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Forensic Science International
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.981
Citation Impact (citeScore): 2
Number of Followers: 487  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0379-0738
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3161 journals]
  • Testing the reliability of 3D-ID software in sex and ancestry estimation
           with a modern Greek sample
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Andreas Bertsatos, Aikaterini Christaki, Maria-Eleni Chovalopoulou A primary concern in forensic anthropology, when reconstructing the biological profile of an unidentified individual is ancestry and sex estimation. The development of multivariate statistical methods and the assembly of large reference sample databases gave rise to the development of specialized computer software for sex and ancestry estimation. Among various such software, the 3D-ID is the only freely-available program that can handle missing values in the input dataset. The present study evaluates the reliability of 3D-ID in correctly classifying ancestry and sex of 158 test subjects from the Athens Collection, a documented Greek population sample. 3D-ID’s classification performance was evaluated both separately and collectively for sex and ancestry. According to our results, the accuracy regarding sex estimation ranged from 74.05% to 86.7% for cases with unknown ancestry and reached 89.87% when testing within the Southeastern European reference group, whereas ancestry estimation accuracy reached 70.9% for correctly classifying the Greek individuals to European population groups.We conclude that 3D-ID software exhibits moderate reliability in ancestry estimation and adequate reliability in sex estimation. The Greek population seems to deviate from the 3D-ID software's reference samples and therefore caution should be taken in interpreting 3D-ID’s results of unknown subjects, for which the software's reference sample database may not be representative. 3D-ID’s guidelines for using 19-landmark configuration improves the accuracy of ancestry estimation and form variables should be preferred for sexing samples.
  • Rib fractures prediction method for kinetic energy projectile impact: from
           blunt ballistic experiments on SEBS gel to impact modeling on a human
           torso FE model
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): A. Bracq, R. Delille, C. Maréchal, B. Bourel, S. Roth, O. Mauzac The present paper aims to assess the risk of rib fractures caused by any rigid less-lethal kinetic energy projectiles. To that end, a coupled experimental and numerical approach is proposed to relate ballistic experiments with the risk of blunt trauma. A polymer gel block is employed as ballistic testing medium to interpret ballistic impacts through the measurement of the dynamic gel wall displacement. Moreover, a biofidelic 50th percentile human torso finite element model created in the code Hypermesh (Altair HyperWorks ©) is used to replicate experiments and real world accidents. Then, the probability curve of rib fractures is a function of the viscous criterion and derives from a study on human cadaver mid-sternum available in the literature. 12 impact conditions of rigid projectiles are applied to a SEBS gel block and are replicated on the human torso model mid-sternum. A statistical analysis is performed by virtue of a Spearman's correlation matrix in order to identify relations between experimental measurements and the viscous criterion evaluated numerically. The determination of both statistical significances and correlation coefficients results in several strong correlations between experimental measurements and the viscous criterion evaluated numerically. These relations imply the establishment of transfer functions between experimental metrics on the gel block (the maximum gel wall displacement and a gel wall displacement - rate of displacement based metric) and the probability of rib fractures. Finally, these correlations constitute a primary and an up-and-coming predicting tool for the risk of rib fractures.
  • A new enzymatic method for extracting diatoms from organs of suspected
           drowning cases using papain: Optimal digestion and first practical
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Eiji Kakizaki, Ai Sonoda, Norihiro Shinkawa, Nobuhiro Yukawa Diatom analysis is very effective for positive diagnosis of water inhalation in drowning. However, conventional strong acid diatom testing is laborious and potentially dangerous. We propose a simple, fast, and safe protocol using inexpensive reagents such as papain, SDS, and 5 N HCl for extracting diatoms from lung, kidney, and liver tissues. First, we determined optimal conditions for papain digestion using porcine tissues. Papain digestion was clearly superior to Proteinase K digestion. Next, for assessing the assay effectiveness in practical cases, the papain digestion protocol was applied to 80 tissue samples from 20 suspected drowning victims. Left and right lung tissues (1 g each) were digested in 15-mL conical centrifuge tubes. Kidney and liver tissues (10 g each) were extracted in 175-mL conical centrifuge bottles. Papain dissolved all organs sufficiently and permitted clear visualization of diatoms, although papain’s solubilization activity was still inferior to strong acid digestion. The proposed enzymatic method requires only a low-speed centrifuge and water bath. Diatoms typically can be extracted from tissue samples within 3-5 h. The cost of protease is reduced some 6-fold by using papain in place of Proteinase K. Thus, the proposed method can be useful as a less-laborious, less-hazardous, and less-costly minimal test when the conventional strong acid digestion method is not performed due to personnel, equipment, budgetary limitation, or environmental and safety considerations.
  • Data-independent screening method for 14 fentanyl analogs in whole blood
           and oral fluid using LC-QTOF-MS
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kaitlyn B. Palmquist, Madeleine J. Swortwood Recently, fentanyl analogs account for significant number of opioid deaths in the United States. Routine forensic analyses are often unable to detect and differentiate these analogs due to low concentrations and presence of structural isomers. A data-independent screening method for 14 fentanyl analogs in whole blood and oral fluid was developed and validated using liquid chromatography-quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS). Data were acquired using Time of flight (TOF) and All Ions Fragmentation (AIF) modes. The limits of detection (LOD) in blood were 0.1-0.25 ng/mL and 0.1-1.0 ng/mL in TOF and AIF modes, respectively. In oral fluid, the LODs were 0.25 ng/mL and 0.25-2.5 ng/mL in TOF and AIF modes, respectively. Matrix effects in blood were acceptable for most analytes (1-14.4%), while the nor- metabolites exhibited ion suppression>25%. Matrix effects in oral fluid were -11.7-13.3%. Stability was assessed after 24 hours in the autosampler (4ᵒC) and refrigerator (4ᵒC). Processed blood and oral fluid samples were considered stable with -14.6-4.2% and -11.7-13.3% bias, respectively. For refrigerated stability, bias was -23.3- 8.2% (blood) and -20.1- 20.0% (oral fluid). Remifentanil exhibited>20% loss in both matrices. For proof of applicability, postmortem blood (n = 32) and oral fluid samples (n = 20) were analyzed. As a result, six fentanyl analogs were detected in the blood samples with furanyl fentanyl and 4-ANPP being the most prevalent. No fentanyl analogs were detected in the oral fluid samples. This study presents a validated screening technique for fentanyl analogs in whole blood and oral fluid using LC-QTOF-MS with low limits of detection.
  • Staining protocols to improve the detection of composite restorations in
           human identification
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Luciana D. Conceição, Claudio P. de Pereira, Andrew H. Forgie, Fábio R.M. Leite IntroductionThe improvement of aesthetic properties of dental materials has hampered the work of forensic experts in cases of identification. Even in dental practice, the identification of the margins of restorations has become a challenge.ObjectiveTo establish protocols to improve the visual contrast between teeth and composites using dyes.Methodanterior and premolar human teeth were chosen (n = 40) and class V cavities were made in the lingual/palatal and buccal surfaces. Ten commercially available dyes were dissolved in distilled water. Three protocols were proposed using phosphoric acid (Gphos) and hydrofluoric acid (Ghydro) for 60 seconds followed by application of the dye for 20 seconds. The control group (Gcontrol) was acid free, i.e. only distilled water was applied. Data was analysed using Kruskal-Wallis and Dunn´s tests.ResultsAnalyses showed that darker dyes, such as crystal violet, methylene blue, malachite green and neutral red, had better results (p  0.05). Both Gphos and Ghydro were effective in discriminating restorations when compared to Gcontrol (p > 0.001). No differences were detected between Gphos and Ghydro protocols (p > 0.05). In Gphos, the enamel surface was stained leaving the restoration without pigmentation. Oppositely, in Ghydro the composite filling was coloured, but not the enamel. In Gcontrol, both enamel and restoration were stained indistinctively.ConclusionTooth etching with either phosphoric or hydrofluoric acids was suitable to discriminate the presence of aesthetic dental fillings.
  • Quantification of GHB and GHB-GLUC in an 1,4-Butanediol Intoxication: A
           case report
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): André L. Castro, Ana S. Dias, Paula Melo, Sónia Tarelho, João Miguel Franco, Helena M. Teixeira Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is an endogenous compound with known action at the neural level. Its psychoactive effects led to an illicit use context including recreational purposes, muscle building effects in bodybuilders and drug-facilitated crimes, specifically in sexual assaults. Besides the misuse of the main compound, there are precursors like Gammabutyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD), usually non controlled substances, becoming a much easier way to obtain the target-compound.The authors present the first reported intoxication case in Portugal with 1,4-Butanediol, including the quantification of GHB and GHB-GLUC in serum, by GC-MS/MS TQD.A suspicious liquid and a serum sample were sent by an hospital ER and analysed by GC-MS-single quadrupole and GC-MS/MS TQD, respectively. A methodology including protein precipitation and GC-MS/MS TQD analysis was used to detect and quantify GHB and GHB-GLUC in serum.Toxicological analysis revealed the presence of 1,4-Butanediol in the liquid and GHB [171 mg/L] and GHB-GLUC [13,7 mg/L] in serum. The victim reverted the coma with no neurological sequelae.This was the first detected case, in Portugal, with 1,4-Butanediol, suggesting that it is important to be aware that consumers have different options to obtain illicit compounds, such as GHB. On the other hand, GHB-GLUC was identified and quantified for the first time in a real case, due to intoxication. This case highlights the importance of analysing all samples for active compounds, precursors and metabolites that can lead to the main intoxication origin.
  • “Evaluation of the Sub-Surface Morphology and Composition of Gunshot
           Residue using Focussed Ion Beam Analysis”
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nick Lucas, Kelsey E. Seyfang, Andrew Plummer, Michael Cook, K. Paul Kirkbride, Hilton Kobus Recent work in the forensic analysis of Gunshot Residues (GSR) has suggested that the sub-surface or internal composition and morphology of these residues be explored. A particular area of interest is in heavy metal free, or non-toxic ammunition, which are becoming more frequently encountered in the marketplace. As the formulation of the primer compound changes the conditions of the firearm discharge, there is the possibility that different primer formulations may result in the formation of different GSR particles with distinct internal morphologies and compositions. To that end, the internal morphology and composition of GSR particles may provide additional information that could be useful in the investigation of firearms crime.This research investigated the internal morphology of GSR originating from a variety of different ammunition products. Both traditional three-component primed ammunition, and a selection of heavy metal free and non-toxic alternatives were considered. Particles were identified using SEM-EDS, before being cross-sectioned using a focussed ion beam (FIB) instrument. The FIB-sectioned particles were then re-acquired and mapped using SEM-EDS, to assess both internal morphology and composition.Particles observed in this study presented distinct morphological and compositional features at the sub-particle level that may provide an indication of the primer formulation from which they originated. That said, further investigation of a variety of samples should be undertaken to verify the consistency of these features, or any deviations that may be observed based on primer type. However, these results indicate that there may be promise in obtaining additional detail from sub-particle morphology and composition.
  • Overall mean estimation of trace evidence in a two-level normal-normal
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Fréderique Kool, Annabel Bolck, Inoni van Dorp, Jeannette Leegwater, Geurt Jongbloed In the evaluation of measurements on characteristics of forensic trace evidence, Aitken and Lucy (2004) model the data as a two-level model using assumptions of normality where likelihood ratios are used as a measure for the strength of evidence. A two-level model assumes two sources of variation: the variation within measurements in a group (first level) and the variation between different groups (second level). Estimates of the variation within groups, the variation between groups and the overall mean are required in this approach. This paper discusses three estimators for the overall mean. In forensic science, two of these estimators are known as the weighted and unweighted mean. For an optimal choice between these estimators, the within- and between-group covariance matrices are required. In this paper a generalization to the latter two mean estimators is suggested, which is referred to as the generalized weighted mean. The weights of this estimator can be chosen such that they minimize the variance of the generalized weighted mean. These optimal weights lead to a “toy estimator”, because they depend on the unknown within- and between-group covariance matrices. Using these optimal weights with estimates for the within- and between-group covariance matrices leads to the third estimator, the optimal “plug-in” generalized weighted mean estimator. The three estimators and the toy estimator are compared through a simulation study. Under conditions generally encountered in practice, we show that the unweighted mean can be preferred over the weighted mean. Moreover, in these situations the unweighted mean and the optimal generalized weighted mean behave similarly. An artificial choice of parameters is used to provide an example where the optimal generalized weighted mean outperforms both the weighted and unweighted mean. Finally, the three mean estimators are applied to real XTC data to illustrate the impact of the choice of overall mean estimator.
  • The Permanence of Friction Ridge Skin and Persistence of Friction Ridge
           Skin and Impressions: A Comprehensive Review and New Results
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Keith L. Monson, Maria Antonia Roberts, Kathryn B. Knorr, Sherine Ali, Stephen B. Meagher, Kevin Biggs, Patti Blume, Donna Brandelli, Albert Marzioli, Robert Reneau, Frank Tarasi This study addresses the permanence and persistence of friction ridges and the persistence of impressions made from these friction ridges over months and years. Permanence is the unchanging presence and appearance of friction ridge arrangements and their attributes between recurring observations of the skin. Permanence was evaluated from direct photographs of fingers collected over a period of 30 to 45 days (covering one or more skin regeneration cycles) as well as after 8 or more years had elapsed. Persistence embodies the operational concept of whether or not a pair of images displays sufficient similarity upon which to base an informed decision that they were made by the same finger, while acknowledging certain dissimilarities or distortions due to friction ridge physiology, image capture, matrix, substrate, and applied pressure. Persistence applies to both friction ridge skin and impressions made from these friction ridges. Permanence and persistence of skin were assessed from direct photographs of fingers taken two months apart and from finger photographs separated by an interval of at least 8 years. Permanence and persistence were also assessed from impressions taken over 4 months, as well as those separated by 8 to 53 years. Variability due to capture method was assessed by using four image capture methods over a four month period: direct photography of fingers, impressions captured by ink, holographic imaging, and live scan. Qualified latent fingerprint examiners assessed all changes observed over time, as well as any limitations imposed by capture method.The practice of comparison and identification of fingerprint impressions was upheld, as was the prevailing use of the word persistence to describe stability of friction ridges. All photographs and impressions of the same finger were identifiable as originating from the same source. Within all the periods of observation, level 1 detail was permanent and persistent. Persistence, but not permanence, was supported for level 2 detail. Notably, the small changes observed were only in appearance; there were no changes in the presence of new, or absence of existing, minutiae. Level 3 details of ridge edge shape and pore presence were neither permanent nor persistent. Ridge width was permanent and persistent. Incipient ridges were neither permanent nor persistent.Graphical Graphical abstract for this article
  • Fatal inhalation of volcanic gases in three tourists of a geothermal area
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Anna Carfora, Carlo Pietro Campobasso, Paola Cassandro, Francesco La Sala, Alfonso Maiellaro, Antonio Perna, Raffaella Petrella, Renata Borriello The study reports the environmental, toxicological and histopathological forensic investigations applied on three victims of accidental death (father, mother and son), due to the fall in a volcanic pothole, during the touristic visit of the “Solfatara park", near Naples (Italy).At autopsy greenish skin discolouration was observed and all bodies showed the classical signs of asphyxial deaths, such as cyanosis and hemorrhagic pulmonary edema. Focal micro-hemorrhages were found in the brain at intracranial and subpial levels.The hemogasanalysis and spectrophotometric test on blood for Methemoglobin (MetHb), Carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO) and Sulfhemoglobin (SHb) showed pCO2, SHb and MetHb above the physiological levels. On biological specimens, toxicological analyses performed by GC/MS revealed high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and of thiosulfate (TS), its main metabolite.The monitoring of toxic gases on the death scene showed an unsafe environment, into the pothole, able to cause the sudden loss of consciousness of the victims with subsequent asphyxiation (knockdown effect). In particular, at the bottom of the hole, the maximum levels of H2S and carbon dioxide (CO2) were 2.200 ppm and 98% respectively.For the family members, the cause of the death was assessed as acute poisoning by H2S and CO2. The fatalities, happened in quick succession as for a domino effect, were pretty similar to the asphyxial deaths by confined spaces, frequently observed in occupational setting. Fatalities secondary to accidental volcanic gases inhalation, such as H2S and CO2 in geothermal areas, have been already described but often without a forensic approach. To the best of our knowledge this is the first case that reports the accidental poisoning by volcanic gases involving three people, with different caracteristic of age and sex, allowing the correlation between toxicological and pathological results with the true levels of asphyxiating gas, measured on the death scene.
  • Reviewer hall of fame
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): C. Cattaneo, C. Jackowski, A. Smith
  • A random object-oriented population study of household paints measured by
           infrared spectroscopy
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Mylène Falardeau, Vanessa Moran, Cyril Muehlethaler Forensic paint analysis heavily relies on population studies and creation of databases for estimating frequencies of apparition and perform discrimination studies. An important part of the paint market is currently led by household paints, that can be recovered in cases of burglaries of forced entries. Here, we present a database of 166 household paint samples collected at random in a waste recycling plant, and measured by infrared spectroscopy. We provide general demographic information on the paint such as their type, brand, model, and color. Based on their infrared spectra, we present the differentiation among samples and the calculation of the discriminating power for various attributes. We compare our visual discrimination results with a principal component analysis. This study provides valuable information for paint evaluation and association evidence, but will also be used to create a searchable database to tentatively determine the chemical composition, brand, or model of a questionned specimen in absence of reference material.
  • Detection of lawsone (2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone) in henna treated hair
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Silvana Petzel-Witt, Sylvia I. Meier, Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz, Stefan W. Toennes Hair analysis plays an important role in abstinence control in forensic toxicology. However, hair coloration affects the concentrations of xenobiotics and may lead to false negative results. For instance, henna has been shown to decrease ethyl glucuronide concentrations in hair.For analysis of the main henna ingredient lawsone (2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone), hair samples were washed, cut into small pieces (less than 5 mm), incubated (20 mg) in water and with internal standard (theophylline) for 24 hours at 37 °C. Lawsone was analyzed in the supernatant using liquid chromatography with diode array detection. For quantitative assay, the absorption at 280 nm was found to be linear up to 250 ng/mg hair. The detection limit of lawsone was 2.2 ng/mg, precision and accuracy were better than 6%. Lawsone was only detectable in 12 henna-colored hair samples in concentrations from 27.3 to 253.7 (median 92.6) ng/mg.The analysis of lawsone is recommended in cases of suspected hair coloration where assessment of oxidative treatment was negative (e.g. no increase of 1H-pyrrole-2,3,5-tricarboxylic acid (PTCA) and unobtrusive fluorescence microscopy).Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Hair analysis of more than 140 families with drug consuming parents.
           Comparison between hair results from adults and their children
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Fritz Pragst, Franziska Krumbiegel, Denise Thurmann, Lena Westendorf, Maximilian Methling, André Niebel, Sven Hartwig BackgroundHair samples from children are frequently analyzed in order to characterize their endangerment in a drug using environment. However, the interpretation of the results remains difficult because of lacking data for comparison. In this study, hair samples from families with drug consuming parents were analyzed for illegal and selected medical drugs and the results were evaluated concerning a relationship between findings of parents and children depending on kind of drug, age and gender of children as well as maternal or paternal drug concentrations in hair.MethodsIn an ongoing social supporting project for families with underage children and drug consuming parents, hair samples were analyzed since 2011 for methadone, opiates and opioid analgesics, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, cannabinoids and benzodiazepines by LC-MS/MS with LOQs≈0.01 ng/mg. From the data pool of more than 1300 individuals, 100 families with results for one or both parents and one to five children, 30 families with results only for both parents, and 11 families with results only for 2 to 4 children were selected. Fifty eight of these 141 families were repeatedly tested (altogether 251 family tests).ResultsOne to 5 drugs were detected in 239 (95.2%) of the family tests with highest occurrence of cocaine (79.7%) and THC (50.2%). According to the concentrations of the tested persons, the most probable drug users were the mother (25%), the father (24%), both parents (16%), or were not tested (30%). Within the families, there was an agreement of the detected drugs between parents and children of 47.8%, between both parents of 36.1%, and between children of 42.3%. For parents with hair concentrations in the typical range of regular drug use, the drug was detected in children hair with the following frequency: methadone 65.5%, heroin (6-AM) 63.6%, cocaine 92.1%, amphetamine 80%, MDMA 42.9% and THC 67.4% with higher percentage for younger children. The agreement for medical drugs (benzodiazepines 7.7%, synthetic opioids 8.7%, diphenhydramine 7.1%) was much lower suggesting voluntary administration or intake. Despite the strong variation of the data, clear trends were found that the child/parent drug concentration ratio decreases with increasing children age and is higher for boys than for girls.ConclusionThe comparison of hair results within families gives a deeper insight in the drug situation, often enables the identification of the drug user and is helpful for social and legal decisions to improve the conditions of the children.
  • Cognitive challenges at the crime scene: the importance of social science
           research when introducing mobile technologies at the crime scene
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Madeleine de Gruijter, Christianne J. de Poot
  • Skeletal age-at-death estimation: Bayesian versus regression methods
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Efthymia Nikita, Panos Nikitas Age-at-death estimation in a skeletal assemblage (target sample) is biased by the demographic profile of the material used for age prediction (training sample) when this profile is different from that of the target sample. This bias is minimized if the demographic profile of the target sample is properly taken into account in the method developed for age-at-death estimation. In the Bayesian approach this is accomplished via the informative prior. For methods based on regression, we propose two techniques: a) using weighting factors taken from the demographic profile of the target sample, and b) creating a new hypothetical training sample that has a demographic profile similar to that of the target sample. The two techniques, as well as the Bayesian approach, were tested using 532 artificial systems in which the age marker exhibited an eight-grade expression. It was found that depending on the criteria used for evaluation, the proposed approaches and especially the one based on a hypothetical training sample, may give better results than the Bayesian method in more than 90% of the systems studied. A basic prerequisite for the good performance of the proposed approaches is to select carefully the training sample. This sample should exhibit a uniform demographic profile or a profile with almost equal numbers of young and older individuals. All the above hold if the training and the target samples have different demographic profiles. If the profiles are the same or very similar, the best aging method is the direct regression using simple linear models.
  • Discrimination between chewing of coca leaves or drinking of coca tea and
           smoking of “paco” (coca paste) by hair analysis. A preliminary study
           of possibilities and limitations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): N.C. Rubio, F. Krumbiegel, F. Pragst, D. Thurmann, A. Nagel, E. Zytowski, M. Aranguren, J.C. Gorlelo, N. Poliansky BackgroundHair analysis is a suitable way to discriminate between coca chewers and consumers of manufactured cocaine using the coca alkaloids hygrine (HYG) and cuscohygrine (CUS) as markers. In the present preliminary study it was examined whether CUS and HYG can be detected in hair of occasional and moderate coca chewers or coca tea drinkers, whether CUS and HYG appear in hair of PACO consumers (smoking coca paste waste), and whether anhydroecgonine methyl ester (AEME) is a useful cocaine smoking marker in this context.MethodThree groups were included: 10 volunteers from Buenos Aires with rare, occasional or moderate chewing of coca leaves or drinking coca tea, 20 Argentinean PACO smokers and 8 German cocaine users. The hair samples (1-4 segments) were analyzed by a validated LC-MS/MS method for cocaine (COC), norcocaine (NC), benzoylecgonine (BE), ecgonine methyl ester (EME), cocaethylene (CE), cinnamoylcocaine (CIN), tropacocaine (TRO), AEME, CUS and HYG. For comparison, eight samples of coca leaves or coca tea were analyzed.ResultsOnly low concentrations of COC were found in hair of six occasional users of coca leaves or coca tea (0.010-0.039 ng/mg). For three moderate chewers of coca leaves all compounds were detected including AEME but except TRO. The hair samples of PACO smokers contained much higher concentrations of COC (0.027-341 ng/mg, mean 37.4 ng/mg) and its metabolites. CUS was not found in these samples but traces of HYG were seen in 8 of 37 hair segments. AEME as a marker for coca smoking was detected in hair of 15 smokers. In comparison to COC, the concentrations of EME and CIN were higher for PACO smokers than for German cocaine consumers. AEME (56 ± 20 µg/g) was detected in all coca leave and coca tea samples which explains the detection of this substance in hair of coca chewers. Therefore, its use for differentiation between coca chewers and PACO smokers is limited.ConclusionCUS remains to be the most suitable marker in hair for chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea more frequently than two times per month since it does not appear in hair of Argentinean PACO smokers and German cocaine users. Contrary to a previous proposal, the ratios CIN/COC and EME/COC appeared not to be applicable as criteria for this purpose because of the higher concentration of these alkaloids in hair of PACO smokers. More research is needed to assess the value of AEME in hair of South American coca leave or cocaine users.
  • Technical Note: A novel method for analyzing long bone diaphyseal
           cross-sectional geometry. A GNU Octave CSG Toolkit
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Andreas Bertsatos, Maria-Eleni Chovalopoulou The diaphyseal cross-sectional geometric properties of the humerus, femur and tibia have been extensively used for studying their adaptation to mechanical loading. To date common practices for such studies involve either computed tomography or the latex cast method in conjunction with image analysis for calculating such properties. With the advent of modern laser scanning and photogrammetry technologies in biological anthropology, the computation of the cross-sectional geometric properties directly from 3D models is a viable and sensible alternative. Nevertheless, such method has not been properly implemented as yet. A dedicated toolkit, named long-bone-diaphyseal-CSG-Toolkit, comprising a set of functions for the GNU Octave programming language, is presented here. Offering a robust analytical implementation and an easy to follow application either for a single bone or in batch-processing mode, the toolkit requires minimum user intervention and also provides functionality for graphical representation of the calculated periosteal contours and their respective cross-sectional geometric properties. Finally, the long-bone-diaphyseal-CSG-Toolkit utilizes advanced optimization algorithms, which eliminate intra- and inter-observer error by reliably orienting the cross-sectional contours to a well-defined orientation and close to the bone’s true anatomical position, which provides a significant advantage over the latex cast method.
  • Biochemical investigations performed in pericardial fluid in forensic
           cases that underwent postmortem angiography
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Cristian Palmiere, Silke Grabherr Postmortem biochemical investigations in vitreous humor samples collected before and after performing multiphase postmortem computed tomography angiography were performed in the past and demonstrated that specific contrast material injection allowed perfusion and radiological identification of the main vessels of the eye to be obtained without any changes in vitreous humor composition. In the study presented herein, we aimed to test whether the injection of the same contrast material using the same postmortem angiography protocol might influence pericardial fluid composition. Postmortem biochemical investigations were performed on pericardial fluid samples collected from bodies that underwent postmortem angiography (n = 16) prior to and post angiography. Two pericardial fluid samples were analyzed. No statistically significant differences were noticed among levels of any tested markers (urea nitrogen, creatinine, uric acid, C-reactive protein, procalcitonin, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and total IgE levels) in pericardial fluid samples collected prior to and post angiography, leading to the conclusion that pericardial fluid sampling can be delayed until after postmortem angiography when a specific contrast material injection is used.
  • Suicide identification during on-site inspection. Proposal and application
           of an interpretative method for death scene investigation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sindi Visentin, Luca Massaro, Guido Viel, Giovanni Cecchetto, Massimo Montisci The death scene investigation (DSI) is critically important for the identification of the manner of death. The present study aims to present a scoring system for the correct framing of a case as a suicide starting from the DSI and its preliminary application. The method is based on five items: 1) statistical frequency of the method adopted; 2) victim’s history of mental illness; 3) circumstantial data; 4) number of means; 5) compatibility of means and injuries with suicidal dynamics; and the application of a correction factor if suicide risk indicators are present. We blindly analyzed 180 cases of violent deaths equally divided into suicides, homicides and accidental deaths and the results obtained were compared with the established dynamics of death. The proposed method has proven to be efficient in the identification of suicide at the DSI, but further on-site studies making use of a wider number of cases is necessary.
  • Thermal requirements for the development of immature stages of Fannia
           canicularis (Linnaeus) (Diptera: Fanniidae)
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Grzywacz Andrzej Entomological material may be used to estimate the time since death occurred (minimum post-mortem interval, mPMI) in forensically obscure cases. The method commonly used to calculate mPMI is the application of a thermal summation model. Little is known about the thermal requirements of Fanniidae. To fill this gap, the influence of temperature on the development time of Fannia canicularis (Linnaeus), a cosmopolitan species with the potential to be used in forensic entomology, was studied. An experiment was performed under nine ambient temperatures. The thermal summation constants (k) and developmental zeros (Tmin) of this species were calculated for six developmental events: hatching, first ecdysis, second ecdysis, wandering, pupariation, and eclosion. Data were primarily analysed with two linear models, and then, since the relationship between temperature and development rate is curvilinear close to the lower and higher developmental thresholds, the relationship was also modelled using three nonlinear models. A fourth nonlinear model was also used to estimate the intrinsic optimum temperature of F. canicularis, at which the population size is maximal and the mortality is the lowest. At 33 °C, larvae did not hatch from eggs, and thus changes in larval body length were analysed at the eight remaining temperatures. Fannia canicularis development from egg to eclosion required a mean ± SE of 481.73 ± 9.89 degree-days above a lower threshold temperature of 4.64 ± 0.19 °C. At the lowest experimental temperature tested, 10 °C, F. canicularis successfully completed all developmental events, although ca. 30% of wandering larvae proceeded to the inactive stage instead of pupariation. Results obtained from nonlinear models were not satisfactory and did not allow us to consider them as reliable from a biological point of view.
  • Barcoding for diatoms in the Yangtze River from the morphological
           observation and 18s rDNA polymorphic analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Zheng Li, Xiaorong Liu, Yanfang Yu, Huijie Huang, Xingling Li, Qiang Ji, Kai Li, Youjia Yu, Ding Li, Zhengsheng Mao, Yan Pu, Peng Chen, Feng Chen In forensic science, the determination of diatoms bears several goals, for example to estimate the post mortem interval (PMI), to determine the cause of death of a corpse found in water as well as to further locate the suspected drowning site. However, to identify diatoms using morphological method beyond the genus level is difficult and requires expert knowledge. During the last decade, a new concept of DNA barcode is becoming a promising approach to identify the taxa of diatoms. In the present study, we performed a diatom morphological analysis covering 10 different water areas in Nanjing section of the Yangtze River. The diatoms were classified to the ‘genus’ level by using optical microscope and electron microscope. According to the morphological study results, we further designed and analyzed the 18 s rDNA sequences as barcodes at the ‘species’ level. Our study established the morphological and DNA barcoding profile for the diatoms in Nanjing section of the Yangtze River for the first time which will be of great significance for the using of diatoms in the forensic application. The results indicated that detailed analysis of selected diatom DNA barcodes can be used as a useful tool for forensic applications.
  • Using histology to evaluate micro-CT findings of trauma in three
           post-mortem samples – first steps towards method validation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Waltraud Baier, Chas Mangham, Jason M. Warnett, Mark Payne, Michelle Painter, Mark A. Williams Forensic imaging technology has rapidly advanced over the past several decades and is gaining increasing significance in medico-legal death investigations. Medical-grade computed tomography (CT) is now routinely used in post-mortem examinations at numerous institutions across the globe. However, the resolution of medical-grade CT is limited and unsuitable when used to depict some smaller anatomical structures or micro-trauma. High-resolution micro-CT offers up to 100x the resolution to overcome this problem but is a very recent addition to the field of forensic radiology. Few studies so far have attempted to validate the results which is an essential prerequisite for it to be used in the criminal justice process as demanded by regulatory bodies. This study directly compares micro-CT images with histology, the current gold standard. Three cases were examined: two larynges from suspected strangulations and one ribcage of a case of fatal child abuse. A strong correlation was observed between histology and micro-CT as the majority of skeletal injuries were identified correctly. This paper discusses the forensic implications of the results and how micro-CT is complementary to histology.
  • Beliefs about error rates and human judgment in forensic science
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 February 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Gianni Ribeiro, Jason M. Tangen, Blake M. McKimmie Forensic science techniques are often used in criminal trials to infer the identity of the perpetrator of crime and jurors often find this evidence very persuasive. Unfortunately, two of the leading causes of wrongful convictions are forensic science testing errors and false or misleading forensic testimony (Saks and Koehler, 2005). Therefore, it is important to understand jurors’ pre-existing beliefs about forensic science, as these beliefs may impact how they evaluate forensic evidence in the courtroom. In this study, we examine people’s perceptions of the likelihood of error and human judgment involved at each stage of the forensic science process (i.e., collection, storage, testing, analysis, reporting, and presenting). In addition, we examine people’s perceptions of the accuracy of — and human judgment involved in — 16 different forensic techniques. We find that, in contrast to what would be expected by the CSI effect literature, participants believed that the process of forensic science involved considerable human judgment and was relatively error-prone. In addition, participants had wide-ranging beliefs about the accuracy of various forensic techniques, ranging from 65.18% (document analysis) up to 89.95% (DNA). For some forensic techniques, estimates were lower than that found in experimental proficiency studies, suggesting that our participants are more skeptical of certain forensic evidence than they need to be.
  • The prospects for application of computational anatomy in forensic
           anthropology for sex determination
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Angélique Franchi, Sébastien Valette, Rémi Agier, Rémy Prost, Razmig Kéchichan, Laurent Fanton The purpose of this study is to assess the relevance of computational anatomy for the sex determination in forensic anthropology. A novel groupwise registration algorithm is used, based on keypoint extraction, able to register several hundred full body images in a common space. Experiments were conducted on 83 CT scanners of living individuals from the public VISCERAL database. In our experiments, we first verified that the well-known criteria for sex discrimination on the hip-bone were well preserved in mean images. In a second experiment, we have tested semi-automatic positioning of anatomical landmarks to measure the relevance of groupwise registration for future research. We applied the Probabilistic Sex Diagnosis tool on the predicted landmarks. This resulted in 62% of correct sex determinations, 37% of undetermined cases, and 1% of errors. The main limiting factors are the population sample size and the lack of precision for the initial manual positioning of the landmarks in the mean image. We also give insights on future works for robust and fully automatic sex determination.
  • Age assessment in puppies: coming to terms with forensic requests
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): S.C. Modina, M.E. Andreis, M. Moioli, M. Di GiancamilloABSTRACTAge estimation in growing dogs is crucial not only in clinical practice but increasingly so in forensic practice as well. In the last few years, it has assumed great importance for correctly identifying the age of puppies illegally imported to Italy as well as to other European countries. Puppies are, in fact, transported when they are too young to be moved, which can cause both animal/public health and animal welfare issues. Therefore, the movement of animals within the European Community is governed by strict rules, and veterinarians are often required to evaluate the age of the imported puppies in a forensic scenario as accurately as possible. To date, X-ray evaluation of limb bones ossification centers (OCs) is generally accepted as a valid tool to assess the age of puppies. A wealth of information exists on this topic but it is not always easily available. This work is a historical review of the existing literature and proposes two tables illustrating the timelines of limb OCs appearance and closure, coming to terms with forensic requests to evaluate the age of a puppy. The timelines reported indicate the need to improve methodology to enhance the accuracy and to reduce the error in age estimation.
  • Rapid visual detection of nitroaromatic explosives using a luminescent
           europium-organic framework material
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ning He, Mingliang Gao, Dunpu Shen, Hongda Li, Zhengbo Han, Pengcheng Zhao Rapid field screening is enormously important in forensic analysis of explosives. In this article, we used a methodology based on a strong red-fluorescent europium-organic framework (Eu-MOF) material for sensitive and selective detection of picric acid, TNT, and tetryl using the fluorescence quenching effect. Results indicate that Eu-MOF can be used for the visual detection of these three explosives with low detection limits (20-140 μg/mL) and high quenching efficiency (Ksv>104 M-1). Furthermore, this material can be recycled just by washing it with ethanol. The fluorescence quenching mechanism is also discussed. Importantly, we prepared a portable test strip that can be used for sensing TNT, and using this, we achieved a rapid field test for explosives. Consequently, Eu-MOF is a promising candidate material for use as an explosive optical sensor.
  • Validation and preliminary application of a GC-MS method for the
           determination of putrescine and cadaverine in the human brain: a promising
           technique for PMI estimation: Authors
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Guido Pelletti, Marco Garagnani, Rossella Barone, Rafael Boscolo-Berto, Francesca Rossi, Annalisa Morotti, Raffaella Roffi, Paolo Fais, Susi Pelotti IntroductionAmong the several techniques proposed for the estimation of the Post Mortem Interval (PMI), the analysis of odorous amines has been applied in the past, with conflicting results. The aims of this study are: (i) to develop and validate a GC-MS method for the determination of putrescine (PUT) and cadaverine (CAD) in the human brain (validation study) and (ii) to study the relation of PUT and CAD concentration in the human brain and the PMI (decomposition study).Materials and methodsValidation study. Analysis has been performed through GC-MS after a liquid-liquid extraction and a single step-derivatization for the identification and quantification of odorous amines in brain cortex samples. The standard protocol used in forensic toxicology, slightly modified for endogenous compounds according to recent guidelines, was used for validation. Decomposition study. Three uninjured human brains were sampled during the autopsy of three fatal traumatic cases. Along a 120-hour period of decomposition under experimental conditions, each brain was sampled along predetermined time intervals.ResultsValidation study. Both PUT and CAD validation parameters were within the acceptable values defined by the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology (SWGTOX), with better selectivity, linearity, accuracy and precision values for PUT. Decomposition study. A significant relationship between PUT and CAD levels and PMI has been demonstrated through statistical analysis with a correlation coefficient of 0.98 for PUT and 0.93 for CAD (p 
  • Introduction to the Special Issue for Forensic Ecology
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Patricia E.J. Wiltshire
  • Applications and Challenges of Forensic Proteomics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Eric D. Merkley, David S. Wunschel, Karen L. Wahl, Kristin H. Jarman Mass spectrometry-based proteomics has been a useful tool for addressing numerous questions in basic biology research for many years. This success, combined with the maturity of mass spectrometric instrumentation, the ever-increasing availability of protein sequence databases derived from genome sequencing, and the growing sophistication of data analysis methods, place proteomics in a position to have an important role in biological forensics. Because proteins contain information about genotype (sequence) and phenotype (expression levels), proteomics methods can both identify biological samples and characterize the conditions that produced them. In addition to serving as a valuable orthogonal method to genomic analyses, proteomics can be used in cases where nucleic acids are absent, degraded, or uninformative. Mass spectrometry provides both broad applicability and exquisite specificity, often without customized detection reagents like primers or antibodies. This review briefly introduces proteomics methods, and surveys a variety of forensic applications (including criminal justice, historical, archaeological, and national security areas). Finally, challenges and crucial areas for further research are addressed.
  • The deceleration of bullets in gelatine — A study based on
           high-speed video analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): C. Schyma, C. Infanger, R. Müller, K. Bauer, J. Brünig The velocity of a projectile is of crucial importance to calculate its kinetic energy. The study was performed to investigate if a measurement of the velocity profile of a bullet in gelatine was feasible using high-speed video.More than 50 records captured with a SA-X2 Photron camera at 40’000 fps (40k) and 10 µs exposure time were analysed frame by frame. A measurement accuracy of one pixel could be realised. Records of free flying bullets with known velocity served as a control. In further experimental shots from distance the “12 cm reference cube” was used as target model. 18 full metal jacketed bullets and 20 deforming bullets in forensically relevant calibres were fired. In addition 11 expanding bullets were studied with a close-up setting of the camera and 81’000 fps (81k) at 2.5 µs exposure time.A quasi-constant deceleration of the FMJ bullets in gelatine with a relative loss of velocity of 8.4% (.32 auto) and 13.2% (9 mm Luger) was observed. Expanding bullets showed a much higher deceleration and a relative loss of about 56% for the copper hollow point bullet and 73% for the .32 auto Gold Dot. The targeted analysis of the .32 auto Gold Dot based on 81k videos revealed an abrupt drop of the bullet velocity within the first 75 µs, the time needed for full expansion. The deformation of the Action-4 (9 mm Luger) was completely achieved within the first 2 cm of gelatine. After the deformation of the bullet the final deceleration was approximately constant. This could be demonstrated successfully by separating the deformation process experimentally from the final deceleration of the deformed bullet.
  • Cognitive Bias Research in Forensic Science: A Systematic Review
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Glinda S. Cooper, Vanessa Meterko The extent to which cognitive biases may influence decision-making in forensic science is an important question with implications for training and practice. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on cognitive biases in forensic science disciplines. The initial literature search included electronic searching of two social science and one science databases and manual review of reference lists in identified articles. An initial screening of title and abstract by two independent reviewers followed by full text review resulted in the identification of 29 primary source (research) studies. A critical methodological deficiency, serious enough to make the study too problematic to provide useful evidence, was identified in two of the studies. Most (n = 22) conducted analyses limited to practitioners (n = 17), forensic science trainees (n = 2), or both forensic science practitioners and students (n = 3); other analyses were based on university student or general population participants. Latent fingerprint analysis was examined in 11 studies, with 1-3 other studies found in 13 other disciplines or domains. This set of studies provides a robust database, with evidence of the influence of confirmation bias on analysts conclusions, specifically among the studies with practitioners or trainees presented with case-specific information about the “suspect” or crime scenario (in 9 of 11 studies examining this question), procedures regarding use of exemplar(s) (in 4 of 4 studies), or knowledge of a previous decision (in 4 of 4 studies). The available research supports the idea of susceptibility of forensic science practitioners to various types of confirmation bias and of the potential value of procedures designed to reduce access to unnecessary information and control the order of providing relevant information, use of multiple comparison samples rather than a single suspect exemplar, and replication of results by analysts blinded to previous results.
  • The physical chemistry of odors – consequences for the work with
           detection dogs
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kai-Uwe Goss Search dogs are used throughout the world in the search for illicit compounds or human individuals and similar tasks. Such search work is complex and not well understood in all its details which makes training of the dogs difficult. One important component for a successful education and deployment of search dogs is a good understanding of the behavior of scents under typical environmental conditions. This work summarizes up-to-date knowledge on the physico-chemistry of scents and discusses the consequences for the every-day work of dog handlers and trainers.
  • Homicide and Canicide with Analogous Killing Pattern and Agonal
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Kai Zindler, Wolfgang Grellner Killings of human beings involving animals have rarely been described in the forensic literature. In the present case, the decapitated corpse of a woman as well as the decapitated, castrated and partially disemboweled corpse of a dog were found together. Both bodies also exhibited analogous, distributed massive sharp-force traumas. The approximately same pattern of actions as well as findings consistent with an exaggerated killing are particularly noteworthy. The perpetrator was found to be the son of the victim and had long exhibited psychological abnormalities. He was acquitted of the charge of manslaughter due to mental incapacity and was subsequently placed in a psychiatric hospital.
  • Does the UK need a Human Taphonomy Facility'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): A. Williams, C.J. Rogers, J.P. Cassella Human Taphonomy Facilities (HTFs) are outdoor laboratories where scientific research is carried out on donated human cadavers in order to understand how human decomposition progresses in a variety of conditions. There are currently eight such facilities in the USA, one in Australia and one on mainland Europe. Forensic scientists in the UK have started to ask the question ‘Does the UK need a Human Taphonomy Facility'’. A review of the literature produced by the existing HTFs, as well as published opinion and commentaries about these facilities and the feasibility of one in the UK has been undertaken. The existing arguments for and against the establishment of a Human Taphonomy Facility in the UK have been examined. Given recent media interest in the possibility of the establishment of a Human Taphonomy Facility in the UK, and the surrounding controversy, it is important to evaluate the potential benefit or harm of the creation of such a facility to Society and the scientific community.
  • Determination of chronological order of crossed lines of ballpoint pens by
           hyperspectral image in the visible region and multivariate analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Angélica Rocha Martins, Camila Santos Dourado, Márcio Talhavini, André Braz, Jez Willian Batista Braga Determining the chronological order of crossed lines is a recurrent problem in forensic analysis of documents. One of the most important requirement of these analyses is the use of non-destructive techniques to maintain the integrity of the documents for further analysis as judicial evidences. Thus, this work proposes an objective, non-destructive, easy-to-execute analysis protocol for forensic analysis, using the hyperspectral mode of the VSC6000®, which is an equipment found in most laboratories of questioned documents. Seven blue ballpoint pens of different brands were used to make crossings on white paper, a total of 49. The spectra were obtained from 400 to 1000 nm, and analyzed with HYPER-Tools. Initially, univariate analysis was used, selecting discriminating wavelengths to visualize the images and determine the chronological order of the crossings, and then, when necessary, a multivariate approach using Multivariate Curve Resolution - Alternating Least Squares (MCR-ALS) was applied. The interpretation of the order was made visually, taking into account characteristics of the strokes, such as the continuity and amount of ink. In this way, it was possible to determine the chronological order of 31/49 crossings, which corresponds to an overall rate of 63% accuracy. The method was validated by performing a double-blind test with 8 crossings, which indicated only a small influence of the analyst. The method was also applied to the analysis of a police inquiry, which was provided by the Federal Police and compared with the routine analyzes. The results were concordant but the proposed method provided a more objective analysis than the ones currently in practice at the Police.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • The influence of Forensic Advisors on the use of forensic science in the
           Belgian criminal justice system
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sonja Bitzer
  • Drugs in fall versus non-fall accidents with major trauma – A
           population-based clinical and medico-legal autopsy study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): S. Acosta, L. Andersson, A. Bagher, C.J. Wingren BackgroundThe main aim of the present population-based study was to compare drugs in fall versus non-fall accidents causing major trauma, including both clinical and medico-legal autopsy data.MethodsAll individuals with accidents resulting in major trauma, a new injury severity score (NISS)>15 or lethal outcome was identified at hospital and/or the Department of Forensic Medicine between 2011 and 2013. Modified Downton Fall Risk Index ranged from 0-7, and was based on specific pharmaceuticals (max 5 points), previous fall (1 point) and cognitive impairment (1 point).ResultsOne hundred and four individuals with major traumatic accidents were identified, 38 (36.5%) died. The median modified Downton Fall Risk Index was 2 for fall accidents and 0 for non-fall accidents (p 
  • When a lost “Petit Prince” meets Antoine de Saint Exupéry: An
           anthropological case report
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Caroline Costedoat, Pascal Adalian, Eric Bouzaid, Annick Martinet, Luc Vanrell, Lino von Gartzen, Philippe Castellano, Michel Signoli, Stéfan Tzortzis, Alain StevanovitchABSTRACTThis case study reports the anthropological analysis of bones remains discovered on Riou Island (Marseille, France) and the story of two World War II fighter pilots. The discovery of bones on “The Fountain of the Greeks” square on Riou Island occurred in the 1960’s and a first anthropological study described a 35-year-old man, about 1.77 m tall, buried since an estimated period between the 13th and 16th centuries. The case was “closed” and the bones were considered as isolated archaeological remains. Few years later, near the coasts of Riou Island, parts of two planes were discovered. One was from of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of the Luftwaffe piloted by Prince Alexis fürst zu BENTHEIM und STEINFURT, and the other from a French P-38 Lightning F-5 B piloted by Antoine de SAINT-EXUPERY. Therefore, the identification of the skeletal remains mentioned above was then thought to be perhaps one of the two World War II pilots. In this particular context we performed forensic and molecular biology analyses to resolve this identification.
  • Predictive equation for post-mortem interval using spectrophotometric
           values of post-mortem lividity: A pilot study
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Yosuke Usumoto, Keiko Kudo, Akiko Tsuji, Yoko Ihama, Noriaki Ikeda The colour of post-mortem lividity and control skin of 86 cadavers was measured spectrophotometrically to obtain L* (value), a* (chroma) and b* (hue) values. In addition, left heart blood (n = 58), right heart blood (n = 57) and blood from the femoral vein (n = 21) were measured. Using these data, we analysed the relationship between post-mortem lividity, control skin and blood colours. L* of post-mortem lividity (L*p) and control skin (L*c) were strongly correlated ( r = 0.64). a* and b* of post-mortem lividity (a*p and b*p) significantly increased with an increasing post-mortem interval (PMI) but  r2 values were low (0.11 and 0.070, respectively). Predictive equations for post-mortem lividity colour (L*p, a*p and b*p) were developed using control skin colour (L*c, a*c and b*c) and autopsy findings for the first time. The predictive equation for L*p explained almost 65% of the observed L*p. We created predictive equations for PMI with and without blood colour values, and the most accurate equation, which did not use blood colour values, made it possible to estimate PMI within ± 10.29 h. Further study of these equations will help us to understand the factors that affect post-mortem lividity colour and increase the accuracy of equations for predicting post-mortem lividity colour and PMI.
  • Forensic Gait Analysis — Morphometric Assessment from Surveillance
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Dilan Seckiner, Xanthé Mallett, Philip Maynard, Didier Meuwly, Claude Roux Following the technological rise of surveillance cameras and their subsequent proliferation in public places, the use of information gathered by such means for investigative and evaluative purposes sparked a large interest in the forensic community and within policing scenarios. In particular, it is suggested that analysis of the body, especially the assessment of gait characteristics, can provide useful information to aid the investigation. This paper discusses the influences upon gait to mitigate some of the limitations of surveillance footage, including those due to the varying anatomical differences between individuals. Furthermore, the differences between various techniques applied to assess gait are discussed, including biometric gait recognition, forensic gait analysis, tracking technology, and marker technology. This review article discusses the limitations of the current methods for assessment of gait; exposing gaps within the literature in regard to various influences impacting upon the gait cycle. Furthermore, it suggests a ‘morphometric’ technique to enhance the available procedures to potentially facilitate the development of standardised protocols with supporting statistics and database. This in turn will provide meaningful information to forensic investigation, intelligence-gathering processes, and potentially as an additional method of forensic evaluation of evidence.
  • Canines seized by the Swedish Police Authority in 2015-2016
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sirkku L. Sarenbo The inspection protocols of the Swedish police, based on the Act (2007:1150) on Supervision of Dogs and Cats, were used to examine the characteristics of 101 seized dogs, their owners, and the circumstances in which the attacks occurred. Most common reasons to seize a dog was that the dog owner was not following a previous order or ban, or that the dog had attacked and caused damage to humans or animals. The most common circumstances of the attacks involved dogs that escaped from gardens, unleashed dogs on walks and attacks by dogs on a leash. Bull breeds caused the highest number of injuries, the most serious injuries, and they were most often categorized as high risk, followed by Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Affenpinscher, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Japanese Spitz, Pug, Shih Tzu, Shetland Sheepdog and Golden Retriever were identified as victim breeds. The seized dogs had caused substantial harm to humans, animals, and their environment. The largest proportion of dogs returned to owners occurred in the Stockholm region.
  • The Pathology and Aetiology of Subcortical Clefts in Infants
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Karen Bonde Larsen, Zoe Barber, Waney Squier In infants, traumatic surface contusions of the brain are rare but subcortical clefts or cysts, variously labelled “contusional tears”, “contusional clefts”, “cortical tears” or “parenchymal lacerations” have been ascribed to trauma, and are even said to be characteristic of shaking and abuse.We describe the pathology of subcortical clefts or haemorrhages in seven infants. In none were the axonal swellings characteristic of traumatic axonal injury seen in relation to the clefts. Subpial bleeding was associated with clefts in all the cases of recent onset. We hypothesize that subcortical clefts are not due to direct mechanical forces of trauma but are part of a secondary cascade caused by impaired venous drainage which may or may not follow trauma. The finding of subcortical and subpial haemorrhages should prompt a search for CVT. We consider the term “contusion” is not accurate and is misleading.
  • A study of background population of fibres on knife blades
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Valentina Cammarota, Michael Schnegg, Geneviève Massonnet Edged weapons are frequently used to commit violent crimes (e.g., homicides, assaults or sequestrations). Following a stabbing, a fibre transfer might occur from the damaged fabric to the blade. It is crucial to investigate whether the target fibres were transferred to the blade as a result of the stabbing and if they are in association with the offence or whether they originate from another unrelated event (i.e., part of the background). The aim of this study is to explore the background population of fibres recovered on knife blades (police seizures and everyday knives) to help the interpretation of the results stemming from the analysis of the fibre evidence in crime cases involving the use of a bladed weapon.A population study was carried out to learn about the variety, the distribution and the size of the fibre population present on knife blades. After recovery using tapes lifting, stereoscopic examinations were performed to classify around 1500 fibres according to their colour and generic type. The most common colour/type combinations were: colourless/white cotton (31%), blue cotton (16%) and grey cotton fibres (11%).As blue fibres represent one of the most common colour group, they were selected to carry out a colour block study (based on microscopy observations and microspectrophotometry UV-VIS spectra) to investigate the number and the size of the groups of indistinguishable fibres present on each blade. Only 30% of the knife blades presented more than one blue cotton fibre. The number of groups found per knife varied between 1 and 3, each group containing between 2 and 6 fibres.Findings revealed an important difference between the background fibre populations in terms of quantity of fibres, their morphology and spatial distributions - and the population of fibres transferred in a stabbing. The collected data can be used in a Bayesian approach to help with the interpretation of results.
  • Letter to the Editor: Commentary on “Dennis McNevin, Bayesian
           interpretation of discrete class characteristics, Forensic Science
           International, 292 (2018) 125–130”
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Alex Biedermann, Tacha Hicks This letter to the Editor comments on the paper ‘Bayesian interpretation of discrete class characteristics’ (Forensic Science International, 292 (2018) 125–130) by Dennis McNevin.
  • Rates of Loss and Replacement of Very Small Particles (VSP) on the Contact
           Surfaces of Footwear During Successive Exposures
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): David A. Stoney, Andrew M. Bowen, Madeline Ausdemore, Paul L. Stoney, Cedric Neumann, Frederick P. Stoney It has previously been shown that a walk of 250 m (approximately 175 steps/shoe) in a new environment is sufficient to remove and replace particles present on the contact surfaces of footwear. However, it is unknown how quickly this replacement occurs. This paper describes experiments measuring how quickly (in terms of steps) this loss and replacement of VSP occurs.Three environmental exposure sites were chosen to have different, characteristic particle types (soil minerals). Footwear of two types (work boots and tennis shoes) were tested, accumulating particles by walking 250 m in one site, followed by walking a designated number of steps (per shoe) in a second site.Very small particles (VSP) were harvested from contact surfaces of the footwear (those surfaces in direct contact with the ground when walking) using a moist swabbing procedure. The resulting numbers and types of VSP were determined using forensic microscopy and the proportions of VSP attributable to the first and second site were determined by particle combination analysis using a latent Dirichlet allocation model.The principal findings from this study are (1) that the contact surfaces of footwear are dominated by VSP attributable to the most recent site of exposure, (2) that walking in a new location rapidly removes and replaces VSP from the contact surfaces of footwear, (3) major replacement occurs in 5 to 10 steps and nearly complete replacement occurs by 25 steps, (4) the character of the loading site may influence the initial rate of loss and replacement of VSP (during the first five steps), and (5) overall, the loss and replacement of VSP on footwear in these experiments can be reasonably described by the relationship 1/(Steps +2.68).The significance of these findings is considerable. In cases where the last site visited is of interest, VSP from contact surfaces of footwear will give a nearly pure sample of that site. In cases where prior sites visited are of interest, the VSP from the contact surfaces can be used as a background signal, providing a necessary beginning for efforts to resolve mixtures of VSP arising from different exposures. The usefulness of VSP on footwear evidence depends on developing this ability so that a reliable, relevant evidentiary "signal" can be separated from background noise (or signals from other exposures).
  • Letter to the Editor
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ronald D. Cohn
  • Wing measurement can be used to identify European blow flies (Diptera:
           Calliphoridae) of forensic importance
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 January 2019Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Krzysztof Szpila, Aleksandra Żmuda, Kamran Akbarzadeh, Adam Tofilski Correct species identification is a crucial step in research and the practice of forensic entomology. At the moment the most common and widely used tool for this purpose are taxonomic keys based on morphological characters. During recent decades molecular methods have been used more and more often for species identification. Automated species identification can also be based on wing measurements. This method proved to be reliable in the case of some groups of necrophagous Diptera from various geographical regions. Up to now, this method has not been applied to a wide range of species of European Calliphoridae. We have used 968 specimens representing 15 species and 6 genera. Identification was based on 15 landmarks located at wing vein junctions. Wing shape differed markedly between the studied species. The overall correct classification rate at the level of species was 97.1%. Seven species, including C. vomitoria, Ch. albiceps, Ph. regina, Pr. terraenovae and L. sericata were identified without error. Lucilia caesar and L. illustris, which are considered relatively difficult to distinguish, were correctly classified in 93.0% and 94.1% cases, respectively. The correct classification rate at the level of genera was 99.2%. The results presented here suggest that wing measurements are a promising alternative to other methods of identification of necrophagous Calliphoridae. This method can be particularly useful for identification of large samples of females collected during carrion succession studies. It can also be used to double check identification performed by a taxonomist using traditional methods.
  • The effect of composition and morphological features on the striation of
           .22LR ammunition
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 December 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Valentina Manzalini, Michele Frisia, Monica Casolari, Valerio Causin In this paper, the effect of the chemical composition of .22LR bullets was studied and correlated to the extent and quality of the markings left after shooting them with the same gun. Scanning electron microscopy and optical comparator microscopy equipped with 3D and profilometry modules were used as non destructive techniques with two main purposes. The first is to assist the firearm examiner in the choice of the ammunition most suitable for preparing the test bullets. The second is to propose an approach, crossing data from optical microscopy, profilometry and space-resolved chemical analysis, for explaining the morphology of striae, whether continuous or interrupted. Among the most notable results is the finding that commercial .22LR ammunition show very wide interbrand, interlot and intralot variability. A selection of test ammunition solely based on the same brand and model used on the crime scene is therefore not suitable, urging the need for a more accurate choice, based on a preliminary chemical analysis.
  • 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
  • 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.
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Heriot-Watt University
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