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Forensic Science International
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.981
Citation Impact (citeScore): 2
Number of Followers: 473  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0379-0738
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3162 journals]
  • Is the visibility of standardized inflicted bruises improved by using an
           alternate (‘forensic’) light source'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): H.G.T. Nijs, R. De Groot, M.F.A.M. Van Velthoven, R.D. Stoel Aimto study the visibility of standardized inflicted bruises by using an alternate (‘forensic’) light source compared to a white light source.Methodsbruises were inflicted on the flexor site of the forearm (halfway in the middle) in 76 adults, by suddenly allowing a cylindrical metal object (400 grams) with rounded edges to drop for 1 meter in a vertically positioned tube. At 0.25, 1, 2, 7 and 14 days after this blunt force impact, the impact site on the forearm was photographed with a white light source and subsequently with an alternate light source at 415 nm. Visibility of bruises on 170 randomized photographs was assessed on a calibrated monitor by 10 forensic medical specialists (physicians and pathologists) independently in two sessions: (1) with white light source photographs, and (2) after a mean of 11 days with greyscale converted alternate light source photographs.Bruise visibility was expressed as a report mark between 1 (very bad) and 10 (excellent), or as ‘no visible bruise’. To determine intra-rater agreement, 10 of 170 photographs were assessed twice (untold to the assessors). In total 3600 (180*10*2) photographs were assessed.Results39 of 73 (53%) participants who completed the study, developed a visible bruise (women more often than men, p 
  • Alcohol consumption assessment in a student population through combined
           hair analysis for ethyl glucuronide and fatty acid ethyl esters
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): David Oppolzer, Catarina Santos, Eugenia Gallardo, Luís Passarinha, Mário Barroso This study aimed to assess alcohol consumption in a university student population though the combined analysis of the alcohol biomarkers ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) in hair samples. A total of 975 hair samples were analysed for EtG and FAEEs using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC–MS/MS), respectively. The results were analysed using the cut-offs proposed by the Society of Hair Testing and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to verify the adequacy of the proposed values for the study population. Good sensitivity and specificity were obtained for both biomarkers, especially for EtG, and a correlation was found with the self-reported alcohol consumption habit. In 56.3% of the abstinent, 65.8% of the moderate and 80.0% of the excessive drinking cases, self-reported alcohol consumption could be confirmed by combined alcohol biomarker analysis. Combined analysis of EtG and FAEEs in hair samples proved to be a valuable tool for the monitoring of alcohol consumption in a student population. For a feasible result interpretation, it is very important to document the use of hair products, cosmetic treatments and washing frequency, and for these to be considered during interpretation. Overall the participants were aware of their consumption pattern, however for doubtful cases and to account for academic calendars, repeated analysis of samples collected at different time frames would be advisable.
  • Forensic Science UK — We need solutions, let’s hear them
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Tiernan Coyle
  • Geometric morphometrics on juvenile crania: Exploring age and sex
           variation in an Australian population
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jacqueline Noble, Andrea Cardini, Ambika Flavel, Daniel Franklin For medico-legal forensic practitioners the identification of unknown remains is an important part of any investigation, often predicated on having accurate estimations of age and sex. In considering the specific skeletal elements available to facilitate such biological information, the cranium is frequently targeted for analysis, as it exhibits marked traits of sexual dimorphism, and also has a predictable pattern of growth. There are, however, instances where it may not be possible to estimate skeletal sex, especially in the juvenile skeleton. There is still considerable uncertainty surrounding the age at which the human cranium is quantifiably dimorphic. The aim of the present study is to explore age and sex variation in three-dimensionally reconstructed MDCT scans of the juvenile cranium. The study sample comprises 152 juvenile crania from a Western Australian population; a total of 52 three-dimensional landmarks are acquired and analysed using Procrustean geometric morphometrics. Group discrimination is assessed between sexes and across age classes.Results demonstrate that sexual dimorphism and age variation is discernible through geometric morphometric analysis of form, size and shape. Relative to sex and age, size is found to be generally equivalent to, or even more accurate than, shape data. There is little quantifiable sexual dimorphism in individuals younger than 12 years of age with most variation related to age; discrimination improves with increasing age, with average hit rate (HR) values increasing from just over 50% (52–58%) to more than 90% (93–94%) accuracy at 18 years. In contrast, differences between contiguous age classes follow the opposite trend and tend to be larger in prepubertal groups, while becoming progressively smaller in older age classes.This study demonstrates that simple linear interlandmark distances describing overall cranial size may provide a simple option for preliminary classifications of age and sex in skeletal remains of forensic interest. However, although recombining size and shape to perform analyses using form generally does not appreciably improve predictive accuracy, it potentially contributes to increased confidence in group assessment (especially for sex) and thus offers a promising, albeit complex, type of information to discriminate groups based on cranial size and/or shape.
  • Micro-CT for saw mark analysis on human bone
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): D.G. Norman, W. Baier, D.G. Watson, B. Burnett, M. Painter, M.A. Williams In toolmark analysis, microscopy techniques, such as micro-CT, are used to visualise and measure toolmarks left on bones by a tool. In dismemberment cases, properties such as the width of the saw mark can provide cues to which tool was used by the culprit. The aim of the current study was to establish whether; (i) micro-CT is an appropriate imaging technique for saw mark analysis, (ii) toolmarks statistically differ when created with different tools, (iii) toolmark width can predict tool blade width, and (iv) toolmarks differ if created under different methodological conditions. Across two experiments, 270 saw marks were created using eight tools with either a controlled or free saw action on either fleshed or defleshed human long bone. Toolmarks were micro-CT scanned and seven toolmark properties were categorised or measured by two independent raters. The current study found that; (i) micro-CT was found to be a powerful and reliable imaging method for the visualisation and measurement of saw mark properties, (ii) toolmark properties differed significantly within and between various methodological conditions (p 
  • Wildlife Crime: The application of forensic geoscience to assist with
           criminal investigations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kristopher D. Wisniewski, Jamie K. Pringle, Daniel Allen, Gary E. Wilson Wildlife crime is a growing problem in many rural areas. However, it can often be difficult to determine exactly what had happened and provide evidential Court material, especially where evidence is ephemeral. This paper presents a case study where a badger sett had been illegally filled and evidence was rapidly required to support a prosecution before it was either destroyed by the suspect/further badger activities or eroded by weather/time. A topographic surface survey was undertaken, quantifying the number and spatial position of sett entrances, as well as which had been filled by a slurry material. A ground penetrating radar survey was also undertaken to quantify how much tunnels were filled. Study results evidenced five sett tunnels were filled out of twelve observed. The slurry fill material was not being observed elsewhere on the surface. GPR survey data evidenced ∼1 m −5 m of slurry fill in tunnels. A subsequent report was forwarded to the CPS as evidential material. Study implications suggest the importance of rapid geoscience surveys to assist Police Forces to both gain scientific evidence for prosecutions and to deter future wildlife crime.
  • Midsagittal Facial Soft Tissue Thickness Norms in an Adult Mediterranean
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Fouad Ayoub, Maria Saadeh, George Rouhana, Ramzi Haddad The use of facial soft tissue thickness (FSTT) values is essential in forensic facial approximation. Few studies have assessed the FSTT norms in Mediterranean populations and none in the Lebanese population. The purpose of this study was to 1- present midsagittal facial FSTT norms for Lebanese adults with well-balanced faces and normal occlusion; 2- evaluate the presence of sexual dimorphism within these measurements; 3- establish a potential correlation between these measurements and 4-build on the existing database of FSTT data from previously published studies. FSTT measurements at 10 midsagittal locations were obtained from the lateral cephalometric radiographs of 87 males and 135 females (mean age of 23.49 ± 6.24 years). In additional to means, Shorth and 75-Shormax values are presented. Differences between sexes were assessed using the MANOVA test and correlations between different measurements were computed. The thinnest (3.07 ± 0.72 mm) and thickest (15.61 ± 2.38 mm) craniofacial soft tissue measurements existed at Rhinion and Subnasale, respectively. There was a statistically significant and large effect of sex on the combined FSTT variables (p
  • Supravital expression of heat-shock proteins
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): E. Doberentz, B. Madea Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) are expressed during cellular stress, especially thermal stress, to support protein homeostasis. Extensive investigations have revealed that HSP27 is rapidly and intensively expressed in the pulmonary and renal tissues of most cases of death due to fire, contrary to cases without premortem thermal influences, which are negative for HSP expression. As such, HSP27 can be used as a marker of vitality in the investigation of fire-related deaths. Without positive HSP27 expression or only slight expression, one can conclude that the deceased was not alive at the time of heat stress. This is presented in two case reports of men who were shot and later burned. HSP espression could not be found in these cases.In the very early supravital period, particularly the latency and supravital periods, metabolic processes can continue after irreversible cardiac arrest. Extensive cellular stress can lead to an immunohistochemically detectable expression of HSP in this portmortem period. This is shown in the case report of a 49-year-old man who immediately died and burned following the massive detonation of an air mine. Immunohistochemical studies of recovered renal tissues have revealed HSP27 expression in the vessel walls as well as renal tubules, as presented in a third case report. This HSP expression can be considered as a phenomenon of supravitality. Heat stress induces massive cellular stress and the expression of HSP under global ischemic conditions. When vitality is to be determined in cases of suspected fire deaths, the possibility of supravital expression has to be considered.
  • The Unexpected Identification of the Cannabimimetic, 5F-ADB, and
           Dextromethorphan in Commercially Available Cannabidiol E-liquids
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 November 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Justin L. Poklis, Haley A. Mulder, Michelle R. PeaceGraphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Forensic personal identification utilizing part-to-part comparison of
           CT-derived 3D lumbar models
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Summer J. Decker, Jonathan M. Ford The objective of this project was to document the efficacy of part-to-part comparison of computed tomography (CT)-derived three-dimensional (3D) models of the lumbar spine in forensic personal identification. By testing the methodology, this study aimed to provide a new technique of quantifiable (through a percent match) positive identification that meets the explicit requirements of the Daubert ruling and the challenges set forth in the 2009 NAS report. Ante-mortem (AM) and simulated post-mortem (PM) models of the lumbar vertebrae (L1–L5) for 30 unique individuals were compared via part comparison analyses. The threshold of ± 0.5 mm with at least a 90% match was considered a positive identification. Using this threshold, the part comparison results had a perfect identification rate with no false positives and no false negative matches. A ROC curve was generated with a score of 1, signifying a “perfect” sensitivity and specificity, at a cut-off value of 65.5%. On average positive IDs had a 94.7% percent match within the established threshold, while negative IDs had an average of 21.4%. In looking at the impact of different components of the biological profile, age and sex of the unknown individual played a minimal role in the percent match for both a positive and a negative ID. Lumbar level also played a minor role in in both the positive and negative percent match. The real-world application of 3D part-to-part comparison on AM and simulated PM scans demonstrate the potential usefulness of this technology in forensic identification.
  • Analysis of elemental and isotopic variation in glass frictionators from
           0.22 rimfire primers
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kelsey E. Seyfang, Hilton J. Kobus, Rachel S. Popelka-Filcoff, Andrew Plummer, Charles W. Magee, Kahlee E. Redman, K. Paul Kirkbride The majority of 0.22 calibre rimfire ammunition available in Australia, and overseas, tends to use glass powder rather than antimony sulfide frictionator in the primer. This glass can be the nucleus of a GSR particle, with other primer components condensing around and onto the glass structure. As the composition of glass frictionator remains largely unaltered during ammunition discharge [1] there is the possibility that frictionator composition could be used in GSR examinations to either correlate or discriminate between samples, thereby providing valuable information to an investigation.In this study, the composition of glass frictionator from a wide variety of ammunition was analysed by time-of-flight − secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) and scanning electron microscopy − energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS). Refractive index (RI) was measured using glass refractive index measurement (GRIM).Across the population of ammunition studied, it was found that the elemental and isotopic composition of frictionator varied. ToF-SIMS was able to discriminate 94.1% of brands in a pairwise comparison and SEM-EDS achieved a pairwise discrimination power of 79.4%. If SHRIMP was combined with the other two techniques, 95.6% of brands could be discriminated. Refractive index measurements supported the elemental data showing that there appeared, in most cases, to be only one population of glass within a cartridge.The results suggest that there is scope for frictionator analysis to contribute valuable, new capability to forensic GSR examinations.
  • Chemometric approach for discriminating tobacco trademarks by near
           infrared spectroscopy
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jone Omar, Boleslaw Slowikowski, Ana Boix Cigarettes are consumer products with a broad market-driven orientation. In order to satisfy the different needs of smokers, cigarette trademarks with different aroma, taste and appearance are available on the market. In this study near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy in combination with chemometrics was applied in order to distinguish cigarette trademarks by analysing the tobacco. Calibration models were developed to differentiate three tobacco trademarks and their respective producers. The developed models also allowed the discrimination of the tobacco according to their geographical origin and may serve as a tool for the detection of counterfeit tobacco.
  • Third molar maturity index for indicating the legal adult age in
           southeastern France
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Cheraz Tafrount, Ivan Galić, Angelique Franchi, Laurent Fanton, Roberto Cameriere The estimation of age in living subjects is today a significant issue because of the increase in the situations in which it arises and its legal consequences. In line with the Study Group on Forensic Age Diagnostics of the German Association of Legal Medicine’s recommendations, it is based on the concomitant use of physical examination and methods for estimating bone age and dental age. Given the variations between the populations, the use of the latter requires their validation on all the ethnic groups on which they can be used. This aim of this study was to access the interest of the Cameriere's third molar maturity index (I3M) to indicate if an individual had reached the age of 18 in a sample of individuals from southeastern France. The studied sample consisted of OPTs 339 (184 females and 155 males) subjects aged between 14 and 22 years old. A logistic regression analysis with the adult age and minor age as dichotomous dependent variable and gender and I3M as predictor variables showed that gender was not statistically significant in discriminating adults and minors. The receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis showed the best discrimination performance of the specific cut-off value of I3M 
  • Long-Term Self-Inflicted Craniocerebral Penetrating Injury with a Fatal
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jozef Sidlo, Henrieta Sidlova A case of long-term continual self-inflicted penetrating craniocerebral injury to a 59-year-old man with a fatal outcome is reported. The man suffered from paranoid psychosis and alcohol dependence. Over five months, he continually scalped the skin and subcutaneous tissue of his head with a knife until he perforated the skull and dura mater and injured his brain. He eventually sought medical advice, but died after 10 days of hospitalization despite complex conservative treatment. The immediate cause of death was a combination of central nervous system failure and heart failure. The original case presented is sporadic in the forensic literature due to atypical long-term continual self-harm to the head and brain using a sharp object that resulted in perforation of the skull and a fatal outcome. This case also highlights the importance of autopsy to determine the mechanism of injury and cause of death.
  • Length, weight and head circumference as reliable signs of maturity in a
           modern German birth collective
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Maren Bielemeyer, Markus A. Rothschild, Jan C. Schmolling, Frank Eifinger, Sibylle Banaschak Signs of maturity such as weight, length and head circumference are still a measure used to investigate cases of suspected neonaticides as they help to differentiate between newborns born dead or alive. However, limit values for these signs have not changed for a long time. Our study considers whether limit values should have changed and which validity the current ones have. We investigated the cases of 3162 newborns, dividing them into a mature and an immature collective on the basis of the gestational week. Application of these signs of maturity (2500 g, 48 cm, 34 cm) had a high predictive value concerning maturity (>99 %), and even applying only one sign of maturity gave a predictive value over 97%.Clinically the mature collective showed a slightly lower rate of ventilation (2% compared to 2.4% for the non-mature collective). Coherences between maternal age/weight and postnatal ventilation could be shown. Coherences with reanimation could not be investigated since the case number was too low. Our results show that, for valid forensic investigation, these numeric signs of maturity have to be supplemented by further investigations and other influencing factors have to be considered. Therefore, clinical instruments such as the Petrussa-Index, clavicule length measuring and foot length measuring must be considered.
  • Time to exonerate eyewitness memory
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): John T. Wixted Understandably enough, most people are under the impression that eyewitness memory is unreliable. For example, research shows that memory is malleable, so much so that people can come to confidently remember traumatic events that never actually happened. In addition, eyewitness misidentifications made with high confidence in a court of law are known to have played a role in more than 70% of the 358 wrongful convictions that have been overturned based on DNA evidence since 1989. However, recent research demonstrates that eyewitness confidence is highly indicative of accuracy on an initial, uncontaminated, properly administered photo lineup. In other words, low confidence indicates that the test result (i.e., the ID) is inconclusive, whereas high confidence indicates that the test result is far more conclusive. Critically, for the DNA exonerees who were misidentified by an eyewitness in a court of law, in every case where their initial confidence can be determined, the eyewitness appropriately expressed low confidence. For any other kind of evidence (e.g., DNA, fingerprints), an inconclusive test result like that would have been the end of it. By contrast, in the case of eyewitness evidence, investigators repeatedly tested (and therefore unwittingly contaminated) memory until a seemingly conclusive high-confidence ID could be presented to the jury. Blaming eyewitness memory for the failure of the criminal justice system to accept the inconclusive nature of the initial (uncontaminated) eyewitness evidence seems misguided. In addition to exonerating the innocent defendants who were wrongfully convicted, the time has come to exonerate eyewitness memory too.
  • A validation study of the 1,2-indandione reagent for operational use in
           the UK: Part 3—Laboratory comparison and pseudo-operational trials on
           porous items
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 June 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Aoife Luscombe, Vaughn Sears Laboratory trials, followed by a comparative pseudo-operational trial of a 1,2-indandione/zinc formulation and 1,8-diazafluoren-9-one (DFO) was carried out on a range of realistically-handled papers, card and cardboard. In laboratory trials over 7500 split marks were assessed and in the pseudo-operational trial in excess of 400 samples were treated with each of these processes before all the samples were then treated with ninhydrin. The results presented from both stages of the trials establish that 1,2-indandione was the most effective single process and that 1,2-indanedione followed by ninhydrin the most effective process sequence, with ninhydrin developing a significant number of new marks after 1,2-indandione.
  • A validation study of the 1,2-indandione reagent for operational use in
           the UK: Part 1 — Formulation optimization
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 June 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Niko Nicolasora, Rory Downham, Laura Hussey, Aoife Luscombe, Kelly Mayse, Vaughn Sears This paper contains details of work carried out to examine the composition of 1,2-indandione formulations and to develop the most effective 1,2-indandione/zinc formulation for use under UK conditions. Previous research into the reactions of 1,2-indandione without zinc ions have concluded that formulations containing methanol produce stable hemiketals, which are less reactive to amino acids, resulting in reduced fluorescence intensity of developed fingermarks. In this study, fingermarks were treated using varying formulations of 1,2-indandione, with and without the presence of methanol and zinc ions. It was found that both were beneficial in producing marks of the highest fluorescence intensity, although too much methanol could have a detrimental effect on the quality the mark due to diffusion of ridge detail. Therefore the 1,2-indandione formulation recommended for further trials has been modified to contain both zinc ions and methanol.
  • Sudden unexpected death in the young — Value of massive parallel
           sequencing in postmortem genetic analyses
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Stefanie Scheiper, Eva Ramos-Luis, Alejandro Blanco-Verea, Constanze Niess, Britt-Maria Beckmann, Ulrike Schmidt, Mattias Kettner, Christof Geisen, Marcel A. Verhoff, Maria Brion, Silke Kauferstein Case of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in young and apparently healthy individuals represent a devastating event in affected families. Hereditary arrhythmia syndromes, which include primary electrical heart disorders as well as cardiomyopathies, are known to contribute to a significant number of these sudden death cases.We performed postmortem genetic analyses in young sudden death cases (aged
  • Determination of the maximum distance blood spatter travels from a
           vertical impact
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Chris Flight, Max Jones, Kaye N. Ballantyne Bloodstain evidence can be very powerful evidence in assault related crimes. Determination of the distance that blood droplets may travel as a result of an impact into liquid blood may be of significance to corroborate or disprove a version of events, provide likely scenarios, or help determine the culpability of a person in determining their proximity to the blood shedding event. It was the aim of this research to determine the potential maximum distance blood droplets travel horizontally following a vertical impact into liquid blood. A custom apparatus was designed and constructed to replicate a vertical impact of a timber weapon, rotating on a fixed axis at one end, striking a pool of liquid blood. The device was positioned at three different levels of elevation to replicate an impact to the head of a person near ground level, a seated or kneeling height and standing height. Overall, the results indicated that the application of kinetic energy of between 1 and 5 joules at a height of 1780 mm led to the blood droplets travelling a maximum horizontal distance of 5361 mm (and average maximum distance of 4981 mm). The horizontal distance blood droplets may travel upon impact does not appear to follow a linear trend with differing kinetic energy, but is affected by the applied force and release height in a curvilinear relationship. The results provide a valuable tool to bloodstain pattern analysts and investigators in determining search zones within a scene, as well as providing information about the proximity of an individual to an impact event.
  • Technical note: Efficacy of three-dimensional cinematic rendering computed
           tomography images in visualizing features related to age estimation in
           pelvic bones
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nuttaya Pattamapaspong, Thanat Kanthawang, Phruksachat Singsuwan, Witsuta Sansiri, Sukon Prasitwattanaseree, Pasuk Mahakkanukrauh Morphological changes on the surface of the pelvic bone can be used to estimate the age at death of a person. These features can be visualized using three dimensional computed tomography (3D CT) images. A newly introduced 3D CT technique, cinematic volume rendering, improves visualization of the surface of bones by integrating the effect of light on the images. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this 3D CT technique in visualizing features related to age estimation in pelvic bones.Dry pelvic bones of 35 subjects were scanned and then 3D reconstruction of the images was performed using the cinematic rendering technique. The 3D CT images of the pubic symphyses and the auricular surfaces were interpreted by two radiologists and a forensic osteologist using age estimation features derived from the Suchey–Brooks and the Buckberry–Chamberlain methods The interpretation of the dry pelvic bones was done by an expert anatomist and used as a gold standard.The percentages of correct interpretations and level of agreement in grading using 3D CT and using dry bones were high for features in the pubic symphyses including surface patterns (100%, k = 1), presence of lower extremities (100%, k = 1), and patterns of pubic rims (91.4%, range 87.5-100%, k = 0.88). In the auricular surface of the ilium, all specimens with an apical activity were correctly interpreted (100%, k = 1), but detection was moderate to poor for transverse organization (71.4%, k = 0.43), macroporosity (70%, k = 0.38.), and microporosity (52.9%, k = 0.25).Cinematic volume rendering has a high level of efficacy in identifying age-related features on pubic symphyses, but it inadequately displays features on the auricular surface.
  • A study of the intrinsic variability and the effect of environmental
           conditions on the formation of a postmortem root band
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Natalie Damaso, Katherine F. Jones, Traci L. Carlson, Jamie Fleming, Dawnie W. Steadman, Lee M. Jantz, Kathleen Hauther, Linda M. Otterstatter, Joseph Donfack A postmortem root band (PMRB) is defined as “an opaque ellipsoidal band composed of a collection of parallel elongated air/gas spaces and is approximately 0.5 mm above the root bulb and about 2 mm below the skin surface” [1]. It is generally accepted that it can appear in the root of hairs attached to remains during decomposition [1]. This study aimed to investigate the underlying cause and mechanism of PMRB formation. This was done (i) by observing the overall frequency and the intrinsic variability in anagen hairs containing a PMRB collected across five regions of a human decedent’s scalp at three time points, and (ii) by determining if PMRB-like features can be induced via immersion in in-vitro controlled environments of anagen hairs plucked from the scalp of a human decedent (ex-situ postmortem hairs) not containing a PMRB. The results of the first objective illustrated that as time since death increased, the frequency of hairs containing a PMRB across the scalp sampling regions increased and the intrinsic variability decreased. The results of the second objective demonstrated that both an aqueous environment and microbial activity are essential for the formation of PMRB-like features. This study was the first to statistically analyze the intrinsic variability of PMRB formation, as well as the first to induce PMRB-like features in roots of ex-situ postmortem hairs.
  • Non-linear method of determining vehicle pre-crash speed based on tensor
           B-spline products with probabilistic weights — Intermediate car class
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Mateusz Krukowski, Przemysław Kubiak, Adam Mrowicki, Krzysztof Siczek, Jacek Gralewski In the following study we consider the Intermediate Car Class. We apply a novel non-linear method, where the work W of car deformation is defined as an algebraic function of deformation ratio Cs.We use the data from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) database comprising numerous frontal crash tests. On the basis of this database, we determine the mathematical model parameters. In the so-called energetic approach, collisions are treated as non-elastic.The velocity threshold that defines the elastic collision was set to be 11 km/h. Such an approach, which greatly simplifies our considerations, determines the linear dependence of energy lost during deformation on deformation coefficient Cs.The coefficient Cs is calculated as a weighted mean value of deformation points C1–C6. In this paper, the authors suggest a more precise non-linear method in order to determine the work of deformation.
  • Functional Characterization of TRPM4 variants Identified in
           Sudden Unexpected Natural Death
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ekaterina Subbotina, Nori Williams, Barbara A. Sampson, Yingying Tang, William A. Coetzee BackgroundThe TRPM4 gene encodes the subunit of the Ca2+-activated nonselective cation channel, which is enriched in the specialized cardiac conduction system and Purkinje fibers. To date, several putative disease-causing variants in TRPM4 have been reported to be associated with cardiac arrhythmia and progressive conduction disease. Here, we report the functional effects of previously uncharacterized variants of uncertain significance (VUS) that we have found while performing a “genetic autopsy” in individuals who have suffered sudden unexpected death (SUD) in the New York City area.Methods and ResultsWe have identified thirteen uncommon missense VUS in TRPM4 by testing 95 targeted genes implicated in channelopathy and cardiomyopathy in 330 cases of SUD. In several cases there were co-existing VUS in one or more other genes that were tested. We selected four TRPM4 VUS (C20S, A380 V, L595 V and I1082S) for functional characterization, since these cases lacked detectable variants in other genes of our testing panel. Two of the cases were infants, one was a child and one an adult. RNA-seq data analysis showed that the longer TRPM4b splice variant is predominantly expressed in adult and fetal human heart. We therefore used site-directed mutagenesis to introduce these variants in a TRPM4b cDNA. HEK293 cells were transfected with the cDNAs and patch clamping was performed to assess the functional consequences of the TRPM4 mutants. The TRPM4 current was recorded in excised patches and was significantly reduced by each of the mutants. The total protein level of TRPM4-C20S was markedly decreased, whereas the A380 V and L595 V mutants exhibited decreased surface expression. The TRPM4-A380 V current rapidly desensitized following patch excision.ConclusionsEach of the VUS tested caused a defect in TRPM4 channel function via distinctly different mechanisms, hence, it lays the foundation for further co-segregation family studies and animal studies of the TRPM4 variants.
  • A modified trace metal detection test for secondary imprints on porous
           substrates: A preliminary study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Zhuo Xing, Ruiqin Yang, Wenbin Liu, Hongge Zhang In the investigation of criminal cases involving metallic weapons such as firearms and knives, the trace metal detection test (TMDT) and the transfer detection technique are two effective and on-the-spot methods to link a suspect and a suspected metallic weapon. In general, these tests need to be conducted on suspects’ hands or done by lifting trace metals from their hands within 3 days of the crime being committed. However, if no suspects are arrested within this period, neither of these two techniques is applicable.This paper presents preliminary development of a modified TMDT to overcome the intrinsic disadvantages of conventional TMDTs. The method primarily focuses on the secondary imprints on porous substrates that are transferred unconsciously from the palms of criminals after handling galvanized weapons. The modified TMDT was established by studying the effect of various factors on secondary imprints on porous substrates. We also tested the effectiveness of the modified TMDT for common porous substrates and galvanized weapons and its relative sensitivity in a depletion series. Additionally, the storage conditions of the developed secondary imprints as physical evidence were studied under different time lapses and light conditions. Finally, we proposed an improved procedure for detecting metal traces formed in the use of metallic weapons and subsequent activities at a crime scene.The modified TMDT provides a novel method for investigators to demonstrate the relationship between a suspect and a metallic weapon, thus reducing the heavy reliance of conventional TMDTs on suspects and the time limit available to visualize or lift metal traces. For this reason, it can be used as a complementary and remedial method for conventional TMDTs, especially when suspects are not arrested within 3 days of the commission of a crime. Furthermore, the improved procedure can serve as a guide for investigators to apply the TMDT series properly to solving the cases involving metallic weapons.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • DNA on feminine sanitary products
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Patricia P. Albani, Jayshree Patel, Rachel I. Fleming The use of feminine hygiene products is commonplace and chaperones many women for most of their reproductive years. Unless specifically labelled, products are usually not sterile. Any DNA present on their surface could potentially be transferred onto the wearer and subsequently be detected in samples taken from intimate areas during a medical examination. This study investigated whether unused feminine sanitary products normally carry detectable amounts of DNA. Altogether, 52 items of tampons, pads, liners, and wipes were tape lifted and subjected to total and male-specific DNA quantification and STR amplification. Nineteen of these returned quantification values greater than zero. However, only four (one tampon and three liners) displayed one or two Y-STRs, whereas one pad exhibited one autosomal allele and an amelogenin X allele. All peak heights were below 515 RFU. Two liners may have collected partner DNA post purchase since they were not individually wrapped. Thus, feminine sanitary products are normally not a source of DNA.
  • Sexual size dimorphism in three species of forensically important
           blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and its implications for postmortem
           interval estimation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Marcos Patrício Macedo, Luciano C. Arantes, Rosana Tidon Forensic entomologists rely on insects present in human remains to establish a minimum postmortem interval (PMImin). Blowflies have been widely used in these estimates because they lay eggs on the victim’s body shortly after death and, within hours, larvae hatch and grow at predictable rates. Hence, isomegalen diagrams based on larval size and local temperature are considered good models to estimate PMImin. Still, most professional do not account for size sexual dimorphism in blowflies, which add uncertainty to predictive models by two mechanisms: 1) males and females might grow up to different sizes, and; 2) males and females might grow at different rates. In this study, we investigate sexual dimorphism and biases on the prediction of adult size in three species of blowflies (Lucilia sericata, Calliphora vicina and C. vomitoria) reared under different larval densities. Estimated size range, stablished with and without sex discrimination, showed that females were larger than males in the three species. The ultimate size of adult stage, however, was more difficult to predict. Calliphora vicina and C. vomitoria decrease as density raises but at different rates, and even males and females of the same species react differently to density increase. Adult size of Lucilia sericata, in contrast, shows a slight increase with density. Except for C. vomitoria females, estimated size ranges are lower when species are divided by sex. Our results show that sex is an important factor to consider in PMImin estimates. Scenarios for all three species shorten their estimated size ranges when compared to databases with no sex identification. Therefore, computing data by sex raises accuracy in size based predictive models.
  • Isolation, Identification, and Time Course of Human DNA Typing from Bed
           Bugs, Cimex lectularius
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Coby Schal, Natalia Czado, Richard Gamble, Amy Barrett, Kiera Weathers, Khalid Mahmud Lodhi Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) are ectoparasitic wingless insects that feed on the blood of mammals, typically in residential settings. The objectives of this study were to establish a time-course of human DNA quantitation from bed bugs and to generate human DNA profile(s) of a host and/or multiple hosts from a bed bug that fed on human blood. Female human genomic DNA concentrations ranged from 18.370 to 0.195 ng/bed bug at 0 to 108 h post blood meal (PBM), male human genomic DNA concentrations ranged from 5.4 to 0.105 ng/bed bug, and pooled human female and male blood ranged from 5.49 to 0.135 ng/bed bug at 0 to 96 h PBM. Human autosomal STR complete profiles were obtained until 72 h PBM for female, male, and pooled human blood. These results reveal that identification of multiple human hosts is possible from a single bed bug. However, the ratio of each contributor may be variable depending on the amount of blood ingested from each individual and the time difference of blood consumed from each subject. Average peak heights for three STR markers of low (D3S1358), medium (D13S317), and high molecular weight (D2S1338), were also compared over time. Peak heights were consistently higher for the low molecular weight marker over all time intervals. These data suggest that some markers can be successfully recovered more than three days PBM. Hence, bed bugs can serve as physical evidence in temporal and spatial predictions to match suspects and/or victims to specific locations in criminal investigations.
  • Even Judges are CSI fans
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Giuseppe Gennari
  • The effects of household corrosive substances on silver amalgam and
           porcelain-fused-to-metal restorations and non-restored teeth
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Brittany M. Trapp, Sean D. Tallman This study examines the effects of household corrosive products on 105 restored (silver amalgam and porcelain-fused-to metal) and non-restored teeth. Five household products were utilized, including hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and detergent. Teeth were radiographed before and after exposure and were submerged for 120 or 264 h. Documentation included weight, mesiodistal and buccolingual crown measurements, ordinal scores, and photography at specific hours of exposure. Results indicate that 81.9% of the teeth could be positively matched by radiographs. Hydrochloric acid had the most destructive effects mainly to non-restored and silver amalgam teeth followed by sulfuric acid. Porcelain samples were more resistant to the effects of acid and conferred protection to the underlying teeth. Acid type, acid concentration and the restoration type are statistically significant contributors to alterations and in radiographic matching. Household corrosive substances may affect the morphology of teeth, and in some cases completely destroy teeth, which could conceal identifications.
  • Current Defence Strategies in Some Contested Drink-Drive Prosecutions: Is
           it Now Time for Some Additional Statutory Assumptions'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Paul M. Williams
  • Needed: consensus and classification for terms used in cognitive, forensic
           and clinical bias discussions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Saty Satya-Murti, Joseph J. Lockhart All evolving disciplines have long grappled with nomenclature inconsistencies. Precise terminology facilitates communication among individuals, clinicians, academics and researchers. To arrive at definitions, the concepts underlying basic scientific vocabularies must be universally acceptable to all users. This is not always easy. Tarachow cautioned in 1965 about how contractions and abbreviations, “…eliminated practically all the associations connected with the original title and did not at all have the evocative impact of the complete word or title”[1] (Tarachow, 1965). Clinical medicine has designed and used with some success disease-diagnosis based classification systems. Forensic science, as does clinical medicine, relies on cognitive processes for its mission to achieve expert accuracy. Both fields are vulnerable to biases and errors in cognition, more so when no terminology standards exist. It is time to develop a nomenclature system in the field of cognitive bias and cognitive errors. This system should build transdisciplinary understanding, at least during expertise-based undertakings in forensic and clinical sciences.
  • Facial Soft Tissue Thickness Trends for Selected Age Groups of Sri Lankan
           Adult Population
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Himashi Sandamini, Aparni Jayawardena, Lochana Batuwitage, Roshan Rajapakse, Damith Karunaratne, Muditha Vidanapathirana, Aruna Pallewatte Facial Soft Tissue Thickness (FSTT), together with the osteological characteristics of the skull, is one of the important factors for facial reconstruction in both forensic anthropology and plastic surgeries. Even though a number of countries around the world have analysed the FSTT data of their own populations and are having a FSTT database, no such dataset or analysis is available in Sri Lanka.In this study, FSTT was measured at 23 standard anthropological landmarks using Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) of 243 adult individuals (male − 121, female − 122) of the Sri Lankan population, which were collected from clinical data from the National Hospital of Sri Lanka. For each landmark, basic descriptive statistics were calculated. The FSTT values which were classified according to the gender and age, were analysed to assess the variation of FSTT with those categories.The results of this study indicate that there are certain FSTT attributes which are related to specific landmarks and age groups. For example, data in this study depict that men have higher FSTT than women, in the area along the midline. However, the area around the cheeks shows comparatively large tissue thickness in young women (within 20-39 age range) than in men. Some landmarks indicate a significant variation in values with aging. Finally the results of this study were compared with that of a North West Indian study to evaluate whether a significant difference is present among the two geographically close countries.
  • The Forensic Geophysical Controlled Research Site of the University of
           Brasilia, Brazil: Results from Methods GPR and Electrical Resistivity
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Marcio Maciel Cavalcanti, Marcelo Peres Rocha, Marcelo Lawrence Bassay Blum, Welitom Rodrigues Borges In forensic geophysical research, using controlled experiments assists forensic search practitioners in identifying optimal technique(s) and equipment configuration(s) in different burial scenarios. The objective of the research is to observe the geophysical response to different types of buried wrappings, taking into consideration the influence that the presence or absence of a decomposing body (pig carcass) in a lateritic soil in central-western Brazil can have. In this article, the GPR results are presented after a 15 day burial period during the rainy season, and the results of Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) after a burial period of 6 months during the dry season. The controlled site was built in the research area of the University of Brasília, in a region with soil, typical of the Brazilian savannah. 14 simulated clandestine graves of murder victims were constructed, in which seven pig carcasses were wrapped or covered by: soil (backfill), a plastic bag, a bed sheet, cement block, construction debris, a wooden coffin and hydrated lime, respectively a further seven burials, presenting only the wrappings acted as comparison (control burial). During the GPR survey a 400 MHz frequency antenna was used. The resistivity surveys were carried out before and after the burial of the targets with Dipole-dipole and Wenner-Schlumberger array configurations, with different spacing of electrodes (1.00 and 0.50 meters). The comparison between the various scenarios with and without pig carcasses revealed that good reflection events occurred mainly due to the wrappings and that pig carcasses attenuated the GPR signal. Electrical resistivity results showed that the Wenner-Schlumberger array presents a better resolution of the lateral boundaries of the burials, and the Dipole-dipole array presents a better sensitivity to heterogeneity of the buried materials. The burials with the pig carcasses wrapped in the various materials presented better resistivity contrasts as opposed to the control burials.
  • Details of a Thallium Poisoning Case Revealed by Single Hair Analysis
           using Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): R.D. Ash, M. He Heavy metals pose significant morbidity and mortality to humans in connection with both acute and chronic exposures. The often-delayed manifestations of some toxic effects and the wide-spectrum of symptoms caused by heavy metal poisoning may perplex the clinical diagnosis and, when involved in crimes, complicate the forensic investigation. To investigate the original intoxication process of a thallium poisoning case which occurred in China more than two decades ago, laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) was used to analyze several hairs of the victim from before, during and after the poisoning period. Ablation line scans of the entire length of a ∼7 cm hair revealed ∼4 months of repeated exposure to thallium with increased doses and frequency towards the end, while scan of a ∼0.7 cm hair revealed ∼2 weeks of constant ingestions of large doses of thallium accompanied by elevated amount of lead. The endogenous origin of thallium was confirmed by the preservation of the same longitudinal distribution profile in the inner part of hair, but the source of lead could not be unambiguously determined due to the intrinsic limitation of hair analysis to distinguish ingested lead from exogenous contaminants. The overall thallium distribution profiles in the analyzed hairs suggested both chronic and acute thallium exposures that correlated well with the sequential presentation of a plethora of symptoms experienced by the victim. Aligning the time-resolved thallium peaks with symptoms also provided clues on possible routes of exposure at different poisoning stages. This work demonstrated the capability of using single hair LA-ICP-MS analysis to reconstitute a prolonged and complicated heavy metal poisoning case, and highlighted the necessity of assessing multiple elements in the medico-legal investigation of suspicious heavy metal poisonings.
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Anaïs Rodrigues, Michel Yegles, Nicolas Van Elsué, Serge Schneider Medical cannabis is becoming increasingly popular for many different ailments and improvement of general well-being. Particularly CBD-rich extracts are easily available via online pharmacies, health stores or directly from producers. However, almost all of the extracts contain small amounts of THC. Thus, in case of continuous or heavy use of CBD rich cannabis, THC concentrations in hair may rise above accepted legal limits.In our study, we investigated THC, CBN and CBD in hair samples from regular CBD rich cannabis users. The goals were to determine levels of the cannabinoids in hair and to evaluate a possible correlation between regular CBD intake and CBD levels in hair. All participants consumed cannabis extracts from the same producer. It contained CBD at different concentrations and small amounts of THC with a CBD/THC concentration ratio of 30. The self-declared CBD dosage ranged from 4 to 128 mg CBD/day, corresponding to a daily THC intake of 0.1 to 4.3 mg. After extraction and derivatization, hair samples were analysed using a validated GC/MS-MS method.CBD concentrations ranged from 10 to 325 pg/mg of hair, but no significant correlation was observed between CBD concentrations and the daily dose. THC was detected in one sample only at a concentration below our cut-off, whereas CBN was not detected.In this study, we showed that even after repeated consumption of CBD-rich cannabis extracts in medium to high doses, consumers are generally tested negative for THC in hair.
  • Nanopathology and its applications within the forensic discipline
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Luca Roncati, Antonietta Morena Gatti, Monica Roncati, Antonio Manenti The impact of nanopathology in medicine necessarily involves also the anatomo-pathological diagnostics, because of the current large spread of nanoparticles in the environment and the wide spectrum of correlated human diseases. The main entrance gates of nanoparticles into the body are respiratory inhalation, gastro-intestinal absorption and injection of polluted drugs. In all these cases, their penetration in the lymphatic or blood streams are possible, with subsequent systemic translocation. Different diseases can be generated by nanoparticles exposure, from a direct contact irritation to the onset of granulomatous diseases. Interestingly, they can also act as endocrine disruptors on the autocrine and paracrine systems. At cellular level, nanoparticles can damage the DNA content leading to a subsequent tumorigenesis. In the forensic setting, they can be searched in case of known exposure to inorganic particulate matter or in case of diseases of unknown origin, from granulomatous reactions to foreign inclusions in neoplastic tissues. The combined physical-histopathological studies allow to relate possible environmental/industrial pollution with the pathology and offer a novel tool for forensic investigations, but, overall, they represent new technical evidences for lawyers to present in a court.
  • Cross Talk in Forensic Science: Commentary on DAG Rosenstein’s Comments
           to the National Symposium on Forensic Science
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Betty Layne DesPortes
  • Age estimation in 5- 16-year-old children by measurement of open apices:
           North German formula
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 October 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Talal Halilah, Nadiajda Khdairi, Paul-Georg Jost-Brinkmann, Theodosia Bartzela The aims of this study were to test the accuracy of Cameriere et al.’s European formula on a sample of North German children based on dental age (DA) for chronological age (CA) assessment and to adapt the formula used, in case of regional peculiarities of this group of children.Orthopantomograms of 1000 children (444 males and 556 females) aged 5–16 years were used. The roots of seven left mandibular teeth were evaluated. The number of teeth with complete root development (N zero (0)) was counted. Teeth with incomplete root development were examined and the distance between the inner sides of the open apex was measured and normalized by dividing it by the tooth length to avoid error due to magnification. Cameriere et al.’s European formula underestimated the mean CA of boys by 0.56 ± 1.04 years and of girls by −0.32 ± 0.96.The results of the regression analysis showed that sex (g), the sum of normalized open apices (s), number of teeth with closed apices (N0) and the first-order interaction between the normalized apex width of the canine (X3) and N0 contributed significantly to the fit. All previously mentioned factors were included in the regression model, yielding to the following formula:DA = 9.829 + 0.632 N0 − 1.037s + 0.686 g − 1.582N0 × X3,where g is a variable: 1 for males and 0 for females.The adapted formula explained 84.1% of the total deviance, with a median age of 0.070 years and 1.185 years interquartile range, (IQR).
  • Real-time detection of GSR particles from crime scene: A comparative study
           of SEM/EDX and portable LIBS system
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Alicia Doña-Fernández, Israel de Andres-Gimeno, Pilar Santiago, Eduardo Valtuille-Fernández, Fernando Aller-Sanchez, Antonio Heras-González The use of modern technologies that can help optimise the collection of evidence that contains Gunshot Residue (GSR) from crime scene investigation leads to obtaining better results in forensic laboratories. With this objective, equipment based on LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) technology has been developed named iForenLIBS. This study intends to evaluate the effective capacity of the aforementioned system. To do this, results were gathered from the analysis of real samples using LIBS equipment and were compared to those obtained by way of Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) in the laboratory. The system has verified its capacity to analyse GSR particles through simultaneous detection of the three characteristic elements of ammunition used (Sb-Pb-Ba) even in stub where only a single particle was found.
  • Possible fatal hyperthermia involving drug abuse in a vehicle: Case Series
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Paolo Fais, Jennifer Paola Pascali, Maria Carla Mazzotti, Guido Viel, Chiara Palazzo, Giovanni Cecchetto, Massimo Montisci, Susi Pelotti Major interplaying causes of heat stroke (HS) and fatal hyperthermia are climate, physical activity, artificial extreme ambient temperatures, confinement in a small compartment, and effects of drugs and chemicals, combined with predispositions and complications. A common and unfortunate cause of HS is vehicular hyperthermia (VH) death. Hyperthermia in a vehicle is a type of environmental thermal disorder, involving victim's susceptibility, confinement with restraint, and possible influences of drugs and poisons, including exhaust gas containing complex fumes, carbon dioxide and monoxide. Whereas VH typically occurs when babies or young children are being left unattended in parked vehicles in direct sunlight, it has been reported only anecdotally for adult subjects. Three cases of adult fatal VH will be herein presented. In each presented case the corpse was found enclosed in a vehicle on spring/summer days. During crime scene investigation (CSI) psychoactive substances were found near to the corpses leading to the suspect of a suicidal fatal drug intoxication. Basing on this misleading suspect in Case 2 and 3 a forensic expert was not charged for the CSI and a fatal VH was not suspected nor properly investigated. Later, a comprehensive autopsy, including biochemical and toxicological analyses, excluded a death related to natural causes, fatal intoxications, ketoacidosis and traumas. On the other hand, the reconstruction of the temperature, the humidity, the heat index and the related risk of HS allowed the diagnosis of fatal VH in all the reported cases. In particular, death occurred because of the long-lasting stay into a hot parked vehicle which was facilitated from self-administration of psychoactive drugs with related neuro-depression. This case series confirms that a comprehensive CSI followed by an autopsy including histology, biochemical and toxicological analysis remains mandatory in cases of forensic interest, as well as when a corpse is found enclosed in a vehicle. Anyway, sometimes the diagnosis of heat-related fatalities remains a medley of investigative and medicolegal observations.
  • A virtual reality method for digitally reconstructing traffic accidents
           from videos or still images
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Peifeng Jiao, Qifeng Miao, Meichao Zhang, Weidong Zhao With an increase in the number of traffic accidents and enhanced attention to the rule of law, technical appraisement to reconstruct traffic accidents is attracting increasing attention. Accident videos are important aspects in identification; however, we cannot reconstruct an accident scene onsite using video for many reasons. In this paper, we introduce a computer-based virtual reality method that can digitally reconstruct a traffic accident. This method employs accident videos to perform a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of accident scenes. Using video screenshots, it constructs a model of humans and vehicles in 3D space to achieve the goal of dynamic restoration. The results indicate that this method has relatively high accuracy, requires little time and is easy to use. In this paper, we analyse the sources of errors for this method and summarize the application conditions.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Photogrammetry using visible, infrared, hyperspectral and thermal imaging
           of crime scenes
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): G.J. Edelman, M.C. Aalders Photogrammetry is a method for obtaining virtual 3D models of objects and scenes. The technique is increasingly used to record the crime scene in its original, undisturbed state for mapping, analytical and reconstruction purposes. Recently, it was shown that it is possible to visualize and/or chemically analyze latent traces by using advanced cameras which either operate in wavelength ranges beyond the visible range, and/or are able to obtain spectrally resolved images. The combination of these advanced cameras and photogrammetric techniques enables the 3D registration of valuable information. We successfully explored the feasibility to obtain visible, infrared, hyperspectral and thermal 3D registrations of simulated crime scenes using photogrammetry, and demonstrate the possibilities and practical challenges for use in forensic practice.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Population specific data improves Fordisc®’s
           performance in Italians
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Laura Manthey, Richard L. Jantz, Albarita Vitale, Cristina Cattaneo Using discriminant functions based on morphometric data is one of the most approved methods for sex and ancestry estimation on skeletons. Nevertheless, population data from various parts of the world is needed in order to reliably classify an individual into a group. Due to population variation even sex estimation is biased when there is a lack of adequate data. Software that computes discriminant functions based on morphometric data is Fordisc®. Unfortunately, the above mentioned effects reduce its applicability in countries other than the US. For improvement of this situation data collection is currently performed extensively. The present paper shows a comparison of an Italian sample from the identified modern skeletal collection of CAL (Collezione Antropologica Labanof) [1] (Cattaneo, 2018) at the Institute of Legal Medicine Milan, Italy with a Euro-American sample from the Forensic Data Bank at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, USA.Fordisc® 3.1 was used to study population differences and sexual dimorphism. The analyses were performed on a selection of 19 highly influential measurements that are present in most individuals of both groups respectively.Italian crania show in relation to Euro-Americans wider and lower vaults with shorter cranial bases and wider faces. The degree of sexual dimorphism is similar in both groups. Yet there is a shift in the absolute value range for males and females that biases sex estimation by almost 25% when an individual is classified on the respective other discriminant function.Our results provide explanations for Fordisc®’s unsatisfying performance on non-US individuals. At the same time they show that significant improvement is achieved by adding more population samples to its dataset.
  • A forensic investigation on the persistence of organic gunshot residues
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 292Author(s): Matthieu Maitre, Mark Horder, K. Paul Kirkbride, Anne-Laure Gassner, Céline Weyermann, Claude Roux, Alison Beavis Gunshot residues (GSR) are a potential form of forensic traces in firearm-related events. In most forensic laboratories, GSR analyses focus on the detection and characterisation of the inorganic components (IGSR), which are mainly particles containing mixtures of lead, barium and antimony originating from the primer. The increasing prevalence of heavy metal-free ammunition challenges the current protocols used for IGSR analysis. To provide complementary information to IGSR particles, the current study concentrated on the organic components (OGSR) arising from the combustion of the propellant. The study focused on four compounds well-known as being part of OGSR: ethylcentralite (EC), methylcentralite (MC), diphenylamine (DPA), N-nitrosodiphenylamine (N-nDPA). This study assessed the retention of these OGSR traces on a shooter’s hands. The overall project aim was to provide appropriate information regarding OGSR persistence, which can be suitable to be integrated into the interpretation framework of OGSR as recommended by the recent ENFSI Guideline for Evaluative Reporting in Forensic Science. The persistence was studied through several intervals ranging from immediately after discharge to four hours and two ammunition calibres were chosen: .40 S&W calibre, used by the NSW Police Force; and .357 Magnum, which is frequently encountered in Australian casework. This study successfully detected the compounds of interest up to four hours after discharge. The trends displayed a large decrease in the amount detected during the first hour. A large variability was also observed due to numerous factors involved in the production, deposition and collection of OGSR.
  • How tight is the relationship between the skeletal and soft-tissue facial
           profile: a geometric morphometric analysis of the facial outline
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Pavla Zedníková Malá, Václav Krajíček, Jana Velemínská Correlations between facial bony structures and soft facial features are fundamental for facial approximation methods The purpose of this study was to assess the strength of the association between craniofacial shape and the shape of the soft-tissue profile and to determine the extent to which it might be possible to predict the latter from the former. Soft-tissue and skeletal facial profile curves were extracted from 86 lateral head cephalograms of a recent Central European population (52 males and 34 females, aged between 19 and 43 years), divided into five parts, segmented automatically and evaluated using geometric morphometrics. The magnitude of the hard–soft shape association was assessed by principal component analysis and subsequent multiple linear regression (Halazonetis 2007), by partial least square analysis (PLS) (Rohlf − Corti 2000) and the RV coefficient (Klingenberg 2009). The greatest amount of association between the skeletal contour and overlying soft tissues was exhibited by the region of the forehead (predictive power: 95.1%, RV = 0.91, correlation for PLS1 r = 0,96), followed by the region of the nasal root (predictive power: 40.2%, RV = 0.42, rPLS1 = 0.72) and the lower lip and chin (predictive power: 37.3%, RV = 0.41, rPLS1 = 0.65). The smallest statistically significant covariation was displayed by the upper lip and the maxilla (predictive power: 9.6%, RV = 0.14, rPLS1 = 0.43). The shape covariation between the nasal bridge and the tip and lateral border of the nasal aperture was found to be statistically insignificant (predictive power: 5.8%, RV = 0.05, rPLS1 = 0.26). Shape covariation was visualized and described by thin-plate spine grids. These findings correspond with the observation that the shape of the nasal profile and the upper lip contour are difficult to reconstruct or predict reliably in facial approximations. It seems that the shape of soft tissues might not follow underlying structures as closely as expected.
  • An Empirical Cross-Validation of Denoising Filters for PRNU Extraction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Bhupendra Gupta, Mayank Tiwari The present work is an empirical study to check the importance of widely used PRNU extraction de-noising filters at different stages of source camera identification procedure. The proposed work is unique in the sense that it gives an idea about the choice of the appropriate de-noising filters at the time of PRNU extraction for formation of unique identification pattern of digital camera and noise residue extraction of query image. Also in this work, we have suggested the best values of σ (noise variance) for formation of unique identification pattern of digital camera and noise residue extraction of query image (based on empirical observations). This study has been performed to check that which part (camera unique identification pattern, noise residue, enhancement methods, and value of σ) mostly dominates the performance of source camera identification.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Damned by DNA — balancing personal privacy with public safety
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kimberlee Sue Moran
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Petteri Oura, Niina Korpinen, Jaakko Niinimäki, Jaro Karppinen, Markku Niskanen, Juho-Antti Junno BackgroundAccurate stature estimation plays an essential role in the identification of unknown deceased individuals. For cases in which conventional methods of stature estimation are not applicable, we studied the stature estimation potential of the fourth lumbar vertebra (L4) among a large living sample of representative contemporary Finns. We also generated stature estimation equations for the middle-aged Finnish population.Material and methodsOur study population comprised the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 for which lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and objective measurements of stature were available from midlife (n = 1358). After screening the MRI scans for vertebral pathologies, we measured the maximum and minimum widths, depths and heights of the L4 body with high precision and reliability. We then calculated their sums and means together with approximations of vertebral cross-sectional area and volume. By constructing simple and multiple linear regression models around the L4 parameters, we generated equations for stature prediction, and investigated their accuracy on the basis of the adjusted R squared (R2) and standard error of the estimate (SEE) values of the models.ResultsThe multiple linear regression models of the mean width, depth and height of L4 yielded the highest prediction accuracies with the lowest prediction errors (for the entire sample, R2 = 0.621 and SEE = 5.635 cm; for men, R2 = 0.306 and SEE = 5.125 cm; for women, R2 = 0.367 and SEE = 4.640 cm).ConclusionWhen conventional methods for estimating stature are not applicable, the lumbar vertebrae may be utilized for this purpose. Relatively accurate stature estimates can be given on the basis of only L4 dimensions.
  • Bayesian interpretation of discrete class characteristics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Dennis McNevin Bayesian interpretation of forensic evidence has become dominated by the likelihood ratio (LR) with a large LR generally considered favourable to the prosecution hypothesis, HP, over the defence hypothesis, HD. However, the LR simply quantifies by how much the prior odds ratio of the probability of HP relative to HD has been improved by the forensic evidence to provide a posterior ratio. Because the prior ratio is mostly neglected, the posterior ratio is largely unknown, regardless of the LR used to improve it. In fact, we show that the posterior ratio will only favour HD when LR is at least as large as the number of things that could possibly be the source of that evidence, all being equally able to contribute. This restriction severely limits the value of evidence to the prosecution when only a single, discrete class characteristic is used to match a subset of these things to the evidence. The limitation can be overcome by examining more than one individual characteristic, as long as they are independent of each other, as they are for the genotypes at multiple loci combined for DNA evidence. We present a criterion for determining how many such characteristics are required. Finally, we conclude that a frequentist interpretation is inappropriate as a measure of the strength of forensic evidence precisely because it only estimates the denominator of the LR.
  • Effects of tanning on the stable isotopic compositions of hair
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Geoff Koehler, Keith A. Hobson We investigated the effect of tanning on the stable isotopic compositions (CNHOS) of hair keratin. Samples of hair from polar bear (Ursus maritimus) hides were collected before and after the tanning process from a commercial tannery. With the exception of sulphur isotopes, tanning did not alter the stable isotopic compositions of hair. δ34S values were slightly more positive (1 per mil) in hair that had gone through the tanning process, likely as a result of the tanning agent, alum (Al2(SO4)3) or exposure to sulphuric acid (H2SO4). This indicates that, with the exception of sulphur isotopes, hair keratin is resistant to subsequent isotopic alteration by the techniques used in tanning of animal hides and thus the original stable isotopic information is likely to be preserved in archived samples, such as taxidermic mounts and museum specimens. This is an important consideration when dealing with ecological and forensic applications to wildlife, such as evaluating provenance or migratory reconstructions, and so will assist in conservation efforts and investigations of trafficking and poaching.
  • Forensic science needs both the ‘hedgehog’ and the
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): R.M. Morgan Forensic science faces many challenges, some high profile and others that are less visible. It is argued that a holistic understanding of the complex matrix of forensic science is critical to robust and transparent forensic reconstruction approaches. This paper explores the value of incorporating the contrasting approaches to complexity of the ‘hedgehog’ and the ‘fox’, by illustrating their comparative strengths. The value of such collaboration in the context of a holistic understanding of the complex interactions that exist within forensic science, offers insights for developing approaches that can be taken to address the visible and less visible challenges at their root cause.
  • Law and policy oversight of familial searches in recreational genealogy
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Erin Murphy
  • Facial approximation of Tycho Brahe’s partial skull based on
           estimated data with TIVMI-AFA3D
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Pierre Guyomarc’h, Petr Velemínský, Jaroslav Brůžek, Niels Lynnerup, Martin Horak, Jan Kučera, Kaare Lund Rasmussen, Jaroslav Podliska, Zdeněk Dragoun, Jiří Smolik, Jens Vellev The virtual approach in physical and forensic anthropology is increasingly used to further analyze human remains, but also to propose new didactic means for visualization and dissemination of scientific results. Computerized facial approximation (FA) offers an alternative to manual methods, but usually requires a complete facial skeleton to allow for the estimation of the facial appearance of an individual. This paper presents the case of Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer born during the XVIth century, whose remains were reanalyzed at the occasion of a short exhumation in 2010. Cranial remains of Brahe were poorly preserved, with only a partial facial skeleton, and virtual anthropology tools were used to estimate the missing parts of his skull. This 3D restoration was followed by a FA using TIVMI-AFA3D, subsequently textured with graphic tools. The result provided an interesting estimate that was compared with portraits of the astronomer. The impact of the missing data estimation was investigated by performing FAs on 10 complete test subjects and the same 10 subjects after cropping and estimating 50% of the landmarks (reproducing the preservation state of Tycho Brahe’s cranial remains). The comparison between the FA based on the complete and incomplete skulls of the same subject produced a visual assessment of the estimation impact on FAs which is relatively low. This procedure is an alternative to manual methods and offers a reproducible estimate of a face based on incomplete cranial remains. Although the case report concerns a historical individual, the robust automatic estimation of missing landmarks followed by a FA has value for forensic caseworks as a support to the identification process.
  • Chemical profiling of the street cocktail drug ‘Nyaope’ in South
           Africa using GC-MS I: Stability studies of components of ‘Nyaope’ in
           organic solvents
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): PM Mthembi, EM Mwenesongole, MD Cole Nyaope, a street drug commonly found in South Africa, is a mixture of low grade heroin, cannabis products, antiretroviral drugs and other materials added as cutting agents. It is a highly physiologically addictive substance which is smoked by users. Little work has been published on the chemical analysis and profiling of nyaope. Sample preparation prior to chromatographic or spectrometric analysis normally involves dissolution of the sample in an organic solvent. This study determined the most suitable organic solvent in which the common components of nyaope, namely Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, diamorphine, caffeine, dextromethorphan, phenacetin and the antiretrovirals efavirenz and nevirapine, which have different chemical characteristics, are stable during extraction and prior to analysis of nyaope samples i.e. autosampler stability. Street samples of cannabis (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol), heroin (diamorphine) and antiretrovirals were mixed to mimic a nyaope sample and dissolved in the organic solvents dichloromethane, ethanol, ethyl acetate, hexane, isopropanol and tertiary butyl alcohol. Analysis was performed after intervals of 0, 1, 6, 8, 24, 48 and 72 hours, prior to analysis by gas chromatography − mass spectrometry. Tertiary butyl alcohol resulted in the most stable extracts of the main nyaope components after 72 hours of storage. The analysis was also repeated on actual street samples of nyaope. These results show that tertiary butyl alcohol is a suitable solvent for sample preparation for the identification, comparison and profiling of nyaope samples.
  • Application of the Injury Scales in Homicides
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Feng Li, Sihai Liu, Xuesong Lu, Ying Ou, Paul S.F. Yip Injury scales have two main applications on homicide investigations, namely, to evaluate the severity of the victims’ injuries and to identify the profiles of the offenders. However, few studies have examined the quality of the various injury scales in serving the two purposes. In this study, homicides from Shanghai and Wuhan, China (n = 439) have been used to examine nine injury scales. The results showed that seven out of the nine scales were useful. Compared to one-to-one homicides, offenders who killed two or more people tended to inflict more fatal injuries and made fewer number of attacks on the victims’ heads and necks. Among all homicide cases, victims of stranger homicides tended to have fewer total number of wounds, as well as less severity of wounds on the heads, necks, and faces compared to those of intimate partner homicides. As to one-to-one homicides, only the severity of wounds on the face could assist to distinguish stranger homicides from intimate partner homicides. When a male victim died in a one-to-one homicide, the high number of total wounds along with the high number and severity of wounds on the head and neck could indicate that the offender was a female.
  • Sensitive Determination of Nine Anticoagulant Rodenticides in Blood by
           High Resolution Mass Spectrometry with Supported Liquid Extraction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Xue Gao, Hongge Li, Hui Li, Shuai Dong, Junhao Chu, Hao Guo, Qingbiao Zhao Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) have been widely used for controlling rodents in agriculture and households. It often occurs that non-target animals are poisoned by ARs. Also, the abuse of ARs has been often encountered in poisoning and suicide cases. Herein we report the determination of nine commonly used ARs by high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) with supported liquid extraction (SLE) pretreatment. The factors affecting SLE (elution solvents and pH values) were systematically tested and optimized. The application of parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) mode led to the highest sensitivity obtained for these compounds, with LODs ranging for 0.006–0.02 ng/mL. Reasonable extraction recoveries for all the analytes were obtained ranging in 73.9%–110.7%. Good precision was achieved for the spiked blood samples, with intra-day RSD ranging in 5.0%–9.2% and inter-day RSD ranging in 6.3%–10.5%. The values of ME ranged in 82.9%–103.2% for QC sample, which are reasonable. The application of HRMS in PRM mode also resulted in high selectivity. The method was applied to the detection and quantification of ARs in blood samples from real forensic cases. This methodology possesses high potential for determination of rodenticides in clinical and forensic cases.
  • Applicability and accuracy of Demirjian and Willems methods in a
           population of Eastern Chinese subadults
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jian Wang, Xuebing Bai, Miaochen Wang, Zijie Zhou, Xiaohe Bian, Che Qiu, Changyi Li, Zhao Yang, Guangcan Chen, Fang Ji, Jiang Tao BackgroundTo assess the validity of the Demirjian and Willems dental age estimation methods in a population of Eastern Chinese 11-18-year-old subadults.Samples and methodsA total of 1622 orthopantomograms (787 boys and 835 girls) aged from 11.00 to 18.99 years old from a Chinese Han population were evaluated in the study. Dental ages were calculated using both Demirjian and Willems method. Statistical significance was set at p 
  • A review on the abuse of three NPS (synthetic cannabinoids, kratom,
           poppers) among youths in Asia
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kyungeun Bae, Nam ji Kwon, Eunyoung Han Abuse of new psychoactive substances (NPSs) among youths is increasing at an unprecedented rate all over the world. In Asia, abuse of synthetic cannabinoids (SCs), kratom, and poppers has been reported, but up to date information related to abuse of these three NPSs is lacking. This literature review focuses on the recent abuse of these three NPS among Asian youth. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the abuse statuses of SCs in Asian youth in Turkey, Japan, and Korea, and many cases of kratom abuse have been reported in Malaysia and Thailand. In addition, concerns have been expressed about the use of kratom in combination with other substances by teenagers. Popper abuse has been reported among many young people in Asia, including Korea and China, and many studies on popper abuse have focused on men who have sex with men in China and Malaysia. Since NPS abuse can have severe adverse effects and create social problems, there is a continuing need to investigate NPS abuse status continuously among young people.
  • Development of a Solid-Phase Microextraction (SPME) Fiber Protector and
           its Application in Flammable Liquid Residues Analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Arnon Grafit, Dan Muller, Sarit Kimchi, Yaniv Y. Avissar Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) has been established as a very powerful alternative to traditional extraction methods since its introduction in the early 1990s. The heart of the SPME device is an expensive thin and very delicate fused-silica fiber, coated with a thin polymer film. When extracted, the fiber may bend and break. Due to the fragility of the SPME fiber, a fiber protector device is proposed. The protector is easily assembled on the SPME device and can easily be removed by unscrewing for sampling to the injector. The SPME with the fiber protector was tested by headspace-SPME (HS-SPME) gasoline and diesel fuel vapor analyses. The results of the extractions with the SPME protector were compared with the results of the extractions by SPME without the protector. An enhancement to the lighter hydrocarbons was observed in the results with the protector but the method sensitivity was not altered. The SPME protector was easily cleaned from contaminant residues by ethyl acetate washings. The protector can be used for years and the fibers remain intact for hundreds of samplings.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • The use of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) in the postmortem diagnosis of acute
           myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death: a systematic review
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Caterina Barberi, Karen E. van den Hondel Being sudden cardiac death (SCD) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI) frequent occurrences in forensic medicine, extensive research has been published about the use of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) as a potential specific postmortem biochemical marker. However, cTnT has produced uncertain results, leading to the lack of a standardized application in routine postmortem examinations. The present systematic review focuses on the determination of whether cTnT may be considered as a suitable marker for the postmortem diagnosis of AMI and SCD, analysing the literature according to the following criteria: only human experiments, published from 1 st January 2001 to 12th April 2018, available in English, on the following databases: 1. Medline/PubMed/MeSH search words: ((“heart”[MeSH Terms] OR “cardiac”[All Fields]) AND (“troponin”[MeSH Terms] OR “troponins”[All Fields]) AND forensic[All Fields] AND “postmortem”[All Fields]); 2. Embase, Lilacs and Cochrane Library. 16 full-text articles were included. cTnT has been demonstrated to be elevated in a variety of pathological conditions, not strictly related to cardiac causes, but rather to the severity and extent of myocardial damage from various causes. cTnT levels have been consistently found higher in pericardial fluid than in the peripheral blood. Reviewed studies showed that the most suitable biological sample for cTnT evaluation seems to be pericardial fluid, since it may be less affected by haemolysis of blood. cTnT seems to be quite stable up to a PMI (postmortem interval) smaller than 48 hours; after this time, a mild time-dependent increase has been demonstrated. CPR seems to have no influence on cTnT values. The postmortem cut-offs differ from clinical ones, and at present no consensus has been reached concerning the postmortem ranges. Further research needs to be carried out in order to establish a common accepted cut-off value for forensic use.
  • Analysis and classification of smokeless powders by GC–MS and
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Emily Lennert, Candice Bridge Partially burned smokeless powder particles may be present as a form of evidence following a shooting or explosive event, such as the explosion of a pipe bomb. The characterization and classification of residual smokeless powers may allow for a known sample, i.e. sample collected from a suspect, to be connected to an unknown sample, i.e. sample obtained from a crime scene. In this study, thirty-four (34) smokeless powders were analyzed using GC–MS and DART-TOFMS to determine how comparable the discriminatory power of each instrument was based on the smokeless powder constituents identified within each sample. Analysis of smokeless powders by DART-TOFMS generated comparable results to GC–MS in a fraction of the time (∼30 seconds). Most peaks observed between the instruments were the same; however, N-nitroso-DPA was only observed in the DART-TOFMS spectra but was not a significant contributor. Samples were naturally grouped together using hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis, based on underlying features in the resulting spectra. Samples were placed into groupings based on significant peaks observed and relative intensities. Classification models were presented for both GC–MS and DART-TOFMS and subsequently tested and compared. The classification models used in this study were linear discriminant analysis, k-nearest neighbors, and random forest modeling. The groups observed were similar between the two instruments, indicating that DART-TOFMS provides comparable data to GC–MS and could be used as a rapid screening technique.
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Alexander Badu-Boateng Crime scene investigation is an important step in the entire criminal investigation process because this is where evidence is gathered. Blood from the perpetrator or victim of a crime can be left at crime scenes or transferred to other materials such as clothing, knives and guns. Most often, this body fluid is contaminated with soil at outdoor crime scenes but this might be the only or the most important evidence in solving a crime. This work aimed at identifying the most appropriate method of storing crime scene soil-blood mixed sample prior to analysis at the laboratory. Human blood was mixed with soil and stored at three different storage conditions (i.e., Room temperature/25 °C, 4 °C and −20 °C). Samples stored at room temperature saw significant reduction in DNA concentration as storage time increased (P = 0.001). Samples stored at 4 °C saw a drastic decrease in DNA concentration just after two weeks of storage. By the eighth week of storage at 4 °C, there was no detectable DNA (P = 0.000). Samples stored at −20 °C recorded no specific pattern in decrease or increase in DNA concentration for the entire 12 week storage (P = 0.324). There were full STR Profiles generated for room temperature stored samples and −20 °C stored samples throughout the study. There were full, partial and null Profiles generated for 4 °C stored samples depending on the sample storage duration. In conclusion, −20 °C was identified as the best storage condition for soil-blood mixed sample followed by room temperature and 4 °C, respectively.
  • Comparison of dental maturation in Hong Kong Chinese and United Kingdom
           Caucasians populations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): J. Jayaraman, G.J. Roberts Understanding dental maturation in ethnically distinct populations is important in forensic age estimations and the presence of population differences in dental maturation was highly debated. No such comparison had been performed between two major populations; Caucasian and Chinese. This study aims to analyse and compare the maturation of permanent teeth from a sample of Caucasians and Chinese populations. Dental panoramic radiographs of subjects aged 2 to 24 years belonging to United Kingdom (UK) Caucasians and Hong Kong (HK) Chinese populations were obtained from a teaching hospital. The teeth were scored and reference datasets were developed separately for males and females. Statistical significance was set at p 
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Michele Boracchi, Salvatore Andreola, Federica Collini, Guendalina Gentile, Giorgio Lucchini, Chem Francesca Maciocco, Gian Attilio Sacchi, Riccardo Zoja IntroductionIn a previous work, we wanted to evaluate if the histochemical determination of lead in Gunshot Residues (GSR) on firearm wounds could be misled due to possible environmental contamination produced by heavy metals and, in particular, by lead. The Sodium Rhodizonate test and its confirmation test with 5% HCl Sodium Rhodizonate resulted to be negative and therefore we wanted to verify if these techniques were sensible enough in order to evaluate this element. We have assessed, on these same samples, a more sensitive technique, as inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is. This technique is able to detect elements in solution at concentrations as low as 10−15 g L−1.Materials and methodsSkin samples taken from two groups of victims, whose cause of death was not related to gunshot wounds were analyzed using ICP-MS: group A included 25 corpses found in open spaces after a long time; group B included 16 corpses exhumed after a period of 11 years. As a positive control group we used skin samples from two subjects that had died due to firearm wounds: as a negative control group we used three different types of plain paraffin slides without included biological material.ResultsAt the analysis by ICP-MS, the evaluation of the samples belonging to groups A, B and for the negative control groups resulted to be negative for traces of lead (Pb), barium (Ba) and antimony (Sb). On the other hand, high concentrations of GSR could be found in the positive control group were victims died for firearm wounds.ConclusionsOn these basis, we can state that environmental Pb does not contaminate cadavers exposed to open air nor those buried in soil, as confirmed using to ICP-MS technique. Sodium Rhodizonate and 5% HCl Sodium Rhodizonate confirmation test have therefore a high sensitivity, highlighting GSRs, for the diagnosis of death caused by firearm wounds.
  • Impact of mechanical force on posterior hymen — Implications for sexual
           abuse injury interpretations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Minna Joki-Erkkilä, Elina Suikki BackgroundResidual anogenital findings following sexual abuse are rare. There is a need for further understanding of the interpretation of hymenal findings.ObjectivesThis study evaluates which is more significant with respect to posterior hymenal tissue morphology - previous consensual penile vaginal penetrations or vaginal delivery.DesignA post hoc study comparing nulliparous and parous hymen in heterosexually active female volunteers, with the focus on healed hymenal defects. Adult posterior hymen configuration was evaluated using labial separation or traction. When needed, the hymenal status was evaluated using a swab. A colposcopy with photography was used for documentation. Experts reviewed all taken photographs and recorded the posterior hymenal defects. Photographs were analyzed to determine the level of agreement.ParticipantsEighty-seven adult female volunteers were recruited to participate in the study by a personal invitation to a gynecological examination to document anogenital findings. The examination was performed following consensual vaginal intercourse. Age ranged from 20 to 53 (median 26.6 years).ResultsSingle site posterior hymenal transections were significantly more likely in the nulliparous volunteers, compared to the parous volunteers (22/51, 43.1% vs. 4/36, 11.1%, p 
  • Recent advances in understanding hard tissue alterations related to trauma
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Douglas H. Ubelaker This special issue of Forensic Science International presents diverse perspectives and detailed information on the many factors involved in trauma analysis of the skeleton. Topics covered include nomenclature, antemortem timing, post-mortem loss of plasticity, terminal ballistic/gunshot trauma, sharp force trauma, heat-induced fracture, non-metric traits and pseudo-trauma, taphonomic alterations, microscopic evidence for hemorrhage, imaging of perimortem trauma, dental trauma and linkages between soft and hard tissue.
  • A multifactorial critical appraisal of substances found in Drug
           Facilitated Sexual Assault cases
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Agatha Grela, Lata Gautam, Michael D. Cole Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) is a sexual act in which the victim is unable to give or rescind consent due to intoxication with alcohol and/or drugs that have been self-administered (opportunistic DFSA) or covertly administered by the perpetrator (predatory DFSA). The drugs that are most commonly associated with DFSA are flunitrazepam and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). They cause sedation and amnesia, are readily dissolved in beverages and are rapidly eliminated from the system. However, drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine, which are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, have also been encountered in DFSA cases.This paper critically evaluates trend data from cohort studies, identifying drugs that have been detected in DFSA cases and reports on the differences in drugs used between opportunistic and predatory DFSA. This is the first time that a critical multifactorial review of drugs used in DFSA has been conducted. The pharmacology of each identified group of drugs is presented, showing why these compounds are of interest and used in the perpetration of DFSA. Furthermore, the pharmacology and mechanisms of action are described to explain how the drugs cause their effects. It is also apparent from this study that if meaningful data is to be exchanged between law enforcement agencies then it is necessary to agree on protocols for the collection of evidence and the drugs for which analysis should be performed and indeed on the analytical methods used.
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