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Forensic Science International
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.981
Citation Impact (citeScore): 2
Number of Followers: 505  
 
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0379-0738 - ISSN (Online) 1872-6283
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3161 journals]
  • Back hemorrhage in bath-related deaths: Insights into the mechanism of
           bath-related deaths
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Toru Oshima, Maki Ohtani, Sohtaro MimasakaAbstractForensic pathologists often encounter difficulties while diagnosing bath-related deaths owing to a lack of specific findings for determining the cause. This study reports the characteristic findings noted during autopsy associated with bath-related deaths. The subjects included individuals found deceased in water-filled bathtubs. Originally, a “bathtub death” was defined as a case of drowning in a bathtub without a known cause despite complete investigation including a complete autopsy and examination of the death scene. We also excluded cases with ethanol and/or high drug concentrations in the blood from “bathtub death” cases. Muscular hemorrhages around the scapula were the most common in cases of accidental drowning (72.7 %). The frequency of muscular hemorrhages around the scapula was low in cases involving bathtub deaths (11.1 %) and natural disease. Subcutaneous hemorrhages in the back were the most frequent in cases of bathtub death (88.9 %), followed by accidental drowning (81.8 %). The frequency of subcutaneous hemorrhages in the back was low in cases involving suicide and natural disease. The presence of subcutaneous hemorrhages in the back without muscular hemorrhages around the scapula were strongly associated with bathtub deaths (Fisher's exact test, P 
       
  • Transition analysis applied to third molar development in a Danish
           population
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sara Oladottir Arge, Ann Wenzel, Palle Holmstrup, Niels D Jensen, Niels Lynnerup, Jesper L BoldsenAbstractIntroductionAge assessment based on dental development is often requested in order to assess whether an individual is older or younger than 18 years of age. There are several statistical approaches to estimate age based upon third molar development. The aim of this study was to apply the principles of transition analysis (TA) to a Danish reference material and to evaluate whether it was indicated to include a model that allows for logistic non-linearity as opposed to applying a model only allowing for logistic linearity. For this we chose to use the generalized additive model (gam) and the generalized linear model (glm), respectively.Material and methodA cross-sectional sample comprising 1302 panoramic radiographs of Danish subjects in the chronological age range of 13 to 25 years was included. All present third molars had been scored according to the 10-stage method of Gleiser and Hunt. Each transition from one stage to the subsequent stage was analyzed according to the statistical approach of TA and fitted with both the generalized linear model (glm) and the generalized additive model (gam). In order to assess whether gam or glm was more parsimonious for each transition individually, the Akaikon information criterion (AIC) was applied.ResultsThe results emphasized the importance of applying a statistical model that sufficiently captures the spread of the age estimate. The AIC values showed that some transitions were sufficiently described by glm whereas for others the gam curves fitted significantly better.ConclusionWe recommend that for an age assessment tool based on TA, both a fitting allowing for non-linearity and one allowing only for linearity should be included.
       
  • Enhancement of bloody fingerprints on non-porous surfaces using Lac dye
           (Laccifer lacca)
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Phawadol Chingthongkham, Sirinart Chomean, Praew Suppajariyawat, Chollanot KasetIt is important that fingermark enhancement techniques are safe and simple to carry out. Many chemicals are widely used to enhance and develop bloody fingermark. However, the use of natural products for fingermark detection and examination has several advantages and challenges. In this study, Lac dye (Laccifer lacca) was used to enhance bloody fingermarks on various types of non-porous and porous materials. Bloody fingermarks were deposited using a depletion series technique on eleven different surfaces. To assess the efficiency of Lac dye stain, comparisons were performed with Amido black stain as a reference method. Results revealed the similarity between Lac dye and Amido black on non-porous materials, in terms of both fingermark grades, and color intensity. However, Lac dye showed relatively low performance for enhancing and developing bloody fingermarks on porous materials. This indicates that Lac dye can be beneficially used as an alternative to chemicals such as Amido black on a non-porous surface. Further study into Lac dye formulation on porous materials is recommended.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Recording device identification by ENF harmonics power analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Dima BykhovskyAbstractTwo important aspects of digital audio forensics are integrity validation of the recorded contents and identification of the acquisition device that produced the recording. One of the effective methods for integrity validation is based on induced electrical network frequency (ENF) signal analysis. The goal of this paper is to extend the usage of the ENF signal for the identification of the acquisition device. The proposed identification method is based on the harmonic amplitude coefficients of ENF signals that are effectively applied as feature vectors. The evaluation results demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed approach.
       
  • Using headlight patterns in vehicle recognition
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Nir Finkelstein, Alan Chaikovsky, Yaron Cohen, Tsadok TsachAbstractCrime scenes are frequently poorly lit, making it difficult to recognize and identify implicated vehicles that have been caught on film or photographed during incidents. This paper explores vehicle recognition capabilities in dark images, specifically as when a vehicle’s headlights are on and are projecting light onto a flat vertical surface.In this study, the headlight reflection patterns of 68 vehicles were photographed and analyzed.This paper presents a method for confirming or ruling out a vehicle's make and model by its headlight pattern.
       
  • The impact of chemical trace evidence on justice outcomes: Exploring the
           additive value of forensic science disciplines
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Peter A. Woodman, Caroline Spiranovic, Roberta Julian, Kaye N. Ballantyne, Sally F. KeltyAbstractThe focus of this research was to examine the contribution chemical trace evidence makes to criminal justice outcomes. The aim of this work was to place the discipline of chemical trace evidence under the spotlight as there is a dearth of robust research on the impact of this discipline. In this study, data relating to the forensic examinations in a sample of 238 cases which included chemical trace evidence, was collated with data from police investigations and court processes. The findings show that chemical trace evidence is frequently used in combination with other forensic disciplines to support the progress of high-level criminal cases through the justice system. Due to characteristics of how the criminal cases in the dataset were investigated and prosecuted, in combination with the methodology applied in this study, the impact of forensic evidence on the decision to charge suspects could not be analysed quantitatively. However, the impact of forensic evidence on court outcomes in the sample of cases was analysed using methodology that considered the results of the examinations, and the ability of the evidence to provide support for the inclusion or exclusion of persons of interest. The possibility of chemical trace evidence having impact when applied in combination with other forensic disciplines was also examined. It was found that biological examination results was a significant standalone predictor of court outcomes. In contrast, chemical trace examinations did not predict court outcomes when considered as a standalone predictor but examination results of chemical trace evidence in combination with ballistics/tool marks was significantly associated with court outcomes. The findings of this research indicate that, to assess the full impact of any discipline of forensic evidence on the criminal justice system, the analysis must take into account the potential for important synergies that may exist with other forensic and non-forensic evidence.
       
  • Stability of ten psychotropic drugs in formalin-fixed porcine liver
           homogenates
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Migiwa Asano, Naoki Yoshioka, Azumi Kuse, Natsumi Kuwahara, Yuki Nakabayashi, Motonori Takahashi, Takeshi Kondo, Mai Morichika, Kanako Nakagawa, Makoto Sakurada, Yasuhiro UenoAbstractIn forensic toxicology studies, drug concentrations must be estimated by the analytical data of formalin-fixed tissues if fresh or frozen tissue specimens are not available. We wished to investigate the stability and time-course of metabolism/degradation of drugs in formalin-fixed tissues using porcine liver homogenates (PLHs) instead of human tissue. Ten psychotropic drugs (amitriptyline, brotizolam, diazepam, diphenhydramine, estazolam, etizolam, levomepromazine, paroxetine, quetiapine and triazolam) were added to PLHs. After the PLHs had been fixed with neutral buffered formalin at room temperature, the concentrations of the drugs in the PLHs were determined by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry after 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. After 6 months, the residual ratio of amitriptyline, diphenhydramine and quetiapine was 80 %–95 %; that of diazepam, paroxetine and triazolam was 10 %–45 %; and that of brotizolam, etizolam and levomepromazine was 1 %–5 %. Estazolam was not detected from the first day of formalin fixation. These data suggest that the concentrations of drugs in PLHs measured after formalin fixation decreased to varying degrees compared with their initial concentrations. These time-dependent changes in drug concentration were due to degradation during preservation in formalin solution and metabolism by hepatic microsomal enzymes.
       
  • Chemical attribution of the home-made explosive ETN – Part I: Liquid
           chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of partially nitrated erythritol
           impurities
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Karlijn Bezemer, Lindsay McLennan, Lara van Duin, Chris-Jan Kuijpers, Mattijs Koeberg, Jos van den Elshout, Antoine van der Heijden, Taylor Busby, Alexander Yevdokimov, Peter Schoenmakers, James Smith, Jimmie Oxley, Arian van AstenAbstractErythritol tetranitrate (ETN) was prepared independently by two research groups from the USA and the Netherlands. The partially nitrated impurities present in ETN were studied using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to address the ultimate challenge in forensic explosives investigations, i.e., providing chemical and tactical information on the production and origin of the explosive material found at a crime scene. Accurate quantification of the tri-nitrated byproduct erythritol trinitrate (ETriN) was achieved by in-lab production of an ETriN standard and using custom-made standards of the two isomers of ETriN (1,2,3-ETriN and 1,2,4-ETriN). Large differences in levels of ETriN were observed between the two sample sets showing that, even when similar synthesis routes are employed, batches from different production locations can contain different impurity profiles. In one of the sample sets the ratios of the lesser partially nitrated impurities, EDiN and EMN, in the ETN samples could be determined. The impurity profiles enable prediction of post-synthesis work-up steps by reduction of the level of partially nitrated products upon recrystallization. However, impurity analysis does not enable predictions with respect to raw material or synthesis route used. Nonetheless, characteristic impurity profiles obtained can be used in forensic casework to differentiate or link ETN samples. However, forensic interpretation can be complicated by acid catalyzed degradation which can cause changes in impurity levels over time. The high food-grade quality of the erythritol precursor materials did not provide other impurity markers using the LC-MS methods in this study. To expand our framework of chemical attribution a follow-up study will be reported that focuses on stable isotope analysis of ETN and its precursor materials that potentially allow predictions for forensic explosives intelligence.
       
  • A unified framework of source camera identification based on features
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Bo Wang, Kun Zhong, Zihao Shan, Mei Neng Zhu, Xue SuiAbstractSource camera identification, which aims at identifying the source camera of an image, has attracted a wide range of attention in the field of digital image forensics recently. Many approaches to source camera identification have been proposed by extracting some image features. However, most of these methods only focused on extracting features from the single artifact of the camera left on the captured images and ignored other artifacts that may help improve final accuracy. Therefore, in this paper, we propose a feature-based framework for source camera identification, which first captures various pure camera-specific artifacts through preprocessing and residual calculation, then extracts discriminative features through image transform, and finally reduces the algorithm complexity through feature reduction. Based on the framework, a novel source camera identification method is proposed, which can identify different camera brands, models and individuals with high accuracy. A large number of comparative experiments show that the proposed method outperforms the state-of-the-art methods.
       
  • Evaluating the effect of body fluid mixture on the relative expression
           ratio of blood-specific RNA markers
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Suaad Alshehhi, Penelope R. HaddrillAbstractThe estimation of the time elapsed since a biological stain was deposited at a crime scene can provide crucial information to a forensic investigation, indicating either when a crime was committed, or whether the biological evidence was deposited at the time of a known crime event. This would enable the investigators to limit the number of suspects and to assess alibis. The relative expression ratios (RERs) of body fluid-specific RNA markers are promising molecular tools for indicating the age of biological stains. However, the nature of some forensic samples found at crime scenes could be challenging, as they frequently occur in a mixture of different body fluid types. The research presented here has utilised reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to explore the impact of bloodstains being present in mixtures with other body fluids (saliva or semen) on the resulting RERs of blood-specific markers. The expression level of three blood-specific markers (HBA, HBB and miR16) along with two reference genes (18S and U6) were analysed across multiple ageing time points in pure and mixed bloodstains. For some markers, no significant differences were found when comparing RERs in pure and mixed bloodstains, however some RERs were altered in mixed stains. This indicates that the presence of body fluid mixtures may have a significant effect on the RERs of some blood-specific markers. This should therefore be considered when selecting markers for estimating the age of stains, particularly when multiple body fluids are thought to be present.
       
  • Distribution of quetiapine and metabolites in biological fluids and
           tissues
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Claudia Vignali, Francesca Freni, Camilla Magnani, Matteo Moretti, Chiara Siodambro, Angelo Groppi, Antonio Marco Maria Osculati, Luca MoriniAbstractQuetiapine is an atypical antipsychotic drug, frequently found in post-mortem samples. The quantitative determination of active metabolites may help in the interpretation of the potential toxic effects of the parent drug and its role in death. A fully validated LC–MS/MS method was developed for the identification and quantification of quetiapine and two main metabolites (N-desalkylquetiapine and 7-hydroxyquetiapine) in blood, biological fluids and tissues. Then, the distribution of analytes in different matrices was evaluated. LODs of 0.9, 0.3 and 0.3 ng/mL were calculated for quetiapine, N-desalkylquetiapine and 7-hydroxyquetiapine respectively; while a LOQ at the concentration of 10.0 ng/mL was defined for the three analytes. 13 post-mortem positive real cases have been included in the experiment. The results revealed that quetiapine and N-desalkylquetiapine might undergo a significant post-mortem redistribution, while 7-hydroxyquetiapine is less affected by this factor. N-desalkylquetiapine could be found in blood in relatively high concentrations in comparison to those of quetiapine; therefore, it should be always advisable to measure both the analytes. The analysis of tissues could provide additional data on potential intoxication with quetiapine.
       
  • Validity and reliability of forensic firearm examiners
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Erwin J.A.T. Mattijssen, Cilia L.M. Witteman, Charles E.H. Berger, Nicolaas W. Brand, Reinoud D. StoelAbstractForensic firearm examiners compare the features in cartridge cases to provide a judgment addressing the question about their source: do they originate from one and the same or from two different firearms' In this article, the validity and reliability of these judgments is studied and compared to the outcomes of a computer-based method. The features we looked at were the striation patterns of the firing pin aperture shear marks of four hundred test shots from two hundred Glock pistols, which were compared by a computer-based method. Sixty of the resulting 79,800 comparisons were shown to 77 firearm examiners. They were asked to judge whether the cartridge cases had the same source or a different source, and to indicate the degree of support the evidence provided for those judgments.The results show that the true positive rates (sensitivity) and the true negative rates (specificity) of firearm examiners are quite high. The examiners seem to be slightly less proficient at identifying same-source comparisons correctly, while they outperform the used computer-based method at identifying different-source comparisons.The judged degrees of support by examiners who report likelihood ratios are not well-calibrated. The examiners are overconfident, giving judgments of evidential strength that are too high. The judgments of the examiners and the outcomes of the computer-based method are only moderately correlated.We suggest to implement performance feedback to reduce overconfidence, to improve the calibration of degree of support judgments, and to study the possibility of combining the judgments of examiners and the outcomes of computer-based methods to increase the overall validity.
       
  • Development and validation of a systematic approach for the quantitative
           assessment of the quality of duct tape physical fits
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Meghan Prusinowski, Evie Brooks, Tatiana TrejosDuct tape is a common type material found at crime scenes such as sexual assaults, murders, kidnappings, and bombings. During the examination of a known and questioned item, a 3D realignment along their edges is known as a physical fit and is often regarded as conclusive evidence that the items were once part of a single object. The conclusion of a fit between edges relies on the examiner’s judgment to identify distinctive features across the tape ends. However, there are currently no consensus-based methodologies or standards to inform their opinions. This study developed a practical method to qualify and quantify tape end match features using edge similarity scores (ESS) and provided an empirically demonstrable basis to assess the significance of duct tape fracture fits. ESS were calculated as the proportion of observed matching sections per scrim bins across the fractured edge, providing a quantifiable criterion and means for a systematic peer review process. A set of 2280 duct tape end comparisons were analyzed for the validation study. The probative value of physical fits was evaluated through similarity metrics, error rates, and score-based likelihood ratios. The effects of separation method, stretching, and tape grade on the distribution of ESS and the overall accuracy are reported. The accuracy ranged from 84.9 % (higher quality hand-torn set) to over 99 % (low and mid-quality sets). No false positives were reported for any of the sets examined. On average, ESS higher than 80 % provided a score likelihood ratio (SLR) that supported the conclusion of a match, and ESS lower than 25 % provided an SLR supporting the conclusion of non-match.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Femoral blood concentrations of flualprazolam in 33 postmortem cases
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Pirkko Kriikku, Ilpo Rasanen, Ilkka Ojanperä, Gunilla Thelander, Robert Kronstrand, Svante VikingssonAbstractFlualprazolam is a novel designer benzodiazepine, structurally related to alprazolam, flubromazolam and triazolam. In the last couple of years, it has been frequently detected in seizures and in forensic cases in Sweden and Finland. However, there is a lack of published blood concentrations for the drug, which presents difficulties when assessing its relevance for the cause of death.A quantitative method for the determination of flualprazolam in post-mortem blood was developed and validated, and subsequently used to analyse samples from 33 deaths previously screened as testing positive for flualprazolam in Sweden and Finland.Most of the cases in the study were accidental deaths (61 %) or suicides (18 %). The median (range) flualprazolam concentration was 18.0 (3.0–68) ng/g. The majority of the deceased were male (82 %) and the median age was 30 years. The median age in the Swedish cases was significantly higher (35 years) than in the Finnish cases (23 years) (p 
       
  • Application of hematoxylin reagent for sperm cell separation in sexual
           crime evidence
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Joo-Young Kim, Man Il Kim, Hye Hyeon Lee, Hye Lim Kim, Eun-Jung Lee, Yang-Han Lee, In-Kwan Hwang, Byung-Won Chun, Pil-Won KangAbstractSeminal evidence obtained from a sexual crime scene provides clues for solving a case through forensic analysis. However, most evidence collected from sexual crime scenes is a mixture of sperm cells and vaginal discharge. Therefore, separating the sperm cells from the seminal evidence is very important. In this study, we developed a separation method for effectively separating sperm cells using differential extraction with commercially available sperm staining reagents such as hematoxylin and nigrosin. Hematoxylin (0.03 % v/v) effectively stained the sperm cells in ATL and TNE lysis buffer, while nigrosin did not. The loss of sperm cells during washing of the specimen was minimized using the differential extraction method. Subsequently, genomic DNA was extracted from the hematoxylin-stained sperm cells and subjected to short tandem repeat genotyping. We observed no interference from hematoxylin. These results indicate that hematoxylin can be used to stain sperm cells and thus facilitate subsequent genetic identification.
       
  • Study of cerebrospinal injuries by force transmission secondary to
           mandibular impacts using a finite element model
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Lucile Tuchtan, Yves Godio-Raboutet, Clémence Delteil, Georges Léonetti, Marie-Dominique Piercecchi Marti, Lionel ThollonAbstractBrain and cervical injuries are often described after major facial impacts but rarely after low-intensity mandibular impacts. Force transmission to the brain and spinal cord from a mandibular impact such as a punch was evaluated by the creation and validation of a complete finite element model of the head and neck. Anteroposterior uppercut impacts on the jaw were associated with considerable extension and strong stresses at the junction of the brainstem and spinal cord. Hook punch impacts transmitted forces directly to the brainstem and the spinal cord without extension of the spinal cord. Deaths after this type of blow with no observed histological lesions may be related to excessive stressing of the brainstem, through which pass the sensory-motor pathways and the vagus nerve and which is the regulatory center of the major vegetative functions. Biological parameters are different in each individual, and by using digital modeling they can be modulated at will (jaw shape, dentition…) for a realistic approach to forensic applications.
       
  • Cranial suture closure as an age indicator: A review
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 307Author(s): Sittiporn Ruengdit, D. Troy Case, Pasuk MahakkanukrauhAbstractCranial suture closure has been recognized for over a century as a useful trait for age estimation. Although this indicator has become a standard feature of age assessment protocols in skeletal remains, serious questions have been raised about its reliability. This article attempts to provide a comprehensive review of cranial suture closure as an age indicator from several perspectives, including its anatomy and history, as well as issues relating to validation, statistics, and the potential of technological advancements to improve outcomes. We further suggest a path forward for the use of cranial suture closure as an estimator of age. Although its unreliability has been widely reported, cranial suture closure still appears to have value as an aging method, and it is hoped that the information contained in this article can serve as a stepping stone toward more effective use of this indicator. The cranium is often more durable than other skeletal elements in both archaeological and forensic circumstances, so maximizing the effectiveness of cranial indicators is an important goal. It is hoped that recent advancements in technology and in analytical approaches to the cranial sutures could breathe some new life into this feature as an indicator of age.
       
  • Trends and Patterns in Homicides in Italy: A 34-year Descriptive Study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Monica Vichi, Silvia Ghirini, Paolo Roma, Gabriele Mandarelli, Maurizio Pompili, Stefano FerracutiAbstractAimsWe aimed at analyzing homicide trends and patterns in Italy over the period 1980–2014.MethodsWe collected data from the Italian Mortality Database (Italian National Institute of Statistics), for the study period. Temporal trends were analyzed using joinpoint regression analysis, with estimated annual percentage change computed for each detected trend. The possible effect of the mafia subculture was examined using an indicator of mafia social penetration. Differences between age classes, genders, geographical regions, and homicide methods were also analyzed.ResultsThe analyses showed an overall reduction in homicides during the study period, including a reduction in homicides by firearm. Further, we found significant differences between homicides involving male and female victims. A peak in male homicides, observed in the early 1990s, was significantly associated with mafia penetration.ConclusionsThe overall reduction in homicides can be interpreted as an expression of a “civilizing process.”
       
  • Evaluating the Evidentiary Value of the Analysis of Skeletal Trauma in
           Forensic Research: A Review of Research and Practice
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nicholas Dempsey, Soren BlauAbstractUnderstanding bone trauma characteristics is a fundamental component of forensic investigations that can assist in understanding the nature of blunt trauma related deaths. The variation of each blunt force trauma (BFT) injury is dependent on a magnitude of factors including, age, sex, health, angle of impact, impact mechanism, impact force and clothing, making BFT one of the more difficult area of trauma to interpret solely based on skeletal fractures. A detailed literature review was performed to assess the value and scientific rigour of the current research in forensic anthropology, forensic pathology and biomechanics that attempts to provide an objective framework in which forensic practitioners can assess and interpret BFT injuries. Four areas of research which investigate the analysis of BFT are examined. These included research involving experiments on animal models; experiments on human models (and synthetic models); computer modelling, and research/publications including 'mild', 'moderate' and 'severe' as descriptions of impact force, resulting from trauma. Also briefly discussed is how BFT research is framed within medicolegal contexts. While many published works have contributed to the understanding of the biomechanics of BFT, more research that can provide an objective means to accurately assess and interpret BFT injures is required.
       
  • Prevalence of DNA from the driver, passengers and others within a car of
           an exclusive driver
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Toni Boyko, B. Szkuta, R. John Mitchell, Roland A.H. van OorschotAbstractCars are often sampled for DNA to help identify occupants and their possible location(s) within the car. While DNA from the frequent driver is likely to accumulate over time, DNA from previous and/or subsequent occupants, and those whose DNA has inadvertently been transferred to the car, may also contribute to any samples collected. This study investigates how much DNA resides on various sites within cars, and who might contribute to these samples.A total of 35 to 36 sites, internal and external, were targeted within four cars with sole long-term drivers. In addition to the car keys, sample sites included the exterior and interior door handles (driver and passenger sides), through to the internal compartments (driver side, middle area and front passengers’ side). Reference samples were collected from the exclusive drivers, their co-resident partners and, where possible, recent passengers.The driver was always observed as a contributor in DNA profiles from the driver’s side and, in most instances, was the sole, major or majority contributor to the profile. The driver was also observed as a major, majority or minor contributor at several sites on the passenger side. DNA of known recent passengers, close associates of the driver and unknown individuals was collected from many sites on both the driver and passenger sides. These findings may assist in sample targeting within cars and in the evaluation of DNA evidence when propositions relate to the activities performed.
       
  • Falsified tadalafil tablets distributed in Japan via the internet
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Tomoko Sanada, Naoko Yoshida, Ryo Matsushita, Kazuko Kimura, Hirohito TsuboiAbstractThe adverse health effects of falsified medicines for erectile dysfunction have been reported in Japan. We purchased tadalafil (Cialis) tablets online and assessed their authenticity and quality. Of the 45 samples we tested, nine were genuine, 23 were falsified, nine were unregistered/unlicensed samples, and the authenticity of four samples could not be ascertained. Observation of packaging and tablet size, weight, and color revealed differences between some genuine and falsified samples. All genuine samples contained the active pharmaceutical ingredient tadalafil at adequate quantities, while falsified samples contained sildenafil (Viagra). Some falsified samples contained insufficient quantities of tadalafil. All unregistered/unlicensed samples contained neither tadalafil nor sildenafil. Some falsified samples did not dissolve/disintegrate sufficiently. The status of most samples was detectable by Raman scattering and near-infrared spectroscopy. Restricting consumer access to falsified medicines can prevent undesirable health effects.
       
  • ForeStatistics: A windows-based feature-rich software program for
           performing statistics in Forensic DNA analysis, Paternity and relationship
           testing
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nouman Rasool, Waqar HussainAbstractForensic science is one of the most modern and applied fields of science, today and comprises of various domains. These include Fingerprints analysis, Questioned document analysis, Forensic DNA and serology, Anthropometry, Cyber and Digital forensics, and many other fields. All these fields aid the process of decision making in the courts of law and legal settings; however, DNA profiling and its analyses are one of the most important aspects of forensic science today. In Forensic DNA analysis, the statistical calculations are very important to estimate the conclusiveness of DNA evidence in forensic cases; and to establish paternity and relatedness in civil and criminal matters. These statistics, when performed manually, leave a chance of error or ambiguity in the calculation, and are hectic and time-taking. Therefore, the computer-aided approaches are opted in forensics to perform DNA statistics calculations. Keeping its importance in mind, a highly accurate windows-based software program namely ForeStatistics is proposed in this study. ForeStatistics is rich in features such as DNA statistical calculations, DNA profile management and its matching. The software can estimate random match probabilities for single-source profiles, combined probability of inclusion for mixed profiles, paternity index of a disputed child in duo and trio cases, paternity of the disputed child when the alleged father is related to mother or biological father and relatedness in cases of grandparents/grandchild, avuncular relation and cousin. It is validated through different protocols and the validation of ForeStatistics depicts that it is highly accurate in terms of performing DNA statistics or DNA profile matching. Thus, it is concluded, that ForeStatistics has a great utility in the field of Forensic DNA analysis and can help DNA scientists, in performing various DNA related statistics, accurately and very efficiently. ForeStatistics can be downloaded freely from (http://zeetu.org/forestatistics.html).
       
  • A simple approach to use hand vein patterns as a tool for identification
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 January 2020Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Benno Hartung, Dominic Rauschning, Holger Schwender, Stefanie Ritz-TimmeAbstractIntroductionIn a case of child pornography, only the dorsum of the offender's hand was clearly visible. After identification of a suspect, the question arose of whether and how it is possible to identify or exclude the suspect as perpetrator according to the morphology of the hand vein pattern.Material and methodsA simple approach to use the hand vein pattern in crime suspects as a tool for identification was tested. In this study, the hand vein patterns of 30 study participants were analysed from conventional frames on videography. A standardised grid system consisting of six lines and four sectors was applied on the dorsum of the hands. Vein branchings within the sectors and line crossings of the veins were counted, leading to a total of 11 variables for each hand.ResultsA positive identification of each of the 30 test participants was possible for each hand when taking only the first five variables into account. A random overlapping prediction was obtained by statistically simulating hand vein patterns of different numbers of persons using this sample. Considering the hand vein frequencies in this sample, the results indicate that the chance for two persons having the same pattern is smaller than 1:1000.ConclusionsIt can be concluded that the introduced grid system approach can be an appropriate simple and non-costly tool for the analysis of the pattern of hand veins for identification purposes.
       
  • Pilot study on deformed bullet correlation
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 306Author(s): Zhe Chen, John Song, Johannes A. Soons, Robert M. Thompson, Xuezeng ZhaoAbstractMost studies on bullet identification address test fired bullets that have near pristine striated marks on the land engraved areas (LEAs). However, in case work, bullets found at a crime scene may be severely deformed or fragmented. The resulting missing, expanded, or distorted LEA striations can cause challenges in toolmark comparisons performed by examiners or algorithms. In this paper, an image reconstruction procedure is proposed that, in combination with the Congruent Matching Profile Segments (CMPS) profile comparison method, facilitates the algorithmic correlation of deformed bullets. Initial validation tests were conducted using 57 bullets, with varying degrees of fragmentation or deformation, that were fired from the same 9 mm Luger caliber Luger pistol. The bullets spanned 7 different ammunition brands. The CMPS method was applied to correlate the LEA striation profiles extracted from LEA topography images that were corrected for pattern distortion. 15 bullet LEAs, out of 250 bullet LEAs that could be measured, had major distortions. Two sets of comparison tests were conducted, corresponding to a same source and specific source scenario: 1) comparison of the severely distorted LEAs with a near-pristine reference bullet, before and after image reconstruction, and 2) inter comparisons of distorted LEAs, before and after reconstruction. The reconstruction process significantly improved the correlation results when dealing with distorted bullet LEAs. In general, the improvement was larger for samples with relatively large deformation and good striation visibility. Samples with approximately parallel striations tend to have less improvement of CMPS results after profile reconstruction since the CMPS method itself can correct certain scale errors.
       
  • Firearms identification by the acoustic signals of their mechanisms
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 306Author(s): Pavel Giverts, Saad Sofer, Yosef Solewicz, Boris VarerAbstractDuring the operation of firearms different sounds are made. The sound of a shot, the sound of a flying bullet as well as the sound of the bullet’s impact have all been investigated. However, less attention has been given to the sound of the mechanical operation of firearms. This research demonstrates that different types of firearms make different acoustic signals. Moreover, signals which are made by the same firearm during different operations are different. The article discusses how these acoustic signals can be analyzed, compared, and identified in a few different ways. As a result, machine learning has been found to be the most promising for this purpose. The research proves that the presented method of analysis of acoustic signals made by firearms can be used in forensic identification. In addition, the type and stages of further investigation are defined.
       
  • Lethal Hydrogen Sulfide poisoning in open space: An atypical case of
           asphyxiation of two workers
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Lucia Aventaggiato, Anna Pia Colucci, Giuseppe Strisciullo, Fabrizia Favalli, Roberto Gagliano-CandelaAbstractHydrogen sulfide is one of the most dangerous toxic gases that has led to the deaths in confined spaces of many workers. We report an atypical case of a fatal accident of H2S poisoning in an open space when two workers died during the opening of a hatch on a tanker truck filled with leachate water. Despite being outdoors, the two workers, were suddenly and quickly overwhelmed by a lethal cloud of H2S, which escaped like a geyser from the hatch and hovered over the top of the tanker making it impossible for them to survive. The first operator was engulfed by the sudden flow of lethal gas near the hatch while the second worker, who came to his aid, immediately lost consciousness and fell off the tanker onto the ground. Environmental toxicological analyses were carried out on the air near the hatch and inside the tanker 2 hours, 20 days and 70 days after the accident. Toxicological analyses on the blood were also carried out but unfortunately, no urine sample was available. The thiosulfate, detected by GC/MS analysis after derivatization of PFBBr, was found to be 0.01 and 0.04 mM/L. These values are included in the medium-low lethal values of occupational fatalities involving H2S reported in the literature.
       
  • UV-Visible Spectroscopic effect on Haemoglobin & DNA degradation: A
           forensic approach
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Suminder Kaur, Vineeta Saini, Ritika DalalGraphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Identifying PCP and Four PCP Analogs Using the Gold Chloride
           Microcrystalline Test Followed by Raman Microspectroscopy and Chemometrics
           
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Matthew Quinn, Thomas Brettell, Monica Joshi, Jennifer Bonetti, Lawrence QuarinoABSTRACTIdentifying drug analogs can be a vexing problem for forensic scientists particularly in today’s evolving drug market. This study proposes a method that utilizes microcrystalline tests, Raman microspectroscopy, and chemometrics to help solve this problem. In the present case, the method described was used to clearly differentiate and identify phencyclidine (PCP) and four of its analogs, namely tenocyclidine (TCP), rolicyclidine (PCPy), 3-methoxy phencyclidine (3-MeO PCP), and 4-methoxy phencyclidine (4-MeO PCP). Microcrystals were grown from each drug with gold chloride and examined using polarized light microscopy. Morphological and optical properties such as shape, habit, time of growth, color, retardation colors, type/angle of extinction, and sign of elongation were observed and documented to characterize each microcrystal. Analysis with a Raman microscope was able to provide structural information on the microcrystals. Objective analysis of the microcrystal spectra was done by employing chemometrics. A training set of Raman shifts was compiled and transformed with principal component analysis (PCA) followed by linear discriminant analysis (LDA). The training set was validated by leave-one-out cross validation (LOOCV) and subsequently ran against a separately-compiled test set. Mahalanobis distances between test samples and the clusters of training samples in LDA space were calculated to empirically demonstrate the applicability of this drug analysis technique. From the results of this study, a drug analysis protocol was developed for analysts to use for the identification of PCP, TCP, PCPy, 3-MeO PCP, and 4-MeO PCP and to serve as a model for drug analogs in general.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Chemometrics in forensic chemistry — Part II: Standardized applications
           – three examples involving illicit drugs
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): T. Salonen, B. Ahrens, M. Bovens, J. Eliaerts, S. Huhtala, A. Nordgaard, I. AlberinkAbstractIn the recently published article “Chemometrics in forensic chemistry - Part I: Implications to the forensic workflow” the application of chemometric methods in forensic casework was described. The steps to facilitate standardized chemometric procedures and the availability of chemometric tools such as software and a guideline are under development. Three examples of typical illicit drugs casework, wherein chemometric methods were applied, are presented in the current paper. The kind of questions presented in these examples cover identification, classification, comparison and quantification of illicit drugs. The examples include several types of data (low- or high-dimensional), pre-processing and chemometric analyses that are applied to answer the questions presented. The performance measures for the chemometric methods are described based on separate datasets for training and testing (validation) purposes. In this way it is illustrated how a chemometric method is set up and data analysis may be performed. The presented methods are intended to be easily translatable to questions in forensic chemistry that are not drug-related.
       
  • Automated face recognition in forensic science: Review and perspectives
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Maëlig Jacquet, Christophe ChampodAbstractWith recent technological innovations, the multiplication of captured images of criminal events has brought the comparison of faces to the forefront of the judicial scene. Forensic face recognition has become a ubiquitous tool to guide investigations, gather intelligence and provide evidence in court. However, its reliability in court still suffers from the lack of methodological standardization and empirical validation, notably when using automatic systems, which compare images and generate a matching score. Although the use of such systems increases drastically, it still requires more empirical studies based on adequate forensic data (surveillance footages and identity documents) to become a reliable method to present evidence in court. In this paper, we propose a review of the literature leading to the establishment of a methodological workflow to develop a score-based likelihood-ratio computation model using a Bayesian framework. Different approaches are proposed in the literature regarding the within-source and between-source variability distributions modelling. Depending on the data available, the modelling approach can be specific to the case or generic. Generic approaches allow interpreting the score without any available images of the suspect. Such model is henceforth harder to defend in court because the results are not anchored to the suspect. To make sure the computed score-based LR is robust, we must assess the performance of the model with two main characteristics: the discriminating power and the calibration state of the model. We hence describe the main metrics (Equal Error Rate and Cost of log likelihood-ratio), and graphical representations (Tippett plots, Detection Error Trade-off plot and Empirical Cross-Entropy plot) used to quantify and visualize the performance characteristics.
       
  • Determination of Chiral Cathinone in Fresh Samples of Catha
           Edulis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Abdulrhman M. DhabbahAbstractThe main psychoactive compound in Khat is cathinone which consists of two enantiomers, S-(-)-cathinone being more stimulant than its R antipode. This study aimed to the enantioseparation and determination of these two stereoisomers in different parts of fresh Catha edulis. The samples were solvent extracted and cathinone was derivatized with menthyl chloroformate. The separation of the two diastereomeric derivatives was carried out by gas chromatography and showed an excellent resolution, while their structure was confirmed by mass spectrometry. The quantitative determination of both enantiomers showed a different distribution in various investigated parts of the plant, as shown in their enantiomeric excess. Unlike the results published in some previous articles, the current study confirmed the presence of both S and R cathinone in all parts of the fresh plant. The concentration of S-cathinone was higher in stems while its values were lower in leaves. The obtained concentrations were in the ranges 0.081-0.290 and 0.087-0.211 mg/g for S and R antipodes, respectively. Also, S-cathinone which is the most psychoactive stereoisomer showed an increasing concentration from lower to upper stems of the plant. The present study is the first quantitative investigation of the two cathinone enantiomers in different parts of fresh Catha edulis.
       
  • The use of wing fray and sex ratios to determine the origin of flies at an
           indoor crime scene
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Meghan Beutler, Andrew Hart, Martin J.R. HallAbstractWhen adult flies are collected at indoor crime scenes, the question of their origin arises, i.e., whether they originated from the outdoors, coming in to oviposit on the body, or if they developed through the larval and pupal stages from eggs laid on the body. This is particularly important if no empty puparia were collected, potentially because they were overlooked, with a consequent impact on the accuracy of the minimum post-mortem interval estimation. This study used two methods to determine if flies sampled in various experimental conditions and at an actual crime scene were wild flies attracted to the body or had developed on the body, i.e., through the assessment of: (1) wing fray and; (2) sex ratio. A template was created to measure the amount of wing fray damage quantitatively in a simple, rapid and efficient manner. The experiments demonstrated that by combining the two methods it is possible to establish the origin of a population of adult flies at a crime scene.
       
  • Demonstrating reliability through transparency: a Scientific Validity
           Framework to assist scientists and lawyers in criminal proceedings
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): S. Carr, E. Piasecki, A GallopAbstractIn recent decades, forensic science evidence has come to play an increasingly significant role in criminal proceedings. However, the ability of non-scientists (lay-persons, including lawyers and judges) within criminal justice systems to recognise and resolve issues of validity and reliability relating to expert opinion evidence
has not maintained pace with the need to do so. Despite international scrutiny from scientists, statisticians, governments and those involved in law reform, the parameters of a) different forensic disciplines and b) some case specific interpretations, remain elusive to some legal practitioners and judges.
 It is therefore essential that within the context of national, and increasingly international and transnational criminal investigations, forensic science experts convey the evidential value of the scientific findings in a manner that is understandable to, and useable by all. 
To assist, this paper first identifies the organisational structures necessary to scaffold and support the delivery of reliable expert opinion evidence. This is followed by a format for transparently reporting the reasoning and the scientific validity underpinning the expert’s evidence within their report: a tripartite Scientific Validity Framework. This framework is comprised of (i) foundational validity, (ii) applied validity and (iii) the new concept of evaluative validity. Such a framework, because of its underlying scientific principles, is applicable to expert reports in any jurisdiction and is complementary to different national approaches. That is because utilising this framework could ensure that experts can, and do, demonstrate that their case-specific opinion is reliable and alert the legal profession to the expert’s reasoning process and any limitations in the scientific validity underpinning the opinion.
       
  • Development and commissioning of an instrumented pneumatic device to
           simulate blunt- and sharp-force trauma
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Justin R. Gaudet, W. Brent Lievers, Scott I. FairgrieveForensic investigators commonly interpret bone fracture patterns to estimate the force required to generate that trauma. Unfortunately, these estimates are limited to qualitative values such as “mild”, “moderate” or “extreme” force. This work presents a new experimental forensic device developed to simulate blunt- and sharp-force trauma injuries, while recording the forces and velocities involved, so that a more quantitative relationship between force and trauma can be established. The machine design is described in some detail, its capabilities are outlined, and the results of the commissioning and validation tests are presented. Preliminary results for both blunt- and sharp-force testing of porcine ribs, conducted at 3.8 m/s, indicate the average peak force (733 ± 95 N versus 392 ± 73 N), average force (334 ± 49 N versus 101 ± 24 N), and work (2.34 ± 0.26 J versus 0.68 ± 0.09 J) are significantly higher in the blunt case. The experimental data generated by this instrumented device will allow forensic investigators to create a better quantitative link between incident conditions (velocity, force, work) and the resulting fracture patterns.Graphical Graphical abstract for this article
       
  • Effects of lipophilicity and functional groups of synthetic cannabinoids
           on their blood concentrations and urinary excretion
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 December 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Hidenao Kakehashi, Noriaki Shima, Akari Ishikawa, Atsushi Nitta, Ryutaro Asai, Misato Wada, Shihoko Nakano, Shuntaro Matsuta, Keiko Sasaki, Hiroe Kamata, Tooru Kamata, Hiroshi Nishioka, Akihiro Miki, Munehiro KatagiAbstractThe influence of lipophilicity and functional groups of synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) on their blood concentrations and urinary excretion has been studied by analyzing blood and urine specimens sampled from drivers who were involved in a car crashes under the influence of SCs. A total of 58 specimens (26 urine and 31 blood specimens), sampled within 13 h of the occurrence, were analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Fifteen SCs were detected in those specimens; the SCs detected were categorized as follows: Class 1, Naphthoyl/Benzoyl indole (EAM2201 and three other analogs); Class 2, Indole–3–carboxylate/carboxamide containing naphthol/quinol (5F–PB–22 and four other analogs); and Class 3, Indazole–3–carboxamide containing valine/tert–leucine derivative (5F–AMB and five other analogs). The calculated lipophilicity index log P, the octanol/water participation coefficient, of those SCs in Classes 1, 2, and 3 ranged between 5.01–8.14, 5.80–6.74 and 2.29–3.81, respectively. Class 3 SCs were detectable in 12 out of 13 urine specimens, but those in Classes 1 and 2 were not detected in urine. Our analytical results indicated that the boundary line for their detectability in urine lies between log P 4 and 5. The blood concentrations of Class 3 SCs varied widely (0.0036–31 ng/ml) depending on their log P, while much smaller variation was observed among those in Class 2 (0.10–5.0 ng/ml).
       
  • Examination of gunshot residue arising from shotgun cartridges containing
           steel, bismuth or tungsten pellets
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Joshua Hallett, Michael Stolk, Michael Cook, K. Paul KirkbrideAbstractIn Australia, shotguns feature in criminal activity and suicide shootings relatively frequently. However, compared to studies dealing with GSR originating from rifled firearms, those dealing with residues originating from shotguns are rare. The purpose of the research described in this article was to specifically characterize particle populations ejected from shotguns, and especially populations produced when ammunition containing steel shot was used, as it was expected that the high levels of iron likely to be produced during discharge may complicate GSR evidence evaluation.The expected high numbers of iron particles in GSR ejected from the muzzle of a shotgun during discharge of cartridges loaded with steel shot were not detected. The inevitable conclusion of that finding - that metal from the shot does not contribute to GSR ejected from the muzzle of a shotgun - was confirmed when practically no particles containing tungsten, bismuth or zinc were detected when cartridges loaded with shot made from these metals were fired. It is suggested that the shot-cup in the ammunition was very effective at preventing the formation of GSR particles from the shot.In contrast to those findings, high numbers of iron particles were detected in GSR ejected from the breech of a shotgun when ammunition loaded with steel shot was fired. However, when ammunition loaded with bismuth or tungsten shot was fired, the levels of tungsten and bismuth particles ejected were very low but high numbers of iron particles were still detected. It is suggested that the firing mechanism in the gun itself, rather than the ammunition used, is responsible for the abundance of iron detected in GSR ejected from the breech.Despite the presence of iron in shotgun GSR, typical primer-derived residues (containing any or all of the elements lead, barium and antimony) were detected in residues ejected from the muzzle and the breech therefore evidence evaluation is relatively straightforward.
       
  • Automatic landmarking as a convenient prerequisite for geometric
           morphometrics. Validation on cone beam computed tomography (CBCT)- based
           shape analysis of the nasal complex
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): AF Ridel, F Demeter, M Galland, EN L’abbé, D Vandermeulen, AC OettléAbstractManual landmarking is used in several manual and semi-automated prediction guidelines for approximation of the nose. The manual placement of landmarks may, however, render the analysis less repeatable due to observer subjectivity and, consequently, have an impact on the accuracy of the human facial approximation. In order to address this subjectivity and thereby improve facial approximations, we are developing an automated three-dimensional (3D) method based on an automatic dense landmarking procedure using non-rigid surface registration. The aim of this study was to validate the automatic landmarking method by comparing the intra-observer errors (INTRA-OE) and inter-observer errors (INTER-OE) between automatic and manual landmarking.Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans of adult South Africans were selected from the Oral and Dental Hospital, University of Pretoria, South Africa. In this study, the validation of the automatic landmarking was performed on 20 3D surfaces. INTRA-OE and INTER-OE were analyzed by registering 41 craniometric landmarks from 10 hard-tissue surfaces and 21 capulometric landmarks from 10 soft-tissue surfaces of the same individuals. Absolute precision of the landmark positioning (both on the samples as well as the template) was assessed by calculating the measurement error (ME) for each landmark over different observers. Systematic error (bias) and relative random error (precision) was further quantified through repeated measures ANOVA (ANOVA-RM).The analysis showed that the random component of the ME in landmark positioning between the automatic observations were on average on par with the manual observations, except for the soft-tissue landmarks where automatic landmarking showed lower ME compared to manual landmarking. No bias was observed within the craniometric landmarking methods, but some bias was observed for capulometric landmarking.In conclusion, this research provides a first validation of the precision and accuracy of the automatic placement of landmarks on 3D hard- and soft-tissue surfaces and demonstrates its utilization as a convenient prerequisite for geometric morphometrics based shape analysis of the nasal complex.
       
  • An Evaluation of the Cut-off Value of Methamphetamine in Hair Samples via
           HPLC-MS/MS
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jun Ou, Yinyi Zhang, Chaoqun Zhong, Xu Qilin, Xu DaihuaAbstractMethamphetamine (MAMP) is one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs in Asian countries, which belongs to the amphetamine-type stimulant class of substances. To detect the chronic drug misuse, human hairs have often been used as analytical specimens due to their long detection windows and easy accessibility. However, there is a lack of investigation regarding the cut-off value of MAMP detection used in black-hair Chinese populations. Based on the analytical data obtained from 563 MAMP users, the cut-off value was found to be 0.97 ng/mg for the simultaneous detection of MAMP and amphetamine (AMP) ≥0.004 ng/mg (LOD). Through the established HPLC-MS/MS analytical method, the limits of detection and quantification of MAMP were 0.004 and 0.01 ng/mg, respectively. The cut-off value was optimized by AMP detection rate and receiver operating characteristic analysis, and the results were consistent with the previously reported MAMP/AMP ratio.
       
  • Characterization of the effect of fabric’s tensile behavior and sharp
           object properties on the resistance against penetration
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): N. Aliverdipour, N. Ezazshahabi, F. MousazadeganAbstractIn this study, the penetration procedure of sharp objects with various geometries in the fabric was considered. To this end, five objects consisted of two single edged knives, a double edged knife and two spikes were employed. Tests were performed on fabrics with different applications such as shirting, worsted, elastic denim, artificial leather and tarpaulin. The fabric’s tensile behavior and the tools geometry were probed. Then, the stab resistances of fabrics against mentioned devices were examined and their penetration force, depth and energy were considered. Outcomes illustrated that tool’s geometry has a determinant influence on the stabbing parameters. Fabrics with lower tensile modulus extend easily; therefore, higher penetration depth was obtained and this fact postponed the penetration phenomenon. In addition, the increase in the fabric’s strength resulted in higher penetration force. A direct relation was achieved between sharp tool’s geometry and fabrics destruction, in a way that damages obtained by knives are straight and slim line with cut yarns and fibers in the cross-section; however, the penetration of spikes makes damage with a circle shape and torn and protruded fibers are observed in the cross-section.
       
  • Variation within Physical and Digital Craniometrics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Matthew Lee, Karina Gerdau-RadonicAbstractMetric assessment of human crania can provide forensic practitioners and anthropological researchers with information on an individual’s sex and biogeographical ancestry. However, metric methods rely on the ability of users to remain consistent with themselves and others, with any error in the data rendering conclusions invalid.Digital anthropology is a growing sub-field where human remains are digitised using a growing range of methods and technologies. These models have the potential to boost research collaboration and public engagement. However, not all of these digitisation methods have been examined critically to explore the veracity of their use within a research environment. There has also been limited research into the application of digital anthropology to craniometric analysis. This study examined the intra- and inter- observer variation of seven participants taking physical measurements from a human cranial cast with an associated set of reference values. The same measurements were also taken from three digital models of the cranial cast which were created using digital photogrammetry and laser scanning. This data was then compared to the reference values and the physical measurements taken by the lead author.This study found that there was excellent statistical agreement between the reference values and the measurements taken from the cranial cast, both physical and digital. However, the participants still exhibited variation within a range of -18 mm and +30 mm from the reference values. MANOVA tests showed between-subject effects on nine measurements across the participant data, and 12 measurements between the digital models. However, there is little consistency between this study and the anthropological literature as to which measurements are most prone to between-subject effects. Despite the excellent agreement shown between the reference values and the digital models this study raises a number of methodological questions regarding inter-observer error and the varying levels of data processing present in different digitisation methods.
       
  • Using museum pelt collections to generate pollen prints from high-risk
           regions: A new palynological forensic strategy for geolocation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 27 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sophie Warny, Shannon Ferguson, Mark S. Hafner, Gilles EscarguelAbstractThe use of pollen as a forensic tool for geolocation is a well-established practice worldwide in cases ranging from the provenance of drugs and other illicit materials to tracking the travel of individuals in criminal investigations. Here we propose a novel approach to generation of pollen databases that uses pollen vacuumed from mammal pelts collected historically from international areas that are now deemed too high risk to visit. We present the results of a study we conducted using mammal pelts collected from Mexico. This new investigative technique is important because, although it would seem that the ubiquitous and geo-specific nature of pollen would make pollen analysis among the most promising forensic tools for law enforcement and intelligence agencies, it is not the case. The process is notoriously slow because pollen identification is a tedious task requiring trained specialists (palynologists) who are few in number worldwide, and the reference materials necessary for geolocation usually are rare or absent, especially from regions of the world that are no longer safe to visit because of war or threat of terrorism. Current forensic palynological work is carried out by a few highly trained palynologists who require accurate databases of pollen distribution, especially from sensitive areas, to do their jobs accurately and efficiently. Our project shows the suitability of using the untapped museum pelt resources to support homeland security programs. This first palynological study using museum pelts yielded 133 different pollen and spore types, including 8 moss or fern families, 12 gymnosperm genera and 112 angiosperm species. We show that the palynological print from each region is statistically different with some important clustering, demonstrating the potential to use this technique for geolocation.
       
  • The effect of DNA recovery on the subsequent quality of latent
           fingermarks: a pseudo-operational trial
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): S. Fieldhouse, R. Parsons, S. Bleay, L. Walton-WilliamsAbstractThe recovery of fingermarks and DNA from the same location at a crime scene can be problematic because of contamination issues associated with powdering or laboratory-based visualisation processes and/or the perceived destructive impact of commonly employed ‘swabbing’ approaches to DNA recovery. Previous research in a controlled environment demonstrated that it was possible to recover DNA and latent fingermarks from the same location on various substrates when an adhesive approach to DNA recovery was used. The aim of this research was to conduct a pseudo-operational trial into the dual recovery of DNA and fingermarks using gel lifters for DNA recovery. Participants were asked to voluntarily and anonymously donate a wide variety of porous and non-porous substrates post handling. No instruction as to fingermark deposition nor environmental storage was provided. BVDA gel lifters were applied to the substrates to replicate DNA recovery followed by the application of fingermark visualisation processes. The number and quality of the fingermarks was established using a grading approach. Application factors were also investigated to consider the effects of user variation. The results demonstrated that it was possible to recover DNA and fingermarks considered to be capable of supporting an identification. Fingermark quality post lifting was dependant on the substrates used. The weight applied to the gel during its application was a lesser contributing factor than the duration of its contact with the surface. There was a greater chance of leaving the fingermarks unaltered with the application of a low weight and instantaneous retraction.
       
  • Application of DNA repair for Streptococcus salivarius DNA-based
           identification of saliva from ultraviolet-exposed samples
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jun Ohta, Nanaka Noda, Saki Minegishi, Koichi SakuradaAbstractForensic samples are commonly influenced by various environmental factors, including ultraviolet (UV) irradiation; thus, forensic applications of DNA repair (e.g., PreCR™, Restorase®) have been investigated, focusing on short tandem repeat typing. However, current DNA-based examinations are used for both human and body fluid identification. This study thus aims to clarify the efficacy of a DNA repair approach for Streptococcus salivarius DNA-based identification of saliva from UV-damaged samples. Artificial UV-damaged genomic DNA of S. salivarius, drop saliva stains, and buccal swabs were used to evaluate the effects of DNA repair on S. salivarius DNA detection by using PreCR™ repair reagent. To evaluate forensic applications, we prepared mock forensic samples by exposing them to environmental conditions. Melting curve analysis following real-time PCR was applied for qualitatively detecting S. salivarius DNA with a specific melting peak of 80.5 °C ± 0.4 °C (n = 10, mean ± 3SD). Single PCR was used for quantitative and qualitative analyses, whereas dual PCR was used for S. salivarius DNA qualitative detection. DNA repair experiments using artificial UV-damaged samples revealed a significant increase of only the quantitative value of genomic DNA samples by DNA repair. Moreover, significant quantitative DNA repair effects were not observed in all mock forensic samples, indicating the limitations of DNA repair for actual cell-derived DNA samples. Whereas, differences of qualitative results (with or without detection) were generated for mock forensic samples; thus, we consider the DNA repair strategy as an additional approach for S. salivarius DNA-based identification of saliva from environmentally damaged evidence.
       
  • Postmortem Urine Concentration of N-terminal Pro-brain Natriuretic Peptide
           in Relation to the Cause of Death
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Shojiro Takasu, Sari Matsumoto, Yuko Kanto, Saki Kodama, Kimiharu IwadateAbstractThe utility of biochemical marker analysis in forensic autopsy cases is still uncertain due to the postmortem changes which they undergo. Thus, research is required to elucidate alternative samples and biochemical markers which are less affected by postmortem changes. Levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) are known to be elevated in congestive heart failure (CHF), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and sepsis patients. Although NT-proBNP is reportedly excreted into the urine, no study has previously evaluated the diagnostic efficacy of urinary concentrations in a forensic setting. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of NT-proBNP concentration in urine obtained postmortem in a series of forensic autopsy cases. Methods: Urinary NT-proBNP was measured in 36 AMI, 10 CHF, and 19 sepsis cases, and in 124 control cases (all with postmortem interval [PMI] < 72 h). Results: Urinary NT-proBNP was significantly higher in AMI, CHF, and sepsis cases than in control cases. Cut-off values for diagnosing AMI, CHF, and sepsis-related fatalities were 98 (sensitivity, 55.6%; specificity, 73.4%), 1050 (sensitivity, 80.0%; specificity, 94.4%), and 363 pg/mL (sensitivity, 84.2%; specificity, 85.5%), respectively. Furthermore, we subdivided the control cases according to the death process as either acute death (87 cases) or prolonged death cases (37 cases). Although urine NT-proBNP of CHF and sepsis cases were significantly higher compared with both cases, the concentration in the AMI cases were significantly high only when compared with the acute death cases. Conclusion: This study is the first to elucidate the diagnostic utility of NT-proBNP measurement in urine obtained postmortem in a series of causes of death. This study suggests the diagnostic efficacy for AMI, CHF, and sepsis-related fatality in cases in which the PMI was within 72 h.
       
  • Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology Sensitization in Post-Conflict
           Uganda
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jaymelee J. Kim, Lucia Elgerud, Hugh TullerAbstractThe renowned work of Clyde Snow and the development of the Equipo Argentino de Anthropología Forense (EAAF) team has inspired the use of forensic anthropological and archaeological skills in human rights interventions around the world. Whether for medico-legal intervention and acquisition of evidence or humanitarian repatriation and identification of human remains, forensic expertise has garnered attention in the global arena. Arguably fulfilling evidentiary and psychosocial needs, there has been growing interest in this post-conflict redress. However, as part of the critique of these interventions, scholars and practitioners have pointed out – primarily in medico-legal investigations – a lack of sensitization of local communities regarding forensic work, increasing the potential for re-traumatization, unrealistic expectations, or an unintentional increase in political tensions. Research regarding forensic intervention and human remains have permeated social sciences, peace and conflict studies, and science and technology studies, revealing both intentional and unintentional impacts of forensic sciences after mass violence. In an effort to mitigate negative impacts of medico-legal or humanitarian interventions, the research described here sought to sensitize communities in Uganda about forensic methods. Findings from this study suggest that sensitization is necessary and desired, and that a multi-step approach can assist in managing expectations.
       
  • Distribution of zopiclone and main metabolites in hair following a single
           dose
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Stine Lund Hansen, Sys Stybe Johansen, Marie Katrine Klose Nielsen, Gunnel Nilsson, Robert KronstrandAbstractIn forensic investigations, such as drug-facilitated crimes, reference values are useful for interpretation of hair results. The aim of this study was to establish levels of zopiclone and two main metabolites, N-desmethylzopiclone and zopiclone N-oxide, in hair after the administration of a single dose of zopiclone, as very limited data are published. A controlled study was performed, where 16 volunteers consumed either 5 or 10 mg zopiclone. Hair was sampled prior to consumption and 14, 30, 60, and 120 days after intake. The deposition of drug in hair segments of all sampling time points was followed in small hair segments of 5-mm, using a validated ultra-high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method. In all participants, hair segments corresponding to the time of intake were positive for zopiclone, but also with lower concentrations in the neighbouring segments. The highest zopiclone concentrations were detected in samples collected 30 or 60 days after intake. For all sampling time points maximum values for the 5-mg dose ranged from 5.0 to 370 pg/mg for zopiclone and 5.4 to 300 pg/mg for N-desmethylzopiclone, where the maximum values for the 10-mg dose ranged from 17 to 590 pg/mg for zopiclone and 25 to 410 pg/mg for N-desmethylzopiclone for all sampling time points. No significant difference in concentrations was found between the two dosing groups for either zopiclone or N-desmethylzopiclone. Almost half of the participants showed lower levels 14 days after intake than in the later sampling time points. The metabolite to parent drug ratio of N-desmethylzopiclone to zopiclone varied from 0.6 to 3.4 (median = 1.2) for the maximum levels of all sampling time points. N-desmethylzopiclone are suggested to serve as an additional marker to confirm the intake of zopiclone. Traces of zopiclone N-oxide were detected in hair from only eight participants. This study showed, that it was possible to follow zopiclone and N-desmethylzopiclone in hair for 4 months even though the drugs was divided into several segments in the latest collected hair samples, and no obvious wash-out effect between the sampling time points by e.g. personal hygiene could be discerned because the cumulated amount at each sampling time point was similar. We conclude that the analysis of short segments e.g. segments of 5-mm can help determine the time of a single intake of zopiclone and that obtaining a sample 1–2 months after a drug exposure provide the best conditions to detect and interpret the results.
       
  • Precocious egg development in wild Calliphora vicina (Diptera:
           Calliphoridae) population – an issue of relevance in forensic
           entomology'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Lena Lutz, Jens AmendtAbstractThe list of factors influencing the development of forensically important insects and the related effects on minimum post mortem (PMImin) estimations is long and well established by various authors in forensic entomology over the last decades. Despite the fact that several authors mention precocious egg development, i.e. first instar larva in the genital tract of some species of Calliphoridae, as a potential error source for PMImin estimations just two studies were performed to examine the occurrence of precocious eggs both in laboratory and field populations of blow flies. In the present study the occurrence of gravid females with precocious eggs in a wild population of Calliphora vicina in Frankfurt am Main was surveyed over 152 days and their seasonal distribution was analyzed as well as the influence of abiotic variables on their abundance. During the sampling occasions, 5.126 female specimens were sampled of which 44 % were gravid. 54 % of all gravid females had a precocious egg/first instar larva in their genital tract. This number varied depending on the season and showed the highest amount in spring with almost 64% of all gravid females. Hence precocious eggs in wild populations of blow flies can occur much more frequently than mentioned in forensic literature. Consequences for the evaluation of entomological evidence in forensic casework should not be overrated since focusing alone on the largest larva in a sample is not recommended as the sole reference in an entomological PMImin estimation. The entomological report has to justify its findings, discuss different options and finally state what is considered to be the most likely scenario based on the complete evidence (e.g. including all species and relevant age cohorts as well as succession data) and the case specific history.
       
  • The role of self-immolation in complex suicides: a neglected topic in
           current literature
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Francesco Simonit, Ugo Da Broi, Lorenzo DesinanAbstractSuicides involving more than one suicide method are termed “complex suicides” and need to be differentiated from murders. Self-immolation is the action of setting fire to oneself and is an infrequent method of suicide method in Western countries. However, burned corpses must be carefully examined because setting fire to a body after death can be a way of covering up a crime. Complex suicides involving self-immolation are rare, but careful analysis is necessary if we are to identify the manner of death. A systematic search of the literature concerning self-incineration in cases of complex suicides was carried out. This covered the age, gender and psychiatric condition of the victims, any history of previous suicide attempts, the existence of suicide notes, evidence of fire accelerants, signs of vital exposure to the fire, toxicology, the other suicide methods used in combination with burning and the characteristics of the burns. 46 cases were found in 22 papers published since 1985, but few of these studies provide any detailed analysis and in several cases many important data were missing. There is, therefore, a need to study this topic and to use an approach based on careful examination of the corpse, detailed investigation of the scene, toxicological examination and an evaluation of the victim’s physical and psychiatric state.
       
  • Clean and clear (out): A neat method for the recovery of latent
           fingermarks from crime-scenes
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Y. Harush-Brosh, I. Hefetz, M. Hauzer, L. Mayuoni-Kirshenbaum, Y. Mashiach, M. Faerman, M. Levin-EladAbstractCrime-scenes are the heart of any investigation in terms of recovery of key forensic evidence - fingermarks and DNA. Yet, quite often, the operational work of the forensic units, in which different chemicals and reagents for fingermarks development are applied, can also be highly destructive to the property and the environment. Hence, for both ecological and intelligence purposes, an operational method that minimizes that damage would be ideal. In this study, an "out-of-the-box" approach is proposed; rather than working at the crime scene itself, gel-lifters were used as a transferring tool for the latent forensic evidence, fingermarks and DNA, to be developed by applying black wet-powder (Wetwop®) in a controlled laboratory environment, leaving the crime-scene undisturbed. The results show a promising potential, as this indirect method proved to be robust and successful for non-porous surfaces, and even for aged fingermarks. In addition, this study gave a new perspective into the accepted notion regarding the difference between male and female donors, showing a direct correlation of the size and weight of the hands to the natural pressure applied by the donor. Moreover, the indirect nature of the method highlights the importance of the interaction between the type of surface and the latent fingermark constituents, primarily water, and its effect on the survivability and quality of the developed fingermark. Due to the growing demand of keeping crime scenes and exhibits unharmed by both police and intelligence forces, the new approach of this application provides a valuable asset for future operational field-work.
       
  • Estimating Sex from the Seven Cervical Vertebrae: An Analysis of Two
           European Skeletal Populations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Andrew S. Rozendaal, Shelby Scott, Tanya R. Peckmann, Susan MeekAbstractMethods for estimating sex from a variety of skeletal elements is vital in forensic anthropology as many of the traditionally studied bones are often fragmented upon recovery. The current study examined the seven cervical vertebrae to establish an accurate sex estimation method for Europeans. Discriminant functions were developed from the seven cervical vertebrae using the maximum body height (CHT), vertebral foramen anterior-posterior diameter (CAP), and vertebral foramen transverse diameter (CTR). To date, no study has used these variables to estimate sex from human remains. Two hundred and ninety-five adult individuals (157 males, 138 females) from the University of Athens and the Luis Lopes skeletal collections were studied. No population differences were exhibited between the contemporary Greek and historic Portuguese skeletons, indicating that discriminant functions for sex estimation from the cervical vertebrae may not be population- or temporally-specific. The results of this study indicate that only CHT and CTR exhibited statistically significant sexual dimorphism. Seven multivariate discriminant functions were developed with accuracy rates between 80.3% and 84.5%. Cross-validation studies showed that five of the seven functions exhibited strong statistical algorithms. This study will assist with estimating the sex of unknown Europeans from the cervical vertebrae especially in cases where more accurate predictors of sex, such as the skull or the pelvis, are unavailable.
       
  • The Rise of Veterinary Forensics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nicola M.A. Parry, Alexander StollAbstractVeterinary forensics is rapidly emerging as a distinct branch of veterinary medicine, especially because of increasing mindfulness about animal cruelty, and of the link between acts of cruelty to animals and violence toward humans. Nevertheless, the application of forensic sciences in veterinary cases lags behind its application in medical cases. Although gaps persist in veterinarians’ knowledge of forensics and in how to apply this field to medicolegal cases involving animals, continued research and publication in veterinary forensics are rapidly developing the evidence base in this area. Additionally, educational opportunities in veterinary forensics are also increasing at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Together, these changes will continue to improve veterinarians’ abilities to investigate cases involving animals. To further strengthen these investigations, veterinarians should also collaborate with the appropriate experts in different disciplines of forensic science.
       
  • IMPROVED MEASUREMENT OF ETHYL GLUCURONIDE CONCENTRATIONS IN HAIR USING
           UPLCMS/MS FOR THE EVALUATION OF CHRONIC ETHANOL CONSUMPTION
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): M.F. Bastiani, L.L.F. Lizot, A.C.C. Da Silva, R.Z. Hahn, S.S. Dries, M.S. Perassolo, M.V. Antunes, R. LindenAbstractThe presence of Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in hair provides a strong indication of ethanol consumption and its investigation is of interest in both clinical and forensic contexts because of the wide window of detection. However, due to the possibility of false negative results in cases of small ethanol intake or excessive hair washing, the combined measurement of ethyl palmitate (EtP) with EtG could be useful. In this study, a sensitive UHPLC-MS/MS procedure for the measurement of EtG in hair was developed and validated, using optimized sample preparation and chromatographic separation. Milled hair was extracted with water for 24 h at room temperature, followed by clean-up of the extract by ion-exchange solid phase extraction (SPE). Extraction was highly efficient, with yield of 96.93-101.06%. Chromatographic separation was performed with a Fluoro-Phenyl stationary phase. The assay was linear from 4 to 500 pg mg -1, with accuracy in the range of 100.30 to 106.16%. Matrix effects (-0.87-5.89%) were adequately compensated by the use of deuterated EtG as internal standard. EtG was measured in hair samples of 46 volunteers, and results were compared with hair concentrations of ethyl palmitate (EtP) and the score in the AUDITC questionnaire. EtG hair concentrations were significantly correlated to the AUDIT-C classification (r S =0.365, p
       
  • Autopsy as a form of evisceration: Implications for decomposition rate,
           pattern, and estimation of postmortem interval
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Christiane Baigent, Cortnee Agan, Melissa Connor, Eriek S. HansenAbstractEvisceration following penetrating trauma or animal scavenging has the potential to affect the probative value of biological evidence and postmortem interval estimation. Autopsy presents an opportunity for controlled assessment of the rate of decomposition following evisceration. A balanced sample of twenty-six human cadavers was used to assess intergroup rate and trajectory of decomposition at the Forensic Investigation Research Station in Whitewater, Colorado. A linear mixed model using maximum likelihood estimates showed that the decomposition rate did not differ between autopsied and non-autopsied donors based on a comparison of slopes χ2(1) = 0.223, p = 0.637. The results demonstrate that penetrating trauma and the loss of systemic continuity following evisceration affect the pattern of decomposition, but not the rate. This suggests that the bloat phase may not be a major catalyst of decomposition, and that evisceration may not preclude the use of scopic methods for estimating postmortem interval, when sufficient peripheral tissue is retained.
       
  • Development of a LC-MS/MS method for determination of propofol-glucuronide
           in hair and preliminary study on relationships between dose and hair
           concentration
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nam ji Kwon, Hyo Jeong Kim, Sungnam Cho, Min Ah Lee, Eunyoung HanAbstractPropofol abuse has been reported worldwide, suggesting the need to establish analytical methods for human biological samples to investigate the abuse of propofol. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between dose and hair concentration using a simple and rapid analytical method developed and validated in this study. In the sample preparation, hair samples were washed with distilled water and methanol and extracted in methanol during 16 hours at room temperature. After centrifugation and evaporation, the residue was reconstituted and filtered through a 0.22 μm membrane filter before LC-MS/MS analysis. The precursor-to-product ion transitions were 353 → 175, 113 for propofol glucuronide and m/z 370 → 175, 113 for internal standard(propofol glucuronide-d17). The calibration curves were satisfactory (R2 = 0.9997) and the limits of detection and quantification were 2 and 5 pg/mg, respectively. In addition, this study collected the history of propofol use from subjects using a questionnaire and analyzed subjects' hair samples using an analytical method. As a result, the concentrations of propofol glucuronide ranged from 7 to 122 pg/mg (mean : 51 pg/mg). There were cases of positive relationships, but there was no correlation between dose and hair concentration.
       
  • Thresholds for the assessment of inflicted head injury by shaking trauma
           in infants: a systematic review
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Luuk A.H. Schiks, Jenny Dankelman, Arjo J. LoeveAbstractIn order to investigate potential causal relations between the shaking of infants and injuries, biomechanical studies compare brain and skull dynamic behavior during shaking to injury thresholds. However, performing shaking tolerance research on infants, either in vivo or ex vivo, is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, infant injury thresholds are usually estimated by scaling or extrapolating adult or animal data obtained from crash tests or whiplash experiments. However, it is doubtful whether such data accurately matches the biomechanics of shaking in an infant. Hence some thresholds may be inappropriate to be used for the assessment of inflicted head injury by shaking trauma in infants.A systematic literature review was conducted to 1) provide an overview of existing thresholds for head- and neck injuries related to violent shaking, and 2) to identify and discuss which thresholds have been used or could be used for the assessment of inflicted head injury by shaking trauma in infants.Key findings: The majority of studies establishing or proposing injury thresholds were found to be based on loading cycle durations and loading cycle repetitions that did not resemble those occurring during shaking, or had experimental conditions that were insufficiently documented in order to evaluate the applicability of such thresholds. Injury thresholds that were applied in studies aimed at assessing whether an injury could occur under certain shaking conditions were all based on experiments that did not properly replicate the loading characteristics of shaking. Somewhat validated threshold scaling methods only exist for scaling concussive injury thresholds from adult primate to adult human. Scaling methods that have been used for scaling other injuries, or for scaling adult injury thresholds to infants were not validated. There is a clear and urgent need for new injury thresholds established by accurately replicating the loading characteristics of shaking.
       
  • Technical note: Preparation improvement of charred cadaveric viscera using
           sandison’s rehydrating solution for histological analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Guendalina Gentile, Alessio Battistini, Salvatore Andreola, Michele Boracchi, Matteo Marchesi, Stefano Tambuzzi, Riccardo ZojaIn forensic evaluation of charred corpses, internal detrimental signs may result as more significant of those observed during external examination and is often arduous to state if a victim was exposed to fire before or after death. When the histological analysis of the remaining internal viscera is necessary, the massive destruction caused by the lesion, the charring and the coarctation of the samples don't allow to give further information or to determine the remaining organic components of the viscera. This limit is determined by the intrinsic characteristics of this thermal lesivity of self-maintenance even after the exitus of the subject, worsening the initial detrimental framework. The
      Authors , with the purpose of improving the microscopic visualization of the samples collected from cadavers with peculiar deterioration, as in case of carbonization, suggest the use of a specific technical protocol based on the use of Sandison's rehydrating solution since the samples treated with this solution showed, at microscopic examination, a substantial histological-morphological improvement.
       
  • Editorial
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Didier Meuwly
       
  • What happened before the run over' Morphometric 3D reconstruction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ursula Buck, Kirsten Buße, Lorenzo Campana, Felix Gummel, Christian Schyma, Christian JackowskiAbstractIn traffic accidents, the differentiation of run-over and other injuries is crucial because questions about the origin of fatal injuries often arise. It is sometimes difficult for forensic pathologists to answer them due to the superimposition of injuries or competing, potentially fatal findings. Therefore, using morphometric three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions offers new perspectives based on an interdisciplinary evaluation of all findings and traces.The morphometric 3D reconstruction includes the allocation of patterned injuries or transferred material, the determination of the origin of injuries as well as the reconstruction of the incident. The generated 3D models of persons, clothes, vehicles, incident sites and relevant objects resulting from forensic imaging, photogrammetry, 3D structured-light and laser scanning are included, as are all detected traces and damages. Three case studies are presented to illustrate the possibilities and results of morphometric 3D reconstruction.Run-over accidents have received less attention than the topic of pedestrian, bicycle and motorbike accident analysis for which there is a large body of literature. Our goal is to add to the understanding of run-over accidents using morphometric reconstruction in order to improve their analysis in the future.The possibilities of morphometric reconstructions by means of 3D techniques in run-over accidents are wide-ranging and can provide new, unexpected and significant insights.
       
  • New strategy for carbon monoxide poisoning diagnosis: Carboxyhemoglobin
           (COHb) vs Total Blood Carbon Monoxide (TBCO)
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Stefania Oliverio, Vincent VarletAbstractDiagnosis of carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings has always been a challenging task due to the susceptibility to alterations of the optical state and degradation of blood samples during sampling, transport and storage, which highly affects the analysis with spectrophotometric methods. Methodological improvements are then required urgently because of increased reports of cases with discrepancies between results of the measured biomarker carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) and reported symptoms. Total blood CO (TBCO) measured chromatographically was thus proposed in a previous study as alternative biomarker to COHb. This approach was investigated in this study by comparing the two biomarkers and assessing the effects of various storage parameters (temperature, preservative, time, tube headspace (HS) volume, initial saturation level, freeze- and thaw- and reopening-cycles) over a period of one month. Results show that while for TBCO, concentrations are relatively stable over the observation period regardless of parameters such as temperature, time and HS volume, for COHb, concentrations are altered significantly during storage. Therefore, the use of TBCO as alternative biomarker for CO poisonings has been proposed, since it provides more valid results and is more stable even under non-optimal storage conditions. Additionally, it can be used to predict COHb in cases where sample degradation hinders optical measurement. Furthermore, a correction formula for COHb and TBCO is provided to be used in laboratories or circumstances where optimal storage or analysis is not possible, to obtain more accurate results.
       
  • Distribution of aerosol paint droplets in open- and closed-space
           environments: towards activity level evaluation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Mylène Falardeau, Cyril MuehlethalerOne way to determine the presence of a suspect on the scene of graffiti sprayed public territory, is by seeking the presence of aerosol paint droplets transferred to his clothing and accessories. Previous studies have evaluated the distribution of spray paint droplets in closed space, on clothing, and its persistence following washing. Yet, due to the difficulty in observing and counting them under a stereomicroscope, the previous studies had to limit the tests conducted and limit the amount of data collected. In this paper, we perform simulations of spraying using a fluorescent paint and a computer-automated extraction of features and counting of the droplets. With these tools we were able to perform many different tests in a relatively small amount of time and gather data about the density, distribution, and size of the droplets transferred. We discuss the obtained results and hypothesize that such evaluations of the transferred droplets would permit to distinguish between different scenarios at an activity level, such as the presence on the scene as a simple witness or bystander, versus the illicit action of spraying a graffiti or a tag.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Concentrations of THC, CBD, and CBN in commercial hemp seeds and hempseed
           oil sold in Korea
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Eunyoung Jang, Hyojeong Kim, Seojeong Jang, Jaesin Lee, Seungkyung Baeck, Sanghwan In, Eunmi Kim, Yong-ung Kim, Eunyoung HanAbstractHemp seeds and hempseed oil are marketed on- and off-line as health foods and cosmetics and have been reported to have high nutrient contents. However, because of the various side effects of cannabinoids, especially △9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), many countries regulate upper limits for THC in products, which creates the need for analytical techniques capable of measuring THC, cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN) levels in commercial hemp seeds and hempseed oil. In the present study, hemp seed and hempseed oil extracts obtained by methanol extraction, were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Validation of the technique used was performed using calibration curves and by determining LODs, LOQs, specificities, selectivities, and intra- and inter-day precision and accuracies. In addition, matrix effects, process efficiencies, recoveries, and sample stabilities were investigated. In hemp seeds, as determined using the fully optimized method THC concentrations ranged from 0.06 to 5.91 μg/g, CBD concentrations from 0.32 to 25.55 μg/g, and CBN concentrations from 0.01 to 1.50 μg/g; CBN/THC ratios ranged from 0.1 to 1.60, and CBD/THC ratios from 0.11 to 62.56. Furthermore, the (THC + CBN)/CBD ratio of most hemp seed samples was less than one. In hempseed oil, THC concentrations ranged from 0.3 to 19.73 μg/mL, CBD concentrations from 6.66 to 63.40 μg/mL, CBN concentrations from 0.11 to 2.31 μg/mL, CBN/THC ratios from 0.12 to 0.42, and CBD/THC ratios from 3.21 to 22.50. Furthermore, (THC + CBN)/CBD ratios in all hempseed oil samples were less than one. The optimized methanol extraction-GC/MS technique was found to be satisfactory for determining THC, CBD, and CBN concentrations in hemp seeds and hempseed oil.
       
  • Tears and Eyewear in Forensic Investigation—A Review
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): R. Aparna, R. Shanti IyerAbstractBody fluid analysis has played a crucial role in ascertaining various characteristics and has greatly aided in reconstructing events during crime scene investigation. It is often presumed that crimes that involve violence and mental disturbances such as murder or sexual assault provide good sources of body fluids such as blood, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, urine and tears. Tears are secreted in response to any emotional or stressful situations and may be found deposited on surfaces such as bedding, tissue paper or cloth. In the absence of the commonly noted body fluids such as blood or saliva, tears can play an important role that can lead to personal identification by examining the biochemistry and molecular aspects to obtain a full DNA profile. Additionally, identification of an individual may be done by carefully observing certain unique eye characteristics such as heterochromia which is highly individualistic. Characteristics of eyewear such as spectacles and contact lenses have unique properties and prescription criteria for correcting an individual’s eyesight that can provide vital clues in understanding the visual ability of an individual. In crime scene investigation, the presence or absence of eyewear provides immense evidentiary value that has greatly aided in solving cases such as Janet Abaroa’s Murder. This paper provides a systematic review of the possibility of using tears and eyewear for the purpose of forensic investigation and to statistically support the inferences with prescription databases which may be initiated across different populations. Forensic Optometry is yet to get streamlined along with the routinely followed investigative techniques and scientifically explored although no standard protocols exist to analyse eyewear. The use of behavioural optometry is gaining attention in the context of driving laws of different countries and is a simple but powerful indicator of abnormal behaviour. It is speculated that the last seen image referred as an ‘Optogram’ of an individual may be captured in the retina since our eyes functions like a camera. Although this claim is considerably unexplored, it is quite possible that the last seen image of a criminal, objects or a place may be noted that can positively help in liking individuals at the scene of crime or identify the primary crime location. In this review, the potential for new insights into the analysis of tears, eye and eyewear characteristics have been explored.
       
  • A new method for opening quartz halogen light bulbs in vehicle accident
           investigations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ayal Aronson, Yigal Zidon, Yaron Cohen, Nir FinkelsteinAbstractAfter a car accident, it is an important forensic task to evaluate the status of the vehicle's lighting at the time of impact. In some cases, the bulb has to be opened up to allow proper examination of the high and low beam filaments. Quartz halogen pressurized bulbs are both rigid and brittle and their internal pressure makes them likelier to explode. This study aimed to develop a more elegant method of breaking halogen bulbs open that would minimize the danger of explosion and the risk of damaging the filaments in the process. As part of the study, several opening methods were tried on multiple pressurized quartz halogen bulbs, such as cutting a groove with a hacksaw or a rotary tool, using a propane torch on the bulb to cut or warm it and then cooling it rapidly. Repeated testing by several examiners has shown that the new method developed in this study is the safest and easiest compared with other established methods.
       
  • A semi-automated protocol for NGS metabarcoding and fungal analysis in
           forensic
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): S. Giampaoli, E. De Vittori, G.V. Frajese, A. Paytuví, W. Sanseverino, A. Anselmo, F. Barni, A. BertiAbstractMetabarcoding through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) has revolutionized environmental biological studies. The availability of this technical approach has opened the opportunity for a systematic implementation of fungal metabarcoding analysis in forensics, where standardized, sensitive and reproducible protocols are highly desirable. In the present paper, a pipeline including a semi-automated molecular protocol and user-friendly bioinformatics tools are applied to several kinds of environmental samples and forensic caseworks. The identification of fungi that characterize specific environments (like Aspergillus for indoor walls, or Penicillium, Debaryomices and Wickerhamomyces for food storage) can be informative for the provenance of samples. In some situations, fungal analysis cannot allow the identification of a defined environment but seems useful to cluster samples with similar provenance. Based on these considerations, fungal analysis can be included in a wider process of non-human DNA identification in order to provide clues on sample provenance.
       
  • Preservation of forensic traces by health professionals in a hospital in
           Northeast Brazil
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Juliana de Oliveira Musse, Victor S. Santos, David da Silva Santos, Flávia Pimentel dos Santos, Claudia Moura MeloAbstractBackgroundHealth professionals who work in emergency services must be prepared for the recognition, collection, storage, preservation and documentation of all physical traces related to injuries or crime, because failures in these processes may compromise any forensic analysis. We, therefore, investigated emergency health professionals’ levels of knowledge about these processes and their abilities to implement them in practice during the care of victims of violence in an emergency unit of a specialized trauma hospital.MethodsThis was a survey to describe the knowledge of professionals working in the emergency department of the Sergipe Urgent Care Hospital (HUSE) in Sergipe state, Northeast Brazil about the preservation of forensic traces and their ability to implement the necessary related processes in practice. Their knowledge of the preservation of forensic materials and their abilities to implement the processes related to their preservation were assessed using the Portuguese version of the Questionnaire on the Preservation of Forensic Traces in Victim Assistance.ResultsA total of 144 health professionals completed the questionnaire, of whom 23 (16%) were physicians, 33 (22.9%) nurses and 88 (61.1%) nursing technicians. Most physicians (15/65.2%) reported knowing between 50 and 70% of the required procedures, and the majority of nurses and nursing technicians knew less than 50% (15/45.5% and 72/81.8%, respectively). Regarding their actual implementation, most physicians and nurses reported performing between 50% and 70% of the procedures (22/95.7% and 15/45.5%, respectively), while nursing technicians reported performing less than 50% (55/62.5%).ConclusionMost professionals in the three professions (physician, nurse and nursing technician) knew less than 50% of the required procedures for the documentation, collection and preservation of forensic traces, which explains the low implementation of most of the actions, particularly those related to the collection and preservation of traces.
       
  • A Bayesian approach for the analysis of error rate studies in forensic
           science
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): J.H. Hendricks, C. NeumannAbstractOver the past decade, the field of forensic science has received recommendations from the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to study the validity and reliability of forensic analyses. More specifically, these committees recommend estimation of the rates of occurrence of erroneous conclusions drawn from forensic analyses. “Black box” studies for the various subjective feature-based comparison methods are intended for this purpose.In general, “black box” studies often have unbalanced designs, comparisons that are not independent, and missing data. These aspects pose difficulty in the analysis of the results and are often ignored. Instead, interpretation of the data relies on methods that assume independence between observations and a balanced experiment. Furthermore, all of these projects are interpreted within the frequentist framework and result in point estimates associated with confidence intervals that are confusing to communicate and understand.We propose to use an existing likelihood-free Bayesian inference method, called Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC), that is capable of handling unbalanced designs, dependencies among the observations, and missing data. ABC allows for studying the parameters of interest without recourse to incoherent and misleading measures of uncertainty such as confidence intervals. By taking into account information from all decision categories for a given examiner and information from the population of examiners, our method also allows for quantifying the risk of error for the given examiner, even when no error has been recorded for that examiner. This opens the door to the detection of behavioural patterns in the decision-making of examiners through their ABC rate estimates. These patterns could be used to detect error prone examiners, enabling additional training efforts to be more tailored to each examiner, limiting the risk of errors before they occur.We illustrate our proposed method by reanalysing the results of the “Noblis Black Box” study by Ulery et al. in 2011. We did not choose this study because we disagree with their results, but because it is a good example of a study with dependent observations and missing data, and the data is publicly available. The ABC estimates for the population generally agreed Ulery et al.'s plug-in estimates. However, credible intervals obtained from ABC are much wider than the confidence intervals for the corresponding parameter estimates that did not account for the dependencies among observations.
       
  • Postmortem Submersion Interval in human bodies recovered from fresh water
           in an area of Mediterranean climate. Application and comparison of
           preexisting models
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Chiara Palazzo, Guido Pelletti, Paolo Fais, Rafael Boscolo Berto, Federica Fersini, Rosa Maria Gaudio, Susi PelottiAbstractPurposeThe methods developed in recent years for the assessment of the Postmortem Submersion Interval (PMSI) have proven to be promising, but are strictly related to specific geographical areas or climates. The aim of this study is to assess the suitability of two of the most recent total aquatic decomposition scores (TADS) for the determination of the PMSI in bodies recovered from fresh water in an area of Mediterranean climate in the last 15 years. To do this, the correlation coefficient (r2) between PMSI and Accumulate Degrees Days (ADD) or PMSI and days was studied.MethodsThe correlation between PMSI (expressed in days or in ADD) and the TADS was evaluated considering: (a) bodies recovered during the entire period; (b) bodies recovered during the cold season; (c) bodies recovered during the warm season. A linear regression analysis was set comparing the statistical significance of a model plotting TADS versus ADD, and another model plotting TADS versus PMSI (expressed in days) for both scores.ResultsScores were scarcely applicable when considering the entire casuistry, as regression models showed low  r2 values, but both scores showed high correlations after dividing the cases into 2 groups. In fact, after performing the seasonal partition, we observed a strong correlation between PMSI and TADS, using either of the scores.ConclusionThis study helps increase the accuracy, reliability, and validity of PMI estimation in bodies recovered from freshwater in an area of temperate climate, such as Northern Italy, supporting the need to establish regionally-specific equations for estimating PMI in a forensic context
       
  • Structural elucidation of phenidate analogues via the ESI-MS/MS spectra of
           their sodium adduct ions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Tamar Shamai Yamin, Hagit Prihed, Moran Madmon, Avital Shifrovitch, Adva Baratz, Avi WeissbergThe identification of phenidate new psychoactive substances (NPS) by implementing MS (Mass spectrometry) techniques is a challenging task. Phenidate analogues present information-poor mass spectra, both in GC-EI-MS and LC-ESI-MS/MS of the protonated molecules [M+H]+, with a high abundance fragment/product ion representing the secondary amine-containing residue. This lack of EI-MS and ESI-MS/MS information is attributed to the strong tendency of the amine residue to stabilize the positive charge and leads to unavoidable ambiguity in the identification process. Moreover, thermal decomposition of these compounds occurs in the injection port and/or on the column under standard GC conditions. Herein, we demonstrate how structural information can be attained instantaneously through the LC-ESI-MS/MS fragmentation of the accompanied sodium adducts [M + Na]+. The sodium cation alters the charge distribution during ESI-MS/MS fragmentation, generating a major product ion corresponding to the Na+ adduction of the carbonyl group, providing new structural information of the main core of phenidate derivatives (alkylaryl acetate/acetic acid), enabling their reliable structural elucidation. This quick, simple and easy technique can be implemented to confirm the identity or identify various structurally related phenidate analogues in forensic toxicology and doping analysis without the need for sample handling.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Genetic polymorphisms of 19 autosomal STR loci in 3510 individuals from
           Han population of Zhejiang province, Southeast China
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Yan Wang, Fang Chen, Ying Fu, Shuai Zhang, Honghe Zhang, Maode Lai, Enping Xu
       
  • Experimental fragmentation of pipe bombs with varying case thickness
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Luciana A. da Silva, Steve Johnson, Richard Critchley, Jim Clements, Karl Norris, Chris StennettAbstractAmong all the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) known, pipe bombs are one of the most popular devices used by terrorists. They are simple to use, easy to construct and materials are readily available. For this IED, fragmentation is the primary injury mechanism, which makes them a desirable weapon for terrorists aiming to inflict maximum human casualties. Although the investigation of fragmentation pattern is not novel, there is limited data available on pipe bombs performance in the open literature. Therefore, this research is looking at validating results in current literature, which showed limited repetition and weak experimental design so far; by trial with six pipe bombs with two different thickness (3 of each). The pipe bombs consisted of mild steel casing and aluminised ammonium nitrate as the explosive filler. Fragments were collected, with an average recovery of 72%, and measured regarding mass and velocity. The experiment results show a correlation between the pipe thickness and both the size and velocity of fragments.
       
  • Unexpected identification and characterization of a cathinone precursor in
           the new psychoactive substance market:
           3′,4′-methylenedioxy-2,2-dibromobutyrophenone
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sergio Armenta, Cristina Gil, Mireia Ventura, Francesc A. Esteve-Turrillas3′,4′-methylenedioxy-2,2-dibromobutyrophenone has been identified and fully characterized in a sample obtained from an anonymous consumer acquired as ketamine through the Internet market. The substance has been deeply characterized by using standard and high performance analytical techniques such as: attenuated total reflectance-infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, high-resolution mass spectrometry, elemental analysis, and nuclear magnetic resonance, including1H, 13C, distortionless enhancement by polarization transfer, two dimensional homonuclear 1H-1H correlation spectroscopy, and 1H-13C heteronuclear single-quantum correlation spectra. 3′,4′-methylenedioxy-2,2-dibromobutyrophenone is a precursor or intermediate in the synthesis of several synthetic cathinone derivatives, such as pentylone and methylenedioxy pyrovalerone. It is expected that 3′,4′-methylenedioxy-2,2-dibromobutyrophenone does not act as psychoactive substance through disruption nor dysregulation of central and peripheral nervous systems, due to the absence of the characteristic amine group of cathinone derivatives. Although it cannot be considered a trend in new psychoactive substances consumption, the presence in the market and the unknown toxicity of this substance makes it a relevant fact.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
       
  • Effect of Arson Fires on Survivability of Entomological Evidence on
           Carcasses inside Vehicle Trunks
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 November 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Stacey L. Malainey, Gail S. AndersonAbstractThree vehicles with trunks containing pig (Sus scrofa domesticus Erxleben) carcasses which had been allowed to decompose for 30 days, were set alight in controlled burns to determine whether forensically valuable insect evidence could still be recovered. Each car trunk contained the remains of a carcass, together with its associated carrion insect fauna. An insect collection was performed prior to the fires. Each car was then set alight using a small amount of gasoline as an accelerant, poured onto the driver’s seat, lit by a burning stick. The fire was allowed to reach its peak before being extinguished. In all cases, the fires completely destroyed the vehicles. The vehicles were examined the following day and insect evidence was collected. In all cases, large amounts of burned, charred and undamaged insect evidence remained, including identifiable prepuparial 3rd instar larvae, live pupae inside intact puparia and empty puparial cases. As well bones and unburned clothing were also intact. One car did not burn as well as the others with the fire not involving the trunk area as much as in the other cars. Once the fire was extinguished, it was clear that the reason for this was the presence of a steel fire wall, between the passenger compartment and the trunk. This reduced the spread of the fire to the trunk and increased evidence survival. However, in all vehicles, insect evidence survived, which could still be used to estimate the period of insect colonization and thereby infer the minimum elapsed time since death. The evidence was also a clear indicator that the decedent had not died in the fire. After the fire, the carcass remains were still attractive to blow fly adults (Diptera: Calliphoridae). In car fire cases it is important to consider that entomological evidence may still be just as useful in the investigation as in non-burned cases.
       
  • Estimating crime scene temperatures from nearby meteorological station
           data
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ines M.J. Hofer, Andrew J. Hart, Daniel Martín-Vega, Martin J.R. HallAbstractThe importance of temperature data in minimum postmortem interval (minPMI) estimations in criminal investigations is well-known. To maximise the accuracy of minPMI estimations, it is imperative to investigate the different components involved in temperature modelling, such as the duration of temperature data logger placement at the crime scene and choice of nearest weather station to compare the crime scene data to. Currently, there is no standardised practice on how long to leave the temperature data logger at the crime scene and the effects of varying logger duration are little known. The choice of the nearest weather station is usually made based on availability and accessibility of data from weather stations in the crime scene vicinity, however there are no guidelines on what to look for to maximise the comparability of weather station and crime scene temperatures.Linear regression analysis of scene data with data from weather stations with varying time intervals, distances, altitudes and micro-climates showed the greatest goodness of fit (R2), i.e. the highest compatibility between datasets, after 4-10 days. However, there was no significant improvement in estimation of crime scene temperatures beyond a 5-day regression period. The smaller the distance between scene and weather station and the higher the similarity in environment, such as altitude and geographical area, resulted in greater compatibility between datasets.Overall, the study demonstrated the complexity of choosing the most comparable weather station to the crime scene, especially because of a high variation in seasonal temperature and numerous influencing factors such as geographical location, urban ‘heat island effect’ and microclimates. Despite subtle differences, for both urban and rural areas an optimal data fit was generally reached after about 5 consecutive days within a radius of up to 30 km to the ‘crime scene’. With increasing distance and differing altitudes, a lower overall data fit was observed, and a diminishing increase in R2 values was reached after 4-10 consecutive days. These results demonstrate the need for caution regarding distances and climate differences when using weather station data for retrospective regression analyses for estimating temperatures at crime scenes. However, the estimates of scene temperatures from regression analysis were better than simply using the temperatures from the nearest weather station. This study provides recommendations for data logging duration of operation, and a baseline for further research into producing standard guidelines for increasing the accuracy of minPMI estimations and, ultimately, greater robustness of forensic entomology evidence in court.
       
  • Interpreting GHB concentrations in hair: can a cut-off be established'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 October 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Raffaele Giorgetti, Francesco Paolo Busardò, Adriano Tagliabracci
       
  • 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. WeberAnalysis 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
       
 
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