15th SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Spring 1960)
June 27-28, 1960

Wayne Burgess, San Diego Police Department Laboratory

Reported concerning the use of epoxy resins in making death masks to record gunshot pattern tests. Epoxy resin was selected and used in a homicide because it provided a more accurate reproduction of the muzzle blast pattern on a geometric surface such as the face. It provided greater accuracy and ease of comparison and provided an impressive court exhibit. The cost of the material used is relatively high but would certainly be justified where gunshot patterns on the face are an important part of a homicide prosecution. The resin used is available through Kish Resin Sales Company, Burbank, California (Contact Mr. Fred Foster). This company also furnishes assistance (for suitable fee) in making the masks.

Robert N. Cooper, Oakland Police Department Laboratory

This new aluminum silicate fiber is made by the Carborundum Company of Niagara Falls. Fiberfrax, which will not melt under 3000o, is being employed in firebox liners, furnace roofs, insulation on heater cables, flame curtains, and many related uses. As of December 1959 it was not being used as safe insulation but this is a future possibility. Fibers are colorless or white and glisten due to unfiberized content. Maximum length is 3-5" or shorter; cylindrical cross section diameter is submicron to 10 micron and averages 2-3 microns. Micro examination reveals a percentage of fine shot, spermatozoa, volcanic bomb, and dumbbell shapes in addition to the straight fibers.

Geraldine Lambert, Los Angeles Police Department

The Los Angeles City Attorney has rendered an interpretation of recent court decisions which resulted in the Superintendent of the Los Angeles City Hospitals issuing an order to city doctors which is condensed below:

A blood sample may be obtained from an unconscious person or a person who refuses consent under the following conditions:

  1. 1. Subject in custody and under lawful arrest.
  2. Purpose is to determine alcohol content, to be used as evidence, and is, in fact, incident to such an arrest.
  3. Arresting officer makes a demand for blood. Person so called upon is bound to aid arresting officer. This demand is an important point in protecting against liability.
  4. Medically approved method for obtaining sample is employed with as little discomfort to subject as is reasonably possible.
  5. In case of physical resistance, only such force as is reasonable may be used.
  6. All pertinent facts are entered on subject's record including signature of "demanding" officer.

Charles M. Wilson, Superintendent of the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory

Explained the methods used in his laboratory for storing firearms evidence and reference collections as well as the complete record files in which are recorded all information concerning the guns, bullets, cartridge cases, and ammunition in these files. In addition, Mr. Wilson mentioned that he is attempting to have legislation enacted in Wisconsin to permit him to trade firearms in his collection with other interested law enforcement laboratories on a gun for gun basis. This would permit each cooperating laboratory to increase their collections without cost except for shipping charges. Each laboratory would trade firearms only when they have more of a particular make and model then needed and when the other laboratory involved desired such a weapon.

Elliott B. Hansel, Ventura County Sheriff's Office

A large improvised chromatographic container was described. A solvent was used which consisted of a freshly prepared mixture of 20 ml chloroform and 10 ml of 28% NH4OH. The paper buffer consisted of 5 to 7% sodium silicate and 2% glycerine, the exact concentration of silicate being adjusted to give an Rf of 0.50 with amobarbital.

Hansel also distributed copies of a data sheet on anileridine hydrochloride, an analgesic and narcotic, as part of the CAC study of drugs. The data includes UV absorption and color tests. Since most members obtained copies at the Seminar, it will not be reprinted here. Copies may be obtained from Hansel who also has some of the pure drug available for interested laboratories.


Anthony Longhetti, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, summarized the results of the analyses made by various laboratories on blood samples submitted to them by the Methods Committee of the Criminalistics Section of the A.A.F.S. The next samples will contain semen stains. Any persons or laboratories wishing to participate should contact Longhetti.

Ed Miller, Los Angeles Police Department, reported concerning the use of a new heroin test. The original paper on this appeared in Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 32, No. 2, pg. 198 (Feb. 1960) and was entitled "New Color Test for Heroin" by Melvin Lerner.

At the close of the Seminar, Dr. Paul L. Kirk informally discussed the philosophy of criminalistics. His comments were connected with the recent study of the School of Criminology at U.C. but included considerable discussion on philosophy and were of great interest to all those present. No attempt has been made to summarize Dr. Kirk's talk or the discussions that followed it but he did conclude that criminalistics must be established as a distinct and independent discipline or at least U.C. may very well drop it as a separate field of education. In criminalistics, little time has been spent studying what we are trying to do. Instead, most Criminalists concern themselves with how we do it.

We study "how," not "why," and until the "why" is answered, we will not have established a true scientific discipline.


Over a year ago, Roger S. Greene agreed to run some tests in an attempt to determine why some specimens of benzidine dihydrochloride failed to give satisfactory reactions in blood testing. A preliminary report was given at a previous Seminar. Since the Anaheim Meeting, additional studies have been made and due to the common use of the benzidine test, it appears of value to present the following data in this Newsletter so that others may check the results before the Richmond Seminar.

In former studies, the concentrations of all component reagents ware varied independently including the use of both benzidine base and benzidine dihydrochloride. Recently the study was extended to include the effects of varying the pH of the reagent. It was found at any pH between 2 and 1, the color reaction became progressively worse and at pH 1, the reagent was useless. At a pH greater than 5, the solubility of the benzidine is too low to give a satisfactory reagent.

On completion of the recent tests, it was found that a very satisfactory reagent could be made using 0.05 g benzidine base or benzidine dihydrochloride, 5 ml acetic acid to which has been added 10% sodium acetate trihydrate, and 5 ml 3% hydrogen peroxide. None of these quantities are at all critical and need not be measured or weighed. The final reagent, thus made, has a pH of about 3.4. This blood reagent also seems more stable and the colors produced are bluer (no green) and fade more slowly.

The specificity of this reagent has not been checked nor its sensitivity other than that it was satisfactory on dried stains as dilute as 1:64000. A more complete report will be given at the Richmond Seminar.