in digital investigations involving cloud services. However, smartphones used to access these cloud services can serve as potential sources. In this paper, we investigate Sync.com and FlipDrive cloud client applications on Android platform for artefacts left behind by user activities. Our experiments demonstrate that rich information arising from user activities is left behind by these applications. This information includes installation details, login credentials, names and timestamps of files uploaded, downloaded, deleted and shared. The study also identifies mechanisms for extracting these artefacts from the devices. These findings assist forensic investigators in performing complete, credible and conclusive digital investigation by allowing them to create complete file management history of these applications. Finally, based on these findings, we make many recommendations relevant to the digital investigation involving these applications.
       
  • Forensic Clinical Anatomy of the Spleen in Medical Malpractice
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 May 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Andrea Porzionato, Veronica Macchi, Raffaele De Caro
       
  • Semi-automated Scanning Electron Microscopy Energy Dispersive X-ray
           Spectrometry Forensic Analysis of Soil Samples
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Hitomi S. Kikkawa, Kazuhiko Naganuma, Kento Kumisaka, Ritsuko Sugita Soil is commonly analyzed to provide evidence because soil particles adhere to almost everything that may be of forensic interest. Particles derived from soil can be quantitatively analyzed by scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS). We developed a semi-automated SEM-EDS method for analyzing soil minerals. Soil was analyzed using the SEM-EDS automated particle analysis program, then the mineral species were identified from their chemical components. Chi-squared tests were used to discriminate between different minerals, and these tests were also applied to soil samples. The method put samples with the same parent population into the same group and discriminated between samples with different parent populations even when 26 particles were analyzed. The method successfully identified most soil samples with different parent populations as different. The results proved that the method could be used in forensic cases and provide new insights into the forensic analysis of soil samples.
       
  • Origin identification of homemade pepper spray by multivariate data
           analysis of chemical attribution signatures
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Lina Mörén, Sebastian Jonsson, Tobias Tengel, Anders Östin Riot control agents such as pepper sprays can be misused for antagonistic and criminal purposes. Several web-pages and YouTube videos are available describing how to make homemade pepper spray. In this study, we investigated whether it was possible to identify the origin of homemade pepper sprays based on chemical attribution signatures from thirteen different types of chili acquired from six different vendors analyzed by GC-MS. The results showed that it was possible to differentiate chili based on species, chili type and vendor using OPLS-DA. Application of an external test set of chilies acquired and extracted one year later than development of the models resulted in correct classification in all models. The models displayed high predictability, suggesting their use for prediction of the identity and origin of seized homemade pepper sprays.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Technical Note: Efficacy of USB Microscopes for Imaging Forensic Materials
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Rachel Bracker, Anthony S. Stender USB microscopy, a relatively new and developing technology, offers a highly portable and relatively inexpensive means for performing microscopy. However, it has not been established that USB microscopes are capable of imaging at a level deemed sufficient for forensic requirements. The purpose of this study was to determine the value, applicability, and limitations of current USB microscope technology by comparing USB microscopes with traditional microscopes by collecting images of common forensic trace materials. For our tests, we considered image clarity, resolution, magnification, field of view, working distance, ease of use, and reflected versus transmission mode imaging. The USB microscopes were highly portable, easy to work with, and able to take an image in any orientation. They also demonstrated a strong sensitivity to different hues of color and were easily tailored to different forms of microscopy by utilizing additional optical components. USB microscopes do not share the same level of resolution, image quality, or image contrast as the most sophisticated microscopes. However, USB microscopes could add value to forensic investigations when used for preliminary exams, low magnification imaging of samples, and imaging scenarios that require magnification but don’t conform to traditional microscopy.
       
  • 11-OH-THC in hair as marker of active cannabis consumption: estimating a
           reliable cut-off by evaluation of 672 THC-positive hair samples
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sara Casati, Ilaria Angeli, Alessandro Ravelli, Massimo Del Fabbro, Mauro Minoli, Marica Orioli Hair analysis for the assessment of cannabis active use from passive consumption may be failed when performed by the sole detection of compounds present in plant material as well as in cannabis smoke like Δ‐9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN). For this reason, the determination of 11‐nor‐9‐carboxy‐Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC‐COOH) has been proposed by the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) in order to prove active cannabis consumption. The identification of THC-COOH in hair will continue to be complicated by its acidic nature and the critical low concentration due to the preferential incorporation of basic compounds into hair shaft. Alternatively, 11-OH-THC may be considered as a complementary marker for THC administration. Our recent study reported an accurate validated procedure for THC, CBD, CBN and 11-OH-THC in hair, based on a GC/MS-MS method in electron ionization mode. However, unlike THC-COOH, a cut-off level for 11-OH-THC in hair has not been fixed yet. For this reason, the aim of this study is to propose a concentration value for 11-OH-THC in hair analysis in order to discriminate between chronic use and external contamination. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis was applied for cut‐off evaluation after 11-OH-THC quantification in a pool of 672 THC-positive hair samples. Results have shown a concentration range between 0.01 – 5.34 ng/mg for THC (mean 0.34 ng/mg, median 0.12), 0.00 – 19.2 pg/mg for THC-COOH (mean 0.72 pg/mg, median 0.19 pg/mg) and between 0.01 – 13.33 ng/mg for 11-OH-THC (mean 1.09 ng/mg, median 0.51 ng/mg) for hair and between 0.03 – 6.32 ng/mg for THC (mean 0.82 ng/mg, median 0.30), 0.00 – 42.1 pg/mg for THC-COOH (mean 2.70 pg/mg, median 1.08 pg/mg) and between 0.00 – 7.88 ng/mg for 11-OH-THC (mean 1.70 ng/mg, median 0.89 ng/mg) for body hair. Considering these experimental data collected in our laboratory, we propose a cut-off level of 0.5 for sculp hair and body hair, as indicative of cannabis active consumption. The ROC curve AUCs for 11-OH-THC were 0.873 and 0.884 for 590 scalp hair and 82 body hair samples, respectively. The comparison of the results for THC-COOH (control method) and 11-OH-THC (test method) was also made by means of the Cohen’s kappa statistics providing a good agreement according to both Landis & Koch and Fleiss scales. Additionally, we suggest that the detection of both THC-COOH and 11-OH-THC should be mandatory in order to prove active intake and exclude false positive result from external contamination.
       
  • Letter to the Editor regarding „Undetected traumatic diastasis of
           cranial sutures in a case of child abuse” by C.P. Campobasso et al.
           (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2019.03.011)
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Christoph G. Birngruber, Franziska Holz, Marcel A. Verhoff
       
  • What’s in the Bag' Analysis of Exterior Drug Packaging by TD-DART-MS
           to Predict the Contents
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Edward Sisco, Elizabeth L. Robinson, Amber Burns, Rebecca Mead The need for a safe and reliable presumptive test for law enforcement, first responders, and laboratory personnel is critical in the era of dangerous synthetic opioids and other novel psychoactive substances. Obtaining drug identification information without handling bulk powder is one way of accomplishing this task. This work evaluates whether trace residue on the exterior of drug packaging presents a potential source for presumptive testing. Utilizing a wipe-based approach, the outside of the packaging of nearly 200 real case exhibits were sampled and analyzed by thermal desorption direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry (TD-DART-MS). While residue on the law enforcement (outer) packaging was a poor indicator of the contents (less than 50% accurate), the exterior of the drug (inner) packaging was shown to be an excellent indicator of the contents (92% accurate).Quantitative analysis of the wipes, using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) showed that typical masses of residue on the exterior of packaging ranged from single to tens of micrograms – enough for detection by a number of trace detection tools. These initial results demonstrate that wipe-based trace sampling approaches present a promising, reliable, and safe method for presumptive testing by law enforcement, first responders, or laboratory personnel.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • New Psychoactive Substances: an actual problem or an overestimated
           phenomenon'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Fabio Vaiano, Jennifer P. Pascali, Elisabetta Bertol In last years, international and national Institutions have been completely focused on the new psychoactive substances (NPS) phenomenon. Many contrast policies have been planned in order to control their spread. Even scientific entities, such as our Forensic Toxicology Division, have spent time and resources for NPS identification in biological (from clinical and forensic caseworks) and non-biological (seized material) samples. Last reports show a low prevalence of NPS across the Europe and Italy, while the classical drugs are still the main cause of drug-related deaths. In particular, a worrisome datum is represented by the increasing number of deaths due to heroin. Seen these statistics, is the NPS phenomenon overestimated' Is the interest in classical drugs decreased' Were we diverted by NPS'
       
  • Reflective spectroscopy investigations of clothing items to support law
           enforcement, search and rescue, and war crime investigations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Michelle Burke, Claudia Dawson, Scott Allen, Jared Brum, Jessica Roberts, Mark P.S. Krekeler Clothing articles are important pieces of evidence in criminal, search and rescue, and search and recovery investigations. Hyperspectral remote sensing of clothing will be an important tool for supporting such investigations in the near future. This study investigated over 300 items of clothing that varied in fabric type, texture, color, and pattern. Clothing items were analyzed using an ASD FieldSpec 4 High Resolution spectroradiometer with a contact probe attachment. Of the clothing items analyzed, there were 141 having endmember fabrics (100% single fabric type composition): 89 were cotton, 39 were polyester, 5 were wool, 1 was cashmere, 3 were acrylic, 1 was leather, and 3 were rayon. The remaining 164 clothing items were various fabric blends. Spectral features relating to different fabric types exhibit sufficient differences that allow them to be discriminated from the surrounding environment, as well as from one another in many, but not all, cases. Cotton and polyester, in particular, two of the most widely-used fabrics, exhibit numerous features in the near infrared (NIR) and shortwave infrared (SWIR) that would allow them to easily be distinguished from geologic materials in the environment such as rocks and soil. Plant based fibers, especially cotton, possess similar reflectance features to vegetation owing to their cellulose content. Outdoor aging experiments were conducted for 19 weeks on selected fabrics. Although significant changes were observed in aged garments, the variability observed in the reflectance of the aged garments does not support the derivation of a metric for aging, at least over the relatively short time scale of this effort. Results from this study should support numerous forensic efforts globally for non-destructive investigation of clothing items in the field and in lab settings with a spectroradiometer, enhance the potential for remote sensing searches, and in the future, potentially documenting crime scenes with hyperspectral imaging.Graphical Graphical abstract for this article
       
  • Foreign object held in recessed areas of shoe outsole as an acquired
           characteristic in footwear examination: A preliminary study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 September 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Luoxi Liu, Wenjun Wang, Yaping Luo Foreign objects as acquired characteristics in footwear examination have a great value in declaring a proposed identification. However, they do not have the same significance in excluding any footwear because they may disappear for many reasons as time passes by. The aim of this study was to establish the value of foreign object held (FOH) in the recessed area of the outsole, based on its reproducibility and specificity. To investigate the reproducibility of FOH, we asked 37 volunteers to wear Chinese police uniform shoes and to walk and run on both PVC soft glass and blacktop. Before each progression, there was an exposure of shoe outsoles on a soccer field full of rubber and quartz particles to allow access of FOHs to the shoe outsole. The numbers of FOHs in each shoe outsole were recorded both at the beginning and end of each progression. The variation rate of FOH number in each outsole was then calculated. To evaluate the specificity of FOH, we first invited 160 volunteers to wear their uniform shoes and to walk and jump in the soccer field. FOHs in two recessed lines of their outsoles were observed. Next, 25 of the subjects were invited to record their plantar pressure distribution using Novel’s EMED system. We also collected 113 shoes with FOHs in their outsoles, from all over China. The FOHs in different sub-areas of each outsole were observed and counted, followed by the calculation of their density in each sub-area. FOH reproducibility analysis showed that there were more losses of FOH after running than walking on both substrates; walking on blacktop tended to lead more losses of FOH than on soft glass. Thus, both the substrate condition and progression pattern affect the reproducibility of FOH. FOH specificity analysis showed that the FOH tended to be concentrated in the middle of the recessed line at heel part and in the middle and lateral half of the recessed line at arch part. The pressures where FOHs presented tended to be concentrated in 61.2%-88.2% (interquartile range) of corresponding maximum pressures. At the same time, FOHs tended to be found in areas with moderate wear and rarely in areas that seldom contacted the ground. All these results indicated that FOHs were not acquired randomly. Rather, they were related to the distribution of pressure.
       
  • A new clean-up approach for stomach content toxicological analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Mariana Dadalto Peres, Simone Nascimento, Fabrício S. Pelição Stomach content is a matrix often applied in post-mortem cases. It is especially important in oral intoxication cases. The main advantages are the usually high concentration of analytes and the lack of biotransformation process. Still, even with extensive sample preparation, the final extract is not always suitable for analysis. The aim of this study was to develop an alternative method using QuEChERS for the extraction of drugs and pesticides from postmortem stomach content. Sample preparation started acetonitrile with 1% of acetic acid and QuEChERS salts. Later, the initial extract was cleaned-up using the EMR-Lipid sorbent. Residual water was withdrawn with MgSO4/NaCl in the third step and a final step with MgSO4. Vigorous shaken and centrifugation was performed after each step. The final supernatant was evaporated, re-suspended, and injected into GC–MS in full scan mode. This approach was successfully applied to stomach content, resulting in clean extracts, with low lipid levels. The method was able to detected target drugs and pesticides (cocaine, tramadol, diazepam, amitriptyline, phenobarbital, prochloraz, diazinon, heptachlor, permethrin, malathion and carbaril) at the limit of detection of 0.1 mg/g or 0.1 mg/L. Recovery was over 70% for the majority of analytes, precision and accuracy was within acceptable range. The method was also applied to real forensic cases and carbofuran, terbuphos and fluoxetine was detected likewise. This work demonstrates that this method can provide an effective clean-up in high lipids samples such as stomach content, and can be used to analyze of pesticides and drugs in forensic cases.
       
  • New aspects of dental implants and DNA technology in human identification
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Hussam Mansour, Jan Peter Sperhake, Bram Bekaert, Oliver Krebs, Peter Friedrich, Andreas Fuhrmann, Klaus Püschel Missing, ineligible or delayed reference data to establish conventional dental or DNA identification are common scenarios in forensic practice. Therefore, it is worthwhile to explore new avenues that facilitate human identification. Due to the recent remarkable evolution in the prosthetic dental restorations based on dental implants and the emergence of novel DNA technologies utilized to infer the biological profile, the identification process has become easier than ever before. We report on a characteristic case, which highlights the particular importance of dental implants and DNA approaches in the prospective investigations for human identification. The aim of this publication is to focus on the possibility of identifying the batch numbers, even if they were not engraved in dental implants, making antemortem dental records of dental implants more easily accessible to establish a comparative dental identification. In addition, the reported case presents the supplementary data yielded through estimating the epigenetic age using DNA methylation as well as the biogeographical origin using Y-Haplotype and mitochondrial DNA analyses. Our results demonstrate that expanded oral implant investigations that also include implants extraction and comprehensive microscopic measurements can lead to identifying their batch numbers despite the numerous number of implants systems manufactured and distributed worldwide. Data saved by dental implant manufacturers can be very supportive and represent additional reference data for dental identification, when antemortem dental records are still missing. Furthermore, DNA methylation and mitochondrial DNA analyses can support the progress of investigation.
       
  • Assessing the Efficacy of Isotopic Provenancing of Human Remains in
           Colombia
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Christopher Eck, Elizabeth A. DiGangi, Jonathan D. Bethard We report isotopic ratios for δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr from 71 individual human permanent teeth, obtained from 61 individuals with known regions of origins from eight of the 31 departments in Colombia. This survey of the applicability of isotopic provenancing is a vital addition to the ongoing identification efforts within Colombia concerning unidentified decedents recovered from clandestine and cemetery burials. At this time, only median isotopic values are reported due to heterogeneity of inter- and intra-departmental variance among the obtained isotopic values. The current use of department of origin as a regional assignment schema is inadequate to effectively georeference unidentified human remains, given the wide-ranging topography and climatic diversity within Colombia. Therefore, a vital need for additional isotopic sampling of individual reference material exists, in order to improve the accuracy of potential region of origin determinations of unknown decedents originating from forensic contexts within Colombia.
       
  • Validation of the Third Molar Maturation Index to estimate the age of
           criminal responsibility in Northeastern Brazil
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Johnys Berton Medeiros da Nóbrega, Ane Polline Lacerda Protasio, Isabella Lima Arrais Ribeiro, Ana Maria Gondim Valença, Bianca Marques Santiago, Roberto Cameriere The estimation of the age of majority is crucial to determine the legal accountability of an individual. With this purpose, the analysis of the dental development process has proven to be an effective, elucidatory method. This study investigated the applicability of the Third Molar Maturation Index (I3M), proposed by Cameriere et al. (2008), to estimate the age of majority in a sample of Northeastern Brazilians using panoramic radiographs. Adobe® Photoshop® CS4 (Adobe Systems Incorporated, San Jose, California, USA) software was used to obtain the I3M index measurements in a sample of radiographs from a dental radiology clinic located in Northeastern Brazil. Radiographs of individuals aged between 14 and 23 years were included in the sample, except if showing absence, distortions, pathological alterations or suspected pulp impairment of the tooth #38 (third lower left molar), as the method applies exclusively to this element. Of the total sample of radiographs previously obtained for diagnostic and/or orthodontic purposes (n = 394), 185 were from males and 209 from females, of which 217 corresponded to 18 year-olds or older and 177 were from minors. Logistic regression and predictive values of sensitivity, specificity and Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve (α = 0.05) were used. The cutoff point originally proposed for the I3M index (0.08) presented a sensitivity of 88.4% and a specificity of 73.2%, with accuracy (area under the ROC curve) of 80.8% (95%CI: 76.4-85.3%) for the Northeastern Brazilian population, as well as a correct age classification in 80.2% of the sample. The method estimated accurately 73.7% of the cases corresponding to "18 years or older" and 88.1% of the cases "under 18 years" (p = 0.000). Among the sexes, the correct age classification rate of the method was 84.3% for males and 76.6% for females, with no statistically significant difference between the match and error rates and between the sexes (p ≥ 0.05). In conclusion, the Third Molar Maturation Index could accurately distinguish the age of adolescents and young adults of both sexes aged 18 years or under/older in a Brazilian population.
       
  • A case report on potential postmortem redistribution of furanyl fentanyl
           and 4-ANPP
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Francesca Freni, Sara Pezzella, Claudia Vignali, Matteo Moretti, Simone Cisini, Chiara Rossetti, Rossana Ravizza, Marco Motta, Angelo Groppi, Luca Morini Fatal intoxications due to accidental or voluntary intake of synthetic opioids represent an actual emerging issue. We report a case where we have analyzed furanyl fentanyl and its metabolite 4–anilino-N-phenetyl-piperidine (4-ANPP) in blood, urine, gastric content, bile and cerebrospinal fluid. In this case, a 53-year-old man was found dead at home with a needle still inserted in a vein; a plastic bag containing a white powder (later identified as a furanyl fentanyl-based product) was discovered in the room.Biological samples were collected during autopsy and extracted/purified onto a SPE cartridge before instrumental analysis. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed by LC-MS/MS on peripheral and cardiac blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), bile and gastric content. Furanyl fentanyl was identified and quantified in all the biological fluids collected. Interestingly, gastric content revealed an unexpected high amount of furanyl fentanyl; yet, cardiac blood and femoral blood provided significantly different concentrations (11.8 and 2.7 ng/g respectively). The concentration of furanyl fentanyl in CSF was similar to that measured in femoral blood (2.6 ng/mL), thus confirming that CSF could be a good alternative biological fluid whenever a postmortem redistribution is suspected. Concentrations of 93.5, 50.4, 171.7, 41.9, 10.2 ng/mL(g) were measured for 4-ANPP in cardiac blood, femoral blood, urine, bile and cerebrospinal fluid, respectively. The outcomes from the presented case report suggest that the two substances have been not only injected intravenously, but probably also ingested by the man. Fentanyl derivative and its precursor seemed to undergo an extensive postmortem redistribution.
       
  • The wisdom of the crowd: A case of post- to ante-mortem face matching by
           police super-recognisers
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 August 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Josh P. Davis, Andreea Maigut, Charlotte Forrest This case report describes novel methodology used to identify a 43-year-old post-mortem photo of a drowned male recovered from a London river in the 1970's. Embedded in an array of foils, police super-recognisers (n = 25) possessing superior simultaneous face matching ability, and police controls (n = 139) provided confidence ratings as to the similarity of the post-mortem photo to an ante-mortem photo of a man who went missing at about the same time Indicative of a match, compared to controls, super-recognisers provided higher ratings to the target than the foils. Effects were enhanced when drawing on the combined wisdom of super-recogniser crowds, but not control crowds. These findings supported additional case evidence allowing the coroner to rule that the deceased male and missing male were likely one and the same person. A description of how similar super-recogniser wisdom of the crowd procedures could be applied to other visual image identification cases when no other method is feasible is provided.
       
 
 
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