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Journal Cover Journal of Forensic Sciences
  [SJR: 0.896]   [H-I: 73]   [441 followers]  Follow
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 0022-1198 - ISSN (Online) 1556-4029
   Published by John Wiley and Sons Homepage  [1580 journals]
  • A Validation Study of the Langley et al. (2017) Decision Tree Model for
           Sex Estimation
    • Abstract: Langley et al. (2017) developed a sex estimation decision tree utilizing two traditional cranial traits (glabella and mastoid) and a new trait: zygomatic extension. This study aimed to test the reliability of their zygomatic extension scoring method and validate their sex estimation method. Ordinal score data were collected from 281 male and female U.S. White and Black individuals. The five traditional cranial traits were collected from physical specimens, while zygomatic extension was scored from 3D cranial models. Intra‐ and interobserver analyses carried out on a subsample of 30 individuals indicate good agreement between zygomatic scores. The decision tree correctly sexed 71.5% of the sample, but a strong sex bias (94.2% correct for females, 49.3% correct for males) severely limits the utility of this method. The Walker (2008) and Stevenson et al. (2009) methods produced higher accuracy rates (80.8% and 82.6%, respectively), although these methods also produced sex and ancestry biases.
  • The Pharmacokinetics of Morphine and Codeine in Human Plasma and Urine
           after Oral Administration of Qiangli Pipa Syrup
    • Abstract: Papaveris pericarpium, a natural source of morphine and codeine, is the principal active component in many antitussive traditional Chinese medicines. We herein report the first PK study of papaveris pericarpium in human plasma and urine following oral administration of single (15, 30, 60 mL) and multiple dose (15 mL) of Qiangli Pipa Syrup (MOR 0.1 mg/mL, COD 0.028 mg/mL) by monitoring morphine and codeine using a HPLC‐MS/MS method. Their Tmax and t1/2 values are independent of dosages, while the AUC0−t linearly increased with higher dosages, indicating linear PK characteristics. AUC0−t increased obviously after multiple doses, indicating possible risk of accumulative toxicity. Urine studies suggested risks of positive opiate drug tests with a cutoff of 300 ng/mL, which lasted 6–14 h at different doses. These results provide important information for clinical safety, efficacy and rational drug use of Qiangli Pipa Syrup and also guide the related judicial expertise of its administration.
  • Bioelectrical Impedance as a Technique for Estimating Postmortem
    • Abstract: Estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) is a critical component of death investigation. A cadaver can be hypothesized to be a resistor–capacitor (RC) circuit the impedance (Z) of which changes in a quantifiable manner as the cadaver decomposes. This hypothesis was tested using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) equipment to apply a current with a fixed amplitude at a single frequency to four cadavers over time and measuring two components of Z, resistance (R) and reactance (Xc). Quadratic regression analysis between Z and accumulated degree days (ADD) showed a statistically significant parabolic relationship. The parabolic relationship poses an initial challenge to the use of the method, and additional research is needed to address this issue. However, the results of the reported research support the hypothesis that Z measured using BIA has a relationship to PMI.
  • Location of Artifacts Deposited by the Blow Fly Lucilia cuprina After
           Feeding on Human Blood at Simulated Indoor Crime Scenes
    • Abstract: Human DNA profiles can be obtained from fly artifacts (feces and regurgitant) when a fly has been feeding on biological material, sometimes 2 years after deposition. Morphological similarity between artifacts and spots of unaltered biological material make it difficult to distinguish between them, and presumptive and confirmatory forensic tests are unreliable in making the distinction. Knowing possible artifact locations will assist investigators in recognizing where DNA contamination might occur. Flies were released into a house with human blood available under a variety of different climatic and lighting conditions. The location of flies and artifacts was recorded after 72 h. It was found flies may move toward warm or well‐lit areas and deposit artifacts there, but artifacts were predominantly located around food sources and were often found in low positions. Factors such as ambient temperature, and the proximity of light and food sources, had an impact on where artifacts were deposited.
  • The Effect of Alcohol‐Based Hand Sanitizer Vapors on Evidential
           Breath Alcohol Test Results
    • Abstract: This study was undertaken to determine if the application of alcohol‐based hand sanitizers (ABHSs) to the hands of a breath test operator will affect the results obtained on evidential breath alcohol instruments (EBTs). This study obtained breath samples on three different EBTs immediately after application of either gel or foam ABHS to the operator's hands. A small, but significant, number of initial analyses (13 of 130, 10%) resulted in positive breath alcohol concentrations, while 41 samples (31.5%) resulted in a status code. These status codes were caused by ethanol vapors either in the room air or their inhalation by the subject, thereby causing a mouth alcohol effect. Replicate subject samples did not yield any consecutive positive numeric results. As ABHS application can cause a transitory mouth alcohol effect via inhalation of ABHS vapors, EBT operators should forego the use of ABHS in the 15 min preceding subject testing.
  • Certifying Death in the United States
    • Abstract: Accurately identifying death and its causes is integral to the compilation of mortality data and ultimately to the operation of the criminal justice and public health systems. A clear understanding of who is in charge of such processes is paramount to establishing the quality, or lack thereof, of the information provided in death certificates. Our study provides a comprehensive overview of all state statutes identifying death investigators charged with classifying and certifying death in the United States. We found that state statutes designate a broad range of individuals as responsible for the classification and certification of death. Those vary by state and set of circumstances and can include medical examiners, coroners, pathologists, other physicians, registered nurses, and more. Our findings highlight the important need for a unified standard of qualifications in the medico‐legal system, as well as, regulatory reform at the state level regarding who can complete and sign death certificates.
  • Correcting the Count: Improving Vital Statistics Data Regarding Deaths
           Related to Obesity
    • Abstract: Obesity can involve any organ system and compromise the overall health of an individual, including premature death. Despite the increased risk of death associated with being obese, obesity itself is infrequently indicated on the death certificate. We performed an audit of our records to identify how often “obesity” was listed on the death certificate to determine how our practices affected national mortality data collection regarding obesity‐related mortality. During the span of nearly 25 years, 0.2% of deaths were attributed to or contributed by obesity. Over the course of 5 years, 96% of selected natural deaths were likely underreported as being associated with obesity. We present an algorithm for certifiers to use to determine whether obesity should be listed on the death certificate and guidelines for certifying cases in which this is appropriate. Use of this algorithm will improve vital statistics concerning the role of obesity in causing or contributing to death.
  • Effect of Sterilants on Amplification and Detection of Target DNA from
           Bacillus cereus Spores
    • Abstract: To conceal criminal activity of a bioterrorist or agroterrorist, the site of pathogen generation is often treated with sterilants to kill the organisms and remove evidence. As dead organisms cannot be analyzed by culture, this study examined whether DNA from sterilant‐treated Bacillus cereus spores was viable for amplification. The spores were exposed to five common sterilants: bleach, Sterilox®, oxidizer foam (L‐Gel), a peroxyacid (Actril®), and formaldehyde vapor. The spores were inoculated on typical surfaces found in offices and laboratories to test for environmental effects. It was found that the surface influenced the efficiency of recovery of the organisms. The DNA isolated from the recovered spores was successfully detected using RT‐qPCR for all treatments except for formaldehyde, by amplifying the phosphatidylinositol phospholipase C and sphingomyelinase genes. The results demonstrated that evidence from sites treated with sterilants can still provide information on the uncultured organism, using DNA amplification.
  • A Computational Framework for Age‐at‐Death Estimation from the
           Skeleton: Surface and Outline Analysis of 3D Laser Scans of the Adult
           Pubic Symphysis
    • Abstract: In forensic anthropology, age‐at‐death estimation typically requires the macroscopic assessment of the skeletal indicator and its association with a phase or score. High subjectivity and error are the recognized disadvantages of this approach, creating a need for alternative tools that enable the objective and mathematically robust assessment of true chronological age. We describe, here, three fully computational, quantitative shape analysis methods and a combinatory approach that make use of three‐dimensional laser scans of the pubic symphysis. We report a novel age‐related shape measure, focusing on the changes observed in the ventral margin curvature, and refine two former methods, whose measures capture the flatness of the symphyseal surface. We show how we can decrease age‐estimation error and improve prior results by combining these outline and surface measures in two multivariate regression models. The presented models produce objective age‐estimates that are comparable to current practices with root‐mean‐square‐errors between 13.7 and 16.5 years.
  • Characteristics of Bone Injuries Resulting from Knife Wounds Incised with
           Different Forces
    • Abstract: The aim of this research was to experimentally determine the characteristics of incised bone wounds, which are commonly found in defense injuries. A specially constructed pivoting arm device was used to inflict wounds with controlled forces and direction. Five knives were selected to inflict the wounds on porcine forelimbs. Eight incised wounds were made per knife per force. A larger knife and a greater force caused longer and wider bone wounds. Comparisons of individual knives at the two forces produced varying results in the bone wounds. A correlation was seen between the force and the length (r = 0.69), width (r = 0.63), and depth (r = 0.57) of bone wounds. Serrated‐edge and nonserrated knives can be distinguished from the appearance of the wound. The outcomes may be applicable in forensic investigations to ascertain the forces associated with incised wounds and identify the specific knife used.
  • Using Carbon, Oxygen, Strontium, and Lead Isotopes in Modern Human Teeth
           for Forensic Investigations: A Critical Overview Based on Data from
    • Abstract: Isotopic data obtained from human remains can provide information about an individual's origin, migration, and diet. We evaluate the usefulness of carbon, oxygen, strontium, and lead isotopes for forensic investigations by comparing data from Bulgarian teeth with data from other regions. Geo‐referencing based on oxygen or strontium isotopes can be misleading due to overlap with other countries in Europe and other continents. Carbon and lead isotopes, in combination with oxygen and strontium isotopes, provide the most useful information for identification of local vs foreigner status. In particular, high‐precision Pb isotopes show a distinct “Bulgarian” range; however, it is possible that individuals from other countries in Eastern Europe and/or central to western Asia could have overlapping isotopic values. Additional high‐precision multi‐isotope data from modern humans from different regions in the world are required to transition from speculative to more quantitative estimation of a geographical place of origin for unidentified human remains.
  • Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Relationship Between the Alar Cartilage
           and Piriform Aperture
    • Abstract: During forensic facial reconstruction, facial features may be predicted based on the parameters of the skull. This study evaluated the relationships between alar cartilage and piriform aperture and nose morphology and facial typology. Ninety‐six cone beam computed tomography images of Brazilian subjects (49 males and 47 females) were used in this study. OsiriX software was used to perform the following measurements: nasal width, distance between alar base insertion points, lower width of the piriform aperture, and upper width of the piriform aperture. Nasal width was associated with the lower width of the piriform aperture, sex, skeletal vertical pattern of the face, and age. The current study contributes to the improvement of forensic facial guides by identifying the relationships between the alar cartilages and characteristics of the biological profile of members of a population that has been little studied thus far.
  • Effects of Re‐heating Tissue Samples to Core Body Temperature on
           High‐Velocity Ballistic Projectile–tissue Interactions
    • Abstract: Damage produced by high‐speed projectiles on organic tissue will depend on the physical properties of the tissues. Conditioning organic tissue samples to human core body temperature (37°C) prior to conducting ballistic experiments enables their behavior to closely mimic that of living tissues. To minimize autolytic changes after death, the tissues are refrigerated soon after their removal from the body and re‐heated to 37°C prior to testing. This research investigates whether heating 50‐mm‐cube samples of porcine liver, kidney, and heart to 37°C for varying durations (maximum 7 h) can affect the penetration response of a high‐speed, steel sphere projectile. Longer conditioning times for heart and liver resulted in a slight loss of velocity/energy of the projectile, but the reverse effect occurred for the kidney. Possible reasons for these trends include autolytic changes causing softening (heart and liver) and dehydration causing an increase in density (kidney).
  • Characterization and Differentiation of Geometric Isomers of
           3‐methylfentanyl Analogs by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, Liquid
           Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
    • Abstract: The cis and trans isomers of 3‐methylfentanyl and its three analogs were chemically synthesized, and these compounds were characterized and differentiated by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The cis and trans isomers of the 3‐methylfentanyl analogs were completely separated by GC/MS. Although the high temperature of the GC injection port caused thermal degradation of β‐hydroxy‐3‐methylfentanyl, the degradation was completely suppressed by trimethylsilyl derivatization. The isomers were also well separated by LC/MS on an octadecylsilyl column with 10 mM ammonium acetate and methanol as the mobile phase. The proton NMR signals were split when the hydrochloride salts of the 3‐methylfentanyl analogs were dissolved in deuterated chloroform because stereoisomers were formed by the coordination of the hydrochloride proton to the nitrogen of the piperidine ring of the 3‐methylfentanyl analogs.
  • Using Cluster Analysis and ICP‐MS to Identify Groups of Ecstasy Tablets
           in Sao Paulo State, Brazil
    • Abstract: The variations found in the elemental composition in ecstasy samples result in spectral profiles with useful information for data analysis, and cluster analysis of these profiles can help uncover different categories of the drug. We provide a cluster analysis of ecstasy tablets based on their elemental composition. Twenty‐five elements were determined by ICP‐MS in tablets apprehended by Sao Paulo's State Police, Brazil. We employ the K‐means clustering algorithm along with C4.5 decision tree to help us interpret the clustering results. We found a better number of two clusters within the data, which can refer to the approximated number of sources of the drug which supply the cities of seizures. The C4.5 model was capable of differentiating the ecstasy samples from the two clusters with high prediction accuracy using the leave‐one‐out cross‐validation. The model used only Nd, Ni, and Pb concentration values in the classification of the samples.
  • Trends in Officer‐involved Firearm Deaths in Oklahoma from 2000 to
    • Abstract: The purpose of this study was to collect data and disseminate trends in officer‐involved firearm deaths in Oklahoma from 2000 to 2015. The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) database was searched for civilian decedents with gunshot wounds inflicted by law enforcement officers and officer decedents with gunshot wounds inflicted by civilians. Five decedents were law enforcement officers, while 274 decedents were civilians. The number of civilian decedents throughout the study followed a quadratic trend. Civilian decedents were most commonly males (95%) between the ages of 20 and 39 (64%), had one or two gunshot wounds (46%), and had an increasing number of gunshot wounds over time. Postmortem toxicology testing most commonly detected ethanol, methamphetamine, cocaine, and PCP. Efforts toward increased tracking by various agencies and more scientific studies like this are needed to facilitate future analysis of trends in officer‐involved firearm deaths.
  • Forensic Considerations in Cases of Myotonic Dystrophy at Autopsy
    • Abstract: Myotonic dystrophy (DM) is a chronic, slowly progressive, autosomal‐dominant disorder with delayed muscle relaxation after contraction, distal skeletal muscle weakness, and atrophy. It has a reduced life expectancy due predominantly to respiratory failure or sudden cardiac death. The mortality rate is approximately 7.3 times greater than the general population with a mean age at death of 53 years. Degeneration of the cardiac conduction system causes atrioventricular block, arrhythmias, and ventricular failure. A case of sudden death in a 44‐year‐old woman with DM type 1 is reported to demonstrate an alternative lethal mechanism. At autopsy, there was extensive infiltration of skeletal muscles with adipose tissue. The heart was structurally normal. A deep venous thrombosis of the right calf was identified with a large saddle pulmonary thromboembolus and bilateral peripheral thromboemboli. DM1‐related thrombosis had most likely occurred because of the decedent's impaired mobility, possible hypercoagulable state, and serum changes from muscle necrosis.
  • Effect of History and Context on Forensic Pathologist Interpretation of
           Photographs of Patterned Injury of the Skin
    • Abstract: In a previous study, a survey‐based analysis of pathologist diagnoses of patterned injury was performed. Subjects were provided with photographs of “classic” injuries and asked to diagnose the lesion in the absence of history or context. There was a relatively low diagnostic consensus among respondents. A second survey suggested that the disparate answers were not due to a strong belief in different diagnoses, but instead reflected how the respondents dealt with ambiguity. A third survey was created that asked participants to evaluate patterned injuries of the skin, but provided history and contextual information. The addition of history and contextual information increased consensus from a median of 80% to 98% on a per‐question basis. Confidence increased from a median of 56%–92%. These results demonstrate the importance of history and context in medical diagnosis of patterned injuries of the skin.
  • Unnatural and Violent Death in Cases with High Blood Alcohol
           Concentration— Autopsy Study
    • Abstract: The use of alcohol increases the risk of dying from unnatural or violent causes. The presented study explored the distribution of age, gender, cause, and circumstances of death in persons who died in an unnatural and violent manner, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than 0.3 g/dL, and where the cause of death was not alcohol intoxication. We defined the control (0 < BAC < 0.3 g/dL) and study (BAC ≥ 0.3 g/dL) groups, as in subjects with these concentrations, there is a significant risk of gross intoxication, stupor, and death. The subjects from the study group were older, with no difference in gender distribution. Traffic accidents were the most common fatal event in both groups, followed by suicides. Other accidents (choking on food and exposure to fire) were more frequent in the study group. Compared to the control group, subjects from the study group were older persons whose deaths were mainly accidental.
  • Manifestations and Medicolegal Significance of Loeys–Dietz Syndrome
    • Abstract: Loeys–Dietz syndrome is a recently described autosomal dominant disorder with underlying vasculopathy characterized by aortic and other vascular aneurysmal dissection/rupture. A 61‐year‐old man is reported who died suddenly and unexpectedly and at autopsy was found to have a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. Additional findings included dolichostenomelia, high‐arched palate, and pectus excavatum. There was a strong family history of Loeys–Dietz syndrome, although the decedent had never been tested. Death was, therefore, due to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm in a case of probable Loeys–Dietz syndrome. Although Loeys–Dietz syndrome shares common characteristics with Marfan and other connective tissue syndromes, it is a distinct entity with a much more aggressive clinical course. Lethal events may not occur until later adult life; however, the identification of the syndrome and differentiation from other connective tissue disorders at autopsy is important so that genetic investigation of close relatives can be undertaken with prophylactic surgical treatment if necessary.
  • Human Electrical Muscular Incapacitation and Effects on QTc Interval
    • Abstract: Human Electrical Muscular Incapacitation (HEMI) is used to subdue combative individuals. Changes in cardiac electrical activity have been proposed as the cause of death in a small fraction of these individuals. The current study sought to determine whether changes in QTc interval occur after HEMI exposure. Twenty‐four participants had EKG readings before a 5‐second HEMI exposure and within 30 min after exposure. All subject EKGs were read by a data‐blinded cardiac electrophysiologist who calculated a QT corrected (QTc) interval. QTc interval was calculated using Bazett method. QTc prolongation was defined as >430 ms and a threshold of 30 ms for identifying QTc lengthening. Five participants experienced QTc prolongation and six had QTc lengthening. One participant developed QTc prolongation exceeding 500 ms, which carries a risk of developing multifocal ventricular tachycardia. These results suggest that HEMI exposure may cause EKG changes with a risk of ventricular tachycardia.
  • How Media Exposure Relates to Laypersons’ Understanding of
    • Abstract: While conceptualization of psychopathy has evolved, so too has the public's relationship with psychology changed. Concurrently, portrayal of psychopaths has made several shifts, both through nonfiction sources and in popular film and television. Psychopathic villains of the mid‐20th century have made space for a growing cast of protagonist psychopaths. This study examined whether a relationship existed between exposure to fictional psychopaths and how lay individuals conceptualize psychopathy. Specifically, this study explored conceptualization differences based on exposure to antagonist versus protagonist fictional psychopaths. Surveyed community participants supported earlier research suggesting mixed misunderstanding of psychopathy. Additionally, higher exposure to protagonist psychopaths was associated with higher endorsement of flattering distractor traits, reflecting a kind of romanticized psychopathy. These findings have legal, practical, and ethical implications, including the potential for biased jurors, confounded research about psychopathy's labeling effect, and questions about how psychologists should respond on an individual and systemic level.
  • Diagnosing Crime and Diagnosing Disease: Bias Reduction Strategies in the
           Forensic and Clinical Sciences
    • Abstract: Cognitive effort is an essential part of both forensic and clinical decision‐making. Errors occur in both fields because the cognitive process is complex and prone to bias. We performed a selective review of full‐text English language literature on cognitive bias leading to diagnostic and forensic errors. Earlier work (1970–2000) concentrated on classifying and raising bias awareness. Recently (2000–2016), the emphasis has shifted toward strategies for “debiasing.” While the forensic sciences have focused on the control of misleading contextual cues, clinical debiasing efforts have relied on checklists and hypothetical scenarios. No single generally applicable and effective bias reduction strategy has emerged so far. Generalized attempts at bias elimination have not been particularly successful. It is time to shift focus to the study of errors within specific domains, and how to best communicate uncertainty in order to improve decision making on the part of both the expert and the trier‐of‐fact.
  • A Preliminary Study on Sources of Banding Artifacts for the Identification
           of Monochromatic Laser Printers,
    • Abstract: The analysis of questioned documents printed with monochromatic toner has been a great challenge to document examiners. Banding artifacts, which are often perceived in the outputs of laser printers, could be a solution to the identification of printers. In this study, sources other than the gear transmission errors were discovered for some primary banding frequency components. By detecting the angular velocity variation of photosensitive drums and other rotating parts of the tested printers and comparing them with the banding signals extracted from the printouts, the authors located the sources of banding frequency components. It was shown that the sources of some primary and persistent banding signals, which were previously unknown, were traced to the periodic velocity variations of the motors or the timing belts. As inherent signatures, banding artifacts could be promising features for discriminating documents printed by individual laser printers.
  • Quantification of Methamphetamine in Mouse Thighbones Buried in Soil
    • Abstract: Bone samples are used for analysis of drugs in decomposed or skeletonized bodies. Toxicological analyses of buried bones are important for determining the causes and circumstances of death. In this study, methamphetamine and amphetamine concentrations in heart blood, thigh muscles, and thighbones were analyzed using solid‐phase extraction with liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Methamphetamine concentrations in heart blood, thigh muscle, and thighbone ranged from 0.041 to 0.873 μg/mL, 0.649 to 2.623 μg/g, and 56.543 to 643.371 μg/g, respectively. Thighbone concentrations were significantly higher than those in heart blood or thigh muscles were. Methamphetamine concentrations in buried thighbone (4.010–45.785 μg/g) were significantly lower than those of unburied thighbones were (56.543–643.371 μg/g). Methamphetamine and amphetamine were detected in thighbones buried for 7–180 days. These findings indicate that the methamphetamine concentrations in bone are higher and decrease after burial in soil.
  • Site‐, Technique‐, and Time‐Related Aspects of the Postmortem
           Redistribution of Diazepam, Methadone, Morphine, and their Metabolites:
           Interest of Popliteal Vein Blood Sampling
    • Abstract: Sampling site, technique, and time influence postmortem drug concentrations. In 57 cases, we studied drug concentration differences as follows: subclavian vein‐dissection/clamping versus blind stick, femoral vein‐dissection/clamping versus blind stick, right cardiac chamber, and popliteal vein‐dissection and clamping only. Cases were distributed in group #1 (all cases with both techniques), group #2 (dissection/clamping), and group #3 (blind stick). Sampled drugs were diazepam, methadone, morphine, and their metabolites. To assess PMR, mean concentrations and ratios were calculated for each group. Time‐dependent variations of blood concentrations and ratios were also assessed. Results indicate that site, method, and time may influence postmortem distribution interpretation in different ways. Popliteal blood seems less subject to PMR. In conclusion, our study is the first to evaluate concurrently three main aspects of PMR and confirms that the popliteal vein may represent a site that is more resistant to the changes seen as a result of PMR.
  • Ancestral Variation in Orbital Rim Shape: A Three‐Dimensional Pilot
    • Abstract: Traditional nonmetric methods of ancestry assessment posit orbital rim shape varies among ancestral groups. This pilot study uses morphometric analysis of 3D orbital variation to test discrimination among individuals of primarily European, African, and Asian ancestry. Although the size and nature of the sample analyzed limit inferences for other samples, principal components analysis suggests ancestry has a significant effect on rim shape (p = 2.93e‐04). European orbits display more marked folding of the orbit in the sagittal plane than either African or Asian orbits, while the lateral margin of African orbits lies further posterior relative to the medial margin when compared to Asian orbits. The findings suggest curviplanar relationships are the most ancestrally informative aspect of orbital rim shape; these relationships may be distorted by perspective based on orientation of the skull relative to the viewer in traditional nonmetric analyses. Additional studies on geometric morphometric approaches to ancestry assessment are therefore warranted.
  • Sex Assessment from the Volume of the First Metatarsal Bone: A Comparison
           of Linear and Volume Measurements
    • Abstract: Sexual dimorphism is a crucial characteristic of skeleton. In the last years, volumetric and surface 3D acquisition systems have enabled anthropologists to assess surfaces and volumes, whose potential still needs to be verified. This article aimed at assessing volume and linear parameters of the first metatarsal bone through 3D acquisition by laser scanning. Sixty‐eight skeletons underwent 3D scan through laser scanner: Seven linear measurements and volume from each bone were assessed. A cutoff value of 13,370 mm3 was found, with an accuracy of 80.8%. Linear measurements outperformed volume: metatarsal length and mediolateral width of base showed higher cross‐validated accuracies (respectively, 82.1% and 79.1%, raising at 83.6% when both of them were included). Further studies are needed to verify the real advantage for sex assessment provided by volume measurements.
  • Investigations Into Age‐related Changes in the Human Mandible,
    • Abstract: While changes in mandibular shape over time are not widely recognized by skeletal biologists, mandibular remodeling and associated changes in gross morphology may result from a number of causes related to mechanical stress such as antemortem tooth loss, changes in bite force, or alterations of masticatory performance. This study investigated the relationship between age‐related changes and antemortem tooth loss in adult humans via dry bone measurements. This study examined 10 standard mandibular measurements as well as individual antemortem tooth loss scores using the Eichner Index from a total of 319 female and male individuals with ages ranging from 16 to 99 years. Results indicate that few mandibular measurements exhibited age‐related changes, and most were affected by antemortem tooth loss.
  • Introducing Human Mandible Identification [(hu)MANid]: A Free, Web‐Based
           GUI to Classify Human Mandibles
    • Abstract: Statistical programs have revolutionized the way in which forensic anthropologists conduct casework by allowing practitioners to use computationally complex analytics at the click of a button. Importantly, the products of these statistical programs are reproducible and contain measures of error or uncertainty, thereby strengthening conclusions. This paper is an introduction to (hu)MANid, a free, web‐based application that uses linear and mixture discriminant function analyses to classify human mandibles into one of many worldwide and/or periodic reference groups. The mechanics, development, and use of the application will be discussed. Further, the program was tested against other software to compare model performances and classifications. Total correct classifications among the test cases and programs were identical. Ten mandibles were tested using both statistical procedures. Mixture discriminant analysis improved classification by an average of 9.3% and correctly identified three more mandibles than LDA. Therefore, we believe (hu)MANid will be an asset to the anthropological community.
  • The Effect of Decomposition on the Efficacy of Biometrics for Positive
    • Abstract: Biometrics, unique measurable physiological and behavioral characteristics, are used to identify individuals in a variety of scenarios, including forensic investigations. However, data on the longevity of these indicators are incomplete. This study demonstrated that iris and fingerprint biometric data can be obtained up to four days postmortem in warmer seasons and 50 + days in the winter. It has been generally believed, but never studied, that iris recognition is only obtainable within the first 24 hours after death. However, this study showed that they remain viable for longer (2–34 days) depending upon the environmental conditions. Temperature, precipitation, insects, and scavenger activity were the primary factors affecting the retention of biometrics in decomposing human remains. While this study is an initial step in determining the utility of physiological biometrics across postmortem time, biometric research has the potential to make important contributions to human identification and the law enforcement, military, and medicolegal communities.
  • The Optimization of Electrophoresis on a Glass Microfluidic Chip and its
           Application in Forensic Science
    • Abstract: Microfluidic chips offer significant speed, cost, and sensitivity advantages, but numerous parameters must be optimized to provide microchip electrophoresis detection. Experiments were conducted to study the factors, including sieving matrices (the concentration and type), surface modification, analysis temperature, and electric field strengths, which all impact the effectiveness of microchip electrophoresis detection of DNA samples. Our results showed that the best resolution for ssDNA was observed using 4.5% w/v (7 M urea) lab‐fabricated LPA gel, dynamic wall coating of the microchannel, electrophoresis temperatures between 55 and 60°C, and electrical fields between 350 and 450 V/cm on the microchip‐based capillary electrophoresis (μCE) system. One base‐pair resolution could be achieved in the 19‐cm‐length microchannel. Furthermore, both 9947A standard genomic DNA and DNA extracted from blood spots were demonstrated to be successfully separated with well‐resolved DNA peaks in 8 min. Therefore, the microchip electrophoresis system demonstrated good potential for rapid forensic DNA analysis.
  • Feasibility of Canine Detection of Mass Storage Devices: A Study of
           Volatile Organic Compounds Emanating from Electronic Devices Using Solid
           Phase Microextraction
    • Abstract: Detection of canines are well‐known to be valuable in the location of contraband, such as explosives or narcotics. More recently, canines have been trained and utilized in the detection of concealed mass storage devices that might contain evidence of illegal activity such as child pornography. To lay the analytical foundation for this detection work, research was carried out to determine the volatile organic compounds associated with mass storage devices (MSD) that could be used by trained canines for detection. Headspace analysis of a variety of electronic devices was performed using solid phase microextraction (SPME) with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Analyses found several volatile compounds common to SIM and SD cards, as well as USB drives, including 2‐propenenitrile, styrene, isophorone, hydroxycyclohexyl phenyl ketone, and 2‐furanmethanol, tetrahydro. Results indicated that mass storage devices do have a characteristic odor profile making detection with minimal false alerts feasible for trained canines.
  • Identification of Mobile Phone and Analysis of Original Version of Videos
           through a Delay Time Analysis of Sound Signals from Mobile Phone Videos
    • Abstract: This study designs a method of identifying the camera model used to take videos that are distributed through mobile phones and determines the original version of the mobile phone video for use as legal evidence. For this analysis, an experiment was conducted to find the unique characteristics of each mobile phone. The videos recorded by mobile phones were analyzed to establish the delay time of sound signals, and the differences between the delay times of sound signals for different mobile phones were traced by classifying their characteristics. Furthermore, the sound input signals for mobile phone videos used as legal evidence were analyzed to ascertain whether they have the unique characteristics of the original version. The objective of this study was to find a method for validating the use of mobile phone videos as legal evidence using mobile phones through differences in the delay times of sound input signals.
  • A Comparison of US and Japanese Dental Restorative Care Present on Service
           Members Recovered from the WWII Era
    • Abstract: The documentation of dental materials used in the USA during the WWII era is readily available, while references for the Japanese are minimal. It was therefore important to build a photographic database of Japanese restorative care which could be utilized as a comparison tool for the deployed odontologist. The dental restorative care of approximately 400 US and 100 Japanese sets of remains was evaluated. Both countries share many similar restorative techniques to include collared crowns, full‐coverage restorations, cantilever bridge/pontics to close spaces; restorative materials such as amalgam, gold, and zinc phosphate (temporary) restorations; and removable prostheses. The dental restorative materials most commonly used by US dentists include the amalgam and silicate cement, while the full‐coverage crown was the type of restoration most frequently seen on the Japanese remains. Silicates, porcelain and replaceable crowns, and partial‐coverage prepared crowns were not observed on the recovered Japanese remains.
  • Increased Lung Weights in Drug‐related Fatalities
    • Abstract: This study is of autopsy data for potential validation as to whether increased weights of the lungs support toxic effects of drugs as the cause of death. This retrospective study compared data from 133 deaths resulting from the toxic effects of drugs with previously reported normal lung weights (Toxicol Mech Methods, 22, 2012, 159; Am J Forensic Med Pathol 33, 2012, 368). The lung weights and their standard errors were used in a two‐sample independent t‐test comparing the average drug‐related death weight to the average control weights. To account for multiple comparisons, a Bonferroni‐adjusted alpha level of 0.0125 was used. We are 98.75% confident that the mean right lung weight for female drug‐related deaths is between 227 and 377 g greater than the mean right lung weight for female non‐drug‐related deaths. We are 98.75% confident that the mean right lung weight for male drug‐related deaths is between 245 and 378 g greater than the mean right lung weight for male non‐drug‐related deaths.
  • Abrasion Collar Around Shrapnel Entry Wound
    • Abstract: Abrasion collar is usually described as a feature of bullet entry wounds caused by friction and indentation. The present case is that of the peculiar entry wound caused by a piece of flying shrapnel which was ejected from a furnace in a steel plant. The scrap metal which exploded in the plant was sourced from the West Asia region. The entry wound on the chest was circular and had an abrasion collar around it. The projectile was a cylindrical object of obscure origin. The forensic science laboratory put forth the possibility that the projectile was a component of an artillery fuze. A decades old study which employed high‐speed photography has rejected the possibility that abrasion collars are produced by friction. High‐velocity projectiles other than bullets can also produce abrasion collars as the rubbing of the bullet against the skin or its rotation are not the causative mechanisms.
  • The Diagnostic Value of Quantitative Assessment of Diatom Test for
           Drowning: An Analysis of 128 Water‐related Death Cases using Microwave
           Digestion‐Vacuum Filtration‐Automated Scanning Electron Microscopy
    • Abstract: The value of diatom test for the diagnosis of drowning remains controversial. The conventional forensic diatom test with low sensitivity is not a useful tool to provide accurate information about diatom in the tissues and organs. To improve the sensitivity of the diatom test, we developed a novel method called the Microwave Digestion‐Vacuum Filtration‐Automated Scanning Electron Microscopy (MD‐VF‐Auto SEM) method which resulted in a high recovery of diatoms. In this article, we analyzed 128 water‐related death cases. Our results showed that the MD‐VF‐Auto SEM method could achieve a much higher positive rate (0.97) in drowning cases. Large amounts of diatoms are retained, even concentrated, in the lung tissues during the intense breathing movement in drowning process. This might be useful for the diagnosis of drowning. Our research indicates that the MD‐VF‐Auto SEM method would be a valuable methodology in the study of diatom test for the forensic community.
  • Lone‐actor Terrorism and Impulsivity
    • Abstract: In some recent cases of lone‐actor terrorism, there is evidence the subject acted impulsively, often in response to a triggering event which contained a loss and humiliation. Evidence suggests the subjects acted precipitously, despite planning and preparation carried out in the preceding weeks or months, and their attacks failed to include the often considerable preparation that had been done. The pathway became a runway. The authors recommend the traditional assessment of impulsivity in persons of concern for lone acts of terrorism, as well as other proximal warning behaviors for targeted violence. Both indirect and direct assessment guidelines are proposed, with an emphasis upon self‐report, psychological testing, collateral data gathering, and historical records.
  • Skeletal Indicators of Shark Feeding on Human Remains: Evidence from
           Florida Forensic Anthropology Cases
    • Abstract: This research examines a series of six Florida forensic anthropology cases that exhibit taphonomic evidence of marine deposition and shark‐feeding activities. In each case, we analyzed patterns of trauma/damage on the skeletal remains (e.g., sharp‐force bone gouges and punctures) and possible mechanisms by which they were inflicted during shark predation/scavenging. In some cases, shark teeth were embedded in the remains; in the absence of this evidence, we measured interdental distance from defects in the bone to estimate shark body length, as well as to draw inferences about the potential species responsible. We discuss similarities and differences among the cases and make comparisons to literature documenting diagnostic shark‐inflicted damage to human remains from nearby regions. We find that the majority of cases potentially involve bull or tiger sharks scavenging the remains of previously deceased, adult male individuals. This scavenging results in a distinctive taphonomic signature including incised gouges in cortical bone.
  • Radiopaque Images Resembling Obturated Root Canals,
    • Abstract: The practice of endodontics, while not as common as today, was performed during the WWII era. Some of the materials used to fill canals during this time period include gutta‐percha, calcium hydroxide, gold foil, and silver points. In this case study, fissures and fractures were present on the exposed root surfaces of the dental remains. Radiographs of the dental remains revealed canal systems similar to those obturated with a paste or semi‐solid material. The root surface defects appear to be the access point for the radiopaque material. As demonstrated in the case presentation, the radiographic image suggestive of a treated canal may easily mislead the analyst. The analyst should be suspicious of a radiopaque artifact if no evidence of access is apparent and fissures/fractures are present on the root surfaces. The defects in the tooth structure may possibly be explained by the exposure to a wet or damp environment.
  • Coexistence of Subdural Hematoma and a Rare Cardiopathy in an Infant:
           Etiological and French Medicolegal Discussion
    • Abstract: During legal proceedings following the unexpected death of an infant, the magistrate calls on an expert to clarify the causes of death and to decide on the course to be taken. A report was made following the death of a 7‐month‐old baby girl after recovery from cardiac arrest when investigations of the cause revealed a subdural hematoma (SDH). We discuss the interconnection of these two entities and their role in the lethal process. In this infant, two distinct lesions with medicolegal implications were simultaneously present: on the one hand histiocytoid cardiopathy, and on the other hand SDH, which could result from ill‐treatment. The case of this infant reminds us that the role of the pediatrician is to report the suspicion, whereas the role of the medical expert is to inform the magistrate as to the reality of abuse and its implication in the lethal process.
  • An Unexpected Finding in SUDEP Involving a Child: Focal Myocardial Infarct
           Adjacent to Bundle of His
    • Abstract: Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is a nontraumatic, nondrowning death of an individual with epilepsy in which an autopsy with appropriate ancillary studies does not identify a cause of death. The mechanism of death in SUDEP is unknown, but is thought to involve cardiac and/or respiratory mechanisms. Research in SUDEP is hindered by a lack of consensus regarding required components of a death investigation before a cause of death may be certified as SUDEP. Histopathologic examination of the cardiac conduction system is not routinely performed in SUDEP death investigations. We present a case of SUDEP where histopathologic examination of the cardiac conduction system revealed a focal myocardial infarct of the summit of the ventricular septum abutting the bundle of His, which potentially provides insight into the mechanism of SUDEP for this particular case, and suggests that routine examination of the cardiac conduction system in SUDEP may be beneficial.
  • A Case of Insect Colonization Before the Death
    • Abstract: Forensic entomology is a branch of forensic science in which insects are used as evidence in legal investigations relating to humans, domestic animals and wildlife. One of the theoretical pillars on which the discipline is based concerns the fact that flies colonize a body after death. However in cases of myiasis, maggots are present before death, with consequences in the correct estimation of the minimum postmortem interval (mPMI). We report here the case of a woman, largely colonized by fly larvae, who has lain alive in her garden for four days prior to being rescued. Larvae were found on the conjunctivae, the bronchi, the rectum and vagina. The woman's death, two months later, was caused by tetanus. The consequences of myiasis on mPMI estimation are here discussed. In fact, despite she was still alive larvae, indicated and estimated age of 1.5–2.5 days, based on environmental and body temperature.
  • Fatal Folic Acid Toxicity in Humans
    • Abstract: Folic acid is B‐9 vitamin. Folic acid is prescribed commonly for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus, patients under chemotherapy, pernicious anemia and to reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Acute or chronic ingestion of a large dose of folic acid generally manifests as neurological complications, which are reversible. In this present case, a 23‐year‐old pregnant woman committed suicide by consuming folic acid tablets and succumbed to death within 36 h. Postmortem toxicological analysis detected folic acid in viscera. Death following acute consumption of folic acid is rare and has been not reported in the literature, to the best of our knowledge.
  • “Tampering to Death”: A Fatal Codeine Intoxication Due to a Homemade
           Purification of a Medical Formulation
    • Abstract: Many homemade tamper processes of medical codeine formulations are available on selected “forums” on the Internet, where recreational codeine users claim to be able to purify codeine by removing additives, such as acetaminophen, to avoid or limit adverse effects. In this work, it is reported and discussed a fatal case of codeine intoxication. The findings of objects such as jars, filters, and tablets, and amounts of unknown liquid material at the death scene investigation suggested a fatal codeine intoxication after the tampering procedure called “cold water extraction.” Toxicological results obtained from the analysis of both the nonbiological material and the body fluids of the decedent integrated with the information collected at the death scene investigation confirmed the above‐mentioned hypothesis. This report underlines the importance of a tight interconnection between criminalistics and legal medicine to strengthen the identification of the cause of death and the reconstruction of the event.
  • Bupropion Overdose Resulted in a Pharmacobezoar in a Fatal Bupropion
           (Wellbutrin®) Sustained‐release Overdose: Postmortem Distribution of
           Bupropion and its Major Metabolites
    • Abstract: Bupropion (BUP) overdose commonly causes generalized seizures and central nervous system depression. The case of a 28‐year‐old woman who died from a massive lethal overdose with sustained‐release bupropion (Wellbutrin® 300 mg) is herein presented. The autopsy revealed the presence of a pharmacobezoar consisting of at least 40 tablets in the stomach. Determination of bupropion and its active metabolites (hydroxybupropion, threobupropion, erythrobupropion) was achieved by a liquid chromatographic mass spectrometry (LC‐MS/MS) method. Postmortem concentrations for bupropion, hydroxybupropion, threobupropion, and erythrobupropion were obtained in intracranial blood, urine, bile, liver, kidney, and vitreous humor. In this case, intracranial blood level of the parent drug was 1.9 mg/L. Threobupropion was the most abundant metabolite in both blood and urine, 59.3 and 890.6 mg/L. Tissue distribution showed the highest concentration in the liver, 12.3 mg/kg. The 0.8 bupropion concentration ratio vitreous/blood suggested that vitreous could be a valuable specimen for toxicological analysis should postmortem blood be unavailable.
  • Commentary on: Schuman MJ, Hutchins KD. Severe retinal hemorrhages with
           retinoschisis in infants are not pathognomonic for abusive head trauma. J
           Forensic Sci 2017;62(3):807–11.
  • Authors’ Response
  • Commentary on: Gibbons J, Mojica A, Peele M. Human electrical muscular
           incapacitation and effects on QTc interval. J Forensic Sci
 ‐4029.13490. Epub 2017 April 17
  • Authors’ Response
  • Review of: Forensic Anthropology, Advanced Forensic Science Series
  • Temporal Trends in Rainwater Tank Suicides in Rijeka, Croatia—A
           30‐year Study
    • Abstract: Although drowning in rainwater tanks is a generally rare phenomenon, this method for suicide has been observed in parts of Croatia. Review of autopsy records at the University of Rijeka, Croatia, was undertaken from 1987 to 2016 to examine this phenomenon. Of 469 drowning deaths, there were 35 suicides in rainwater tanks (7.5%). Overall drowning deaths showed no temporal trends. In contrast, suicidal drownings in rain water tanks showed a marked decline over the years, with 15 cases in 1987–1991, seven in 1992–1996, six in 1997–2001, six in 2002–2006, one in 2007–2011, and none in 2012–2016. Thus, suicidal drowning cases as a percentage of overall drownings dropped from 18% to zero (p
  • Measuring the Frequency Occurrence of Handwritten Numeral Characteristics
    • Abstract: The premise of this follow‐up sister study to “Measuring the Frequency Occurrence of Handwriting and Handprinting Characteristics” was to collect a representative population sampling of numerals and assess how many participants utilize each of the predetermined characteristics as found in their specimens. A total of 1410 handwriting specimen forms were collected from across the United States and pared to 1025 to obtain a proper representative sample of the U.S. adult population based on the same demographics used in the original 2017 study. This study provides frequency of occurrence proportions and 95% confidence limits for 25 handwritten numeral characteristics. A total of 277 intercharacter pairs of handwritten numeral characteristics were cross‐analyzed for interdependence. The results were that 72.92% of all intercharacter pairs had a coefficient of correlation between −0.2 and +0.2 in this study.
  • Enhanced Visualization of Latent Fingermarks on Rough Aluminum Surfaces
           Using Sequential Au and Zn/ZnS/ZnO Depositions
    • Abstract: Detection and visualization of fingermarks on rough and diffuse surfaces is a relatively challenging task. We succeeded in developing latent fingermarks on scratched and rough aluminum surfaces by sequential deposition of a thin layer of gold followed by one of zinc or zinc‐based compounds on the fingermarks. The best image enhancement was achieved with sequential Au and ZnS depositions. Using this combination, we could enhance the visualization of latent fingermarks aged over 65 days in normal conditions. The optical reflectance from the fingermarks with the deposited layers of metal/dielectric is analyzed as a stratified medium. Significant contrast in the reflectance from the regions of the ridges and the valleys of the fingermark would enhance the visualization. Our results show that the Au and ZnS bi‐layer combination can have a large reflection contrast and improved fingermark visualization at wavelengths corresponding to the green light for specific thickness of ZnS.
  • Use of Xylazine in Drug‐Facilitated Crimes
    • Abstract: Human xylazine poisoning is uncommon. This report describes the use of xylazine for intentional poisoning with criminal intent. Two incidents occurred within 3 weeks: the first involved one victim, and the second involved two victims. The clinical presentations were brief coma, bradycardia, hypotension, and hyperglycemia. The victims recalled having been given a drink from a stranger in a hospital waiting room before loss of consciousness. In the first case, general drug screening by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (MS) revealed xylazine in the gastric contents, but liquid chromatography–tandem MS (LC‐MS/MS) of serum did not. In the second incident, LC‐MS/MS screening of both victims’ urine and serum samples revealed an unknown peak in the total ion chromatograms, which a molecular mass database identified as morantel or xylazine. The latter was confirmed by comparison with a xylazine standard. Based on this report, we suggest that xylazine should be classified as a controlled drug.
  • Child Fatalities in Dammam: A Call for Child Fatality Reviews in Arab
    • Abstract: Identifying children's risk exposure is the first step toward mortality prevention. This retrospective study determined the causes of child fatalities in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Death reports of children and adolescents from 1999 to 2015 (N = 157) were analyzed. Boys represented most cases (69%) and there were two age peaks (1–5 years and 16–18 years). Accidents (typically immersion) defined the main death circumstance (51%) followed by homicide (25%). Only 33% of cases underwent autopsy, and the most common cause of death was head injury (27%) followed by firearm injury. Only one immersion death underwent autopsy. This study revealed important data about the risk exposure of children in Dammam and emphasizes deficient investigative procedures. Child fatality reviews comprise systematic data collection by multidisciplinary teams to determine the true risks toward children in a community. Such teams do not exist in Arab countries; therefore, strategies should be implemented to initiate them.
  • A GIS‐based Quantitative Approach for the Search of Clandestine
           Graves, Italy
    • Abstract: Previous research on the RAG color‐coded prioritization systems for the discovery of clandestine graves has not considered all the factors influencing the burial site choice within a GIS project. The goal of this technical note was to discuss a GIS‐based quantitative approach for the search of clandestine graves. The method is based on cross‐referenced RAG maps with cumulative suitability factors to host a burial, leading to the editing of different search scenarios for ground searches showing high‐(Red), medium‐(Amber), and low‐(Green) priority areas. The application of this procedure allowed several outcomes to be determined: If the concealment occurs at night, then the “search scenario without the visibility” will be the most effective one; if the concealment occurs in daylight, then the “search scenario with the DSM‐based visibility” will be most appropriate; the different search scenarios may be cross‐referenced with offender's confessions and eyewitnesses’ testimonies to verify the veracity of their statements.
  • Arterial Perfusion—A Useful Technique for Evaluating Incised Wounds
    • Abstract: A 54‐year‐old woman was found deceased with incised wounds of both sides of her neck and both wrists. Postmortem CT scanning revealed air in the heart and in the dural veins in continuity with air in the right jugular vein. Death was due to incised wounds of the wrist and neck with blood loss and air embolism. The manner of death was suicide. At autopsy, perfusion of the thoracic ascending aorta produced a fine stream of water emanating from an incised wound of the right ulnar artery with no significant leakage of water from the wound of the left wrist. There was also leakage from the facial artery branch of the right external carotid artery. Perfusion testing can be used as a screening test prior to formal dissection and also to identify small vessels that may not be obvious on standard examination of an exsanguinated field.
  • Potential Use in Forensics of a Novel Hybrid Gelatin—Dynamic Impact
    • Abstract: Ballistic gelatin as simulant of the human body and organs is a support in forensics. After having obtained very good results for a new gelatin‐based composite in terms of physicochemical and rheological properties, this study focused on this material's mechanical behavior during stabbing and shooting versus bovine and porcine organs and standard ballistic gelatin. The hybrid gelatin has a predominantly elastic behavior at 23°C, whereas the elastic modulus becomes practically constant in the 10–0.1 Hz frequency range. In terms of stabbing behavior, the small variations obtained between porcine organs and surrogate are below 5%, the perforation indicating a good similarity. From the ballistic test results using 10 × 28T rubber balls, it has been seen that the hybrid ballistic gelatin conducts to more reliable and reproducible values of perforation/penetration versus standard gelatin, making from it a real candidate for use in forensic tests.
  • Self‐Strangulation Turning into Partial Hanging for a Suicide Victim
    • Abstract: Hanging is the most common asphyxial method of suicide, whereas suicide by strangulation is unusual. Here, we are reporting a particular methodology of the asphyxial method of suicide in which a case of self‐strangulation culminated into partial hanging. A 30‐year‐old male wrapped one end of the cable wire around his neck. He then passed the other end over a curtain rod and tied that end around the right hand. He pulled the hand down, using the curtain rod as a fulcrum, to tighten the noose around the neck in an attempt to strangulate himself. However, he lost consciousness during the process and the body slipped down, pulling the right hand up which got stuck at the curtain rod. This led the body hanged in the kneeling position. This bizarre scenario raised suspicion of homicide but the crime scene, autopsy and victim characteristics were in favor of suicide.
  • Lone Actor Terrorist Attack Planning and Preparation: A Data‐Driven
    • Abstract: This article provides an in‐depth assessment of lone actor terrorists’ attack planning and preparation. A codebook of 198 variables related to different aspects of pre‐attack behavior is applied to a sample of 55 lone actor terrorists. Data were drawn from open‐source materials and complemented where possible with primary sources. Most lone actors are not highly lethal or surreptitious attackers. They are generally poor at maintaining operational security, leak their motivations and capabilities in numerous ways, and generally do so months and even years before an attack. Moreover, the “loneness” thought to define this type of terrorism is generally absent; most lone actors uphold social ties that are crucial to their adoption and maintenance of the motivation and capability to commit terrorist violence. The results offer concrete input for those working to detect and prevent this form of terrorism and argue for a re‐evaluation of the “lone actor” concept.
  • Weapon Use in Korean Homicide: Differences Between Homicides Involving
           Sharp and Blunt Instruments
    • Abstract: On the basis of information regarding 276 homicides committed in South Korea between 1987 and 2008, we compared offenders’ and victims’ characteristics, injury locations, weapon‐related behavior, and offending behavior between homicides involving sharp and blunt instruments. The victims of sharp‐force homicide were much younger relative to those of blunt‐force homicide. In addition, homicides involving blunt instruments were more likely to be committed by offenders who lived with the victims. Most sharp‐force homicides involved injuries to the torso, while blunt‐force homicides involved mainly head injuries. Furthermore, perpetrators of sharp‐force homicides tended to preselect their weapons, while those of blunt‐force homicides were likely to use weapons of opportunity. Logistic regression analysis identified a number of factors, including injury location and body transportation, which significantly predicted weapon type. As this was the first South Korean study to compare sharp‐ and blunt‐force homicides, the results have practical implications for homicide investigations.
  • Suicide by Medication Overdose in Prison: A Study of Three Cases
    • Abstract: Suicide is one of the principal causes of mortality in a prison environment. Although suicide by medication overdose is less frequent than suicide by hanging, self‐strangulation, or vein cutting, it raises questions as to how the medications are obtained, particularly in view of the specific organization of the medication circuit in prisons. We present three cases of suicide by medication overdose involving different therapeutic classes with different distribution circuits and review the regulatory requirements and the measures that could be taken to prevent such suicides.
  • Judicial Murder‐Suicides in Van Diemen's Land
    • Abstract: On the morning of December 17, 1827, nine convicts were executed by public hanging in Hobart Town, the capital of the British colony of Van Diemen's Land (now the Australian state of Tasmania). Two months previously they had drowned senior Constable George Rex on Small Island, which was part of the penal settlement at Macquarie Harbor, in front of five bound and gagged witnesses. They offered no defence at their trial. Examination of the Tasmanian colonial convict records shows that “suicide by lottery” involved convicts choosing two men, one to die and the other to kill him. The witnesses would earn a respite when taken away for the trial, and the murderer would be executed. “Death by gallows” could be considered a nineteenth‐century version of an orchestrated suicide reminiscent of more modern “death by cop.” This category of “judicial” murder‐suicide expands the range of contemporary classifications of dyadic deaths.
  • Development and Validation of a Virtual Examination Tool for Firearm
           Forensics, ,
    • Abstract: The transition from 2D imaging to 3D scanning in the discipline of firearms and toolmark analysis is likely to provide examiners an unprecedented view of microscopic surface topography. The digital examination of measured 3D surface topographies has been referred to as virtual microscopy (VM). The approach offers several potential advantages over traditional comparison microscopy. Like any new analytic method, VM must be validated prior to its use in a crime laboratory. This paper describes one of the first validation studies of virtual microscopy. Fifty‐six participants at fifteen laboratories used virtual microscopic tools to complete two proficiency‐style tests for cartridge case identification. All participating trained examiners correctly reported 100% of the identifications (known matches) while reporting no false positives. The VM tools also allowed examiners to annotate compared surfaces. These annotations provide insight into the types of marked utilized in comparative analysis. Overall, the results of the study demonstrate that trained examiners can successfully use virtual microscopy to conduct firearms toolmark examination and support the use of the technology in the crime laboratory.
  • A Retrospective Study of the Investigation of Homicidal Childhood
           Asphyxial Deaths
    • Abstract: As one of the leading causes of traumatic deaths in newborns, infants, and young children, there is no anatomic or microscopic feature that is pathognomonic for asphyxial deaths. Instead, pathologists rely on investigation information, including confessions and/or witness statements, and potential evidence at the scene. Twenty cases of homicidal newborn, infant, and young children asphyxial deaths were reviewed, which included death and police investigation reports and autopsy reports, as well as histology slides of lung sections. This series of homicidal asphyxial deaths highlight that, in a vast majority of such cases, the final cause and manner of death rulings are dependent on confession by the perpetrator. Furthermore, this series highlights the possible role of histology to help forensic pathologists better certify asphyxial deaths. Finally, this series emphasizes important investigation points and considerations at autopsy during the investigation of asphyxial deaths in newborns, infants, and young children.
  • Authentication of Surveillance Videos: Detecting Frame Duplication Based
           on Residual Frame
    • Abstract: Nowadays, surveillance systems are used to control crimes. Therefore, the authenticity of digital video increases the accuracy of deciding to admit the digital video as legal evidence or not. Inter‐frame duplication forgery is the most common type of video forgery methods. However, many existing methods have been proposed for detecting this type of forgery and these methods require high computational time and impractical. In this study, we propose an efficient inter‐frame duplication detection algorithm based on standard deviation of residual frames. Standard deviation of residual frame is applied to select some frames and ignore others, which represent a static scene. Then, the entropy of discrete cosine transform coefficients is calculated for each selected residual frame to represent its discriminating feature. Duplicated frames are then detected exactly using subsequence feature analysis. The experimental results demonstrated that the proposed method is effective to identify inter‐frame duplication forgery with localization and acceptable running time.
  • Myocardial Bridging: A Meta‐Analysis of Prevalence
    • Abstract: The main objective of this article was to analyze prevalence data about myocardial bridging (MB) in published studies. To this purpose, we performed a meta‐analysis of studies published in English literature that contained data about the prevalence of MB and its anatomical characteristics. The overall prevalence was 19% (CI: 17–21%); autopsy studies revealed an overall prevalence of 42% (CI: 30–55%), CT studies 22% (CI: 18–25%), and coronary angiography 6% (CI: 5–8%). Most bridges were located on the left anterior descending artery (82% overall, 63% on autopsy studies), had a mean thickness of 2.47 mm and a mean length of 19.3 mm. In conclusion, autopsy studies should be the gold standard in evaluating the actual prevalence of myocardial bridges, while in vivo high‐resolution CT scanning should be preferred to coronary angiography studies.
  • An Investigation into the Relationship between Human Cranial and Pelvic
           Sexual Dimorphism
    • Abstract: When faced with commingled remains, it might be assumed that a more “masculine” pelvis is associated with a more “masculine” cranium, but this relationship has not been specifically tested. This study uses geometric morphometric analyses of pelvic and cranial landmarks to assess whether there is an intra‐individual relationship between the degrees of sexual expression in these two skeletal regions. Principal component and discriminant function scores were used to assess sexual dimorphism in 113 U.S. Black individuals. Correlation values and partial least squares regression (PLS) were used to evaluate intra‐individual relationships. Results indicate that the os coxae is more sexually dimorphic than the cranium, with element shape being more sexually dimorphic than size. PLS and correlation results suggest no significant intra‐individual relationship between pelvic and cranial sexual size or shape expression. Thus, in commingled situations, associations between these skeletal elements cannot be inferred based on degree of “masculinity.”
  • An Automated Two‐Dimensional Form Registration Method for
           Osteological Pair‐Matching
    • Abstract: This study introduces an automated method for osteological pair‐matching using two‐dimensional outline form data extracted from photographs. A procedure for acquiring photographs that improve the differentiation of specimens from the background is presented along with an extraction procedure that allows the capture of form data from photographs. The raw form data are used in a two‐dimensional registration procedure, which combines iterative closest point, K‐nearest neighbor search, and iterations around an estimated mean. Form data are used in optimized distance calculations that minimize true‐pair difference and maximize false‐pair difference. The sample consists of 122 calcanei and 110 tali from the UI‐Stanford collection. Performance statistics are provided for the maximum and average Segmented‐Hausdorff, Hausdorff, and Procrustes distances to show the comparative statistical results for matching. Results indicate 98.36% and 98.2% accuracy in pinpointing true‐pairs for the calcanei and tali, respectively, using a shortlist of one‐lowest‐distance.
  • Total Ion Spectra versus Segmented Total Ion Spectra as Preprocessing
           Tools for Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry Data
    • Abstract: Alignment of fire debris data from GC‐MS for chemometric analysis is challenged by highly variable, uncontrolled sample and matrix composition. The total ion spectrum (TIS) obviates the need for alignment but loses all separation information. We introduce the segmented total ion spectrum (STIS), which retains the advantages of TIS while retaining some retention information. We compare the performance of STIS with TIS for the classification of casework fire debris samples. TIS and STIS achieve good model prediction accuracies of 96% and 98%, respectively. Baseline removal improved model prediction accuracies for both TIS and STIS to 97% and 99%, respectively. The importance of maintaining some chromatographic information to aid in deciphering the underlying chemistry of the results and reasons for false positive/negative results was also examined.
  • Quantification of Morphine, Codeine, and Thebaine in Home‐Brewed Poppy
           Seed Tea by LC‐MS/MS
    • Abstract: Recently, medical examiners reported two cases of a 21‐year‐old male and 24‐year‐old male with high amounts of morphine in their blood at autopsy. It was suspected that the decedents ingested lethal amounts of morphine from home‐brewed poppy seed tea. No studies to date have investigated opium alkaloid content extracted from poppy seeds by home‐brewing methods. Various poppy seed products were purchased from online sources and extracted with four home‐brewing methods representative of recipes found on drug user forums. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine were quantified in the tea extracts by liquid chromatography‐tandem mass spectrometry using a validated analytical method. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine concentrations from seeds were
  • Familial Vehicular Murder‐Suicide
    • Abstract: A certain number of single‐vehicle crashes into stationary roadside objects such as trees are thought to be occult suicides. However, is it possible that some cases of multiple deaths within a family in similar crashes are due to unrecognized familial murder‐suicides' A 39‐year‐old woman and her 11‐year‐old daughter are reported who died of injuries following a vehicle impact with a tree. Unusual behavior of the mother leading up to the crash, and assessment at the scene, raised the possibility of this being a nonaccidental event. However, difficulties in retrospectively determining the intent of a driver in a vehicle crash, and the nonrecording of, or lack of separate coding for murder‐suicides on registers, make determination of the incidence of these types of events extremely difficult. It may be that this is a subcategory of murder‐suicide that is underdiagnosed and so is not being registered on central motor vehicle crash databases.
  • Sudden Death Secondary to an Undiagnosed B‐Cell Lymphoma of the
           Hypopharynx and Infiltration of the Inferior Constrictor Muscle
    • Abstract: The aim of this presentation was to share an uncommon form of sudden death, suffered by a 64‐year‐old woman, due to a mechanical obstruction of hypopharynx by an undiagnosed B‐cell lymphoma, infiltrating the inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscle. A forensic approach by means of scene investigation, circumstantial data collection, autopsy, and histological and toxicological investigations led to conclude that the cause of death was asphyxia, correlated with B‐cell lymphoma of the hypopharynx. The autopsy examination highlighted the presence of a wall thickening, infiltrating, and projecting into the hypopharynx lumen. The histological analysis showed the essential finding of a B‐cell lymphoma of the hypopharynx, diffusely infiltrating the inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscle. To conclude, this case demonstrates once more that in the absence of specific data, a thorough forensic investigation including autopsy, histological examination, and circumstantial data collection is mandatory to reach a correct cause of death.
  • Personal Identification of Deceased Persons: An Overview of the Current
           Methods Based on Physical Appearance
    • Abstract: The use of the physical appearance of the deceased has become more important because the available antemortem information for comparisons may consist only of a physical description and photographs. Twenty‐one articles dealing with the identification based on the physiognomic features of the human body were selected for review and were divided into four sections: (i) visual recognition, (ii) specific facial/body areas, (iii) biometrics, and (iv) dental superimposition. While opinions about the reliability of the visual recognition differ, the search showed that it has been used in mass disasters, even without testing its objectivity and reliability. Specific facial areas being explored for the identification of dead; however, their practical use is questioned, similarly to soft biometrics. The emerging dental superimposition seems to be the only standardized and successfully applied method for identification so far. More research is needed into a potential use of the individualizing features, considering that postmortem changes and technical difficulties may affect the identification.
  • Ridge Width Correlations between Inked Prints and Powdered Latent
    • Abstract: A methodology to estimate the time of latent fingerprint deposition would be of great value to law enforcement and courts. It has been observed that ridge topography changes as latent prints age, including the widths of ridges that could be measured as a function of time. Crime suspects are commonly identified using fingerprint databases that contain reference inked tenprints (flat and rolled impressions). These can be of interest in aging studies as they provide baseline information relating to the original (nonaged) ridges’ widths. In practice, the age of latent fingerprints could be estimated following a comparison process between the evidentiary aged print and the corresponding reference inked print. The present article explores possible correlations between inked and fresh latent fingerprints deposited on different substrates and visualized with TiO2. The results indicate that the ridge width of flat inked prints is most similar to fresh latent fingerprints, and these should be used as the comparison standard for future aging studies.
  • The Relationship Between Gambling Severity and Risk of Criminal Recidivism
    • Abstract: Individuals involved with the criminal justice system have the highest prevalence of gambling disorder. Yet, this is an understudied area, especially in relation to postrelease functioning and recidivism risk. Participants (N = 100) were recruited from a local nonprofit organization and a federal probation office. Participants completed both self‐report and interviewer‐administered questionnaires assessing past‐year and lifetime gambling behaviors and problems, legal history, health, and risk of recidivism. Past‐year (8%) and lifetime (18%) rates of gambling disorder among the current sample are significantly greater than those of the general population and similar to rates found in incarcerated populations. Furthermore, 13% of individuals reported a direct relationship between their gambling and crime, and analyses revealed that increased gambling severity was a significant predictor of increased recidivism risk. Results suggest the need for screening and intervention efforts and call for policy reform among incarcerated and ex‐offender populations.
  • Application of the Optimized Summed Scored Attributes Method to Sex
           Estimation in Asian Crania
    • Abstract: The optimized summed scored attributes (OSSA) method was recently introduced and validated for nonmetric ancestry estimation between American Black and White individuals. The method proceeds by scoring, dichotomizing, and subsequently summing ordinal morphoscopic trait scores to maximize between‐group differences. This study tests the applicability of the OSSA method for sex estimation using five cranial traits given the methodological similarities between classifying sex and ancestry. A large sample of documented crania from Japan and Thailand (n = 744 males, 320 females) are used to develop a heuristically selected OSSA sectioning point of ≤1 separating males and females. This sectioning point is validated using a holdout sample of Japanese, Thai, and Filipino (n = 178 males, 82 females) individuals. The results indicate a general correct classification rate of 82% using all five traits, and 81% when excluding the mental eminence. Designating an OSSA score of 2 as indeterminate is recommended.
  • Controversial Suicide Case Using a Submachine Gun with a Sound
           Suppressor—The Need of Team Work of Forensic Chemistry and Firearm
    • Abstract: Evidence materials in a presumed suicide case were studied by a firearm examiner and a forensic chemist. The victim's body with double gunshot wounding in his forehead, a machine gun in the sustained fire mode with a silencer, and four cartridge cases were found. Examinations of the evidence, the case file studies, and experiments dedicated to the case were carried out. Relationships between the placement of cartridge cases and the gun were established using a fast camera. The distributions of gunshot residues on the evidence materials and within the comparative gunshot patterns were studied by means of optical and electron microscopy, X‐ray microanalysis, and infrared spectroscopy. The shooting distance was assessed to be 30 cm or more, whereas the greatest distance that could have been achieved by the victim himself was about 11–13 cm. The obtained results supported the version of homicide rather than suicide.
  • Metal Railing Fences and Accidental Death
    • Abstract: Two cases of accidental deaths caused by the sharp ends of fence or gate posts are reported. Case 1: A 47‐year‐old man was found hanging by his ankle in an inverted position on fencing. He had attempted a shortcut to a railway platform by climbing over a metal rail fence. He had slipped and been impaled through his ankle by the sharp end of the fence post, resulting in death from positional asphyxia. Case 2: An 18‐year‐old male slipped while climbing over a gate and died after being impaled on a spear tip finial, which had lacerated his external iliac vein. Death was due to exsanguination. These cases demonstrate two rare examples of accidental deaths from impalement by the ends of sharp fence posts. Mechanisms of death in such circumstances involve suspension with positional asphyxia and vascular injury with exsanguination.
  • Ebstein Anomaly and Sudden Childhood Death
    • Abstract: A 13‐year‐old girl is reported who died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep from previously undiagnosed Ebstein anomaly. At autopsy, there was dilatation of the right atrium with marked dilatation of the right auricle and apical displacement of the tricuspid valve into the right ventricular cavity with atrialization of the upper portion of the right ventricle. There were also prominent dysplastic changes in both the septal and posterior leaflets of the tricuspid valve with thickening of the valve and fusion of leaflets to the wall of the ventricle. Histology of the myocardium showed focal, minor microscopic areas of interstitial fibrosis with marked fibrous dysplasia and thickening of the tricuspid valve. Lethal arrhythmias occur in this condition because of the geographical relationship of the conduction system to the abnormal anatomical structures. As adolescents who died suddenly are often minimally symptomatic, cases will rarely present de novo to forensic autopsy.
  • Using Named Entities for Computer‐Automated Verbal Deception
    • Abstract: There is an increasing demand for automated verbal deception detection systems. We propose named entity recognition (NER; i.e., the automatic identification and extraction of information from text) to model three established theoretical principles: (i) truth tellers provide accounts that are richer in detail, (ii) contain more contextual references (specific persons, locations, and times), and (iii) deceivers tend to withhold potentially checkable information. We test whether NER captures these theoretical concepts and can automatically identify truthful versus deceptive hotel reviews. We extracted the proportion of named entities with two NER tools (spaCy and Stanford's NER) and compared the discriminative ability to a lexicon word count approach (LIWC) and a measure of sentence specificity (speciteller). Named entities discriminated truthful from deceptive hotel reviews above chance level, and outperformed the lexicon approach and sentence specificity. This investigation suggests that named entities may be a useful addition to existing automated verbal deception detection approaches.
  • Injury Patterns Sustained in Fatal Motor Vehicle Collisions with Driver's
           Third‐Generation Airbag Deployment
    • Abstract: The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario database for 2011–2012 was used to compare fatal injury patterns in drivers whose third‐generation airbags deployed compared to first‐ and second‐generation airbag deployments and airbag nondeployments with and without seatbelt use. There were 110 frontal and offset frontal crashes analyzed. The small sample size meant that the odds of craniocerebral, cervical spinal, thoracic, and abdominal injuries were not statistically different for airbag generation, deployment status, and seatbelt use; however, the risk of fatal thoracic injuries in third‐ and second‐generation cases was increased. Seatbelt usage in third‐ and second‐generation deployment cases reduced the risk of all injuries except abdominal trauma. High severity impacts and occupant compartment intrusion were frequently observed. The analyses in this retrospective study were challenged by data that were not collated in a standardized way and were limited in details about scene, vehicle, and driver variables.
  • Trace DNA Sampling Success from Evidence Items Commonly Encountered in
           Forensic Casework
    • Abstract: Trace DNA analysis is a significant part of a forensic laboratory's workload. Knowing optimal sampling strategies and item success rates for particular item types can assist in evidence selection and examination processes and shorten turnaround times. In this study, forensic short tandem repeat (STR) casework results were reviewed to determine how often STR profiles suitable for comparison were obtained from “handler” and “wearer” areas of 764 items commonly submitted for examination. One hundred and fifty‐five (155) items obtained from volunteers were also sampled. Items were analyzed for best sampling location and strategy. For casework items, headwear and gloves provided the highest success rates. Experimentally, eyeglasses and earphones, T‐shirts, fabric gloves and watches provided the highest success rates. Eyeglasses and latex gloves provided optimal results if the entire surfaces were swabbed. In general, at least 10%, and up to 88% of all trace DNA analyses resulted in suitable STR profiles for comparison.
  • Suicidal Decapitation by Hanging—A Population‐based Study
    • Abstract: A prospective study was undertaken at Forensic Science SA over a 15‐year period from July 2002 to June 2017 for all cases of adult (>18 years) suicidal hangings with decapitation. A total of 1446 cases of suicidal hangings were identified from a general population of approximately 1.5 million (1206 males—age range 18–97 years, average 42.6; and 240 females—age range 18–96 years, average 40.1). Only three cases of decapitation were found, all from long‐drop hangings; these consisted of three males (ages 32–55 years; average 45 years). Spinal transections had occurred between the first and second, second and third, and third and fourth cervical vertebrae, respectively. In this study, the number of suicidal hangings with decapitation represented only 0.2% of the total number of hangings. These events are therefore extremely rare, most likely due to most suicidal hangings occurring from relatively low levels in a domestic environment.
  • The Role of Forensic Botany in Solving a Case: Scientific Evidence on the
           Falsification of a Crime Scene
    • Abstract: Forensic botany can provide useful information for pathologists, particularly on crime scene investigation. We report the case of a man who arrived at the hospital and died shortly afterward. The body showed widespread electrical lesions. The statements of his brother and wife about the incident aroused a large amount of suspicion in the investigators. A crime scene investigation was carried out, along with a botanical morphological survey on small vegetations found on the corpse. An autopsy was also performed. Botanical analysis showed some samples of Xanthium spinosum, thus leading to the discovery of the falsification of the crime scene although the location of the true crime scene remained a mystery. The botanical analysis, along with circumstantial data and autopsy findings, led to the discovery of the real crime scene and became crucial as part of the legal evidence regarding the falsity of the statements made to investigators.
  • The Biological Effects of Kambo: Is There a Relationship Between its
           Administration and Sudden Death'
    • Abstract: Kambo is a substance obtained from the skin secretions of a frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, popular in the Amazon region, which is administered via the transdermal route. We report a case of 42‐year‐old man found dead in his house. Near the corpse, a plastic box labeled as “Kambo sticks” was found. The man was a chronic consumer of Kambo and no previous pathology or genetic disease emerged in clinical history from the declaration of his general practitioner. Autopsy investigations and toxicological analysis were performed. The histopathological examination showed left ventricular hypertrophy. Toxicological screening was negative for ethanol and other drugs. Phyllocaerulein, phyllokinin, and deltorphin A were isolated from the Kambo sticks but, only deltorphin A was detected in blood sample. We describe the first forensic case of death associated with Kambo administration. We attempt to explain how its use could be related to the cause of sudden death in this case.
  • An Improved Version of a Tool Mark Comparison Algorithm
    • Abstract: Chumbley et al. (2010) described a statistically based algorithm for comparing pairs of tool marks. They presented empirical evidence that the algorithm produces well‐separated similarity score values for “matching” and “non‐matching” pairs of tool marks. However, the algorithm has two substantial weaknesses. First, it is “uncalibrated” in the sense that error rates can be determined only through empirical investigation. Second, it relies on a randomized test and can lead to different similarity scores when the algorithm is repeatedly applied to the same pair of tool marks. We present an improved version of the procedure, which eliminates the randomized scores and yields more consistent and predictable error rate control. This is accomplished by replacement of a random sampling step from the original algorithm with a deterministic process. We demonstrate the improved algorithm and compare its performance to the original by applying to known “matching” and “non‐matching” pairs of tool marks.
  • Identification of
           (bk‐IVP) in a Seized Drug Exhibit
    • Abstract: To circumvent the law by evading regulation and obscuring their identities in routine analyses, numerous substituted cathinones have entered the illicit drug market. These compounds have been coined “bath salts” by users. In the described case, the laboratory received an unknown white powder for controlled substances identification. The sample could not be immediately identified using standard methods and procedures. Ultimately, the structure was elucidated using GC‐MS, NMR, FTIR, GC‐SPIR, UV, and color tests to be 1‐(2,3‐dihydro‐1H‐inden‐5‐yl)‐2‐(ethylamino)pentan‐1‐one (bk‐IVP), a cathinone analog with a rarely observed nonoxygenated bicyclic ring system. Features of spectra and chemical tests are reported that distinguish this class of cathinones from heterocyclic analogs.
  • DXAGE: A New Method for Age at Death Estimation Based on Femoral Bone
           Mineral Density and Artificial Neural Networks
    • Abstract: Age at death estimation in adult skeletons is hampered, among others, by the unremarkable correlation of bone estimators with chronological age, implementation of inappropriate statistical techniques, observer error, and skeletal incompleteness or destruction. Therefore, it is beneficial to consider alternative methods to assess age at death in adult skeletons. The decrease in bone mineral density with age was explored to generate a method to assess age at death in human remains. A connectionist computational approach, artificial neural networks, was employed to model femur densitometry data gathered in 100 female individuals from the Coimbra Identified Skeletal Collection. Bone mineral density declines consistently with age and the method performs appropriately, with mean absolute differences between known and predicted age ranging from 9.19 to 13.49 years. The proposed method—DXAGE—was implemented online to streamline age estimation. This preliminary study highlights the value of densitometry to assess age at death in human remains.
  • Quantifying Macrophages and Hemosiderin in Pediatric Dura Mater,
    • Abstract: Determining the age of a subdural hematoma at autopsy is of great interest for medicolegal purposes. The appearance of pigment-laden macrophages is often referenced as evidence that the subdural hematoma is 3–4 days old. However, understanding the significance of macrophages and hemosiderin requires understanding the histology of infant dura. Samples of grossly unremarkable dura taken from 17 pediatric autopsies were identified and histologically confirmed to lack subdural neomembrane. CD68 immunostaining and Prussian blue staining was performed. The CD68-positive cells per high-power field were quantified, and the presence of iron-containing cells was recorded. CD68-positive cells were present in all cases, even in the dural border layer. Iron-containing cells were identified in 59% of cases, and in the dural border layer in 29%. Therefore, CD68-positive and iron-containing cells can be present in pediatric dura without neomembrane or macroscopic subdural hemorrhage, and this requires consideration when estimating the age of a subdural hematoma.
  • Sex Estimation from Human Cranium: Forensic and Anthropological Interest
           of Maxillary Sinus Volumes
    • Abstract: Sex estimation is a key objective of forensic science. We aimed to establish whether maxillary sinus volumes (MSV) could assist in estimating an individual's sex. One hundred and three CT scans were included. MSV were determined using three-dimensional reconstructions. Two observers performed three-dimensional MSV reconstructions using the same methods. Intra- and interobserver reproducibility were statistically compared using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) (α = 5%). Both intra- and interobserver reproducibility were perfect regarding MSV; both ICCs were 100%. There were no significant differences between right and left MSV (p = 0.083). No correlation was found between age and MSV (p > 0.05). We demonstrated the existence of sexual dimorphism in MSV (p 
  • Application of 3D Laser Scanner to Forensic Engineering
    • Abstract: In the case of building collapses and overturned structures, a three-dimensional (3D) collapse or overturn model is required to reconstruct the accident. As construction sites become increasingly complex and large, 3D laser scanning is sometimes the best tool to accurately document and store the site conditions. This case report presents one case of a structure collapse and one case of an overturned crane reconstructed by a 3D laser scanner. In the case of structural collapse of a prefabricated shoring system, a 3D model reconstructed all the members successfully, a task that is nearly impossible using a scale such as a tape measure. The reconstructed prefabricated shoring system was verified through a structural analysis through comparison with the construction drawings to investigate faults in construction. In the case of the overturned crane, the jib angle and other major dimensions were successfully acquired through 3D laser scanning and used to estimate the working radius. As a result, the propriety of the working radius with the given lifting load was successfully determined.
  • The Accuracy and Applicability of 3D Modeling and Printing Blunt Force
           Cranial Injuries
    • Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine the factors affecting the accuracy of 3D models and 3D prints of cranial blunt force trauma, to evaluate the applicability and limitations of modeling such injuries. Three types of cranial blunt force lesions were documented (hinge, depressed, and comminuted) using three forms of surface scanning (laser, structured light scanner, and photogrammetry) at two different quality settings (standard and high). 3D printed models of the lesions were produced using two different materials (a gypsum-like composite powder called VisiJet® PXL and an acrylic engineered composite plastic called VisiJet® M3 in crystal colour). The results of these analyzes indicate the prints in this study exhibit some statistically significant differences from the actual bone lesions, but details of the lesions can be reproduced to within 2 mm accuracy.
  • Sudden Unexpected Deaths Due to Intracranial Meningioma: Presentation of
           Six Fatal Cases, Review of the Literature, and A Discussion of the
           Mechanisms of Death
    • Abstract: Deaths due to meningiomas are routinely diagnosed in clinical practice because this neoplasm tends to present with the typical progression of neurological deficits. On the other hand, sudden unexpected deaths due to meningiomas are rarely described in the literature. The study presents six fatal cases of previously undiagnosed intracranial meningiomas from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office from 1998 to 2014. The most common explanation of the mechanism of sudden death due to intracranial neoplasms is a rapid increase in intracranial pressure produced by the mass effect of the neoplasm. Other mechanisms of death include acute intracranial and intratumoral hemorrhage, and benign neoplasms that grow in the vicinity of vital centers altering neural discharge in autonomic pathways leading to cardiac suppression or lethal arrhythmia. Forensic pathologists must keep in mind that sudden unexpected death caused by intracranial meningiomas, although extremely rare, may be encountered in the forensic setting.
  • The Physical Effects of Contact and Close-Distance Gunfire on Sweatshirt
    • Abstract: Powder stippling caused by the impact of propellant particles during close-distance gunfire has been previously described on skin and solid objects only. Additionally, radial tearing has been described as clear evidence of a contact-distance shot, requiring no further testing. Patterns of discrete perforating holes (referred to here as “stippling perforations”) and other physical damage on sweatshirt fleece fabrics were prepared. Using the firearm and ammunition in this study, stippling perforations were observed to a maximum muzzle-to-target distance of 35 cm (10 inches). In addition, radial tearing and disintegration were present (and often more extensive) at greater than contact distance. The presence of stippling perforations could augment muzzle-to-target distance estimates generated using the Griess test, or allow distance estimates when the Griess test is not feasible. Unlike what has been previously reported, testing on the original evidence (or similar substitute) is warranted when physical damage is used to estimate shooting distance.
  • A Molecular Method to Detect Wound Cells in Bloodstains Resultant of Sharp
           Force Injuries for Crime Scene Reconstruction
    • Abstract: Previous research by the authors on an animal model showed that bloodstains can contain additional information about their somatic origin in the form of wound cells. Bloodstains produced by a gunshot wound to the head were distinguished from bloodstains produced by a gunshot wound to the chest by testing the stains for a brain microRNA marker. In this study, the effectiveness of the technique was examined on blood drops shed externally from a stab wound to the liver of rat carcasses. Specifically, investigations were conducted on the liver microRNA marker, rno-mir-122-3p, with the QIAGEN miScript System, and PCR analysis. Between the two stabbing methods used, 67% of the scalpel blades and 57% of the blood drops tested positive for rno-mir-122-3p; however, other samples tested negative giving inconclusive results as to the wound-of-origin. The amount of the liver cells in the bloodstains appeared to be related to the extent of trauma.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences and Criminal Extremity: New Evidence for
           Sexual Homicide
    • Abstract: Adverse childhood experiences are associated with a wide range of behavioral, health, and psychiatric deficits and have recently been used to study the development of serious offending careers. Unfortunately, this research paradigm has largely ignored forensic populations. This study utilized the adverse childhood experiences framework to examine the associations between exposure to violence, victimization, and total adverse childhood experiences on sexual homicide using a sample of 616 incarcerated adult male sexual offenders from Canada 85 of whom committed sexual homicide. Epidemiological tables of odds revealed that a gradient of adverse childhood experiences was associated with sexual homicide, but that the most significant risks were for offenders who had the most extensive abuse histories. In adjusted models, exposure to violence, victimization, and total adverse childhood experiences increased the odds of sexual homicide by 334%, 249%, and 546%, respectively. These effects intensified in models adjusted for childhood enuresis, cruelty to animals, parental abandonment, deviant sexual behaviors, poor self-image, and sexual problems to 559%, 326%, and 849%, respectively. The adverse childhood experiences framework is a systematic way to organize the criminogenic developmental sequela in sexual homicide.
  • High-Resolution Melting (HRM) of Hypervariable Mitochondrial DNA Regions
           for Forensic Science
    • Abstract: Forensic strategies commonly are proceeding by analysis of short tandem repeats (STRs); however, new additional strategies have been proposed for forensic science. Thus, this article standardized the high-resolution melting (HRM) of DNA for forensic analyzes. For HRM, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from eight individuals were extracted from mucosa swabs by DNAzol reagent, samples were amplified by PCR and submitted to HRM analysis to identify differences in hypervariable (HV) regions I and II. To confirm HRM, all PCR products were DNA sequencing. The data suggest that is possible discriminate DNA from different samples by HRM curves. Also, uncommon dual-dissociation was identified in a single PCR product, increasing HRM analyzes by evaluation of melting peaks. Thus, HRM is accurate and useful to screening small differences in HVI and HVII regions from mtDNA and increase the efficiency of laboratory routines based on forensic genetics.
  • An Objective Measure of Splitting in Parental Alienation: The Parental
           Acceptance–Rejection Questionnaire
    • Abstract: Both clinicians and forensic practitioners should distinguish parental alienation (rejection of a parent without legitimate justification) from other reasons for contact refusal. Alienated children—who were not abused—often engage in splitting and lack ambivalence with respect to the rejected parent; children who were maltreated usually perceive the abusive parent in an ambivalent manner. The purpose of this study was to assess the usefulness of the Parental Acceptance–Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ) in identifying and quantifying the degree of splitting, which may assist in diagnosing parental alienation. Results showed that severely alienated children engaged in a high level of splitting, by perceiving the preferred parent in extremely positive terms and the rejected parent in extremely negative terms. Splitting was not manifested by the children in other family groups. The PARQ may be useful for both clinicians and forensic practitioners in evaluating children of divorced parents when there is a concern about the possible diagnosis of parental alienation.
  • An Evidence-Based Forensic Taxonomy of Windows Phone Communication Apps
    • Abstract: Communication apps can be an important source of evidence in a forensic investigation (e.g., in the investigation of a drug trafficking or terrorism case where the communications apps were used by the accused persons during the transactions or planning activities). This study presents the first evidence-based forensic taxonomy of Windows Phone communication apps, using an existing two-dimensional Android forensic taxonomy as a baseline. Specifically, 30 Windows Phone communication apps, including Instant Messaging (IM) and Voice over IP (VoIP) apps, are examined. Artifacts extracted using physical acquisition are analyzed, and seven digital evidence objects of forensic interest are identified, namely: Call Log, Chats, Contacts, Locations, Installed Applications, SMSs and User Accounts. Findings from this study would help to facilitate timely and effective forensic investigations involving Windows Phone communication apps.
  • Estimating Biological Characteristics With Virtual Laser Data
    • Abstract: Laser scanning technology is increasingly being used in forensic anthropological research to obtain virtual data for archival purposes and post hoc measurement collection. This research compared the measurement accuracy of two laser scanners—the FARO Focus3D 330X and the FARO Freestyle3D—against traditionally obtained (i.e., by hand) control data (N = 454). Skeletal data were collected to address a novel question: the ability of laser scanning technology to produce measurements useful for biological characteristic estimation, such as sex and stature. Results indicate that both devices produced measurements very similar to control (c. 3-mm average absolute error), but also illuminate a tendency to under-measure. Despite these findings, the virtual data produced sex and stature estimates that varied little from control-produced estimates, signifying the usefulness of virtual data for preliminary biological identification when the skeletal elements are no longer available for physical analysis.
  • Clinical Characteristics of Fatal Methamphetamine-related Stroke: A
           National Study
    • Abstract: The study aimed to determine the clinical characteristics of fatal methamphetamine-related stroke in Australia, 2009–2015. There were 38 cases, 60.5% male, with a mean age of 40.3 years. In no case was there evidence that this was the first time methamphetamine had been used by the decedent, and 52.6% had known histories of injecting drug use. The stroke was hemorrhagic in 37 of 38 cases. In 21.1% of cases, the stroke was purely parenchymal and, in 18.4%, involved purely the subarachnoid space. A ruptured berry aneurysm was present in 31.6% and in 68.8% of initial subarachnoid hemorrhages. There was evidence of systemic hypertension in 8 of 25 cases in which full autopsy findings were available. With increased use of methamphetamine, there is a high probability of increased hemorrhagic stroke incidence among young people. In cases of fatal hemorrhagic stroke among young cases presenting to autopsy, the possibility of methamphetamine use should be borne in mind.
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Heriot-Watt University
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