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Forensic Science International
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.981
Citation Impact (citeScore): 2
Number of Followers: 462  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0379-0738
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3161 journals]
  • Dynamic signatures: A review of dynamic feature variation and forensic
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 291Author(s): Jacques Linden, Raymond Marquis, Silvia Bozza, Franco TaroniAbstractThis article focuses on dynamic signatures and their features. It provides a detailed and critical review of dynamic feature variations and circumstantial parameters affecting dynamic signatures. The state of the art summarizes available knowledge, meant to assist the forensic practitioner in cases presenting extraordinary writing conditions. The studied parameters include hardware-related issues, aging and the influence of time, as well as physical and mental states of the writer. Some parameters, such as drug and alcohol abuse or medication, have very strong effects on handwriting and signature dynamics. Other conditions such as the writer’s posture and fatigue have been found to affect feature variation less severely.The need for further research about the influence of these parameters, as well as handwriting dynamics in general is highlighted. These factors are relevant to the examiner in the assessment of the probative value of the reported features. Additionally, methodology for forensic examination of dynamic signatures is discussed. Available methodology and procedures are reviewed, while pointing out major technical and methodological advances in the field of forensic handwriting examination. The need for sharing the best practice manuals, standard operating procedures and methodologies to favor further progress is accentuated.
  • 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 ZhaoAbstractAnticoagulant 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 TaoAbstractBackgroundTo 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 HanAbstractAbuse 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. AvissarSolid-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 HondelAbstractBeing 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 BridgeAbstractPartially 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-BoatengAbstractCrime 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. RobertsAbstractUnderstanding 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 ZojaAbstractIntroductionIn 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.
  • Jurors’ perceptions of forensic science expert witnesses: Experience,
           qualifications, testimony style and credibility
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 291Author(s): A. McCarthy Wilcox, N. NicDaeidAbstractThe judicial system calls upon expert witnesses to testify in court when complex or specialized knowledge, beyond that of the lay person, is needed to interpret the evidence. Previous research has indicated that particular traits of the expert witness can affect their credibility in the eyes of the jury, however most of this research has been undertaken using mock jurors. In contrast, this study investigated the perceptions of real jurors. In particular, the research focused on the juror’s perception of the forensic scientists’ expertise and credibility during testimony in homicide cases. Data was gathered from jurors after nine homicide trials using both questionnaire (n = 29) and direct one to one interviews (n = 22). The jurors defined what they thought an expert witness was and what attributes were important in a forensic scientist. Jurors suggested that the expert witness’s education and years of experience were more important than certification or laboratory accreditation. The jurors’ perceptions of the credibility of the expert was based upon the academic qualifications of the expert, the confidence they portrayed in answering the questions ask of them, their demeanor and their status of being government employee.The use of narrative language and demonstrative aids by the forensic science expert witness to explain the evidence was explored. Jurors described a deeper understanding as a result of narrative testimony and this was reported to be a key factor in the juror’s acceptance that the witness was credible.
  • A fatal blood concentration of 5-APB
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Maja Krpo, Hege Cathrine Luytkis, An-Magritt Haneborg, Høiseth GudrunAbstractFor the new psychoactive drug 5-(2-aminopropyl) benzofuran (5-APB), very limited knowledge is available regarding lethal concentrations. We present a case and report the post mortem blood concentration of a fatal outcome for a 25 year old man related to the consumption of 5-APB. After intake, he became unconscious and stopped breathing. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was started without success. After 30 minutes he was declared dead at the scene. During autopsy, whole blood from the femoral vein was collected and screened for a wide range of medicinal drugs and drugs of abuse. 5-APB was initially identified by ultra high performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QTOF-MS) and subsequently confirmed by using ultra high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS).The only toxicological findings were ethanol 0.6 g/L, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 0.0024 mg/L and 5-APB 0.86 mg/L. The cause of death was attributed to intake of 5-APB. Only one previous report of a fatal 5-APB concentration as the main toxicological agent exist in the literature, and the present concentration indicated that 5-APB could be lethal in lower concentrations than previously reported.
  • Identification of trichothecene-type mycotoxins in toxic mushroom
           Podostroma cornu-damae and biological specimens from a fatal case by
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sanggil Choe, Sangwhan In, Youngjoon Jeon, Hyeyoung Choi, Suncheun KimAbstractIn some autopsy cases, there are unknown natural toxins that are suspected to cause serious damage to the person. However, without reference materials, it is almost impossible to identify the suspicious natural toxins by GC–MS or LC–MS. In this case, a man drank mushroom −liquor with a meal at his home. Seven hours later, he was transported to the emergency room, and 12 hours later, he died. In the ingested mushroom-infused −liquor, there were pieces of mushroom that were estimated to be Podostroma cornu-damae (Hypocreaceae) based on their morphological characteristics. To identify the species, chemical component analysis was conducted using LC–QTOF–MS/MS. Monoisotopic mass, fragment ions, and isotope distributions were obtained from the LC–QTOF–MS/MS analysis. In addition, fragment ions and structure matching were tested for target compound confirmation. In this analysis, several toxic trichothecene-type mycotoxins were identified including roridin D, roridin E, roridin Q, satratoxin G, satratoxin H, satratoxin H 12′-acetate, satratoxin H 13′-acetate, satratoxin H 12′,13′-diacetate, and verrucarol. At autopsy, heart blood, peripheral blood, and the stomach contents were collected, and only satratoxin H was detected in these samples. This is the first finding of a trichothecene-type mycotoxin in a human biological sample from an expected case of P. cornu-damae intoxication. We demonstrated that LC–QTOF–MS/MS analysis was an effective method for mushroom intoxication cases in the absence of reference materials. Additionally, the experience, knowledge, and analytical methods we obtained in this study will be great assets for solving other cases of possible natural toxin intoxication.
  • 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 SuikkiAbstractBackgroundResidual 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 
  • Changes in thallium distribution in the scalp hair after an intoxication
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Takehisa Matsukawa, Momoko Chiba, Atsuko Shinohara, Yuki Matsumoto-Omori, Kazuhito YokoyamaAbstractIn cases of criminal thallium poisoning, forensic investigation is required to identify the amount and time of thallium exposure.Usually, blood and urine thallium levels are respectively used as biomarkers. Additionally, hair has the unique potential to reveal retrospective information. Although several studies have attempted to clarify how thallium is distributed in hair after thallium poisoning,none have evaluated the time course of changing thallium distribution. We investigated changes in the distribution of thallium in hair at different time points after exposure in five criminal thallotoxicosis patients. Scalp hair samples were collected twice, at 2.6 and 4.2-4.5 months after an exposure incident by police. Results of our segmented analysis, a considerable amount of thallium was detected in all hair sample segments. The thallium exposure date estimated from both hair sample collections matched the actual exposure date. We found that determination of thallium amounts in hair samples divided into consecutive segments provides valuable information about exposure period even if a considerable time passes after exposure. Moreover, when estimating the amount of thallium exposure from a scalp hair sample, it is necessary to pay sufficient attention to individual differences in its decrease from hair.
  • X-ray features to predict ankle fracture mechanism
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Andrzej Boszczyk, Marcin Fudalej, Sławomir Kwapisz, Marcin Błoński, Maciej Kiciński, Bartłomiej Kordasiewicz, Stefan RammeltAbstractIntroductionThe genetic Lauge-Hansen classification has been traditionally used for reconstruction of the mechanism of ankle injury. The ability of the Lauge-Hansen classification to predict actual mechanism of the injury has been questioned in recent studies, leaving a void in medicolegal reasoning. The aim of this study is to identify morphologic features of malleolar fractures on plain x-rays that may be used to reveal the fracture mechanism.Material and methodsRadiographs of 78 patients with acute malleolar fractures were analyzed and compared with fracture mechanisms reported by these patients.ResultsA modified Pankovich classification of medial malleolus fractures and the presence of a posterior malleolus fracture were able to significantly predict the mechanism of fracture reported by the patient (p
  • The effect of hydrochloric acid on microstructure of porcine Sus scrofa
           domesticus cortical bone tissue
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Veronika Sabolová, Adam Brinek, Vladimír SládekWe evaluated the degradation of cortical bone tissue by hydrochloric acid (HCl) since intentional bone decalcification in a forensic context has not been studied on a histomorphological level. We used 70 pig metatarsal bones split into subsamples and immersed in one of three concentrations of acidic solutions (0.5 M, 1 M, 2 M HCl) for two and four hours. We analyzed the cortical thicknesses on transversal cross-sections, thicknesses of the three histomorphologically distinct zones present in acid-immersed bones, and number and area of crystals present in one of the zones. Furthermore, we analyzed the ratio of calcium to phosphorus (Ca:P). We observed a division of the cortical bone cross section into three distinctive zones: demineralized matrix (DM) in the periosteal part of bone, middle contact zone (CZ), and mineralized matrix (MM) in the endosteal part of bone. With increasing acid concentration and time of immersion (from 0.5 M HCl for 2 h to 2 M HCl for 4 h), the thickness of DM increased by 67%, the thickness of CZ increased by 56%, and the thickness of MM decreased by 32%. The Ca:P ratio in the contact zone of acid-treated samples did not change significantly with changing acid concentration and time of immersion. The Ca:P ratio of the CZ decreased by 10% when compared to the Ca:P ratio of MM in acid-treated samples. Moreover, we observed crystals on the outer periosteal border of the DM zone, in the CZ, and in the MM Haversian/Volkmann’s canals. The size and number of the crystals in the CZ of acid-treated bones increased with acid concentration and time of acid immersion. Moreover, we also observed significant differences in all analyzed properties between anatomical regions. Due to varying reactions to acid immersion among anatomical regions, bone micro-degradation should be observed separately for each region.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. UbelakerAbstractThis 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.
  • When does absence of evidence constitute evidence of absence'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): William C. Thompson, Nicholas ScurichAbstractNegative forensic evidence can be defined as the failure to find a trace after looking for it. Such evidence is often dismissed by referring to the aphorism “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” However, this reasoning can be misleading in the context of forensic science. This commentary is designed to help forensic scientists understand the probative value of negative forensic evidence.
  • 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. ColeAbstractDrug-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.
  • When is myocarditis indeed the cause of death' Reply to R.B.
           Dettmeyer, J. Lang, and C.G. Birngruber
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Cristian Palmiere, Francesco De Stefano, Alessandro Bonsignore
  • Novel validity evidence of the Psychopathy Checklist- Revised (PCL-R) in a
           representative sample of Spanish inmates
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Gerardo Flórez, Ventura Ferrer, Luis S. García, María R. Crespo, Manuel Pérez, Pilar A. Saiz, David J. CookeAbstractPsychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) validation studies have been conducted mainly in non representative samples of North American adult male serious offenders. Research in other samples is needed to test the generalizability of PCL-R construct validity.PCL-R psychometric properties and construct validity were evaluated in a representative sample of 204 Spanish sentenced inmates. These inmates had served at least 6 months of their sentence at Pereiro de Aguiar prison. This sample was heterogeneous with respect to type of official charges and was representative, as all offenders who met the inclusion and exclusion criteria were invited to participate.Classical test theory indexes of reliability, correlations between PCL-R items, factors and facets, external correlations, and factor structure analysis demonstrated that PCL-R affective, interpersonal and lifestyle dimensions were more reliable and valid for the psychopathy than the antisocial construct in this Southern European sample.
  • Light motor vehicle collisions with heavy vehicles — psychosocial and
           health related risk factors of drivers being at-fault for collisions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sonja Sassi, Helinä Hakko, Esa Räty, Pirkko RiipinenAbstractBackgroundFatal head-on collisions between passenger cars and trucks are sometimes thought as self-inflicted death of the passenger car drivers.MethodsA total of 378 Finnish drivers of light motor vehicles (LMV) died in collisions with heavy vehicles between the years 2002–2011. These male and female drivers, who were considered as being at fault, and whose collisions with heavy vehicles occurred in the oncoming vehicle’s lane, were explored in relation to information on their socio-demographics, physical and mental health condition and driving-related factors.ResultsCause of death of at-fault LMV drivers, as defined in medico-legal examination, was most commonly accidental (51%), followed by suicide (32%), undetermined intent (17%) and acute illness (0.3%). Ten-year time trend in rates of LMV drivers has remained stable (Annual Percentage Change, APC = −0.03; p = 0.983), the annual proportion varying between 14%–21%. However, a statistically significantly increasing time trend was observed in fatal accidents due to suicides (APC = 5.31, p = 0.028). Generally, at-fault LMV drivers were characterized as having mental health problems susceptibility to risk (44%), personal relationship problems (33%), long-term physical illness (68%) or medication (35%) or driving under influence of alcohol (24%). Male LMV drivers, compared to women, were more commonly unmarried, farm/wood/industrial workers and drove alone and without a planned destination. Female LMV drivers were, more commonly than men, widowed, third degree students, skilled workers, had long term mental illnesses/disturbances, drove with family member(s) and their fatal accidents occurred in winter.ConclusionThe findings give support to the recommendation that suicidal ideation must be considered when assessing fitness-to-drive.
  • Shorter pregnant women restrained in the rear seat of a car are at risk
           for serious neck injuries: biomechanical analysis using a pregnant crash
           test dummy
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 September 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Masahito Hitosugi, Takeshi Koseki, Tomokazu Hariya, Genta Maeda, Shingo Moriguchi, Shiho HiraizumiAbstractIntroductionWhen considering seat belt contacts to the neck in pregnant woman of shorter height sitting in the rear seat of a vehicle, subsequent injuries after a collision must be understood in the context of both maternal and fetal outcomes. To determine likely injuries to a pregnant woman sitting in the rear seat, we determined the kinematics of a “pregnant” crash test dummy by measuring neck compression forces and biomechanical parameters acting on the head and neck.MethodsSled tests using a shorter-height pregnant woman crash test dummy (Maternal Anthropometric Measurement Apparatus, ver. 2B) were performed at the HYGE sled test facility representing full frontal impact at target velocities of 29 km/h and 48 km/h. Kinematics of the dummy and biomechanical parameters of the head, neck, and chest were measured. Pressure to the neck was measured using Prescale (Fujifilm, Tokyo, Japan).ResultsDuring frontal collision tests, the shoulder belt compressed the neck at a pressure>12.8 MPa, even during the low-velocity impact. In addition to neck flexion, right side bending and the head and chest moving in opposite directions were observed, with maximum differences of 42.4 mm at high velocity and 33.7 mm at low velocity.ConclusionsThis study provides data on the kinematics of pregnant women of short height sitting in the rear seat during a frontal collision using a pregnant woman crash test dummy. The knowledge gathered from this study should be useful for determining pregnant women passengers’ kinematics at the time of collision and evaluating the relationship between the vehicle collision and fetal outcomes.
  • Methods for describing different results obtained from different methods
           in accident reconstruction
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Tiefang Zou, Fenglin He, Ming Cai, Yuelin LiAbstractThere is always more than one method can be employed to reconstruct a traffic accident and then more than one result can be obtained. How to describe these different results becomes an issue. Two solutions were given, the first is to fuse different results to one result, while the other is to rank different results according to their credibility. Methods based on the Ordered Weighted Averaging (OWA) operator and Uncertain Ordered Weighted Averaging (UOWA) operator were proposed to fuse different certain results and different interval results to one result, respectively. And methods based on the Combination Weight Arithmetic Average (CWAA) and OWA operators were proposed to rank different certain or interval results. Finally, a true vehicle-motorcycle accident was given to demonstrate these proposed methods, results showed that all methods work well in practice. If the calculation uncertainty was not considered, the fused result 64.56 km/h and a ranked vector can be obtained; if the calculation uncertainty was considered, the fused result [62.13, 68.13]km/h and a ranked interval number set can be obtained. Because that all final results were obtained by employing widely used mature operators, they deserve to be trusted. The research provides more reliable choices to describe different results obtained from different methods in accident reconstruction.
  • Identification and characterization of an indazole-3-carboxamide class
           synthetic cannabinoid:
           acid (DMBA-CHMINACA)
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ji Hyun Lee, Aeran Jung, Han Na Park, Changhee Lee, Suresh Mandava, Sung-jun Lim, Byoung-bok Lim, Sung-Kwan Park, Jongkook Lee, Hoil KangAbstractIllicit psychoactive substances have threatened public health worldwide. An active metabolite of ADB-CHMINACA and MDMB-CHMINACA was identified for the first time in a powder-type product found in an airmail package. The structure of compound 1 was elucidated by a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS), infrared (IR) spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Compound 1 was proven to be an analogue of MDMB-CHMINACA, an indazole-based synthetic cannabinoid. The methyl ester group in MDMB-CHMINACA was replaced with a carboxylic acid group in compound 1. Compound 1 was determined as 2-[1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido]-3,3-dimethylbutanoic acid and named as DMBA-CHMINACA.
  • Gammahydroxybutyrate in hair of non-GHB and repeated GHB users: a new and
           optimized method
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Nicolas Van Elsué, Cleo L. Crunelle, Cor A. Verbrugge, Kim van Baarle, Anaïs Rodrigues, Hugo Neels, Michel YeglesAbstractGamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a short-chain fatty acid used recreationally as a drug of abuse due its strong suppressive effect on the central nervous system. The detection window of GHB in blood and urine is very narrow (t1/2 = 30 min) but can be substantially prolonged using alternative matrices such as hair. We here present a newly developed and limited validated method with a solid phase extraction (SPE) using GC-MS/MS to determine concentrations of GHB in hair samples. The soft extraction technique (water and 90 min ultrasonic bath) preserves GHB with a high yield and clean extracts. In addition, endogenous GHB can be detected in hair of non-GHB users. However, little is known about GHB concentrations in hair of abstinent, frequent and chronic GHB users. Therefore, we present data from hair samples of healthy volunteers to evaluate the proposed endogenous GHB ranges, and from GHB-dependent patients to address GHB concentrations in hair with GHB intake. In 20 non-GHB users, a mean endogenous concentration of 1.1 ± 0.6 ng/mg hair (range of 0.3–2 ng/mg) was found. In GHB-dependent patients, concentrations between 6.3 - 239.6 ng/mg hair were found, with no correlation between concentrations in hair and dose of GHB intake. In summary, we present a new and limited validated method, adequately sensitive for the detection of GHB in hair, as well as first-time measurements of GHB concentrations in dependent patients in order to better understand the relationship between the frequency of use/dose and concentrations observed in hair samples.
  • Packaging analysis of counterfeit medicines
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Klara Dégardin, Aurélie Guillemain, Philippe Klespe, Florine Hindelang, Raphaël Zurbach, Yves RoggoAbstractThe authentication of the packaging represents an important step in the investigation of suspected counterfeits of pharmaceutical products. The visual comparison with a retained sample is the first step to detect a counterfeited packaging. Due to the improvement of technologies like printing, the emergence of counterfeits with a better appearance can be observed. Moreover counterfeits are nowadays often a combination of fake and genuine parts that have been manipulated. Authenticating each part of the product is important in the frame of the investigation to understand how the counterfeiters proceed, and which prevention measures should be taken. Lab instruments like spectrometers can help confirm counterfeits of packaging for packaging components on which visually, no difference with a reference would be observed. In this study several analytical tools were evaluated to help support the authentication of the primary and secondary packaging of one medicinal product as an example using seven reference materials and five counterfeits. In some cases, visual examination of the packaging already enabled to detect counterfeits of the studied features. Also the boxes, leaflets and vials have been analysed with Infrared (IR) spectroscopy, Raman microspectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and microcomputed tomography (microCT). According to the obtained results, IR and XRF could support the visual examination of the different packaging components. Despite the small amount of counterfeits, relevant links could also be detected between the studied cases based on the packaging characteristics.
  • Rifle bullet deflection through a soft tissue simulant
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 29 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): F. Riva, E.J.A.T. Mattijssen, W. KerkhoffAbstractTrajectory deflections of 5.56 NATO and 7.62 × 39 mm rifle bullets, fired through 7.5, 15 and 22.5 cm of gelatine, were studied. The magnitude of the deflections from the bullets’ original trajectories after perforation are related to the length and the profile of the (wound) channels through gelatine. After 7.5 cm of penetration depth, deflection was less than 1°. With the longer channel lengths, bullet instability set in and subsequently, deflection was much larger. Deflection was highest with fragmented 5.56 NATO bullets after perforating 22.5 cm of gelatine. The data from this study can be used to assess the degree of bullet deflection in trajectory reconstructions after incidents where human bodies were perforated with rifle bullets of the respective calibres and cartridge types.
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): P. Kanokwongnuwut, P. Kirkbride, A. LinacreAbstractCollection for touch DNA either at scenes or on items submitted to a forensic laboratory is based on assumptions as to where a person made direct contact. In many instances a swab may be applied to an area where no contact has been made. Many swabs may therefore be submitted for DNA profiling on which no DNA is present, resulting in the loss of both time and resources by analysing such swabs. This study has developed a simple, fast, DNA-staining and fluorescence microscopy-based screening method for swabs to indicate if there is any DNA from which to generate a profile.Ten different types of swabs were tested covering the major types used (foam, cotton and nylon). Each swab was treated by: no addition of dye or DNA, addition of dye only, addition of known DNA and addition of dye and DNA. The stain used was Diamond™ Nucleic Acid Dye (DD) and fluorescence microscopy was achieved with a digital microscope equipped with a blue LED light source (480 nm) for excitation and an emission filter of 510 nm. Two types of samples were tested, either buccal swabs or swabs collected from areas touched by volunteers and all analyses were performed in triplicate. The samples were collected and retained at room temperature with time intervals of 0 day, 7 days, 14 days, 21 days, and 28 days before detection using DD staining and fluorescence microscopy.Seven of the swab types used were found to be unsuitable due to the lack of any difference in the fluorescence detected when no DNA, or only the dye, or a combination of DNA and dye were added. Three swab types (black cotton swab, Ultrafine dental applicator, and Cylinder dental applicator) were found to be much more effective for collection of DNA. Further, stained cellular material retained its fluorescence for up to 4 weeks and swabs containing cellular material that had been stored for four weeks could be stained and visualised. Additionally, DD did not affect DNA profiling.This screening method has the potential to be a routine step in a forensic laboratory to save costs of processing samples where swabs are devoid of any DNA. This technique is rapid, easy, cheap, non-destructive and safe.
  • Carcass concealment alters assemblages and reproduction of forensically
           important beetles
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Lena Lutz, Jens Amendt, Gaétan MoreauMost forensic studies have examined decomposition and insect colonization for estimating the minimum postmortem interval (PMImin) using carcasses that are readily accessible to insects but in homicides, cadavers are often concealed to a certain extent. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the type of concealment of a decomposing resource and the permeability of the material used affect to different extents the animals attracted to the resource. To this end, beetle assemblages were documented for 100 days on 15 domestic pig carcasses, placed individually in soft shell suitcases, trashcans with a hinged lid, and sealable drums in an untended open field in New Brunswick, Canada. Five pigs were allocated to each treatment. During the study, almost 33,000 insect occurrences from 50 recognizable taxonomic units were documented around containers that concealed carcasses. Results indicated that trashcans, drums, and suitcases had different effects on the patterns of beetle arrival and departure from the vicinity of concealed carcasses, on beetle assembly, on their breeding strategies, as well as on the interspecific relationships between beetles of forensic importance. Of the 50 recognizable taxonomic units, only six species exhibited a somewhat predictable occurrence and yielded information about the time of placement or the type of container. Results also suggested that some of the abundant Silphidae species opted to breed or feed in suboptimal conditions or at a later period to avoid competing with the dominant silphid Necrodes surinamensis (Fabr.). This suggests the occurrence of preferential colonization and/or asymmetrical competition between beetle species, which would affect the potential of these species for PMI estimations on concealed carcasses.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Chromatographic separation of R/S-enantiomers of amphetamine and
           methamphetamine: Pathways of methamphetamine synthesis and detection in
           blood samples by qualitative enantioselective LC-MS/MS analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Alexandra Maas, Moritz Losacker, Cornelius HessAbstractMethamphetamine can be synthesized either enantiopure or in its racemic form. We separated (R)- and (S)-enantiomers of methamphetamine and amphetamine by a fast LC-MS/MS-method using a Lux® 3 μm AMP 150 × 3,0 mm analytical column after simple protein precipitation with methanol. Sufficient resolution could be achieved. Method validation for qualitative detection showed limits of quantification < 5 ng/mL while only little (maximum 14.5%) ion suppression could be shown. Stability in the processed sample could be achieved using isotopically labelled internal standards. Plasma samples of police cases from the german regions of Franconia and Northrhine revealed that in the majority of 106 tested samples (> 99%) only (S)-methamphetamine was detected which leads to the conclusion that, in Germany, predominantly enantiopure (S)-methamphetamine is consumed which is synthesized via (1R,2S)-ephedrine or (1S,2S)-pseudoephedrine. However, racemic methamphetamine seems also to be on the market.
  • The forensic spleen: morphological, radiological, and toxicological
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Cristian Palmiere, Camilla Tettamanti, Maria Pia Scarpelli, Rexson TseAbstractThe spleen is infrequently investigated in forensic pathology routine. Thorough examinations are performed in very specific situations such as splenic trauma (including iatrogenic trauma from cardiopulmonary resuscitation attempts), anaphylaxis-related deaths, drowning and sepsis. The purpose of this review article is to provide a general overview of available literature focusing on a few selected splenic diseases as well as available forensic investigation techniques performed on the spleen in order to summarize the most frequent situations of forensic interest in which this routinely unexplored organ may merit more extensive examination.
  • Comparison of Scanning Kelvin Probe with SEM/EPMA Techniques for
           Fingermark Recovery from Metallic Surfaces
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): S.E. Challinger, I.D. Baikie, G. Flannigan, S. Halls, K. Laing, L. Daly, N. Nic DaeidAbstractMost traditional techniques to recover latent fingermarks from metallic surfaces do not consider the metal surface properties and instead focus on the fingermark chemistry. The scanning Kelvin probe (SKP) technique is a non-contact, non-destructive method, used under ambient conditions, which can be utilised to recover latent prints from metallic surfaces and does not require any enhancement techniques or prevent subsequent forensic analysis. Where a fingermark ridge contacted the metal, the contact potential difference (CPD) contrast between the background surface and the fingermark contact area was 10–50 mV.Measurements were performed on the untreated Brass, Nickel-coated Brass and Copper metal surfaces and compared to traditional forensic enhancement techniques such as vacuum metal deposition (VMD) using Au-Zn and Au-Ag. Using VMD, the CPD change ranged from 0 to 150 mV between the dissimilar metal surfaces affected by the fingermark. In general, SKP worked best without additional enhancement techniques.Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) scans were used to identify the fingermark contact areas through a Sodium, Chlorine and Oxygen electron probe micro-analyzer (EPMA). The fingermark was observed in the backscattered electron image as the carbon deposits scattered the electrons less than the surrounding metal surface. The fingermark is shown clearly in a Cathodoluminescence scan on the Copper sample as it blocks the photon emission at band gap (2.17 eV) from the underlying Copper Oxide (Cu2O) surface. For the first time, SEM, EPMA and Cathodoluminescence techniques were compared to SKP data.Visible and latent fingermarks were tested with latent, eccrinous fingermarks more easily imaged by SKP.Resultsobtained were very encouraging and suggest that the scanning Kelvin probe technique, which does not need vacuum, could have a place as a first stage analysis tool in serious crime investigation.
  • The emerging field of forensic epigenetics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Graham Williams
  • Promoting replacement of bicycle helmets after suffering a collision
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Jun Asuke, Yasuhiro Matsui, Masahito Hitosugi
  • Fatal poisoning by ingestion of Taxus Baccata leaves
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Vladimir Pilija, Maja Djurendic-Brenesel, Stevan MileticAbstractIn this report we describe a first suicide case in Serbia related to ingestion of Taxus baccata leaves. A 30-year old woman was found dead, and the green plant material in a plastic bag was found near her bed. Autopsy revealed dark green needle-like leaves in the stomach, similar to that contained in the plastic bag, and both were botanically identified as Taxus baccata, also known as yew. Using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS), 3,5-dimethoxyphenol (3,5-DMP) as toxicological evidence for the ingestion of yew leaves, was detected in biological samples. As the autopsy showed unspecific findings, and also the routine toxicological examination, based upon 3,5-DMP identification, the cause of death was determined to be suicide, caused by yew poisoning.
  • Cardiac laceration following non-penetrating chest trauma in dog and cat
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Giuseppe Piegari, Francesco Prisco, Davide De Biase, Leonardo Meomartino, Rosario Fico, Orlando PacielloAbstractCardiac laceration with non-penetrating chest trauma is reported as a common cause of death in human following rapid deceleration in high-speed vehicular accident. In contrast, in veterinary medicine, traumatic rupture of heart and great-vessel structures appears to be an uncommon cause of death. Here we report three cases of cardiac laceration following non-penetrating chest trauma in a one cat and two dogs. In two of these cases, necropsy revealed a rupture of the heart associated with fractures of the ribs and lung contusion; only one case did not exhibit any external chest injury but revealed pericardial tear associated with hemothorax following rupture of the right auricle of the heart. However, in all three presented cases, the thoracic location of the injuries allowed to conclude that the cause of the cardiac rupture was due to a direct impact of the chest wall with a high speed object and consequent transmission of the kinetic force and compression of the heart between left and right thorax. These case reports underline the importance of a systematic and complete macroscopic evaluation of the heart in all cases of death following non-penetrating chest trauma in dog and cat such as in human. They also highlight how, in clinical and forensic practice, the cardiac injury following blunt chest trauma should be ruled out even in the cases of absence of external chest injury.
  • Sex estimation from dimensions of the fourth lumbar vertebra in Northern
           Finns of 20, 30, and 46 years of age
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Petteri Oura, Jaro Karppinen, Jaakko Niinimäki, Juho-Antti JunnoAbstractBackgroundAccurate sex estimation (sexing) is crucial for successful forensic identification. For the cases in which only a part of the skeleton or individual skeletal elements are available, we investigated the sex estimation potential of the fourth lumbar vertebra (L4) among 20-, 30-, and 46-year-old Northern Finns.Material and methodsMagnetic resonance imaging scanned living subsamples of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (scan at 46 years, n = 1363) and the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (repeated scans at 20 and 30 years, n = 375) provided the material for the study. After screening the scans for vertebral pathologies, we measured the maximum and minimum widths, depths, and heights of the L4 body. The mean vertebral width, depth and height were calculated together with vertebral cross-sectional area and volume. Sex estimations were performed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis.ResultsWe detected marked sex discrepancy in all the studied parameters of L4 (p 80%. Vertebral width, depth, and height seem to yield as accurate sex estimates as more complicated vertebral parameters.
  • Value of glycolic acid analysis in ethylene glycol poisoning: A clinical
           case report and systematic review of the literature
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Gaspar Tuero, Jesús González, Laura Sahuquillo, Anna Freixa, Isabel Gomila, Miguel Ángel Elorza, Bernardino BarcelóAbstractObjectiveTo evaluate the clinical utility of glycolic acid (GA) determination in the diagnosis and prognosis of ethylene glycol (EG) intoxications.MethodSystematic review of serum and/or urine GA concentrations available in the literature in cases of EG poisoning. Present a clinical case in which the determination of the GA was decisive.ResultsIn total, 137 patients were included. Serum GA concentrations (but not EG) of patients who survive are different from those who die. The optimal cut-off of serum GA to predict mortality was 990.5 mg/L (sensitivity 85.2%, specificity 54.3%) with an Odds Ratio of 6.838 (2.868–16.302). In our clinical case, serum EG was negative; however, urine GA was positive (1230.7 mg/L).ConclusionsIn all suspected cases of EG poisoning, it is advisable to carry out the simultaneous analysis of EG and GA.
  • Cut Costs at All Costs!
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): R.J. FlanaganAbstractThe UK Government decision to close its Forensic Science Service (FSS) in 2010 left the criminal justice system in England and Wales bereft of impartial, high-level scientific support. The private sector was entrusted to fill the gap and to ensure that all results were accurate, timely, fit for purpose, easy to interpret, and above all gave value for money. In the event, however, a major provider has collapsed necessitating a rescue deal to minimise the impact of the fiasco. Moreover, there have been allegations of data manipulation in another private sector laboratory and possible falsification of evidence in a laboratory set up by a police force in an attempt to fill the gap left by the FSS. As to the future, appropriate laboratory regulation and inspection clearly has a part to play, but ironically ‘quality management’ adds an unnecessary and ever-increasing cost burden that may detract from quality. What is really needed are systems that combine public service and professional integrity with research and development. Involving investigators, coroners/medical examiners/judges, and prosecution and defence lawyers in educational fora would help build cross-professional co-operation and understanding.
  • Total tryptase or β-tryptase in post mortem settings: Which is to be
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Simona Zaami, Francesco Paolo Busardò
  • Forensic science in England & Wales, a commentary
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Gillian Tully
  • Application and validation of Diagnose Sexuelle Probabiliste V2 tool in a
           miscegenated population
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Marcos Paulo Salles Machado, Sarah Teixeira Costa, Alexandre Rodrigues Freire, David Navega, Eugénia Cunha, Eduardo Daruge Júnior, Felippe Bevilacqua Prado, Ana Cláudia RossiAbstractThe hip bone (os coxae) is the skeletal element that presents the greatest level of sexual dimorphism. Therefore, methods involving the analysis of the os coxae provide the most accurate sex estimation, and DSP2 (Diagnose Sexuelle Probabiliste v.2) is one of the most accurate tools used in this identification. The goal of this study is to apply and validate DSP2 in the identification of 103 os coxae (53 male and 50 female) belonging to a Brazilian-identified skeletal collection. Differences between sexes were statistically significant for all measurements, except for the acetabulo-symphyseal and spino-auricular lengths. From the 103 os coxae analyzed, there was a 9.43% error in male individuals and a 14% error in females. The results revealed that DSP2 can be applied to Brazilian-mixed populations with a good index of accuracy, although at a lower accuracy than other population samples. This study also clearly demonstrates that metric variation of the os coxae is extremely useful in sex estimation and reinforces the notion that pelvic sexual dimorphism is not population-specific.
  • The diatoms test in veterinary medicine: A pilot study on cetaceans and
           sea turtles
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Silva Rubini, Paolo Frisoni, Chiara Russotto, Natascia Pedriali, Walter Mignone, Carla Grattarola, Federica Giorda, Alessandra Pautasso, Stefania Barbieri, Bruno Cozzi, Sandro Mazzariol, Rosa Maria GaudioAbstractFishing activities are considered one of the most relevant threats for cetaceans and sea turtles conservation since these animals are sometimes found dead entangled in fishing gears. Currently, postmortem diagnosis is based mainly on the presence of nets and lines on the body and the related marks and injuries evident at gross examination. A more detailed and objective evidence is needed to clarify doubts cases and the diatoms technique, used in forensic human medicine, could support drowning diagnosis also in this field. Diatoms’ investigation was implemented to be applied in marine vertebrate on 8 striped (Stenella coeruleoalba) and 1 bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) dolphins and 5 sea turtles (Caretta caretta) stranded along the Italian coastlines with a likely cause of death hypothized on necropsies carried out by veterinary pathologists. Diatoms were microscopically searched in the bone marrow collected from long bones implementing protocols used in human medicine and their presence was observed in 4 cetaceans and 2 sea turtles. Despite a clear relation between diatoms’ presence and amount and the likely cause of death was not proved due to the poor number of samples, the higher burden of diatoms was found in 3 animals deemed to be death for the interaction with human activity. Despite more studied are necessary to identify the possible relation between the cause of death and diatoms’ findings, the present study implemented this technique to be adapted to marine animals, confirming its possible application also in veterinary forensic medicine.
  • Validity of the third molar maturity index I3M for indicating the adult
           age in the Polish population
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ingrid Różyło-Kalinowska, Paweł Kalinowski, Magdalena Kozek, Ivan Galić, Roberto CameriereAbstractThis study aimed to assess the application of Cameriere’s third molar maturity index (I3M) to select an individual of 18 years or older (adult) from younger than 18 years (minor) in a sample of Polish individuals. The final sample of 982 panoramic images aged between 15 to 24 years was analyzed. The specific cut-off value of I3M 
  • Intentional heroin administration resulting in homicide in a 10-month old
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Anthea B. Mahesan Paul, Lary Simms, Althea M. MahesanAbstractHomicide occurs in approximately one in five injury-related deaths among infants in the United States and studies suggest that male caretakers (fathers or mothers’ intimate partners) are the perpetrators of the majority of infant homicides. Opioid abuse is common and it is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide. In this case report, we add to the literature the first reported homicide by intentional heroin administration in a 10-month old infant. Toxicology revealed morphine 1092 ng/L, codeine 74 ng/mL, and 6-monoacetyl-morphine 359 ng/L in cardiac blood. Morphine 803 ng/g, codeine 54 ng/g in liver tissue, and morphine 181 ng/mL was found in vitreous humor. With the prevalence of opioid abuse on the rise accidental opioid ingestions in the pediatric population have increased. However, forensic personnel must recognize the possibility of intentional poisoning in this vulnerable population.
  • Child sexual abuse − initial suspicion and legal outcome
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 June 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Minna Joki-Erkkilä, Jenni Niemi, Noora EllonenAbstractObjectivesTo evaluate the association of primary reason to suspect child sexual abuse with the legal end-point in medically examined, police reported cases.Study designObservational post hoc analysis of retrospective review of records of 155 medically examined, police reported alleged child sexual abuse (CSA) cases during 2001-2009. Primary referral indications for medical examinations or criminal investigations were analyzed with an end-point in the legal process. The data consists of official investigation documents from University Hospital records, Police, crime laboratories, State Prosecutor, and Courts of Law.ResultsThe median age of the children was 7.1 years (range 11 months-17.5 years) at the time when suspicion of sexual abuse was reported to police. Conviction of the alleged perpetrator was significantly more likely in cases where the child's disclosure was the reason for the initial suspicion of CSA, compared to cases with referrals for “suspicious circumstances” (39/92, 42.4% v. 7/37, 19%, p
  • The use of stereological methods in the histomorphometric assessment of
           bone for age-at-death estimation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 June 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): D. Botha, A. Bhagwandin, N. Lynnerup, M. SteynAbstractStereological examination of the anterior femur was done for the estimation of age-at-death. The aim of this study was to assess particular bone microstructures that change with advancing age and use these variables to create revised regression formulae applicable to the black population of South Africa. A sample of 99 bone sections (n = 60 males and n = 39 females) that had previously been analysed using 2D methods, were re-analysed using the optical fractionator and nucleator sampling methods. Single and multiple regression analyses were performed to assess the strength of the relationship between known age and all independent variables. For sex-pooled data, the average number of osteons per grid area (Avg_OPD) showed the highest correlation with age (r = 0.528; r2 = 0.278), followed by average osteon volume (r = −0.383; r2 = 0.146). The remaining variables reflected a low correlation with age. Pooled, as well as sex-specific single regression formulae were constructed. Multiple regression formulae were constructed for pooled sexes only, as there were no significant difference between males and females overall. Although the employment of stereological methods ensured that the results are accurate and unbiased, the outcome was on par with previously reported SEE’s and SD’s for this population.
  • Multicomponent characterization and differentiation of flash bangers —
           Part II: Elemental profiling of plastic caps
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 June 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Karlijn Bezemer, Rikus Woortmeijer, Mattijs Koeberg, Wim Wiarda, Peter Schoenmakers, Arian van AstenAbstractThis study builds on the multicomponent analysis strategy for flash bangers which was previously introduced and where a representative sample set has been collected of a certain type of flash bangers. To expand the forensic strategy, elemental analysis of the plastic caps which are present in these items was performed. Both x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) analysis was performed to explore the possibilities for differentiation. The inherent inhomogeneity of the plastics resulted in high variations, especially for LA-ICP-MS trace analysis. In addition, due to the lack of suitable reference materials the LA-ICP-MS results can only be used for qualitative comparisons. Although XRF is less sensitive it allows for semi-quantitative analysis and the effect of inhomogeneity is significantly reduced due to the larger sample areas. Therefore, XRF is the method of choice for elemental analysis of intact plastic caps. In this scenario initial differentiation based on visual examination is combined with elemental analysis to obtain the highest degree of discrimination. In post-explosive scenarios, using XRF is not as straightforward due the irregular shapes of the burned plastic cap residues and contamination by explosive residues. For the analysis of these post-explosive caps, LA-ICP-MS proved to be useful for characterization and differentiation. Overall, it was found that blue caps contain a considerable higher amount of elements than the white caps, mainly due to additives related to the coloring process. This limits differentiation for the flash bangers containing white caps. Therefore, isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) analysis was performed to increase the differentiation potential. Based on carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios additional sets could be distinguished, both for flash bangers containing white and blue caps, that otherwise have similar visual and elemental characteristics. With the elemental and isotopic analysis of the plastic caps, an analysis strategy has been introduced that is not based on the pyrotechnic charge and therefore provides a unique opportunity to perform characterization and differentiation of flash bangers in pre- and post-explosive casework.
  • Multicomponent characterization and differentiation of flash bangers —
           Part I: Sample collection and visual examination
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 June 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Karlijn Bezemer, Rikus Woortmeijer, Mattijs Koeberg, Peter Schoenmakers, Arian van AstenAbstractTo continue to assist law enforcement agencies in counteracting the illegal use of fireworks new forensic methods have to be developed. In the Netherlands, many incidents involve powerful flash bangers mainly due to irresponsible behavior and misuse for criminal activities. Obtaining tactical information for differentiation of these flash bangers is of high priority in forensic casework. A representative sample set of a certain type of flash bangers, confiscated by the Dutch police, has been collected in a time period of one year and initial characterization has been performed based on visual examination. The individual components of the flash bangers already allow for a high degree of differentiation. Ultimately, combining all visual characteristics of pyrotechnic charges, labels, fuses and caps resulted in the classification into 24 groups out of 30 seized sets of flash bangers. In addition to visual examination, this unique sample set offers a wide variety of research opportunities that could be further explored and that might prove essential in case scenarios where visual characteristics are more difficult to assess or are completely absent.
  • Determining the initial impact of rear-end collisions by trace evidence
           left on the vehicle from tires: A case report
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 March 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): T. Hugh Woo, Chun Liang WuAbstractIf an automobile happens to crash into the back of another vehicle while travelling at high speeds, both vehicles will be seriously damaged. Consequently, it is not easy to reconstruct the initial collision state between the two vehicles or determine whether or not the risk perception of the driver is normal. The entire picture of the accident cannot be fully understood and thus clarifying the relevant legal responsibility is difficult. The trace evidence of tires, such as pattern, direction, and impression examination as well as other characteristics, can be carefully observed and used as evidence in accident reconstruction. A case report of a fatal collision involving a bus crashing into the frame of a full trailer on a freeway is examined in this study. The police agency used the characteristics of the trace evidence of the bus tires to reconstruct the initial collision state of the two vehicles to clarify the cause of the accident, and these determination guidelines can be used by police while handling similar cases in the future. This case uses new information regarding the initial collision state of road traffic accidents for reconstruction and provides knowledge and interest for the forensic community.
  • Postmortem analysis of three methoxyacetylfentanyl-related deaths in
           Denmark and in vitro metabolite profiling in pooled human hepatocytes
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): M. Mardal, S.S. Johansen, A.B. Davidsen, R. Telving, J.R. Jornil, P.W. Dalsgaard, J.B. Hasselstrøm, Å.M. Øiestad, K. Linnet, M.F. AndreasenAbstractMethoxyacetylfentanyl belongs to the group of fentanyl analogues and has been associated with several deaths in recent years. We present three case reports of deceased individuals that tested positive for methoxyacetylfentanyl consumption, as well as in vitro and in vivo metabolite profiles.Methoxyacetylfentanyl was quantified by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) in femoral blood, as well as in urine and brain tissue when these were available. Metabolite profiling was performed by incubating methoxyacetylfentanyl with pooled human hepatocytes (pHH) in Leibovitz's L-15 medium supplemented with fetal bovine serum. Metabolites were identified in vivo and in vitro using UHPLC–high resolution (HR)–MS/MS.The measured methoxyacetylfentanyl concentration was 0.022–0.056 mg/kg (N = 3) in femoral blood, 0.12 mg/kg (N = 1) in urine, and 0.074 mg/kg (N = 1) in brain tissue homogenate. A total of 10 metabolites were identified. The observed metabolic pathways were: hydroxylation(s), N-dealkylation, O-demethylation, deamination, glucuronidation, and combinations thereof. Major analytical targets in vitro and across measured biological samples in vivo were methoxyacetylfentanyl, the O-demethyl- metabolite, and the deamide-metabolite. Intoxication with methoxyacetylfentanyl was judged as the cause of death or a major contributing factor in all three presented cases.
  • Cannabinoid Concentrations in Blood and Urine after Smoking Cannabidiol
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ulf Meier, Franz Dussy, Eva Scheurer, Katja Mercer-Chalmers-Bender, Sarah HangartnerAbstractIn Switzerland, the sale of cannabis with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content less than 1% has recently been legalized. As a consequence, cannabis with low THC and high cannabidiol (CBD) values up to approximately 25% is legally available on the market. In this study, we investigated cannabinoid blood and urine concentrations of a naive user and of a modeled chronic user after smoking a single CBD joint. Chronic use was modeled as smoking 2 joints per day for 10 days. Joints contained 200 mg of cannabis with THC concentrations of 0.94% and 0.8% and CBD concentrations of 23.5% and 17% in the naive-smoker and chronic-smoker experiment, respectively. After smoking, blood and urine samples were collected for 4 and 20 hours after smoking start, respectively. THC blood concentrations reached 2.7 and 4.5 ng/mL in the naive and chronic user, respectively. In both cases, the blood THC concentration is significantly above the Swiss road traffic threshold of 1.5 ng/mL. Consequently, the user was legally unfit to drive directly after smoking. CBD blood concentrations of 45.7 and 82.6 ng/mL were reached for the naive and chronic user, respectively. During the 10-day smoking period, blood and urine samples were regularly collected. No accumulation of any cannabinoid was found in the blood during this time. Urinary 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC concentrations seemed to increase during the 10-day period, which is important in abstinence testing.
  • Metal-Organic Frameworks for fingermark detection – A feasibility
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sébastien Moret, Esther Scott, Adrian Barone, Kang Liang, Chris Lennard, Claude Roux, Xanthe SpindlerAbstractMetal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) are porous crystalline structures, currently used as sensors, separators in membranes, and as catalysts. Due to their physicochemical and optical properties, they have been recently proposed for fingermark detection. This study further explored their potential for fingermark detection. Natural fingermarks, as well as charged and protein-enriched marks, were used to test the efficiency of the technique. Various parameters, such as precursor concentration, pH, immersion time and detection protocols, were investigated and optimised. The performance of the optimised MOF-based method was then compared to that of routinely used techniques.The results obtained indicated that MOFs can effectively detect fingermarks, especially protein-rich marks such as marks contaminated with body fluids. However, after comparison and evaluation against benchmark techniques, results were judged to be inferior to those from currently employed detection methods However, with further research and optimisation MOFs may be promising as an alternative to current powder suspension techniques.
  • Comparison of three bullet recovery systems
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Denis Werner, Damien Rhumorbarbe, Peter Kronseder, Alain GallusserAbstractComparing the marks left on questioned bullets to those left on reference bullets is the main aim of a firearm identification expertise. Thus, producing reference bullets with a questioned firearm is an essential step. Different kinds of system have been developed to safely recover bullets fired from questioned firearms. However, the performance of each system and its impact on traces left on the bullets have not been addressed.Three bullet recovery systems – a horizontal water tank, a cotton tube and a recently designed fleece – were used to fire seven types of ammunition of various type, shape and casing. The bullets were then described and images of their surface were acquired with an automatic system to study the impact of each system on the bullets.The water tank is the more efficient system in terms of quality of the marks. However, it cannot be used to fire every type of ammunition. Some of them, such those used by law enforcement, tend to be damaged with this system. A way to mitigate the problem is to use the cotton or the fleece-based systems, the latter being more universal. It requires a cleaning step to remove all the fibres from the surface of the bullet, but the marks left by the weapon are still of interest.
  • Recovery of latent fingermarks from brass cartridge cases: Evaluation of
           developers, analysis of surfaces and internal ballistic effects
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Carlos M.A. Girelli, Mariana A. Vieira, Kulvir Singh, Alfredo G. Cunha, Jair C.C. Freitas, Francisco G. EmmerichA study was undertaken wherein different fingermark developers were evaluated for the recovery of fingermarks from brass cartridge cases, besides the evaluation of factors such as firing effects and surface characterization of the cases. The latent fingermarks on α-brass plates, fired and unfired cartridge cases were deposited and aged for 1–14 days before development with different developers. In order to mimic the fired cartridge case conditions, the brass plates were heated and examined at room temperature (RT), at 63 and at 200 °C. The sequential treatment with cyanoacrylate, gun blue and fluorescent dye has been found to be the best among other developers for the recovery of latent fingermarks on brass surfaces including fired and unfired cartridge cases. Cartridge cases and other brass surfaces were also analyzed by surface characterization methods, including X-ray diffraction, scanning electronic microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and metallographic examination. The tested surfaces correspond to α-phase brass Cu0.7Zn0.3 composition and have shown different surface morphologies (such as grain structure) and different levels of oxidation, even for cartridge cases obtained from the same batch. Due to this, the effectiveness of a given reagent for a specific brass surface is uncertain. Therefore, the application of the entire tested sequence of developers is strongly recommended. Further, the effects of firing on fingermarks on cartridge cases were examined, and the results indicated that the blowback of hot gases through the looseness between cartridge case and chamber wall of the firearm is the main cause responsible for deterioration of fingermarks during firing. Despite the recognized damage caused to fingermarks by the firing effects, good quality fingermarks were recovered from fired cartridge cases in which full fingermarks were intentionally deposited prior to firing. This indicates that the handling of the cartridges before and during the loading of the gun may have a strong influence on the quantity and quality of fingermarks, and that the firing itself is not the main responsible factor for the absence or low quality of fingermarks, as frequently reported in fired cartridge cases studies.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Factor analysis of organic soils for site discrimination in a forensic
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Vander Freitas Melo, Josiane M.L. Mazzetto, Jeferson Dieckow, Eloana J. BonfleurOrganic soils are generally located in fluvial settings such as river floodplains that are commonly used for the disposal of bodies. Therefore, the aim of this study was to provide a protocol for the analysis of small amounts of organic soils for forensic purposes. The protocol was applied in five representative sites within the Curitiba metropolitan region (Brazil), with each site supplying four composite samples separated from one another by 3 m. The soil samples were collected at a depth of 0 to 5 cm. One gram of soil sample was used to determine the total elemental content and perform physical fractionation of the soil (>53 μm and
  • Genetic polymorphism analysis of 40 Y-chromosomal STR loci in seven
           populations from South China
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Changhui Liu, Xiaolong Han, Yunbing Min, Hong Liu, Quyi Xu, Xingyi Yang, Shuqin Huang, Zhucong Chen, Chao LiuAbstractChina is a multi-ethnic country. Due to its diverse terrain, many ethnic groups are geographically isolated within China. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in southern China. As Y-STR loci are paternally inherited, they can be used to effectively understand the genetic relationship between different populations and thus aid in forensic science. In this study, forty Y-STR loci were analysed in 2018 unrelated male individuals from the following seven ethnic populations in South China: Yao (n = 147), Zhuang (n = 225), Gelao (n = 156), Miao (n = 186), Maonan (n = 133), Gin (n = 160) and Guangxi Han (n = 1011). Using both AGCU Y24 STR and GFS Y24 STR genotyping kits, a total of 335 alleles and 141 haplotypes of three multi-copy loci were observed in these seven populations. The highest GD value of the 40 Y-STR loci in the overall population was 0.9643 for DYS385a/b, while the lowest was 0.4101 for DYS438. Out of the 2018 samples analysed, 1935 distinct haplotypes and 1858 unique haplotypes were observed. The HD value of the total samples was up to 0.9994 and ranged from a low of 0.9908 in the Yao to a high of 0.9999 in the Han population. We found using population structure analysis that the genetic distance is smaller among the seven southern populations (Guangxi Han, Gelao, Yao, Miao, Zhuang, Jing and Maonan) than the northern populations (Tibetan, Korean, Mongolian, Uygur and Hui). We show that the 40 Y-STRs have a high level of polymorphism in the South China ethnic groups and there is a high degree of differentiation among ethnic groups located in geographically distributed and densely populated areas. These data may provide additional resources for forensic applications and population genetic studies.
  • Analysis of vehicle collision accidents based on qualitative mechanics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Inhwan HanAbstractIn this paper, a method for vehicle collision analysis based on qualitative mechanics is presented. In collisions where accurate quantitative information is difficult to gather, this analytic method can act as a useful complement. Based on qualitative dynamic theories, reasonings of various factors including qualitative vector, collision behavior, translational and rotational motion are suggested. Using the law of momentum conservation within the frame of rigid-body dynamics, vehicle collision analyses based on this qualitative reasoning were developed into an accident analysis tool. This newly developed qualitative collision analysis tool was verified using 45 cases of vehicle-to-vehicle collision test data, and its practicality was proved by performing analyses of various vehicle collision accidents.
  • Development of simple and accurate detection systems for Cannabis sativa
           using DNA chromatography
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Tadashi Yamamuro, Shigehiko Miyamoto, Masashi Kitamura, Tomonori Muro, Yuko T. Iwata, Hiroki Segawa, Kenji Kuwayama, Kenji Tsujikawa, Tatsuyuki Kanamori, Hiroyuki InoueAbstractIn recent years, the need for analyzing cannabis DNA has increased in order to accommodate the various types of cannabis samples encountered in forensic investigation. This study was aimed to establish a simple and accurate cannabis DNA detection system using DNA chromatography. Two chromatography chip systems with different features were successfully developed. One system (the “four-line version”) involves tetraplex PCR amplification, which could be used to detect cannabis DNA and distinguish between drug-type and fiber-type cannabis using the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase gene sequence. The other system was the “three-line version” with triplex amplification, which was specialized to distinguish cannabis from other plants, and had a sensitivity (10 fg DNA/reaction) that was 100 times greater than the four-line version. In both versions, no false positives were observed for 60 medicinal plants, and accurate detection could be performed for several simulated forensic samples such as cannabis leaves, buds, stems, roots, seeds, resin, and cannabis leaves blended 1/100 in tobacco. Detection could be performed by the naked eye and only a thermal cycler was required for operation. Thus, DNA chromatography systems for cannabis detection are expected to contribute to the analysis of cannabis DNA in forensic chemistry laboratories without extensive equipment.
  • Simultaneous determination of drugs and pesticides in postmortem blood
           using dispersive solid-phase extraction and large volume
           injection-programmed temperature vaporization-gas chromatography-mass
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Ettore Ferrari, Eloisa Dutra CaldasAbstractA d-SPE protocol followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis using large volume injection-programmed temperature vaporization (LVI-PTV) was optimized for simultaneous quantification of 14 pesticides, drugs of abuse, prescription drugs and metabolites in human postmortem blood without derivatization. The validated method showed good repeatability, linearity, intermediate precision, and recovery. LOQs were 0.02 or 0.03 μg/mL. The method showed to be fast and easy-to-implement in a forensic laboratory and was satisfactorily applied for the analysis of 10 postmortem blood real samples. Six samples contained cocaine (0.06 to 3.1 μg/mL), two 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine hydrochloride (MDMA, 0.04-0.09 μg/mL) and two carbamazepine (0.08-0.98 μg/mL). Other analytes found were carbofuran (27.3 μg/mL), the metabolite 7-aminoflunitrazepam (1.1 μg/mL), amitriptyline (0.21 μg/mL) and diazepam (0.03 μg/mL).
  • Analysis of chemical warfare agents by portable Raman spectrometer with
           both 785 nm and 1064 nm excitation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Tomohide Kondo, Ryota Hashimoto, Yasuhiko Ohrui, Ryoji Sekioka, Taro Nogami, Fumihito Muta, Yasuo SetoAbstractThe Raman spectra of twenty-two chemical warfare agents (CWAs) were measured: eleven nerve agents and their precursor, five blister agents, three lachrymators, one choking agent, and one vomit agent, in liquid or solid state in colorless transparent vials were analyzed using a portable Raman spectrometer, Xantus-2 from Rigaku Corporation, equipped with selectable excitation lasers (785 nm and 1064 nm). With 785 nm excitation, characteristic Raman spectra composed of many sharp peaks were observed for twenty CWAs, but nitrogen mustard 3 (HN3) and adamsite (DM) did not show particular peaks owing to broad and intense mountain-like baselines. With 1064 nm excitation, Raman spectra similar to those with 785 nm excitation were observed for the twenty CWAs, where the wavenumbers of the peak tops and comparative heights were similar to those with 785 nm excitation. Characteristic Raman spectra with several sharp peaks could be even obtained for HN3 and DM with 1064 nm excitation. The resolutions of the peaks in the spectral region below 1000 cm−1 were higher with 785 nm excitation than those with 1064 nm excitation. In contrast, those above 1000 cm−1 were almost compatible with both excitations. The heights of the peaks in the spectral region lower than 1000 cm−1 were significantly higher with 785 nm excitation than those with 1064 nm excitation, but those higher than 1000 cm−1 were almost compatible with both excitations. The CWAs could be discriminated based on the Raman spectra showing respective unique fingerprint patterns, even among six alkyl methylphosphonofluoridate congeners. Structural assignment to Raman bands observed in the spectra was also proposed. The influence of mixing with gasoline to match the quality of library search was examined for seven representative CWAs. With 785 nm excitation, the hit quality index (HQI) of sarin was higher than 50% when the concentration (V/V) was higher than 25%. Meanwhile, with 1064 nm excitation, HQI of sarin was higher than 50% even when the concentration was as low as 15%. With 785 nm excitation, the HQI of L1 was higher than 50% when the concentration was higher than 80%. However, with 1064 nm excitation, the HQI of L1 was higher than 50% when the concentration was 20%. Measurements with 1064 nm excitation seemed superior in identifying CWAs in a gasoline mixture using the library search. The Raman spectra with 785 nm and 1064 nm excitation were compared in the measurement in the amber glass containers.
  • Fluorescent Metal Organic Frameworks for the visual enhancement of latent
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): R. de Jong, M. de PuitAbstractLanthanide-based (Eu and Tb) metal organic frameworks (MOFs) synthesized in this work are highly fluorescent crystalline structures that form through a self-assembly process in an aqueous environment. Various bio-organic molecules, including proteins and amino acids, can act as inducing agents for this process. The fact that these components are present in fingermark secretions, in combination with the excellent luminescent properties of the MOFs, create a visualisation method for (latent) fingermarks. The aqueous MOF precursor solutions are not ideal for the visualisation of latent fingermarks on non-porous surfaces, such as aluminium foil and glass. However, they offer a simple, non-toxic, long-lasting and effective approach for the visibility enhancement of fingermarks treated with cyanoacrylate fuming on aluminium foil and glass and latent fingermarks on the adhesive side of a transparent tape. The luminescent properties of MOF-treated fingermarks persevered for at least 12 months, providing great alternative for commonly used organic dyes such as Basic Yellow 40 and Gentian Violet. In this communication we evaluate the applicability of the proposed method for the forensic fingermark workflow.
  • An evaluation of Bayesian age estimation using the auricular surface in
           modern Greek material
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Efthymia Nikita, Panagiota Xanthopoulou, Elena KraniotiAbstractPelvic morphology is highly reflective of both sex and age changes in humans, making it a popular research focus in forensic anthropology. Relevant studies range from traditional descriptive to more complicated approaches involving statistical modeling, with the latter having become excessively popular in the last decades. The present study examines the performance of Bayesian statistics in age estimation based on the morphological changes observed on the iliac auricular surface. The aim is two-fold: a) to test whether a Bayesian approach can improve age-at-death estimation compared to the original Lovejoy et al. (1985a) and Buckberry and Chamberlain (2002) methods, and b) to explore the impact of adopting different samples as informative priors as well as for obtaining the transition analysis parameters. For this purpose, two modern Greek documented collections have been used, the Athens and the Cretan Collection. Our results found no clear improvement in age prediction when adopting Bayesian age estimation, with only one exception: Athenian males for the Buckberry and Chamberlain (2002) method. The choice of samples for transition analysis and as informative priors affected the results but this effect was statistically non-significant.
  • Determining the effective dose of street-level heroin: A new way to
           consider fluctuations in heroin purity, mass and potential contribution to
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Nathan C. Stam, Dimitri Gerostamoulos, Joanne Gerstner-Stevens, Nick Scott, Karen Smith, Olaf H. Drummer, Jennifer L. PilgrimAbstractBackground & AimsHeroin use is associated with a disproportionately high level of morbidity and mortality with most deaths attributable to drug overdose. Aggregate heroin purity data has been used to examine the relationship between overdose and variability in street-level heroin, however heroin purity data alone may not be the most appropriate nor a sensitive enough measurement tool for this assessment. The aim of this study was to measure the variability in effective dose of street-level heroin seizures, accounting for variation in both purity and mass, and determine the proportion of samples with higher than expected effective dose that would not be detected using a purity-only measure.MethodsData on Victorian heroin seizures ≤150 mg in mass made between 01/01/2012 and 31/12/2013 were obtained from the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department. The effective dose of heroin in each sample was determined by multiplying the mass and purity variables. Effective dose outlier samples were considered as those containing either greater than 1.5–2 times or>2 times the median effective dose of heroin for the sample data.ResultsThe 983 street-level heroin samples of ≤150 mg had a median mass of 92 mg (IQR of 43 mg), a median purity of 13% (range 3.6%–80.9%) and a median effective dose of 12.0 mg of heroin (IQR 6.6 mg; range 0.4 mg–111 mg). Approximately one in 13 samples (8%) and one in 17 samples (6%) contained between 1.5–2 times and>2 times the median effective dose of heroin respectively.ConclusionThe effective dose of heroin is a more appropriate measure than purity to identify outlier samples that containing larger than expected doses of heroin compared to typical doses that may be expected by users. Together with other identified risk factors, fluctuation in the effective dose of heroin contained in street-level samples may contribute to the potential for overdose.
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Francesco Simonit, Fabio Bassan, Carlo Scorretti, Lorenzo DesinanAbstractComplex suicides are rare and consist in the use of more than one method to induce death, representing a challenging investigation for forensic pathologists. According to the several combinations reported in literature, they have been classified into “typical” (where two common suicide methods are associated) and “atypical” (where more than two methods, or infrequent combinations of suicide methods are involved). In the case discussed here, an elderly man suffering of depression was found dead inside the tool shed of his house with a knife embedded in the abdomen and two plastic bags fastened around the neck using a twine. Three other superficial stab wounds were clustered close to the penetrating lesion. Internal examination revealed haemorrhagic infiltration at the mesentery and haemoperitoneum. No evident signs of asphyxia were highlighted and the cause of death was attributed to haemorrhagic shock. This association of suicide methods has turned out to be unusual. A review of the literature concerning complex suicides, abdominal self-stabbing and plastic bag suffocation has been managed. Crime scene and details of the used tools, medical and psychiatric history of the victim and features of the internal and external lesions have been examined and compared to previous studies. Toxicological analyses were not performed.
  • Predicting Body Movements for Person Identification under Different
           Walking Conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 August 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Duc-Phong Nguyen, Cong-Bo Phan, Seungbum KooAbstractHuman motion during walking provides biometric information which can be utilized to quantify the similarity between two persons or identify a person. The purpose of this study was to develop a method for identifying a person using their walking motion when another walking motion under different conditions is given. This type of situation occurs frequently in forensic gait science. Twenty-eight subjects were asked to walk in a gait laboratory, and the positions of their joints were tracked using a three-dimensional motion capture system. The subjects repeated their walking motion both without a weight and with a tote bag weighing a total of 5% of their body weight in their right hand. The positions of 17 anatomical landmarks during two cycles of a gait trial were generated to form a gait vector. We developed two different linear transformation methods to determine the functional relationship between the normal gait vectors and the tote-bag gait vectors from the collected gait data, one using linear transformations and the other using partial least squares regression. These methods were validated by predicting the tote-bag gait vector given a normal gait vector of a person, accomplished by calculating the Euclidean distance between the predicted vector to the measured tote-bag gait vector of the same person. The mean values of the prediction scores for the two methods were 96.4 and 95.0, respectively. This study demonstrated the potential for identifying a person based on their walking motion, even under different walking conditions.
  • Saw marks in bones: A study of “secondary features” of false
           start lesions
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Luísa Nogueira, Véronique Alunni, Caroline Bernardi, Gérald QuatrehommeAbstractIn this experiment, 170 experimental false starts on human (120 lesions) and pig bones (50 lesions) were analyzed under stereomicroscope. The goal was to evaluate the potential of three “secondary” features (patterns of striae on the kerf floor, blade drift and bone islands) to diagnose saw class and saw set. We also assessed the performance of each of these features in ambiguous cases observed in a previous study, based on three main characters (minimum width of the kerf, shape of the kerf walls, and shape of the kerf profile). Among these three “secondary” features, striae on the kerf floor proved to be useful: the undulating or undulating/straight pattern of the striae on the kerf floor indicates an alternating set whereas thin and straight striae indicates a wavy set. Blade drift and bone islands may be indicative of large teeth size. These secondary features, in combination with the three main characters previously studied, may help identify the class of the saw.
  • Application of hyperspectral imaging and Machine Learning methods for
           thedetection of gunshot residue patterns
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Przemysław Głomb, Michał Romaszewski, Michał Cholewa, Krzysztof DominoAbstractAdvanced image processing algorithms can support the forensic analyst to make tasks like detection, pattern comparison or identification more objective. In the case of the gunshot residue (GSR) analysis, the automatic detection of potential GSR samples can support the task of evidence collection or analysis of residue needed e.g. for a muzzle-to-target firing distance estimation. In this paper we investigate the application of a hyperspectral camera and two well-known Machine Learning algorithms to automatically indicate the potential presence of GSR samples in a scene containing cloth fabrics. For this study we have created and annotated a hyperspectral image dataset consisting of GSR samples present on multiple fabric types. The GSR samples were obtained using two types of ammunition, discharged from two shooting distances. We have investigated two detection scenarios: an unsupervised anomaly detection (with the RX detector) and a supervised pixel classification (with the SVM classifier). Our results show that an accurate detection is possible in both cases. We also note that in this setting the anomaly detection approach usually requires an image normalisation, while the classifier does not require a fabric-specific information. As an addition, we show that the hyperspectral imaging generally outperforms the RGB imaging in terms of GSR detection accuracy. While the actual verification on presence of GSR on the scene requires an analyst and secondary identification methods, the hyperspectral camera with image processing algorithms can be a valuable tool supporting the evidence collection and analysis.
  • Development of a HS-SPME/GC-MS method for the analysis of volatile organic
           compounds from fabrics for forensic reconstruction applications
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Simona Gherghel, Ruth M. Morgan, Javier Arrebola-Liébanas, Roberto Romero-González, Chris S. Blackman, Antonia Garrido-Frenich, Ivan P. ParkinAbstractAn analytical method for the determination of trace amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) relevant to the cosmetics industry was optimised, validated and employed for the analysis of commercial perfumes. The method used a combination of headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In addition to fibre type, three different HS-SPME extraction conditions were investigated simultaneously, namely incubation time, extraction time and extraction temperature, using a central composite design in order to determine the optimal conditions for the extraction of VOCs of interest. The main figures of merit of the proposed method (calibration range, limits of detection and quantification, trueness and precision) were evaluated for six different VOCs in both natural and synthetic fibres in order to validate it and verify its capability for the proposed application. The validated method was applied for the analysis of traces of commercial perfumes from fabrics, and the VOCs of interest were successfully quantified. This simple, highly sensitive, and robust method has the potential to represent a powerful approach for forensic reconstructions where perfumes have transferred between individuals, such as during assaults and sexual assaults.
  • Identification and detection of protein markers to differentiate between
           forensically relevant body fluids
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Renske P. de Beijer, Chantal de Graaf, Angela van Weert, Ton G. van Leeuwen, Maurice C.G. Aalders, Annemieke van DamThe identification of body fluids at a crime scene is an important aspect of forensic casework analysis, being a source for investigative leads and contributing to case evidence. Yet, current methods for the forensic identification of body fluids suffer from several limitations, ranging from poor sensitivity and specificity, to sample destruction and interference with subsequent DNA analysis. Moreover, current identification assays target only one body fluid at the time. Besides being inefficient in terms of time, money and sample consumption, poor identification methods can also negatively influence the outcome of a (court) case. In this study, eleven potential protein biomarkers and antibodies were selected and assessed on their suitability for serving as identification markers, as a first step towards the development of a new multiplex protein-based body fluid identification assay relying on antigen–antibody interactions. Performing antibody-based dot blot assays, the specificity of the biomarkers for their target body fluids was evaluated, and biomarker detection was studied in diluted, mixed, aged and simulated casework samples. Hereby, nine out of eleven markers were identified as promising biomarkers to identify blood, semen, saliva, urine and sweat. With the identification of these targets and detection antibodies, a major step forward has been taken towards the development of a highly sensitive and specific, fast and non-labour-intensive protein-based body fluid identification assay, suitable for on-site analysis and able to test for multiple body fluids in a single reaction.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Developing a MtSNP-based genotyping system for genetic identification of
           forensically important flesh flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae)
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Wei Chen, Yanjie Shang, Lipin Ren, Kai Xie, Xiangyan Zhang, Changquan Zhang, Shule Sun, Yong Wang, Lagabaiyila Zha, Yadong GuoSome representatives of flesh flies visiting/colonizing the decomposed remains demonstrated their values in estimating the minimal postmortem interval (PMImin) since death. However, the utility of sarcophagid flies has been seriously hampered by limited ecological, biological and taxonomic knowledge of them. Although mitochondrial genes have been proposed as a potential DNA barcode for the species-level identification of sarcophagids, some defects still remain such as the substantial memory and processing time taken for homologous comparisons online. Moreover, species identification is mainly achieved by Sanger sequencing based on PCR with genus-specific primers. In the present study we characterized 24 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as robust markers of genetic variation for identifying different sarcophagids based on available cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) data and verified them through pyrosequencing (PSQ) technology to establish a SNP-based genotyping system. The system provides a preliminary foundation for developing a rapid, reliable, and high-throughput assay so as to efficiently and accurately identify the sarcophgid flies. Furthermore, the PSQ approach is proved to be faster, more cost-effective as well as more sensitive and specific than custom Sanger sequencing.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Cocaine and adulterants analysis in seized drug samples by infrared
           spectroscopy and MCR-ALS
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Adrianne F. da Silva, Tatiane S. Grobério, Jorge J. Zacca, Adriano O. Maldaner, Jez W.B. BragaAbstractCocaine use has been reported for more than 2500 years, but along this period of time its damage to society in general became evident. Nowadays, cocaine is classified as an illicit drug and studies which give support to drug enforcement institutions, particularly in the area of police intelligence, are very relevant. Often, trafficked cocaine is not traded in its pure form, but mixed with adulterants and diluents. In the analysis of seized samples, the reference method is based on gas chromatography, however the interest in the use of vibrational spectroscopy has increased. This work aims at developing a method for determination of the concentrations of cocaine, adulterants and diluents in cocaine samples employing Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) associated with Multivariate Curve Resolution with Alternating Least-Squares (MCR-ALS). A total of 6 adulterants, 3 diluents, 2 forms of cocaine (base and hydrochloride) were determined and the method developed based on 55 synthetic mixtures prepared according to a mixture design and 20 seized samples. For validation purposes 708 seized samples and 9 synthetic mixtures were analyzed. The results proved to be satisfactory, showing that the proposed method has a great potential in the classification of the chemical form of cocaine, identification of adulterants, diluents and cocaine in seized samples, as well as providing an estimate for their concentration.
  • Rapid qualitative and quantitative analysis of methamphetamine, ketamine,
           heroin, and cocaine by near-infrared spectroscopy
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Cui-mei Liu, Yu Han, Shun-geng Min, Wei Jia, Xin Meng, Pei-pei LiuAbstractRapid and nondestructive near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) methods have been developed for simultaneous qualitative and quantitative analysis of methamphetamine, ketamine, heroin, and cocaine in seized samples. This is the first systematic report regarding a qualitative and quantitative procedure of applying NIR for drug analysis. A total of 282 calibration samples and 836 prediction samples were used for the building and validating of qualitative and quantitative models. Two qualitative analysis modeling methods for soft independent modeling by class analogy (SIMCA) and supporting vector machine (SVM) were compared. From its excellent performance in rejecting false positive results, SIMCA was chosen. The drug concentrations in the calibration and validation sample sets were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography. Based on the use of first-order derivative spectral data after standard normal variate (SNV) transformation correction, in the wavelength range from 10000 to 4000 cm−1, four partial least squares quantitative-analysis models were built. The coefficients of determination for all calibration models were>99.3, and the RMSEC, RMSECV, and RMSEP were all less than 1.6, 2.9, and 3.6%, respectively. The results obtained here indicated that NIR with chemometric methods was accurate for qualitative and quantitative analysis of drug samples. This methodology provided a potentially useful alternative to time-consuming gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography methods.
  • Determination of drugs of abuse and pharmaceuticals in skeletal tissue by
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Amvrosios Orfanidis, Helen Gika, Orthodoxia Mastrogianni, Adamantios Krokos, Georgios Theodoridis, Eleni Zaggelidou, Nikolaos RaikosAbstractIn several medico legal cases bone analysis may provide the only source of toxicological information. The present study reports the development of a UPLC–MS/MS method for the detection and quantification of 27 drugs and pharmaceuticals in human bones. The target compounds comprise pharmaceutical drugs (antipsychotics and antidepressants) and some of the most important groups of drugs of abuse: opiates, cocaine, cannabinoids, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. Sample pretreatment was studied and the best results were obtained after extraction with methanol, stirring and ultra-sonication. The extract after filtration, evaporation and reconstitution was analysed on a reversed-phase column (C18) in gradient elution over 17 minutes. The method was found to be selective, and sensitive offering limits of detection (LOD) ranging from 0.03 to 1.35 ng/g of bone. Validation included evaluation of limit of quantification (LOQ), recovery, carry-over, matrix effect, accuracy and precision (RSD%) of the method. The method performed satisfactory in relation to established bioanalytical criteria and was therefore applied to the analysis of bone and bone marrow obtained post-mortem from chronic drug abusers, offering unambiguous identification and quantitative determination of drugs in bones from legal cases where the analysis of blood was not feasible.
  • Quantifying chemiluminescence of the forensic luminol test for ovine blood
           in a dilution and time series
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Sumiko Polacco, Paul Wilson, Mike Illes, Theresa StotesburyAbstractThis study investigates the chemiluminescent reaction of whole ovine blood with a luminol solution in a time and dilution series. Replicate samples of both fresh and dried certified pathogen-free ovine blood were prepared and diluted. Seven dilution conditions from neat to 1:1 000 000 were created for testing. A luminol solution, created using the standard Weber protocol, was applied to all samples in controlled laboratory conditions. A SpectraMax® M3 microplate reader luminometer was used to quantify the chemiluminescence from the reactions as relative luminescence units (RLUs) every four seconds for three minutes. Trends within and amongst the times series, reaction half-lives, and maximum chemiluminescent intensities are discussed. Our research provides a comprehensive dataset derived from instrumental and visual observations on the chemiluminescence resulting from ovine blood’s reaction to luminol. This study has implications in forensic bloodstain pattern analysis as it offers a mixed method approach to characterizing the reaction between blood and a commonly used presumptive testing reagent.
  • Skeletal weathering in central Florida: A preliminary approach for
           developing a scoring protocol to estimate time since death
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): John J. Schultz, Michelle M. Hawkins, Alexander T. MitchellAbstractRegardless of region, skeletal remains deposited in subaerial contexts are subjected to a progression of taphonomic alterations. However, there are limited postmortem interval (PMI) standards developed, particularly in environments where skeletonization can occur quickly. The research purpose was to evaluate the timing and progression of early weathering alterations in two microenvironments (shaded and open) using pig carcasses (Sus scrofa) in the subtropical humid environment of central Florida. Over nine months, sun bleaching was assessed using Munsell® Soil Color Charts (2009) and scored based on percentage of the bone sun bleached, while bone weathering was further evaluated using Behrensmeyer’s (1978) stages. Results indicate that microenvironment has a significant influence, with the onset and progression of sun bleaching and Behrensmeyer’s (1978) Stages 2 and 3 occurring earlier in the open microenvironment. Sun bleaching stages and Behrensmeyer’s (1978) weathering stages can be utilized in conjunction for developing regionally specific PMI taphonomic models for different microenvironments.
  • Determining the number of test fires needed to represent the variability
           present within firearms of various calibers
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Eric F. Law, Keith B. Morris, Casey M. JelsemaAbstractThe Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners recommends a minimum of two test fires be performed when an unknown firearm is submitted to a laboratory prior to doing a comparison with a cartridge case collected from a crime scene. Limited research has been performed to determine how many test fires are necessary to be representative of the match distribution of a firearm. Various makes and models of firearms comprising five calibers were tested using a hybrid equivalence test to determine how many cartridge cases were required to represent the match distribution of an unknown firearm based on both breech face and firing pin correlation scores from an IBIS® HeritageTM System. The same general trend was observed for each caliber of firearm where the equivalence percentage increased from 10 to 30 cartridge cases. Overall, 15 cartridge cases are sufficient for above an 80% probability of representing the full match distribution for an unknown firearm. To approach full equivalence, 25 cartridge cases are enough because 30 cartridge cases were not found to be significantly higher in equivalence percentage for any caliber of firearm tested.
  • Oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes coated fibers for headspace
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Aiying Song, Jiankang Wang, Gongxuan Lu, Zongping Jia, Jing Yang, Enlin ShiAbstractCarbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted a lot of attention as effective sorbents due to their strong sorption properties and several potential applications in many fields. In this work, the acid oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs-COOH) was coated onto a stainless steel wire by a simple physical adhesion approach to develop solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fibers. By combination of the MWCNTs-COOH coated fiber-based headspace SPME and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS), the developed method demonstrates a good enhancement factor (288–651), low limits of detection (LODs, 0.2–1.3 μg/L) for determination of amphetamine-type stimulant drugs (ATSs) in urine samples. The recoveries of the spiked ATSs (5, 50 and 500 μg/L) were in the range of 88–107%, the calibration curve was linear for concentrations of analytes in the range from 0.5 to 1000 μg/L (R = 0.963–0.999). Furthermore, single fiber repeatability and fiber-to-fiber reproducibility were in the range of 2.3%–6.2% (n = 6) and 5.7%–9.8% (n = 3), respectively. The MWCNTs-COOH coated fiber is highly thermally stable and can be used over 150 times. The method was successfully applied to the forensic determination of amphetamine (AMP) and methamphetamine (MAMP) in human urine samples and satisfactory results were achieved.
  • Development and application of a new nose hairs sample collection device
           for GSR Particles by scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive
           X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS)
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Luis Chávez Reyes, César Elgueta López, Ana Briceño Barrios, Carlos Garrido Soto, Cristian Ibáñez, Fabiola Jamett DíazAbstractWhen a firearm is discharged, a gaseous cloud containing characteristic particles of gunshot residue (GSR) are released forward and behind at high speed, depositing on clothing, hands, face and hair, as well as being inhaled and therefore retained in the nostrils of the person who fired the weapon. GSRs have characteristic sizes and morphologies and consist of a combination of lead, antimony and barium, as well as other elements. Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) is a widely accepted technique for the analysis of these residues; however, little has been reported on samples taken from the nostrils of the suspect that discharged the shot. The analysis of residues found on hands has been more frequent. This article presents a device (Nasal Stub) developed by us for the non-invasive collection of GSR particles from the nostrils and a platform also developed by us to contain these devices that is compatible with SEM-EDS. To evaluate the effectiveness of our Nasal Stub to collect GSR particles from nose hairs, four types of firearms of different calibers were utilized. Nasal samples were collected at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 20 h after firing. The results show that the nasal device was able to recover GSR particles from nose hairs for all the weapons used, even, in some cases, over 20 h after firing. It was concluded that Nasal Stub and its methodology proposed for the analysis of nasal GSR from nose hairs by SEM-EDS was effective and that it can complement other traditional analyses of GSR particles, increasing the amount of evidentiary support for the forensic analysis presented in a tribunal or court.
  • Laryngohyoid fractures in suicidal hanging: A prospective autopsy study
           with an updated review and critical appraisal
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Lenka Zátopková, Martin Janík, Petra Urbanová, Jitka Mottlová, Petr HejnaAbstractLaryngohyoid fractures in hanging victims are one of the most studied and paradoxically contradictory topics in forensic pathology. According to literary sources, the incidence of laryngohyoid fractures in hanging varies significantly, from 0% to 100%. To verify the diagnostic significance of these injuries in hanging, we prospectively and consecutively analyzed the occurrence of laryngohyoid fractures in a group of 178 suicidal hanging victims (M/F = 150/28, aged 14–94 years, mean age = 50, complete suspension = 111 cases, partial suspension = 67 cases) in relation to selected variables (age, sex, weight, the completeness of body suspension, and ligature knot location). Altogether, we identified the following types of laryngohyoid fractures in 129 of 178 cases (72.5%): isolated fracture(s) to the thyroid cartilage in 60 cases (33.7%), combined thyrohyoid fractures in 41 cases (23.0%), isolated fracture(s) to the hyoid bone in 28 cases (15.7%), and no fractures to the cricoid cartilage or the cervical vertebrae. The highest frequency of laryngohyoid fractures was found in lateral hangings (right lateral: 26/34, 76.5%; left lateral: 31/37, 83.8%), whereas the lowest rate was found in anterior hangings (4/11, 36.4%). In lateral hangings, fractures more often occurred contralaterally to the suspension point. Statistical analysis revealed significant associations of the occurrence of laryngohyoid fractures with the age of the victim (p = 0.028), with the position of the ligature knot on the neck (p = 0.019) and with the age-corrected weight of the victim (p = 0.026). In addition, we performed a systematic updated review and critical appraisal of relevant literary sources to report the incidence, fracture patterns, and contributing variables of laryngohyoid injuries in hanging. Both the results of our study and the provided literary synthesis show that if evaluated properly, laryngohyoid fractures in hanging may diagnostically offer far more than just evidence that injury to the neck occurred and may also present research opportunities regarding several issues that should be further analyzed and explained.
  • Forensic taphonomy: Scavenger-induced scattering patterns in the temperate
           southwestern Cape, South Africa — A first look
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Maximilian J. Spies, Devin A. Finaughty, Victoria E. GibbonAbstractThe effect of vertebrate scavenging can drastically alter the rate of decomposition and cause skeletal scatter, which hinders human forensic recovery and identification. Patterns of scavenging, disarticulation and scatter in a forensic context are specific to different environments with no known data for South Africa. A better understanding of these patterns can increase the chances of full body recovery and improve identification of human remains. In this preliminary study, the effect of wild vertebrate scavenging on skeletal scatter was examined using a porcine model in the forensically significant thicketed Cape Flats Dune Strandveld habitat. This area is a densely populated part of Cape Town, which suffers from poor socioeconomic conditions and a high murder rate. Ethics was granted for the use of three small (∼20 kg) domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses as proxies for human decomposition. They were deployed in Delft, Cape Town, and observed by motion-activated cameras to record wild scavenger activity. One pig served as a control and was caged to prevent vertebrate but not invertebrate access; the other two served as experimental treatments. Scatter was recorded every second day by marking the location of skeletal elements and measuring the distance and angle from the centre of each deposition site. No scattering was observed in the control, but notable scattering patterns were observed in the experimental pigs due to Cape grey mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta) scavenging, the only vertebrate scavenger species observed. No clear pattern of scatter distance over time was followed. Scatter began in the skeletonisation phase (day 25–30), resulting in a maximum distance of 12.67 m and scatter/search area of 504.32 m2. Mongoose-induced skeletal scatter followed a distinct pattern of movement into dense undergrowth, a previously unobserved behaviour and a key finding of this study. These results provide baseline data for sub-adult human scatter, or scatter of smaller components of an adult human skeleton, as demonstrated in the forensic case example provided. Knowledge is provided on locally relevant decomposition patterns and informs search methods for improved human skeletal recovery in forensic cases. There is scope for expansion of this study, with an investigation of seasonal effects, the interaction between invertebrate and vertebrate activity, as well as, the effect of clothing on scavenger access.
  • Male sexual assaults in the Paris, France area: An observational study
           over 8 years
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Sophie Duchesne, Marie Seyller, Patrick ChariotAbstractBackgroundMale sexual assaults were long ignored, possibly because of the myth acceptance that a man can only be the perpetrator of sexual assaults. It is increasingly admitted that all males can be victims of rape. We described the characteristics of a series of male adolescent and adult victims of sexual assault who had a forensic medical examination.MethodsWe conducted an observational study over 8 years.ResultsWe included 98 male patients aged 15 years and older (range 15–66, median 25) at the time of a reported sexual assault. Assailants were known by the victim in 59 cases (60%). Forty-four patients (45%) had physical or mental vulnerability. Anal penetration was reported in 49 cases (50%). Genital examination showed abnormalities compatible with traumatic injuries in 23 cases (24%). Psychological symptoms were found in 81 victims (83%), including shame (39, 40%) and anxiety (38, 39%). Of 98 victims, sperm could be detected in 6 cases (6%) (anal, 4; oral, 1; skin, 1). Male victims were more frequently disabled or vulnerable than female victims examined in the same centre (45% vs. 13%, p 
  • Laryngeal anatomical variants and their impact on the diagnosis of
           mechanical asphyxias by neck pressure
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): João Pinheiro, José Luis Cascallana, Benito Lopez de Abajo, José Luis Otero, Maria Sol Rodriguez-CalvoAbstractThe aims of this investigation were to determine the characteristics and prevalence of anatomical variants of the larynx apparatus and to evaluate the impact of these variants on the accurate diagnosis of laryngeal fractures.A population-based study was carried out, analyzing a series of 207 consecutive autopsied cases in the Institute of Legal Medicine of Galicia (Northwestern Spain).The prevalence of triticeal cartilage was 52.7% and that of agenesis of thyroid horns 10%. Calcification of the stylo-hyoid ligament accounted for 1.4%. We identified three new anatomical variants: the terminal segmentation of the thyroid horns (11.6%), ectopic superior thyroid horns (8%) and lateral thyrohyoid ossification (5.3%). These three names, based on anatomical criteria, are the author’s proposal to solve the lack of uniformity in the designation of these variants.Agenesis of thyroid horns were related to the presence of ectopic superior thyroid horns in 93% of cases, either uni or bilateral. The combination of variants was present in 6.8% of the cases, being the terminal segmentation of the thyroid horns in association with triticeal cartilage the most frequent (3.8%).The probability of misdiagnosis due to the presence of anatomical variations in deaths by pressure on the neck was high in this population (71.5%). The prevalence of triticeal cartilage in more than half of the sample, determined an important rate of potential errors (46.4%), followed by the mistaken diagnoses induced by terminal segmentation of thyroid horns (7.3%) and by ectopic superior thyroid horns (6.3%).The likelihood of a misdiagnosed laryngeal fracture was greater if the thyroid cartilage was affected, with a higher proportion of false positives comparing to the hyoid bone (p 
  • Forensic taphonomy: Vertebrate scavenging in the temperate southwestern
           Cape, South Africa
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Forensic Science International, Volume 290Author(s): Maximilian J. Spies, Victoria E. Gibbon, Devin A. FinaughtyAbstractVertebrate scavenging can significantly accelerate the rate of decomposition, which can hinder estimating the post-mortem interval (PMI). Patterns of decomposition and scavenging are highly specific to different environments in a forensic context, with no known data for South Africa. A better understanding of local decomposition patterns, taking scavenging into account, could increase the accuracy of PMI estimation and improve identification of human remains. Using a porcine model in the forensically significant thicketed Cape Flats Dune Strandveld habitat, the effect of vertebrate scavenging on the decomposition process was examined. This part of Cape Town suffers from poor socioeconomic conditions and a high murder rate, which is due in part to the dense population. Human decomposition was simulated using three small (∼20 kg) domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses, with ethical clearance. One pig served as a control and was caged to prevent vertebrate but not invertebrate access; the other two served as experimental treatments. They were deployed in Delft, Cape Town, and observed by motion-activated, time-lapse remote photography to record scavenger species and activity. A rapid increase in the decomposition rate was observed due to Cape grey mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta) scavenging, with early skeletonisation reached by both experimental pigs by day 14, compared to the control remaining in advanced decomposition after 93 days. Mongoose is the primary scavenger in this habitat, and showed notable patterns of feeding behaviour, exclusively within daylight hours. Scavenging activity was only influenced by rainfall later in the cycle. This research provides knowledge on locally relevant decomposition patterns and highlights the necessity for PMI estimation methods to consider vertebrate scavengers. This may improve human skeletal identification in forensic cases. There is scope for expansion of this study, with an investigation of seasonal effects, the interaction between invertebrate and vertebrate activity, as well as, the effect of clothing on scavenger access.
  • Proactive response to tackle the threat of emerging drugs: synthesis and
           toxicity evaluation of new cathinones
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Helena Gaspar, Soraia Bronze, Catarina Oliveira, Bruno L. Victor, Miguel Machuqueiro, Rita Pacheco, Maria João Caldeira, Susana SantosAbstractThe emergence of potentially dangerous new psychoactive substances (NPS) imposes enormous challenges on forensic laboratories regarding their rapid and unambiguous identification. Access to comprehensive databases is essential for a quick characterization of these substances, allowing them to be categorized according to national and international legislations. In this work, it is reported the synthesis and structural characterization by NMR and MS of a library encompassing 21 cathinones, 4 of which are not yet reported in the literature, but with structural characteristics that make them a target for clandestine laboratories. This in-house library will be an important tool accessible to forensic laboratories, for the quick identification of seized NPS. The in vitro cytotoxicity of all cathinones was assessed in HepG2 cells, to have a preliminary but effective indication of their human hepatotoxicity potential. The two new cathinones DMB (8) and DMP (9) were the more cytotoxic, followed by the already seized mephedrone (2), 3,4-DMMC (3), 4-MDMC (7), NEB (12) with EC50 values ranging from 0.81 mM for (3) to 1.28 mM for (2). Results suggest an increase of cytotoxicity with the increase of the chain length of the acyl moiety and with the substitution (with one or two methyl groups) in the aromatic ring. The nature of the amine moiety seems to play only a minor role in the cytotoxic effect. Molecular dynamics simulations were performed to evaluate the molecular details related with the observed cytotoxicities. Although these studies indicated that cathinones are able to cross lipid bilayers with relative ease, when in their neutral forms, it was observed only a partial correlation between lipophilicity and cytotoxicity, indicating that membrane trafficking may not be the only key factor influencing the bioactivity of these compounds. This work is a valuable contribution to the forensic science field since a quick identification of novel cathinones is urgent to match their rapid increase in the market.
  • Fatal zolpidem poisoning due to its intravenous self-injection: postmortem
           distribution/redistribution of zolpidem and its predominant metabolite
           zolpidem phenyl-4-carboxylic acid in body fluids and solid tissues in an
           autopsy case
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Koutaro Hasegawa, Amin Wurita, Hideki Nozawa, Itaru Yamagishi, Kayoko Minakata, Kanako Watanabe, Osamu SuzukiAbstractWe experienced a curious fatal case, in which a male in his 20 s self-administered zolpidem intravenously. The victim was found dead lying on floor of his apartment room, with a tourniquet band and new injection marks on his right forearm. Nearby the body, a medical disposal syringe containing small-volume solution dissolving crushed zolpidem tablets was found. The postmortem interval was estimated at about two days.The direct cause of his death was judged as asphyxia due to the aspiration of stomach contents into the trachea and bronchi. The specimens dealt with were body fluids and solid tissues including femoral vein blood, right and left heart blood, pericardial fluid, urine, bile, stomach contents, the brain, lung, heart muscle, liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas and skeletal muscle. For the extractions of zolpidem, zolpidem phenyl-4-carboxylic acid, deuterated internal standards zolpidem-d7 and zolpidem phenyl-4-carboxylic acid −d4, a modified QuEChERS method was used, followed by the analysis by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Because this study included various kinds of human matrices with quite different properties, the standard addition method was most preferable to overcome the matrix effects and recovery rates, and also did not need to use blank human matrices for validation experiments. The concentration of zolpidem and its phenyl-4-carboxylic acid metabolite in various specimens tested were generally extreme higher than those of reported fatal cases, supporting that the victim had died of intravenous zolpidem injection. The concentrations of zolpidem in femoral vein blood and right and left heart blood specimens in the present case were 9.55, 28.5 and 46.9 μg/mL, respectively, which far exceeded estimated fatal levels. The present study also showed the postmortem distribution/redistribution of zolpidem and its phenyl-4-carboxylic acid metabolite in 15 body fluid and solid tissue specimens including stomach contents. Although a number of published literatures dealt with zolpidem poisoning cases due to oral ingestion of the drug, this is the first report on fatal intravenous zolpidem injection case and postmortem distribution of zolpidem and its predominant metabolite.
  • Can measurements of heroin metabolites in post-mortem matrices other than
           peripheral blood indicate if death was rapid or delayed'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Cecilie Hasselø Thaulow, Åse Marit Leere Øiestad, Sidsel Rogde, Jannike Mørch Andersen, Gudrun Høiseth, Marte Handal, Jørg Mørland, Vigdis VindenesAbstractBackgroundIn heroin-related deaths, it is often of interest to determine the approximate time span between intake of heroin and death, and to decide whether heroin or other opioids have been administered. In some autopsy cases, peripheral blood cannot be sampled due to decomposition, injuries or burns. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether measurements of heroin metabolites in matrices other than peripheral blood can be used to differentiate between rapid and delayed heroin deaths, and if morphine/codeine ratios measured in other matrices can separate heroin from codeine intakes.MethodsIn this study, we included 51 forensic autopsy cases where morphine was detected in peripheral blood. Samples were collected from peripheral and cardiac blood, pericardial fluid, psoas and lateral vastus muscles, vitreous humor and urine. The opioid analysis included 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM), morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G), morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G) and codeine. Urine was only used for qualitative detection of 6-AM. 45 heroin-intake cases were divided into rapid deaths (n = 24), based on the detection of 6-AM in blood, or delayed deaths (n = 21), where 6-AM was detected in at least one other matrix but not in blood. An additional 6 cases were classified as codeine-intake cases, based on a morphine/codeine ratio below unity (
  • Stability of amphetamine impurity profiles during 12 months of storage
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Louise Stride Nielsen, Palle Villesen, Christian LindholstAbstractImpurity profiling is a well described forensic tool that may be applied to gain information about the illegal drug market. However, it requires experience to assess the correlation between chemical profiles thereby separating linked from unlinked samples. One of the challenges in this context is that the chemical profiles may change over time, thus complicating an assessment if samples are stored under different conditions. In this study, the impact of different storage conditions on the stability of amphetamine impurity profiles was investigated. We examined the influence of storage time, temperature, sample purity, sample quantity and the presence of methanol on the amphetamine profile stability when stored for up to 12 months.We find that the target compounds in amphetamine impurity profiles are susceptible to all the examined storage conditions. Consequently, this unstable nature of amphetamine profiles may complicate the assessment when comparing amphetamine seizures that has been separated for longer time periods or stored under different conditions prior to seizure. Knowledge about the seizure history is rarely available to the forensic analyst. Therefore, sample stability issues should be taken into account when comparisons of chemical profiles are made.
  • Study of the in vitro and in vivo metabolism of 4-HO-MET
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Pia Simona Bruni, Katharina Elisabeth Grafinger, Susanne Nussbaumer, Stefan König, Stefan Schürch, Wolfgang WeinmannAbstract4-Hydroxy-N-methyl-N-ethyltryptamine (4-HO-MET) is a new psychoactive substance (NPS) of the chemical class of tryptamines. It shows structural similarities to the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin, and is a serotonergic hallucinogen, affecting emotional, motoric, and cognitive functions. The knowledge about its biotransformation is mandatory to confirm the abuse of the substance by urine analysis in forensic cases. Therefore, phase I metabolites were generated by the use of the pooled human liver microsomes (pHLM) in vitro model and analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry with information-dependent acquisition (HPLC-IDA-HR-MS/MS). Furthermore, three authentic urine samples was analyzed and results were compared: 12 different in vitro and 4 in vivo metabolites were found. The predominant biotransformation steps observed in vitro were mono- or dihydroxylation of 4-HO-MET, besides demethylation, demethylation in combination with monohydroxylation, formation of a carboxylic acid, deethylation, and oxidative deamination. In vivo, monohydroxylation, and glucuronidation were detected. A metabolic pathway based on these results was proposed.For the analysis of urine samples in forensic cases, the N-oxide metabolite and the HO-alkyl metabolite are recommended as target compounds, besides the glucuronides of 4-HO-MET and the parent compound 4-HO-MET itself.
  • Sexual Dimorphism of the First Deciduous Molar: A Geometric Morphometric
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 July 2018Source: Forensic Science InternationalAuthor(s): Sandra López-Lázaro, Inmaculada Alemán, Joan Viciano, Javier Irurita, Miguel C. BotellaAbstractEstimating the sex of immature skeletal remains is important when reconstructing the biological profile of unknown individuals in anthropological practice. Teeth have a distinct importance as they are the most frequently recovered physical elements of an individual. They persist after death due to their hardness and resistance to postmortem insults. The aim of this study was to analyse the sexual dimorphism of the occlusal surface of the first deciduous molar using geometric morphometric techniques. This study evaluated 38 first maxillary deciduous molars (21 males, 17 females) and 30 first mandibular deciduous molars (15 males, 15 females) from the Granada osteological collection of identified subadults (Granada, Spain). The landmark and semilandmark coordinates were analysed by principal components analysis, canonical variate analysis and discriminant analysis. Only the first maxillary deciduous molar showed a significant sexual dimorphism, with cross-validation values for shape variables of 93.23% for males and 83.17% for females, and 100% for males and 87.50% for females when both shape and size variables were considered. Despite there being acceptable cross-validation classification for the first mandibular deciduous molar (82.35% for males and 92.31% for females for shape variables and 82.35% for males and 92.31% for females for shape and size variables), no significant differences indicating sexual dimorphism were identified. The results show that the first upper deciduous molar can assist in sex estimation, and that geometric morphometric analysis is a suitable technique to answer questions related to shape that cannot be observed with the naked eye.
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