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Journal Cover Forensic Science International
  [SJR: 1.21]   [H-I: 88]   [425 followers]  Follow
    
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 0379-0738
   Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3048 journals]
  • Combining Benford’s Law and machine learning to detect money laundering.
           An actual Spanish court case
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2018
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 282
      Author(s): Elena Badal-Valero, José A. Alvarez-Jareño, Jose M. Pavía
      Objectives This paper is based on the analysis of the database of operations from a macro-case on money laundering orchestrated between a core company and a group of its suppliers, 26 of which had already been identified by the police as fraudulent companies. In the face of a well-founded suspicion that more companies have perpetrated criminal acts and in order to make better use of what are very limited police resources, we aim to construct a tool to detect money laundering criminals. Methods We combine Benford’s Law and machine learning algorithms (logistic regression, decision trees, neural networks, and random forests) to find patterns of money laundering criminals in the context of a real Spanish court case. Results After mapping each supplier’s set of accounting data into a 21-dimensional space using Benford’s Law and applying machine learning algorithms, additional companies that could merit further scrutiny are flagged up. Conclusions A new tool to detect money laundering criminals is proposed in this paper. The tool is tested in the context of a real case.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Simultaneous drug identification in urine of sexual assault victims by
           using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2018
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 282
      Author(s): Hei Hwa Lee, Suen Chi Chen, Jong Feng Lee, Hsin Yu Lin, Bai Hsiun Chen
      According to domestic and international epidemiological investigation, the proportion of substance involved sexual assault has the trend of ascent. In the past, laboratory methods that investigated urine sample of the sexual assault victims was to screen with enzyme immunoassay and then confirmed with mass spectrometry. The objective of the study is to simultaneously identify abused drugs in 126 decoded urine samples of sexual assault victims by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. The instrument was operated in multiple-reaction monitoring with an electro-spray positive ionization mode. Chromatograms were separated with ACE5 C18 column on a gradient of acetonitrile. After liquid–liquid extraction, samples were passed through a 0.22μm PVDF filter before injection into the system. The limits of quantitation ranged from 0.2 to 10ng/mL. The precision (CV) results were below 12.9% (intraday) and 15.0% (interday). The intraday accuracy ranged from 84.8 to 121.0%, interday accuracy ranged from 72.0 to 117.3%. We found that 29 (23.0%) were positive for drugs. The most common drug identified is flunitrazepam (11.1%), followed by nimetazepam and ketamine (7.9%), some new psychoactive substances, such as 2C-B, mephedrone, methylone, PMA and PMMA were also identified. We identified abused drugs, benzodiazepines, and new psychoactive substances in urine of sexual assault victims by using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Preliminary application of Structure from Motion and GIS to document
           decomposition and taphonomic processes
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2018
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 282
      Author(s): Connor D. Carlton, Samantha Mitchell, Patrick Lewis
      Over the past decade, Structure from Motion (SfM) has increasingly been used as a means of digital preservation and for documenting archaeological excavations, architecture, and cultural material. However, few studies have tapped the potential of using SfM to document and analyze taphonomic processes affecting burials for forensic sciences purposes. This project utilizes SfM models to elucidate specific post-depositional events that affected a series of three human cadavers deposited at the South East Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility (STAFS). The aim of this research was to test the ability for untrained researchers to employ spatial software and photogrammetry for data collection purposes. For a series of three months a single lens reflex (SLR) camera was used to capture a series of overlapping images at periodic stages in the decomposition process of each cadaver. These images are processed through photogrammetric software that creates a 3D model that can be measured, manipulated, and viewed. This project used photogrammetric and geospatial software to map changes in decomposition and movement of the body from original deposition points. Project results indicate SfM and GIS as a useful tool for documenting decomposition and taphonomic processes. Results indicate photogrammetry is an efficient, relatively simple, and affordable tool for the documentation of decomposition.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Automated Facial Recognition of Manually Generated Clay Facial
           Approximations: Potential Application in Unidentified Persons Data
           Repositories
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Connie L. Parks, Keith L. Monson
      This research examined how accurately 2D images (i.e., photographs) of 3D clay facial approximations were matched to corresponding photographs of the approximated individuals using an objective automated facial recognition system. Irrespective of search filter (i.e., blind, sex, or ancestry) or rank class (R1, R10, R25, and R50) employed, few operationally informative results were observed. In only a single instance of 48 potential match opportunities was a clay approximation matched to a corresponding life photograph within the top 50 images (R50) of a candidate list, even with relatively small gallery sizes created from the application of search filters (e.g., sex or ancestry search restrictions). Increasing the candidate lists to include the top 100 images (R100) resulted in only two additional instances of correct match. Although other untested variables (e.g., approximation method, 2D photographic process, and practitioner skill level) may have impacted the observed results, this study suggests that 2D images of manually generated clay approximations are not readily matched to life photos by automated facial recognition systems. Further investigation is necessary in order to identify the underlying cause(s), if any, of the poor recognition results observed in this study (e.g., potential inferior facial feature detection and extraction). Additional inquiry exploring prospective remedial measures (e.g., stronger feature differentiation) is also warranted, particularly given the prominent use of clay approximations in unidentified persons casework.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Age of majority assessment in Dutch individuals based on Cameriere’s
           Third Molar Maturity Index
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Hatice Boyacioglu Dogru, Ayse Gulsahi, Sevi Burcak Cehreli, Ivan Galic, Paul van der Stelt, Roberto Cameriere
      Radiological examination of the third molar is done in living individuals for estimation of chronological age, especially in the late adolescence. The aim of this study was to assess the application of Cameriere’s third molar maturity index (I3M) to determine whether an individual is 18 years or older (adult) or younger than 18 years (minor) in a sample of Dutch individuals. The sample consisted of panoramic images of 360 individuals aged between 14 and 22 years old. Three observers performed the measurements. Gender was not statistically significant in discriminating adults and minors. The highest value of the Youden index of the receiver operating curve analysis was for the value of I3M <0.08 in discriminating individuals as minor or adult. The specificity (Sp) and sensitivity (Se) results for females were 96.3% and 72.7% respectively. The Sp and Se for males were 95.0% and 84.0% respectively. The probabilities of correctly classified individuals were 83.3% and 88.9%, and Bayes post-test probability was 96.3% and 95.7% in females and males respectively. Obtained results showed that the specific cut-off point of I3M <0.08 may be a useful and reliable method for adult age assessment in a Dutch population.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Assessment of the stability of DNA in specimens collected under conditions
           for drug testing—A pilot study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Robert M. White, John M. Mitchell, E. Dale Hart, Amy Evans, Meredith Meaders, Sarah E. Norsworthy, Eugene D. Hayes, Ron Flegel, George C. Maha, Megan Shaffer Mackenzie, Erin M. Hall, Rogers Kelley
      For forensic biological sample collections, the specimen donor is linked solidly to his or her specimen through a chain of custody (CoC) sometimes referenced as a chain of evidence. Rarely, a donor may deny that a urine or oral fluid (OF) specimen is his or her specimen even with a patent CoC. The goal of this pilot study was to determine the potential effects of short-term storage on the quality and quantity of DNA in both types of specimen under conditions that may be encountered with employment-related drug testing specimens. Fresh urine and freshly collected oral fluid all produced complete STR profiles. For the “pad” type OF collectors, acceptable DNA was extractable both from the buffer/preservative and the pad. Although fresh urine and OF produced complete STR profiles, partial profiles were obtained after storage for most samples. An exception was the DNA in the Quantisal OF collector, from which a complete profile was obtained for both freshly collected OF and stored OF.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Development and validation of a Partial Least Squares − Discriminant
           Analysis (PLS-DA) model based on the determination of Ethyl Glucuronide
           (EtG) and Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters (FAEEs) in hair for the diagnosis of
           chronic alcohol abuse
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): E. Alladio, L. Giacomelli, G. Biosa, D.Di Corcia, E. Gerace, A. Salomone, M. Vincenti
      The chronic intake of an excessive amount of alcohol is currently ascertained by determining the concentration of direct alcohol metabolites in the hair samples of the alleged abusers, including ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and, less frequently, fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs). Indirect blood biomarkers of alcohol abuse are still determined to support hair EtG results and diagnose a consequent liver impairment. In the present study, the supporting role of hair FAEEs is compared with indirect blood biomarkers with respect to the contexts in which hair EtG interpretation is uncertain. Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curves and multivariate Principal Component Analysis (PCA) demonstrated much stronger correlation of EtG results with FAEEs than with any single indirect biomarker or their combinations. Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis (PLS-DA) models based on hair EtG and FAEEs were developed to maximize the biomarkers information content on a multivariate background. The final PLS-DA model yielded 100% correct classification on a training/evaluation dataset of 155 subjects, including both chronic alcohol abusers and social drinkers. Then, the PLS-DA model was validated on an external dataset of 81 individual providing optimal discrimination ability between chronic alcohol abusers and social drinkers, in terms of specificity and sensitivity. The PLS-DA scores obtained for each subject, with respect to the PLS-DA model threshold that separates the probabilistic distributions for the two classes, furnished a likelihood ratio value, which in turn conveys the strength of the experimental data support to the classification decision, within a Bayesian logic. Typical boundary real cases from daily work are discussed, too.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Role of hair pigmentation in drug incorporation into hair
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Hyerim Yu, Won-Jun Jang, Jung-Hee Jang, Byoungduck Park, Young Ho Seo, Chul-Ho Jeong, Sooyeun Lee
      Hair analysis has notably expanded its application as a bio-monitor for drug or toxicant exposure. Hair pigmentation is proposed as a major factor affecting drug incorporation into hair; however, the mechanisms underlying the incorporation of drugs into hair are still unclear. In the present study, the effect of hair pigmentation on drug incorporation into hair was examined using rats carrying hair with different melanin status and human cells (SK-Mel-28 cells, HaCaT cells and the co-cultured HaCaT cells with SK-Mel-28 cells) representing the main pigmentary unit in hair. Tramadol, a synthetic opioid analgesic, was selected as a model drug. The distribution of tramadol and its phase I (O-desmethyltramadol [ODMT], N-desmethyltramadol [NDMT] and N,O-didesmethyltramadol [NODMT]) and phase II metabolites (ODMT-glucuronide and NODMT-glucuronide) was investigated in non-pigmented and pigmented hair from Long-Evans rats. Moreover, the incorporation levels of ODMT and ODMT-glucuronide were compared in hair cells. The concentrations of tramadol and its phase I metabolites were significantly higher in pigmented rat hair while those of phase II metabolites did not showed any consistent significant difference depending on the status of hair pigmentation. ODMT was taken up to a greater extent than ODMT-glucuronide by SK-Mel-28 cells, HaCaT cells and the co-cultured HaCaT cells with SK-Mel-28 cells. Notably, the incorporated level of ODMT was higher in SK-Mel-28 cells than HaCaT cells and the concentration difference of ODMT was significantly larger than that of ODMT-glucuronide. This study clearly demonstrated that hair pigmentation played a role as a facilitating factor for the incorporation of basic compounds and provided insight into the drug incorporation process into hair.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • On the Bayesian Approach to Forensic Age Estimation of Living Individuals
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Emanuele Sironi, Joelle Vuille, Niels Morling, Franco Taroni
      Forensic age estimation, a branch of forensic science, has received renewed attention lately mainly due to societal migration phenomena. And yet, the interpretation of age-related evidence is still largely neglected as a field, the literature being usually limited to technical discussions strictly pertaining to the statistical methodologies to be used in estimation process. This short communication aims to highlight the fundamental role of evidence evaluation and interpretation in forensic age estimation. We illustrate why the Bayesian approach represents the best choice in such a perspective.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • What is the error margin of your signature analysis'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Raymond Marquis, Liv Cadola, Williams David Mazzella, Tacha Hicks
      In our experience, it seems to become more and more common for mandating authorities or parties to ask forensic signature examiners to quantify the degree of certainty of their conclusion regarding a signature analysis. This paper reports the likelihood ratio approach followed by examiners to answer such a question, in a case where the Court asked whether a questioned signature was written, or not, by Mr. Jones. The Court also required an assessment of the error margin of the signature analysis. This question was answered using Bayes’ theorem (i.e., a full Bayesian approach) and this paper seeks to show that such an approach can be used despite the popular belief that Bayes’ theorem is beyond what courts may accept. Using a practical example, we present advantages of the approach we have chosen to assess our results and show that a logical approach for evidence evaluation can be followed even in a forensic discipline where no tabulated data are available. This example also illustrates a practical way of addressing the error margin question, which helps the Court understand what can be the risk of being wrong in the particular case (and not in cases in general). We further present the way these results were communicated to the fact finders in the case at hand and provide guidance as how forensic observations can logically be combined with the other elements of the case.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • A Test of Four Innominate Bone Age Assessment Methods in a Modern Skeletal
           Collection from Medellin, Colombia
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Javier Rivera-Sandoval, Timisay Monsalve, Cristina Cattaneo
      Studying bone collections with known data has proven to be useful in assessing reliability and accuracy of biological profile reconstruction methods used in Forensic Anthropology. Thus, it is necessary to calibrate these methods to clarify issues such as population variability and accuracy of estimations for the elderly. This work considers observations of morphological features examined by four innominate bone age assessment methods: 1) Suchey-Brooks Pubic Symphysis, 2) Lovejoy Iliac Auricular Surface, 3) Buckberry and Chamberlain Iliac Auricular Surface, and 4) Rouge-Maillart Iliac Auricular Surface and Acetabulum. This study conducted a blind test of a sample of 277 individuals from two contemporary skeletal collections from Universal and San Pedro cemeteries in Medellin, for which known pre-mortem data support the statistical analysis of results obtained using the four age assessment methods. Results from every method show tendency to increase bias and inaccuracy in relation to age, but Buckberry-Chamberlain and Rougé-Maillart’s methods are the most precise for this particular Colombian population, where Buckberry-Chamberlain’s is the best for analysis of older individuals.

      PubDate: 2017-11-16T11:20:53Z
       
  • Quantification of nitrogenous bases, DNA and Collagen type I for the
           estimation of the postmortem interval in bone remains
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 281
      Author(s): Cristina Pérez-Martínez, María D. Pérez-Cárceles, Isabel Legaz, Gemma Prieto-Bonete, Aurelio Luna
      Estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) is an important goal in forensic medicine and continues to be one of the most difficult tasks of the forensic investigator. Few accurate methods exist to determine the time since death of skeletonized human remains due to the great number of intrinsic and external factors that may alter the normal course of postmortem change. The purpose of this research was to assess the usefulness of various biochemical parameters, such as nitrogenous bases (adenine, guanine, purines, cytosine, thymine, pyrimidines, hypoxanthine and xanthine), DNA and Collagen Type I peptides to estimate PMI. These parameters were analysed in cortical bone for the establishment of data in a total of 80 long bones of 80 corpses (50 males, 30 females) with a mean age of 68.31 years (S.D.=18.021, range=20–97). The bones were removed from the cement niches of a cemetery in Murcia (south-eastern Spain), where they had lain for between 5 and 47 years (mean time 23.83 years, S.D.=10.85). Our results show a significant decrease in adenine (p=0.0004), guanine (p=0.0001), purines (p=0.0001), cytosine (p=0.0001), thymine (p=0.0226), pyrimidines (p=0.0002) and the number of peptides of Collagen type I (p=0.0053) in those with a PMI≥20 years. In a curvilinear regression analysis the results show that 30.6% of the variable PMI could be explained by guanine concentration, in bones with a PMI<20 years, while in cases of a PMI≥20 years, the variable that best explained membership of this group was adenine (38.0%). In the discriminant analysis applied to the all the variables as a function of PMI when two groups were established, 86.7% of the cases were correctly classified. These results show that the quantification of Collagen type I proteins and nitrogenous bases could be used as a complementary tool, together with other analyses, in the estimation of PMI.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Estimation of the late postmortem interval using FTIR spectroscopy and
           chemometrics in human skeletal remains
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 281
      Author(s): Qi Wang, Yinming Zhang, Hancheng Lin, Shuai Zha, Ruoxi Fang, Xin Wei, Shuanliang Fan, Zhenyuan Wang
      Due to a lack of reliable and accurate methods, determining the postmortem interval (PMI) of human skeletal remains is one of the most important and challenging tasks in forensic medicine. In this paper, we studied the changes to bone chemistry with increasing PMI in two different experimental conditions using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy in conjunction with chemometrics methods Paired bone samples collected from 56 human corpses were buried (placed in soil) and unburied (exposed to the air) for intervals between 76 and 552 days. The results of principle component analysis (PCA) showed the chemical differences of these two cases had a significant influence on the rate of decomposition of the remains. Meanwhile, satisfactory predictions were performed by the genetic algorithm combined with partial least-squares (GA-PLS) with the root mean square errors of prediction (RMSEP) of 50.93days for buried bones and 71.03days for unburied bones. Moreover, the amide I region of proteins and the area around 1390cm−1, which is associated with fatty acids, were identified with regular changes by GA-PLS and played an important role in estimating PMI. This study illustrates the feasibility of utilizing FTIR spectroscopy and chemometrics as an attractive alternative for estimating PMI of human remains and the great potential of these techniques in real forensic cases with natural conditions.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Traumatic fatal aortic rupture in motorcycle drivers
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 281
      Author(s): Guido Pelletti, Giovanni Cecchetto, Alessia Viero, Maria De Matteis, Guido Viel, Massimo Montisci
      Traumatic fatal aortic rupture (FAR) is a common finding in victims of motor vehicle crashes (MVC), but its aetiology and mechanisms of production remain an issue of major concern, above all in motorcyclists. This study reports a series of cases obtained from a retrospective analysis of traumatic FARs occurring in motorcycle drivers, with the aim of defining the injury patterns and correlating them with the mechanisms of FAR production. Circumstantial, autopsy and histology data were collected through a retrospective analysis of post mortem examinations performed at the Institute of Legal Medicine of the University of Padova between 2014 and 2016. Among 151 traffic related victims, 8 were motorcycle drivers and displayed traumatic FAR and were thus included in the study. In 7 cases, the presence of abdominal/thoracic injuries suggested that the external compression due to the accident was at least a concurrent cause of FAR, being the predominant mechanism of aortic injury in 4 cases, through the “osseous pinch” or the “waterhammer effect” mechanisms. Our study highlights the well-known role of “preventative forensic pathology”, which has become routinary in traffic medicine since many years, also for defining the points of impact and the injury patterns of motorcyclists sustaining traumatic FAR, thereby facilitating the development of new prevention strategies and devices. Further studies, however, are needed in order to widen the investigated population and to estimate the real number of victims for which traumatic FAR might hypothetically be prevented with specific countermeasures.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Differences in combinations and concentrations of drugs of abuse in fatal
           intoxication and driving under the influence cases
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 281
      Author(s): Hilde Erøy Edvardsen, Torill Tverborgvik, Joachim Frost, Sidsel Rogde, Inge Morild, Helge Waal, Thomas Clausen, Lars Slørdal, Vigdis Vindenes
      Background In toxicology, international classification systems focus on single intoxicants as the cause of death. It is, however, well known that very few drug related deaths are caused by a single substance and that information concerning the drug concentrations as well as the combinations of drugs are essential in order to ascertain the cause of death. The aim of the study was to assess whether those prone to fatal intoxications differ significantly from chronic drug users – in terms of demographics and drug exposure patterns. Material and methods Fatal psychoactive drug intoxications in Norway during 2012, where a forensic autopsy including toxicological analysis were performed, were included. Analytical findings in blood were compared with concentrations in blood from apprehended drivers under the influence of drugs and ethanol (DUID) during the same time period. The opioid and benzodiazepine concentrations were assessed as morphine and diazepam equivalents, respectively, in order to compare concentrations across the different groups. Results A total of 194 autopsy cases and 4811 DUID cases were included. Opioids were detected in around 90% of the drug intoxication cases, but in only 16% of the DUID cases. The number of substances detected in fatal intoxications was 4.9 compared to 2.6 in the DUID cases. The total opioid concentrations were significantly higher in the fatal intoxication cases compared to DUID cases (229ng/mL versus 56.9ng/mL morphine equivalents, respectively). Benzodiazepines were detected in 90% of the fatal cases. Only one fatal opioid mono-intoxication was found; a case with a very high methadone concentration (1238ng/mL). Discussion Mono-intoxication with heroin was not seen in any of the fatal intoxications in Norway, and single drug intoxications were rare (1.5%). Fatal intoxications were caused by a combination of drugs with significantly more substances as well as higher total drug concentrations among the fatal cases compared to the DUID cases. The combination of opioids and benzodiazepines seemed to represent an increased risk of death. Conclusion The total load of drugs influence the degree of intoxication and the total concentration level must be considered, including the total number of substances. Our findings imply that international statistics regarding an opioid being the main intoxicant should have a shift in focus towards combinations of drugs (especially opioids and benzodiazepines) as a major risk factor for fatal drug overdoses.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Nonlinear approximation method of vehicle velocity Vt and statistical
           population of experimental cases
    • Abstract: Publication date: December 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 281
      Author(s): Przemysław Kubiak
      In car crash analysis three calculations methods can be distinguished: analytical (Campbell, McHenry, Strother, Prasad, Crash3 etc.), comparative and graphical (Lindquist et al., 2003; Prasad, 1990; Sharma et al., 2007; Wach and Unarski, 2006; Żuchowski, 2015) [15,23,25,29,33]. The number and reliability of these methods, in reference to modern vehicles and their structure, may lead to unclear conclusions. This issue proves to be significant, especially due to slight modifications of both input parameters and input data for the analysis of the method. This may give substantially different answers to the questions asked in court. After a thorough analysis of this problem, a new analytical method was devised, based on a new input database — NHTSA, which shows great improvement in the accuracy of obtained results. The aim of this paper is to prove that the nonlinear method is a very effective tool for processing experimental data in a large enough number of cases.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Forensic age-at-death estimation from the sternum in a black South African
           population
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Nicholas Bacci, Elsie Koketso Nchabeleng, Brendon Kurt Billings
      Age at death estimation is a crucial component of any forensic anthropological analysis. Despite a variety of research in this field, uncertainties still exist when estimating adult age. The sternum is an under-considered element in terms of adult age estimation. Previous research on an Indian population suggested that this may be a usable region of the skeleton, although results were ambivalent. This study observed the fusion phases of 461 sterna from a black South African population in an attempt to match true age of an individual with the different phases of synostosis of the manubrio-sternal and the sterno-xiphoidal junctions. The results demonstrated that the majority of sterna remains unfused throughout adult life, with complete fusion observed both in young (25 year-old) and old individuals. Significant differences were identified amongst male and female sterna, with males presenting no transitional fusion of the segments, while female sterna demonstrated fusion to a lesser extent. Overall logistic regression results demonstrated low accuracies (62.5%) for age estimation even when the two sexes were considered separately (male=63.9%; female=61.8%). The synostosis of both junctions is hence considered highly variable and deemed unreliable for adult age-at-death estimation in the black South African population.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • The correlation between concentrations of zolpidem and benzodiazepines in
           segmental hair samples and use patterns
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Hyojeong Kim, Sangeun Lee, Sanghwan In, Meejung Park, Sungnam Cho, Junguk Shin, Hunjoo Lee, Eunyoung Han
      The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between histories of zolpidem and benzodiazepines use and their concentrations in hair as determined by segmental hair analysis, that is, by analyzing hair samples taken 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, and 5–6cm etc. and 0–3cm from the scalp, and whole hair. Of the 23 hair samples examined, 18 were collected from patients in a rehabilitation program and five were from patients that had taken zolpidem only once by prescription. All 23 patients provided written informed consent after reviewing the research plan, described their zolpidem and benzodiazepines use histories accurately, and provided hair samples, which were weighed, washed, cut into lengths of <1mm, and extracted in 100% methanol for 16h (diazepam-d5 was used as an internal standard). Extracts were evaporated under reduced pressure and reconstituted with aqueous methanol (1:1v/v). These extracts (10μL) were analyzed by Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The method used was validated by determining LOD, LOQ, calibration curves, intra- and inter-accuracies, precisions, matrix effects, process efficiencies, extraction efficiencies, and processed sample stabilities. Five hundred and ninety-five 1cm hair segments showed 61.59% positive probability and 86.71% negative probability of quality correlation between zolpidem and benzodiazepines use and concentrations in hair. Good qualitative correlations were observed between drug use and detection in hair. False positivity and false negativity were very low. Of the hair samples taken from patients in a rehabilitation program, subject nos. 4, 5, and 12 had correlation coefficients of 0.68, 0.54 and 0.71, respectively, for relationships between zolpidem use and concentration of zolpidem in hair. For the 5 patients taking only a single dose of zolpidem (10mg), the average zolpidem concentrations in hair were 20, 15 and 40pg/mg after 5, 30 and 60 days, respectively. This study shows a relationship between history of zolpidem and benzodiazepines use and their concentrations in 1cm hair segment.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Are we using the appropriate reference samples to develop juvenile age
           estimation methods based on bone size' An exploration of growth
           differences between average children and those who become victims of
           homicide
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Laure Spake, Hugo F.V. Cardoso
      The population on which forensic juvenile skeletal age estimation methods are applied has not been critically considered. Previous research suggests that child victims of homicide tend to be from socioeconomically disadvantaged contexts, and that these contexts impair linear growth. This study investigates whether juvenile skeletal remains examined by forensic anthropologists are short for age compared to their normal healthy peers. Cadaver lengths were obtained from records of autopsies of 1256 individuals, aged birth to eighteen years at death, conducted between 2000 and 2015 in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. Growth status of the forensic population, represented by homicide victims, and general population, represented by accident victims, were compared using height for age Z-scores and independent sample t-tests. Cadaver lengths of the accident victims were compared to growth references using one sample t-tests to evaluate whether accident victims reflect the general population. Homicide victims are shorter for age than accident victims in samples from the U.S., but not in Australia and New Zealand. Accident victims are more representative of the general population in Australia and New Zealand. Different results in Australia and New Zealand as opposed to the U.S. may be linked to socioeconomic inequality. These results suggest that physical anthropologists should critically select reference samples when devising forensic juvenile skeletal age estimation methods. Children examined in forensic investigations may be short for age, and thus methods developed on normal healthy children may yield inaccurate results. A healthy reference population may not necessarily constitute an appropriate growth comparison for the forensic anthropology population.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Three fatalities associated with the synthetic cannabinoids 5F-ADB,
           5F-PB-22 and AB-CHMINACA
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): V. Angerer, S. Jacobi, F. Franz, V. Auwärter, J. Pietsch
      The use of synthetic cannabinoids (SC) has been widespread in certain groups of drug users for many years. In the scientific literature many intoxication cases and a number of fatalities after the use of synthetic cannabinoids were reported. In this paper three death cases are described with involvement of the synthetic cannabinoids 5F-PB-22, AB-CHMINACA and 5F-ADB. The three cases occurred in the eastern region of Germany, which is known as a region of high methamphetamine abuse. All decedents were male, between 25 and 41 years old and had a known history of drug use. Femoral blood concentrations of the synthetic cannabinoids were measured using a validated LC-MS/MS method. The concentration of 5F-PB-22 in the first case was 0.37ng/mL, the concentration of AB-CHMINACA in the second case was approximately 4.1 ng/mL (extrapolated) and the 5F-ADB concentration in the third case was 0.38 ng/mL. Compared to other published cases the concentrations in the here presented cases seem to be in the lower range. However, taking into account the scene of death, the results of the forensic autopsy and the full toxicological analysis, the deaths can be explained as a direct consequence of consumption of synthetic cannabinoids, although in case one and two relevant amounts of ethanol were found, and in case three trimipramine and olanzapine were present in non-toxic concentrations. It has to be noted that concentrations of synthetic cannabinoids in femoral blood cannot directly be judged as toxic or lethal due to the possibility of postmortem redistribution and the development of tolerance after frequent use. Therefore, all available information has to be considered carefully before stating SC use as the cause of death.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • The effectiveness and practicality of using simultaneous superglue &
           iodine fuming method for fingermark development on ‘low yield’ leather
           surfaces: a feasibility study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Xiaochun Zheng, Jingyang Xu, Kang Li, Zhen Lin
      This research successfully demonstrated the first use of simultaneous superglue & iodine fuming on leather surfaces compared to superglue, iodine, superglue-iodine and iodine-superglue fuming methods which typically give low fingermark yields. A novel fuming chamber was developed and used for simultaneous superglue & iodine fuming. Results show that the simultaneous fuming method produced significantly better enhancement for light-coloured leather substrates relative to other processing procedures, but was found to be ineffective on dark-coloured leather. However, superglue, as one of the most common methods in practice, was found to be effective for freshly deposited latent fingermarks on dark-coloured leather. The newly designed chamber for the simultaneous fuming method has proved to be fast, effective and delightfully easy to use.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Specific IgE levels in pericardial and cerebrospinal fluids in forensic
           casework: the presence of additional molecules for sudden cardiac death
           diagnosis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Nicholas G. Kounis, George Soufras, Nikolaos Koutsogiannis, George Hahalis


      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Use of luminescent gunshot residues markers in forensic context −
           Part II
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): A.M. Arouca, M.A.M. Lucena, R.J. Rossiter, M. Talhavini, I.T. Weber
      Gunshot residues (GSR) are important physical evidence in firearm-related crimes. Recently developed non-toxic ammunition, however, requires a new methodology for its characterization. To overcome this drawback, the introduction of noncommercial luminescent markers in ammunition was proposed. These markers, synthesized and added to the gunpowder, presented as a versatile tool for GSR analysis, since they require UV radiation alone to visualize the luminescent GSR (LGSR). This has opened up new perspectives for understanding GSR behavior at a crime scene. This work aims to expand previous studies performed with the luminescent markers in forensic contexts, exploring four different important aspects related to GSR behavior. Using LGSR amount/dispersion and a series of blind tests with marked ammunition, we tried to 1) identify the shooter position; 2) estimate the shooting distance; 3) evaluate the influence of the pistol type on the LGSR distribution on the shooter’s hands and guns; and 4) study the transference of LGSR by a chain of handshaking. For this purpose, a portable UV lamp (λ=254nm) and/or techniques such as video spectral comparator (VSC) and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM/EDS) were used to visualize and analyze the residues. As a result, the observation of the LGSR enabled accurate determination of the shooter position and the firing distance without any chemicals. Besides, the LGSR were visualized on different kinds of pistols, regardless of firing mechanism. And finally, this study evidenced transference of residues from shaking hands with the shooter, which should be carefully considered when interpreting the results of a GSR analysis.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • First report of a fish kill episode caused by pyrethroids in Italian
           freshwater
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Laura Bille, Giovanni Binato, Claudio Gabrieli, Amedeo Manfrin, Francesco Pascoli, Tobia Pretto, Anna Toffan, Manuela Dalla Pozza, Roberto Angeletti, Giuseppe Arcangeli
      Introduction Fish kills are events of strong emotional impact on the population because of the frequent suspicion that they can be the result of serious pollution accidents. As a matter of fact, they are often due to natural occurrences, such as low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, but in many cases the causes remain unknown. Fish are particularly sensitive to pesticides and pyrethroids are reported to be the most ecotoxicologically active in the aquatic environment. Nevertheless, the reported cases of massive wild fish mortalities due to these toxicants are very few. This paper describes a fish kill episode occurred in the Padua Province (Veneto Region — North Eastern Italy) which involved several fish species and for which it was possible to identify the cause in the presence of pyrethroids in the water. Case presentation When a whitish liquid coming from the rainwater drain of an industrial area was seen to be spilling into a drainage channel, a fish massive mortality was noticed and investigated. The collected water samples showed the presence of relevant concentrations of cypermethrin, permethrin, deltamethrin and tetramethrin. Analyses on the fish tissues revealed the presence of cypermethrin and permethrin at a concentration range of 476–2834μg/kg and 346–2826μg/kg on a lipid basis, respectively. Discussion According to the results of the performed analyses, we can reasonably state that the described episode had been caused by the exposure of biota to high concentrations of pyrethroids. The present case report significantly contributes to the limited literature available on pesticides-related fish kills. Moreover, it highlights the importance of sharing protocols for fish kill management and investigation at a national level, as this would help to better define the roles of the different institutions involved and to improve the investigation and the reporting of these events.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Inhaled cyanide poisoning as a vital sign in a room fire victim
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Christoph G. Birngruber, Florian Veit, Juliane Lang, Marcel A. Verhoff
      The corpse of a 71-year-old woman was found on the floor of her smoke-filled room. The source of the fire was the mattress of a double bed on which newspapers had apparently been set aflame. The woman’s history in conjunction with the finding situation suggested an act of suicide. No signs of soot inhalation or soot swallowing were found at autopsy. Other vital signs were absent. Severe cardiac disease was the most notable pre-existing medical condition. Although the concentration of COHb in heart blood was low (3%), the concentration of cyanide was found to be 4.3mg/l in heart blood and 1.9mg/l in lung tissue. Cyanide was not found in the stomach contents. The BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was zero. Several prescribed drugs could also be demonstrated. The cause of death was deemed to be cyanide poisoning, possibly in conjunction with the pre-existing cardiac disease. The reported case illustrates that a lethal amount of cyanide can be inhaled during a fire even if there is no inhalation or swallowing of soot and no significant increase in the COHb level. In such cases, the demonstration of cyanide assumes significance as a vital sign indicating that the victim was alive when the fire started.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Child trafficking and the European migration crisis: the role of forensic
           practitioners
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Obertová Zuzana, Cattaneo Cristina
      Trafficking in children is one of the worst forms of human rights violation and is categorised as a serious crime. Children at high risk of becoming victims of trafficking are runaways, children with a history of abuse, and migrant children. Internationally, cases of child trafficking are increasing the most in Europe, which is likely the result of the current migration crisis. In crises, preventing and combating human trafficking needs to be prioritized, considering that the aims of humanitarian action include saving lives, easing suffering and preserving human dignity. The involvement of forensic practitioners in investigations of cases of child trafficking mainly concerning the identification of victims may save lives and certainly alleviate suffering of the child victims and their families searching for them. Moreover, by aiding the prosecution process through thorough documentation and expert reporting forensic practitioners may contribute to the protection, rehabilitation and possibly compensation of the child victims, and thus to the restoration of their rights and dignity. So far, forensic practitioners were rarely specifically mentioned as actors in the counter-trafficking efforts in the multitude of policies, regulations, guidelines and recommendations concerning different aspects of child trafficking. This seems surprising considering that the expertise and experience of practitioners from forensic sciences including cyber forensics, document analysis, forensic biology, anthropology, and medicine can be utilised for gathering intelligence in cases of suspected human trafficking, for identifying the victims as well as perpetrators, and for securing evidence for legal proceedings as this paper shows. While this article mainly discusses the role of forensic pathologists and anthropologists, with a specific focus on the identification of child victims of trafficking in the context of the European migration crisis, the notions regarding the contribution of forensic sciences to the counter-trafficking efforts can be adapted to other geographical and sociopolitical contexts.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Investigation of various factors influencing Raman spectra interpretation
           with the use of likelihood ratio approach
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Aleksandra Michalska, Agnieszka Martyna, Grzegorz Zadora
      The main aim of this study was to verify whether selected analytical parameters may affect solving the comparison problem of Raman spectra with the use of the likelihood ratio (LR) approach. Firstly the LR methodologies developed for Raman spectra of blue automotive paints obtained with the use of 785nm laser source (results published by the authors previously) were implemented for good quality spectra recorded for these paints with the use of 514.5nm laser source. For LR models construction two types of variables were used i.e. areas under selected pigments bands and coefficients derived from discrete wavelet transform procedure (DWT). Few experiments were designed for 785nm and 514.5nm Raman spectra databases after constructing well performing LR models (low rates of false positive and false negative answers and acceptable results of empirical cross entropy approach). In order to verify whether objective magnification described by its numerical aperture affects spectra interpretation, three objective magnifications − 20×(N.A=0.4), 50×(N.A=0.75) and 100×(N.A=0.85) within each of the applied laser sources (514.5nm and 785nm) were tested for a group of blue solid and metallic automotive paints having the same sets of pigments depending on the applied laser source. The findings obtained by two types of LR models indicate the importance of this parameter for solving the comparison problem of both solid and metallic automotive paints regardless of the laser source used for measuring Raman signal. Hence, the same objective magnification, preferably 50×(established based on the analysis of within- and between-samples variability and F-factor value), should be used when focusing the laser on samples during Raman measurements. Then the influence of parameters (laser power and time of irradiation) of one of the recommended fluorescence suppression techniques, namely photobleaching, was under investigation. Analysis performed on a group of solid automotive paint samples showed that time of irradiation upon established laser power does not affect solving the comparison problem with the use of LR test. Likewise upon established time of irradiation 5% or 10% laser power could be used interchangeably without changing conclusions within this problem. However, upon the established time of irradiation changes in laser power between control and recovered sample from 5% or 10% to 50% may cause erroneous conclusions. Additionally it was also proved that prolonged irradiation of paint does not quantitatively affect pigments bands areas revealed after such a pre-treatment.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Decapitation in reality and fine art: A review
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 280
      Author(s): Valentina Nikolić, Slobodan Savić, Vaso Antunović, Slobodan Marinković, Charlotte Andrieux, Irina Tomić
      The aim of our study was to examine all types of decapitation from forensic literature, including our own case, and to analyze the presentation of beheading in fine art, popular literature, and music. To do this, over 200 scientific articles in regard to decapitation were analyzed, as well as more than 10,000 artworks, and several hundreds of literary works and music pieces. In addition, a macroscopic examination of a decapitated victim was performed. Finally, a multislice computerized tomography (MSCT) examination of the cervical spine in two live volunteers was undertaken to present the osteological relationships. The forensic and criminal investigation revealed that a female victim was murdered by her jealous husband by applying several strikes with an axe, which resulted in an incomplete decapitation. All the main neck structures were transected, including the cervical spine, except a smaller part of the skin and soft tissue in the nuchal region. The mentioned MSCT examination in both the neutral position and flexion showed that the mandible can also be injured in a higher cervical location of the severance line. Various types of beheading were mentioned, including a homicidal, suicidal, accidental, judicial, internal, pathophysiological, and foetal ones. The status of consciousness and emotions in individuals just before and after decapitation was discussed. Finally, it was found that decapitation was the subject of many artists, and some writers and musicians. In conclusion, we presented a rare case of a homicide beheading performed with an axe. In addition, forensic importance of decapitation was discussed, as well as its great medical, social, anthropological, and artistic significance.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Tau protein (MAPT) as a possible biochemical marker of traumatic brain
           injury in postmortem examination
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 280
      Author(s): Mieszko Olczak, Justyna Niderla-Bielińska, Magdalena Kwiatkowska, Dorota Samojłowicz, Sylwia Tarka, Teresa Wierzba-Bobrowicz
      MAPT is a neuronal protein that plays an important role in axonal stabilization, neuronal development, and neuronal polarity. MAPT release into the CSF and blood has been interpreted as indicative of axonal injury as its elevated levels were observed in olympic boxers even after a mild head trauma suggesting minor CNS injuries. In our study we wanted to check the potential relevance of MAPT examination for forensic purposes. The study was carried out using cases of head injury group and cases of sudden death (cardiopulmonary failure, no injuries of the head — control group) provided by forensic pathologists at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical University of Warsaw. CSF and blood were collected within 24h after death using suboccipital puncture and femoral vein puncture. Serum and cerebrospinal fluid Tau protein concentrations were compared using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (elisa). Brain specimens (frontal cortex) were collected during forensic autopsies. Sections were stained histologically (hematoxylin-eosin) and immunohistochemically with anti human Tau antibody, anti glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP), anti human macrosialin (CD68) or anti human endothelial cells (CD34). In our study we documented that elevated levels of serum and CSF MAPT may also be considered a marker for mild traumatic brain injury and traumatic brain injury (mTBI and TBI). An increase in CSF and serum levels of MAPT in the absence of visible macroscopic traumatic CNS changes indicates that even minor head injuries may result in changes at the neuronal level that could remain undiagnosed during regular forensic autopsy and routine histopathological examination.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T12:41:06Z
       
  • Differences between postmortem CT and autopsy in death investigation of
           cervical spine injuries
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Yohsuke Makino, Hajime Yokota, Eiji Nakatani, Daisuke Yajima, Go Inokuchi, Ayumi Motomura, Fumiko Chiba, Suguru Torimitsu, Takashi Uno, Hirotaro Iwase
      Objectives To clarify the differences between postmortem CT (PMCT) and autopsy findings in the postmortem detection of cervical spine injuries (CSIs). Materials and Methods Our department’s forensic pathology database was searched for CSI cases. In each case, the autopsy data and radiologists’ interpretations were reviewed for the presence of bone fractures and intervertebral injuries. Results The study included 42 cases. For both bone fractures and intervertebral injuries, no substantial concordance between PMCT and autopsy findings was observed (McNemar’s test: p <0.001 and p <0.001, respectively). Regarding bone fractures, more injuries were detected with CT than with autopsy (CT: 74, autopsy: 23). The percentage of CT-detected fractures that were missed at autopsy (77.0%, 57/74) was higher than the percentage of autopsy-detected fractures missed with CT (26.1%, 6/23). Regarding intervertebral injuries, fewer injuries were detected with CT than with autopsy (CT: 40, autopsy: 80). The percentage of CT-detected injuries that were missed at autopsy (35.0%, 14/40) was lower than the percentage of autopsy-detected injuries that were missed with CT (67.5%, 54/80). Conclusions A substantial number of CSIs were detected by either PMCT or autopsy alone. Accurate evaluation for CSI requires the use of both methods.

      PubDate: 2017-11-03T12:21:02Z
       
  • Acoustic Environment Identification by Kullback Leibler Divergence
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): G. Delgado-Gutiérrez, F. Rodríguez-Santos, O. Jiménez-Ramírez, R. Vázquez-Medina
      This paper presents a forensic methodology that determines, from among a set of recording places, the probable place where allegedly a disputed digital audio recording was made. The methodology considers that digital audio recordings are noisy signals that have two involved noise components. One component is the multiplicative noise, which is an internal feature on the audio recording that is related to the recording device. The other component is the additive noise, which is an external feature on the audio recording that can be related to the recording place. Therefore, the proposed methodology estimates a likelihood rate that helps to decide which recording place is more plausible to be associated with a disputed audio recording. This likelihood rate is defined as the probability of a finding, supposing that a specific proposition is true, divided by the probability of a finding if an alternative proposition is true. Such probabilities are calculated by performing a statistical comparison through the Kullback-Leibler divergence [1], between the probability distribution function of the additive noise associated to the disputed recording and the probability distribution function of the additive noises associated to a set of audio recordings made on the possible recording places. Then, in order to determine the recording place, the analyst requires a list of possible places where the recording could have been carried out; in these places some reference recordings will be made. In this work, the additive noise is estimated by the Geometric Approach to Spectral Subtraction (GA-SS) filter [2], applied to the noisy audio recording.

      PubDate: 2017-11-03T12:21:02Z
       
  • Minimum time since death when the body has either reached or closely
           approximated equilibrium with ambient temperature
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): S. Potente, M. Kettner, M.A. Verhoff, T. Ishikawa
      In temperature based death time estimation the construction of a death time interval using the conventional Nomogram method (NM) is not permissible for bodies in which rectal temperature (Tr) has reached or closely approximated equilibrium with ambient temperature (Ta). We provide a logic approach to compute a minimum time since death with high probability. We also provide a simple graphical solution to be used at the crime scene for preliminary estimation. Special attention is advised in regards to cases with Ta >23 ∘C as well as borderline cases. Proof by induction, application to test cases and one example of use are presented.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Using drone-mounted cameras for on-site body documentation: 3D mapping and
           active survey
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Petra Urbanová, Mikoláš Jurda, Tomáš Vojtíšek, Jan Krajsa
      Recent advances in unmanned aerial technology have substantially lowered the cost associated with aerial imagery. As a result, forensic practitioners are today presented with easy low-cost access to aerial photographs at remote locations. The present paper aims to explore boundaries in which the low-end drone technology can operate as professional crime scene equipment, and to test the prospects of aerial 3D modeling in the forensic context. The study was based on recent forensic cases of falls from height admitted for postmortem examinations. Three mock outdoor forensic scenes featuring a dummy, skeletal remains and artificial blood were constructed at an abandoned quarry and subsequently documented using a commercial DJI Phantom 2 drone equipped with a GoPro HERO 4 digital camera. In two of the experiments, the purpose was to conduct aerial and ground-view photography and to process the acquired images with a photogrammetry protocol (using Agisoft PhotoScan® 1.2.6) in order to generate 3D textured models. The third experiment tested the employment of drone-based video recordings in mapping scattered body parts. The results show that drone-based aerial photography is capable of producing high-quality images, which are appropriate for building accurate large-scale 3D models of a forensic scene. If, however, high-resolution top-down three-dimensional scene documentation featuring details on a corpse or other physical evidence is required, we recommend building a multi-resolution model by processing aerial and ground-view imagery separately. The video survey showed that using an overview recording for seeking out scattered body parts was efficient. In contrast, the less easy-to-spot evidence, such as bloodstains, was detected only after having been marked properly with crime scene equipment.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Detection and Localization of Copy-Paste Forgeries in Digital Videos
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Raahat Devender Singh, Naveen Aggarwal
      Amidst the continual march of technology, we find ourselves relying on digital videos to act as documentary evidence in several crucial areas of our day-to-day lives, the most consequential being the fields of journalism, politics, insurance claims, defense planning, and criminal trials. However, while it is true that digital videos serve as universal records of occurrence of events, it is also true that digital media is highly vulnerable to alteration and manipulation. Subsequently, in several sensitive areas where dependence on visual media is unavoidable, reliance on manipulated visual data could be detrimental. It therefore becomes crucial to authenticate the contents of a digital video before accepting it as an accurate depiction of reality. Digital videos can suffer from several kinds of manipulations, but perhaps, one of the most consequential forgeries is copy-paste forgery, which involves insertion or removal of objects into or from video frames. Such a forgery alters the information presented by the video scene, which has a direct effect on our basic understanding of what that scene represents. The presence of a copy-paste forgery has a severe impact on the evidentiary value of videos, which is why, from a forensic standpoint, the challenge of detecting and localizing such forgeries is especially significant. In this paper, we propose a sensor pattern noise based forensic scheme, which is an improved and forensically stronger version of an existing noise-residue based copy-paste detection scheme. We also study a demosaicing artifact based image forensic scheme to estimate the extent of its viability in the video forensics domain. Furthermore, we suggest a simplistic clustering technique for the detection and localization of copy-paste forgeries in videos, and determine if it possess the capabilities desired of a viable and efficacious copy-paste detection scheme. Finally, we validate all these techniques on a set of realistically tampered test sequences encoded using MJPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264/AVC codecs, in a diverse experimental set-up by varying the strength of post-production re-compressions and transcodings, bitrates, and sizes of the tampered regions. Such an experimental set-up is representative of a neutral testing platform, and simulates a real-world forgery scenario where a forensic investigator has no control over any of the variable parameters of the tampering process. When tested in such an experimental set-up, the four forensic schemes under consideration achieved varying levels of detection accuracies and exhibited different scopes of applicabilities. For test videos compressed using QFs in the range 70-100, the existing noise residue based approach generated average detection accuracy in the range 64.5%–82.0%, while the sensor pattern noise based version of this approach generated average accuracy in the range 89.9%–98.7%. For the aforementioned range of QFs, average accuracy rates achieved by the suggested clustering technique and demosaicing artifact based approach were in the range 79.1%–90.1% and 83.2%–93.3%, respectively.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Prediction of mortality risk in victims of violent crimes
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Rolf Gedeborg, Bodil Svennblad, Liisa Byberg, Karl Michaëlsson, Ingemar Thiblin
      Background To predict mortality risk in victims of violent crimes based on individual injury diagnoses and other information available in health care registries. Methods Data from the Swedish hospital discharge registry and the cause of death registry were combined to identify 15 000 hospitalisations or prehospital deaths related to violent crimes. The ability of patient characteristics, injury type and severity, and cause of injury to predict death was modelled using conventional, Lasso, or Bayesian logistic regression in a development dataset and evaluated in a validation dataset. Results Of 14,470 injury events severe enough to cause death or hospitalization 3.7% (556) died before hospital admission and 0.5% (71) during the hospital stay. The majority (76%) of hospital survivors had minor injury severity and most (67%) were discharged from hospital within 1day. A multivariable model with age, sex, the ICD-10 based injury severity score (ICISS), cause of injury, and major injury region provided predictions with very good discrimination (C-index=0.99) and calibration. Adding information on major injury interactions further improved model performance. Modeling individual injury diagnoses did not improve predictions over the combined ICISS score. Conclusions Mortality risk after violent crimes can be accurately estimated using administrative data. The use of Bayesian regression models provides meaningful risk assessment with more straightforward interpretation of uncertainty of the prediction, potentially also on the individual level. This can aid estimation of incidence trends over time and comparisons of outcome of violent crimes for injury surveillance and in forensic medicine.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Successive bacterial colonisation of pork and its implications for
           forensic investigations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Jessica Handke, Noemi Procopio, Michael Buckley, Dieudonne van der Meer, Graham Williams, Martin Carr, Anna Williams
      Aims Bacteria are considered one of the major driving forces of the mammalian decomposition process and have only recently been recognised as forensic tools. At this point, little is known about their potential use as ‘post-mortem clocks’. This study aimed to establish the proof of concept for using bacterial identification as post-mortem interval (PMI) indicators, using a multi-omics approach. Methods and Results Pieces of pork were placed in the University’s outdoor facility and surface swabs were taken at regular intervals up to 60 days. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) of the 16S rDNA was used to identify bacterial taxa. It succeeded in detecting two out of three key contributors involved in decomposition and represents the first study to reveal Vibrionaceae as abundant on decomposing pork. However, a high fraction of present bacterial taxa could not be identified by T-RFLP. Proteomic analyses were also performed at selected time points, and they partially succeeded in the identification of precise strains, subspecies and species of bacteria that colonized the body after different PMIs. Conclusion T-RFLP is incapable of reliably and fully identifying bacterial taxa, whereas proteomics could help in the identification of specific strains of bacteria. Nevertheless, microbial identification by next generation sequencing might be used as PMI clock in future investigations and in conjunction with information provided by forensic entomologists. Significance and Impact of the Study To the best of our knowledge, this work represents the first attempt to find a cheaper and easily accessible, culture-independent alternative to high-throughput techniques to establish a ‘microbial clock’, in combination with proteomic strategies to address this issue.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Analyze Geographic and
           Demographic Patterns Related to Forensic Case Recovery Locations in
           Florida
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Katharine E. Kolpan, Michael Warren
      This paper highlights how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be utilized to analyze biases and patterns related to physical and cultural geography in Florida. Using case recovery locations from the C. Addison Pound Human Identification Laboratory (CAPHIL), results indicate that the majority of CAPHIL cases are recovered from urban areas with medium to low population density and low rates of crime. The results also suggest that more accurate record keeping methods would enhance the data.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Toxicological findings in suspected drug-impaired drivers in Norway —
           Trends during 1990–2015
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International, Volume 280
      Author(s): Anja Valen, Stig Tore Bogstrand, Vigdis Vindenes, Hallvard Gjerde
      This study describes trends in drug use among drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, apprehended by the police in Norway during 1990–2015. Chromatographically determined toxicological findings in blood samples were retrospectively investigated. Drug findings above defined cut-off concentrations were considered positive; hence making the annual prevalence comparable during the 26 years studied. Blood samples from 112,348 drivers were included, of which 63% were positive for drugs; 43% had combined drug with alcohol or other drugs. In total, 87% of the drug-positive drivers were men, and a higher proportion of them were positive for illicit drugs compared to the women. Benzodiazepines and related drugs were found in 57% of the drug-positive drivers, stimulants in 51%, cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol, THC) in 34%, and opioids in 18%. The types of benzodiazepines and opioids changed over time. The age distribution also changed; the proportion of drug-positive drivers above 40 years of age increased for all drug classes. The annual number of suspected drug-impaired drivers increased by 122% from 1990 to 1999, and by 54% from 2000 to 2015; the annual number of drug-positive samples increased by 260% from 1990 to 1999, and by 60% from 2000 to 2015. During 2000–2015, an increasing prevalence of amphetamines was found among suspected drug-impaired drivers above age 30; the highest rate of increase was observed among those at or above age 40. In the same period, the prevalence of benzodiazepines and related drugs decreased among all age groups, whereas the prevalence of THC increased; the highest prevalence and rate of increase were among suspected drug-impaired drivers under the age of 30. The results from this study indicate a slight change in the types of drugs used by drivers in Norway.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Conversion factors for assessment of driving impairment after exposure to
           multiple benzodiazepines/z-hypnotics or opioids
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Maren Cecilie Strand, Jørg Mørland, Lars Slørdal, Bettina Riedel, Cato Innerdal, Trond Aamo, Grete Mathisrud, Vigdis Vindenes
      Aims Norway has introduced legal concentration limits in blood for 28 non-alcohol drugs in driving under the influence cases. As of 2016 this legislation also regulates the assessment of combined effects of multiple benzodiazepines and opioids. We herein describe the employed methodology for the equivalence tables for concentrations of benzodiazepines/z-hypnotics and opioids implemented in the Norwegian Road Traffic Act. Methods Legislative limits corresponding to impairment at blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.02%, 0.05% and 0.12% were established for 15 different benzodiazepines and three opioids. This was based on a concept of a linear relationship between blood drug concentration and impairment in drug naïve users. Concentration ratios between these drugs were used to establish conversion factors and calculate net impairment using diazepam and morphine equivalents. Results Conversion factors were established for 14 benzodiazepines/z-hypnotics (alprazolam, bromazepam, clobazam, clonazepam, etizolam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, nitrazepam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, phenazepam, temazepam, zolpidem and zopiclone) and two opioids (methadone and oxycodone). Conclusions Conversion factors to calculate diazepam and morphine equivalents for benzodiazepines/z-hypnotics and selected opioids, respectively, have been operative in the Norwegian Road Traffic Act as of February 2016. Calculated equivalents can be applied by the courts to meter out sanctions.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • Characteristics of completed suicide in different blood alcohol
           concentrations in Korea
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Jae Won Lee, C. Hyung Keun Park, Eun Young Kim, Se Hyun Kim, Seong Ho Yoo, Yong Min Ahn
      Aims This study aimed to determine the role of acute alcohol use among suicide decedents based on their blood alcohol concentrations (BAC), and identify sociodemographic and clinical characteristics associated with the differences in BAC. Methods Data were collected from nationwide autopsies conducted between May 2015 and November 2015 in South Korea. A total of 683 suicide decedents were classified into three groups according to the BAC at the time of autopsy: no alcohol (NA) group (BAC <0.01%), no intoxication (NI) group (0.01≤BAC<0.08%), and intoxication (I) group (BAC≥0.08%). Sociodemographic data and clinical factors related to suicide among the three groups were analyzed using a multinomial logistic regression analysis. Results Among the suicide decedents (N=683), the NA group was 55.6% (N=380), NI group was 15.7% (N=107), and I group was 28.7% (N=196). History of suicide attempts (odds ratio [OR]: 1.798, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.073-3.012) and absence of medical illness (OR: 1.633, CI: 1.038-2.571) were higher in the I group compared to the NA group. Psychiatric and medical illness triggers of suicide were significantly lower in the I group than the NA group (OR: 0.325, CI: 0.118-0.892). Being male (OR: 2.494, CI: 1.363-4.565) and financial problems as triggers of suicide (OR: 3.234, CI: 1.636-6.393) were higher in the NI group than in the NA group. Being male and having financial problems were associated with no intoxication (0.01≤BAC<0.08%), whereas the history of suicide attempts and absence of medical and/or psychiatric illness were associated with acute alcohol intoxication (BAC≥0.08%) in the suicide decedents. Conclusions Suicide decedents had different characteristics based on different BACs identified in the autopsy. The differences in acute alcohol intoxication and no intoxication in suicide decedents may have implications for the targeted prevention of suicides related to alcohol.

      PubDate: 2017-10-28T05:46:07Z
       
  • CONTAMINATION WITH EXPLOSIVES IN ANALYTICAL LABORATORY PROCEDURE
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Wojciech Pawłowski, Łukasz Matyjasek, Katarzyna Cieślak, Monika Karpińska
      The philosophy underlying the procedure with the trace from the moment of the securing of the evidence up to its ultimate inspection is of significance for the result achieved. Hands of the people who conduct investigative action or of the experts involved in examinations contaminated with explosives may adversely affect results of the analyses. The contamination effect is one of the most dangerous consequences of non-observance of the strict rules in handling the traces secured on the crime scene. The aim of this research work was to examine whether at all, and if so, with what an ease and at which stage of the analytical procedure there occurs a likely contamination of the evidence material with explosives such as TNT, RDX, PETN, NG. The analytical procedure employed consisted of the sampling stage, extraction from gauze swab, transfer of the extract and execution of an instrumental analysis based on gas chromatography with electron capture detector (ECD). The most significant contamination effect was observed during the analytical procedure for TNT, followed by a similar, yet less pronounced, for RDX and PETN. Contaminating the research material with nitroglycerin, known to be liquid under normal conditions, proved unsuccessful.

      PubDate: 2017-10-20T13:58:59Z
       
  • Structural Characterization of the New Synthetic Cannabinoids
           CUMYL-PINACA, 5F-CUMYL-PINACA, CUMYL-4CN-BINACA, 5F-CUMYL-P7AICA and
           CUMYL-4CN-B7AICA
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Michael Bovens, Christian Bissig, Sandra N. Staeheli, Michael Poetzsch, Bernhard Pfeiffer, Thomas Kraemer
      Synthetic cannabinoids are a group of new psychoactive compounds (NPS) that act as agonists at the cannabinoid receptor. First reported in 2008, they currently represent one of the largest groups of NPS that are monitored by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Five samples (4 from the European RESPONSE project and one from daily casework) containing different synthetic cannabinoids were analyzed by a complex of analytical methods including gas chromatography − electron ionization mass spectrometry (GC-EI-MS), liquid chromatography − high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS), infrared spectroscopy (IR) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). Five new synthetic cannabinoids containing a cumyl moiety as a linked group were identified: CUMYL-PINACA, 5F-CUMYL-PINACA, CUMYL-4CN-BINACA, 5F-CUMYL-P7AICA, CUMYL-4CN-B7AICA. 5F-CUMYL-PINACA and 5F-CUMYL-P7AICA as well as CUMYL-4CN-BINACA and CUMYL-4CN-B7AICA are constitutional isomers and only differ in the position of a nitrogen atom. The article contains all analytical data for a proper identification and differentiation of the five cumyl compounds.

      PubDate: 2017-10-20T13:58:59Z
       
  • The attribution of a death to heroin: A model to help improve the
           consistent and transparent classification and reporting of heroin-related
           deaths
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Nathan C. Stam, Dimitri Gerostamoulos, Paul M. Dietze, Sarah Parsons, Karen Smith, Belinda Lloyd, Jennifer L. Pilgrim
      Introduction Accurate attribution of heroin-related deaths, as well as the differentiation from other opioid analgesic-related deaths, is essential from a public health perspective. Heroin-related deaths involve a number of complexities where heroin-specific or non-specific metabolites and indicators (6-acetylmorphine [6-AM], morphine, and codeine) may or may not be detected. The aims of this study were therefore to develop a model for improved consistency in the attribution of heroin-related deaths and to determine areas of variation in the current decision-making processes. Methods A model was developed using different toxicological indicators of heroin use (6-AM, morphine to codeine ratio (M:C) or morphine alone) along with investigative evidence of heroin use (circumstances, scene and clinical findings) which were used to assign a weighted score. The combined scores for the toxicological and investigative evidence were used to determine the relative strength of association for the death being attributable to heroin according to three categories: suspected; likely; or strong. An expert panel was convened to validate the model and a series of test cases were provided to a cohort of forensic toxicologists and pathologists in order to identify sources of variation in decision-making within this group. The model was also evaluated for sensitivity and specificity by reviewing potential heroin-related cases and examining the evidence associated with the attribution of these cases to heroin or not. Results and Discussion Across all potential heroin-related death cases, the use of this model enabled a greater level of consistency in the attribution of death to heroin, especially in cases where 6-AM was not detected. The largest amount of variation in the attribution of a death to heroin was observed with potential intoxication-related deaths and in toxicity cases where a M:C ratio only was reported, even more than when no toxicological evidence was available. The reviewed cases highlighted the same variation in the attribution of a death to heroin, including a large number of cases that were attributed to morphine where 6-AM was not detected. Conclusion This model provides a useful tool for improved accuracy and consistency in the differentiation, attribution and reporting of heroin-related deaths. Previously challenging cases where death occurred after a significant period of time and either no 6-AM was detected or no samples were taken, are able to be captured using this model.

      PubDate: 2017-10-20T13:58:59Z
       
  • Lessons Learned from a Case of tert-Butyl Glucuronide Excretion in Urine
           − “New” Psychoactive Alcohols Knocking on the Back Door'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Torsten Arndt, Hubert C. Buschmann, Katja Schulz, Karsten Stemmerich
      Background Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in urine is considered a marker of recent ethanol consumption or ethanol exposition. tert-Butanol is primarily used as a solvent and intermediate chemical. Like tert-amyl alcohol, tert-butanol is discussed in Internet forums as ethanol replacement. We discuss false-positive immunological EtG screenings by excretion of different alcohol glucuronides (EtG homologs), mainly tert-butyl glucuronide in urine of a polytoxikomanic in-patient. Methods Three consecutive urine samples from an in-patient with a long history of multiple substance abuse including solvents were analyzed by DRI EtG enzyme immunoassay (ThermoFisher Scientific Microgenics) on a Beckman Coulter AU680 analyzer, an in-house LC-MS/MS for EtG, 1-propyl, 2-propyl, 1-butyl, 2-butyl, and tert-butyl glucuronide, and an in-house headspace GC-FID of free congener substances methanol, 1-propanol, 2-butanone, 2-butanol, isobutanol, 1-butanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol, and additionally for ethanol, acetone, 2-propanol, tert-butanol and 2-methyl-2-butanol. Results EtG immunoassay yielded two positive urine samples (0.2 and 0.6mg/L or 0.1 and 0.2mg/g creatinine; cut-off 0.1mg/L) which were tested EtG negative by LC-MS/MS (cut-off 0.1mg/L) but positive for tert-butyl glucuronide (3.7 and 27.1mg/L), 2-butyl glucuronide (1.1 and 3.5mg/L), and 2-propyl glucuronide (0.1 and 0.4mg/L). Headspace GC-FID detected tert-butanol (0.97 and 4.01mg/L), methanol (0.96 and 0.62mg/L), 2-butanone (0.84 and 1.65mg/L), and 2-butanol (0.04 and 0.09mg/L), but no ethanol and no 2-methyl-2-butanol. Conclusion Cross-reaction of EtG homologs, mainly tert-butyl glucuronide after suspected tert-butanol or isobutane abuse, explains the false-positive EtG immunoassay findings. Future investigations could address the usefulness of alcohol glucuronides (EtG homologs) in urine as a) biomarkers of an exposition to alkans or their corresponding alcohol metabolites and b) as markers for using “old”-well known alcohols like tert-butanol or tert-amyl alcohol as easy to obtain, cheap, potent and “undetectable” ethanol replacements or “New” Psychoactive Alcohols.

      PubDate: 2017-10-20T13:58:59Z
       
  • A REVIEW OF THE OPTIMISATION OF THE USE OF FORMALIN FIXED PARAFFIN
           EMBEDDED TISSUE FOR MOLECULAR ANALYSIS IN A FORENSIC POST-MORTEM SETTING
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Kate Megan Reid, Sairita Maistry, Raj Ramesar, Laura Jane Heathfield
      Molecular analyses in a post-mortem setting are becoming increasingly common, particularly in cases of sudden unexplained death, with the aim of identifying genetic mutations which may be responsible for causing death. In retrospective investigations, the access to suitable autopsy biological samples may be limited, and often formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue is the only sample available. The preservation of tissue in formalin is known to damage DNA through crosslinking activity. This results in the extraction of severely fragmented DNA of variable yields, which subsequently reduces the ability to perform downstream molecular analyses. Numerous studies have investigated possible improvements to various aspects of the DNA extraction and amplification procedures from FFPE tissue and this review aims to collate these optimization steps in a cohesive manner. A systematic review was performed of three major databases, which identified 111 articles meeting the inclusion criteria. Five main areas for optimization and improvements were identified in the workflow: 1) tissue type, 2) fixation process, 3) post-fixation, 4) DNA extraction procedure and 5) amplification. It was found that some factors identified, for example tissue type and fixation process, could not be controlled by the researcher when conducting retrospective analyses. For this reason, optimization should be performed in other areas, within the financial means of the laboratories, and in accordance with the purposes of the investigation. Implementation of one or more of the optimization measures described here is anticipated to assist in the extraction of higher quality DNA. Despite the challenges posed by FFPE tissue, it remains a valuable source of DNA in retrospective molecular forensic investigations.

      PubDate: 2017-10-13T18:58:25Z
       
  • Kastle-Meyer blood test reagents are deleterious to DNA
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 October 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): James Sloots, Wendy Lalonde, Barbara Reid, Jonathan Millman
      The Kastle-Meyer (KM) test is a quick and easy chemical test for blood used in forensic analyses. Two practical variations of this test are the KM-rub (indirect) test and the more sensitive KM-direct test, the latter of which is performed by applying reagents directly to a suspected blood stain. This study found that sodium hydroxide present in the KM reagents eliminated the potential to generate a DNA profile when applied directly to small quantities of blood. A modified approach to the KM-rub test that increases its sensitivity is presented as a method to replace destructive KM-direct testing.

      PubDate: 2017-10-13T18:58:25Z
       
  • Determination of cross-reactivity of poly- and monoclonal antibodies for
           synthetic cannabinoids by direct SPR and ELISA
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 September 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Nico Langer, Franziska Steinicke, Rainer Lindigkeit, Ludger Ernst, Till Beuerle
      One of the main reasons for the rise in popularity of synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) is their ability to remain unrecognized in conventional drug screenings. Due to their structural diversity, caused by the constant introduction of new substances to circumvent legal regulation, antibodies with a wide range of cross-reactivity are necessary for the establishment of a reliable immunological based drug test. Therefore, high-quality binding data are needed to select promising antibody candidates for further development. In this study, we carried out a direct surface plasmon resonance (SPR) method and evaluated its suitability for the characterization of antibody-SC interactions. The cross-reactivity of 22 SCs with three polyclonal antibodies, raised against JWH-018 haptens with different attachment positions of the linker, and two commercial available monoclonal antibodies were determined. These results were compared with the commonly used competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). It could be demonstrated, that direct SPR and competitive ELISA show comparable specificity results for the majority of the measured compounds. However, the reduced manual labor, the real-time analysis and the high information content about the binding events of SPR compared to ELISA, showed that SPR is a valuable tool during the development of antibodies against synthetic cannabinoids, currently the largest group of new psychoactive substances.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-09-19T04:59:46Z
       
  • Quantifying pteridines in the heads of blow flies (Diptera:
           Calliphoridae): Application for forensic entomology
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 September 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): J.A. Cammack, M.H. Reiskind, L.M. Guisewite, S.S. Denning, D.W. Watson
      In forensic cases involving entomological evidence, establishing the postcolonization interval (post-CI) is a critical component of the investigation. Traditional methods of estimating the post-CI rely on estimating the age of immature blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) collected from remains. However, in cases of delayed discovery (e.g., when remains are located indoors), these insects may have completed their development and be present in the environment as adults. Adult fly collections are often ignored in cases of advanced decomposition because of a presumed little relevance to the investigation; herein we present information on how these insects can be of value. In this study we applied an age-grading technique to estimate the age of adults of Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius), Cochliomyia macellaria (Fabricius), and Phormia regina (Meigen), based on the temperature-dependent accumulation of pteridines in the compound eyes, when reared at temperatures ranging from 5 to 35°C. Age could be estimated for all species*sex*rearing temperature combinations (mean r2 ±SE: 0.90±0.01) for all but P. regina reared at 5.4°C. These models can be used to increase the precision of post-CI estimates for remains found indoors, and the high r2 values of 22 of the 24 regression equations indicates that this is a valid method for estimating the age of adult blow flies at temperatures≥15°C.

      PubDate: 2017-09-19T04:59:46Z
       
  • Death by heroin intoxication in a body pusher with an innovative packaging
           technique. Case report and review of the literature.
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 September 2017
      Source:Forensic Science International
      Author(s): Sindi Visentin, Greta Bevilacqua, Chiara Giraudo, Caterina Dengo, Alessandro Nalesso, Massimo Montisci
      Death due to mechanical or chemical intoxication of heroin body packers, thanks to the continuous improvement in packaging techniques, are increasingly rare, and almost all the cases reported in the literature refer to drug swallowers. A case of fatal acute heroin intoxication in a body pusher with an unreported packaging technique is presented, and previous deaths due to heroin body packing are reviewed, taking into consideration imaging techniques performed, cause of death, toxicological analysis on biological and non-biological samples, as well as number, position and type of drug packages identified at the dissection of the body. The innovative packaging technique found in the present case, constituted by an external multilayer cellophane casing containing 16 smaller packages of hardened heroin powder, each one covered with cigarette paper and multiple layers of heat-sealed cellophane, was probably used to avoid both chemical complications of package rupture and to create a package with morphological and radiological features different from those reported by previous studies. Drug dealers, in fact, are continually looking for packaging methods that, besides being safer, minimize the risk of detection at the radiological examinations performed, thus increasing the number of false negative findings. The identification of new types of package is therefore important, in order to identify packages that do not have the typical radiological signs, both in order to protect the patient's health and to avoid the non-recognition of a drug carrier. Despite the presence of multilayer composition of both the smaller and the bigger external coverage, these new types of package did not guarantee the greater safety of the drug dealer.

      PubDate: 2017-09-12T07:32:52Z
       
 
 
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