92nd SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Fall 1998)
OCTOBER 14-17, 1998

Madeleine J. Hinkes, Ph.D.

Forensic anthropologists apply standard scientific techniques developed in physical anthropology to identify human remains and to assist in the investigation of crimes. In addition to assisting in locating and recovering remains, forensic anthropologists evaluate the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and unique features of a decedent. This presentation will demonstrate some of the unique contributions forensic anthropologists can make to death investigations, including collection of human remains, and associated materials, analysis of crime scene, documentation and interpretation of trauma and cause of death, recovery of trace evidence, and interpretation of problematical fire scenes

Wayne Moorehead, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Crime lab

While teaching a low explosives analysis class, the instructor noted that students using a recently purchased high dispersion refractive index liquid were into observing dispersion staining colors consistent with those typically observed for the strontium and barium nitrate standards. Evaluation of the standards and the Cargille liquid used by the students revealed sound standards but that the students' liquid differed from the instructor's older liquid. Quick replacement of the liquid by Cargille did not improve the dispersion staining colors. The Research and Development Director of Cargille Laboratories stated that the formulation had changed, possibly causing the reduced dispersion staining colors. Comparing the dispersion values in the literature with those on the bottle labels shows that the dispersion number has gone up (less dispersion) for some liquids and down (more dispersions) for others over the years.

Gene Lawrence, San Diego County Sheriffs Department Crime Lab

The mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe received media attention comparable to events such as the Branch Davidian cult siege, the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City federal building. Most of the attention centered on the Heaven's Gate cult, their beliefs, their leader and the members themselves. Very little attention has been paid to the event as a crime scene, since no apparent crime was committed. Even though all the members died of their own free will, there were volumes of information that needed to be gathered, such as who they were, how they died, why they committed suicide, how many more cult members were there out there. The evidence to answer these and other important questions were found, preserved and collected at the scene. The Heaven's Gate mass suicide as a crime scene can give valuable, insight to approaching future major, high profile crime scenes involving multiple fatalities and many agencies in the aftermath.

Dwight Reed, San Diego Medical Examiner's Office

On March 26, 1998, the San Diego Sheriff's Office received a call indicating that a mass suicide had occurred in Ranch Santa Fe. Preliminary investigation found numerous bodies, some decomposed. A HAZMAT team cleared the scene after which investigators from the Sheriff's Office and pathologists and investigators from the Medical Examiner's Office examined and documented the scene and the bodies. The next morning autopsies and toxicological testing began. Phenobarbital was detected in all decedents. Other drugs were detected in some bodies. Central blood and fluids from the decomposed bodies contained high concentrations of drugs. Examination of fluids from peripheral sites revealed lower concentrations. The deaths were certified as suicides with the causes reflecting drugs, alcohol and suffocation by plastic bags.

Karen Goodman, San Diego Police Department

This presentation will address the ease and benefits of using computers to recreate a crime scene diagram. Karen has created over 200 diagrams for court use on Homicide, Sex Crimes and other investigative uses. In addition to showing examples previous high profile cases, a basic crime scene will be created as a part of this workshop.

Conrad A. Grayson, San Diego County Sheriffs Department Arson/Explosives Unit Commander

This presentation will consist of a slide presentation of the post-blast investigation of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Sergeant Grayson was a rescuer for eight days at the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombsite from April 27th to May 4th 1995. He was assigned to rescue/search Team 2. This team was the last team to scale the nine story Federal building for a final search for bodies and physical evidence of the bomb. The presentation will demonstrate the tremendous amount of manpower needed in a crime scene of this magnitude.

Joseph A. DiZinno FBI Laboratory

The FBI Laboratory began research into the use of mtDNA analysis for forensic casework in 1992. After approximately four years of research and successful completion of validation studies, mtDNA analysis was first applied to forensic casework in June 1996. Mitochondrial DNA analysis is applied to casework where tissues to be analyzed contain very small or degraded amounts of DNA. Most of the cases analyzed for mtDNA involve the analysis of mtDNA extracted from hairs, bones or teeth. Currently, the success rate for analysis of questioned forensic samples is over 80%.

The forensic community will learn about the utility and applicability of mtDNA analysis in forensic casework and become familiar with the applications and limitations of mtDNA analysis. Personnel from the FBI Laboratory have testified to mtDNA analysis results a number of times in hearings and jury trials at the local and federal level. The major challenges to mtDNA analysis and the response to those challenges will be presented. The future of mtDNA analysis in forensic casework will be discussed. The presentation will refer to the ongoing research to improve and streamline current procedures. Other possible areas of application of this technology will be discussed as well as future plans for possible placement of mtDNA sequences from missing children/persons and missing children/persons reference samples into the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODlS) database.

Thomas J. Hopen, MVA, Inc.

Jack Nowicki, Forensic Science Center- Chicago

The laboratory analysis of fire debris samples for the presence of flammable liquid residues has progressed significantly over the last fifteen years. Dramatic improvements have occurred in the areas of extraction techniques and analytical instrumentation. Results from cent CTS Proficiency Tests, however, indicate that while most laboratories demonstrate adequate delectability limits, many labs have difficulty in the interpretation of the analytical data. The author will discuss the development of more specific guidelines for the classification of flammable liquids utilizing mass spectral information. Computer programs to assist with the interpretation of fire debris samples will be described. Also, the impact of the choice of extraction technique on the interpretation of the mass spectral data will be discussed.

John (Jack) Wallace, Ph.D. Orange County Sheriff-Coroner

Ignitable liquids in fire debris are currently identified by comparison to exemplars collected locally and analyzed in-house. A significant concern with this approach is the wide number of ignitable liquids available on the market, and the concern of generating false negative results simply because the ignitable liquid is missing from the analyst's exemplar library. This paper discusses whether a national data base of ignitable liquids would ameliorate this situation, and if so, the key features that such a data base should include. Because laboratories employ a range of analytical conditions, of primary concern is whether ignitable liquids analyzed by different instruments under different conditions can be compared. It is seen that there is little hope of comparing data generated by GC/FID, but that the comparison of GC/MS data collected under different conditions appears much more feasible.

John Shane, Ph.D. McCrone Research institute

Forensic examiners often encounter a variety of botanical matter in their investigations. However, too often these important particles are overlooked or simply ignored. Botanical traces can indicate information regarding location and timing of crimes. In addition, important geographical information can also be gleaned by identifying specific and endemic botanical particles on articles and products.

Pharmacognasy is an almost forgotten specialty involving botanical traces. However, with the recent and dramatic increase in availability and use of vegetable drugs, herbs and food additives, there is an increasing need for the forensic scientist to be knowledgeable enough to identify some of the most common ones and not mistake non-controlled herbals with those that are controlled.

I will discuss a variety of botanical traces, including; pollen, spores, wood, and herbs. Each of these traces has its own story to tell and I will outline the anatomy and morphology of each, as well as their significance.

Recent public case histories will be discussed, as well as my own research and cases involving counterfeiting and other crimes where botanical traces played a significant role in solution of the puzzle.

Thomas J. Hopen*, Richard S. Brown*, R. Keith Wheeles* and Wilfried Stocklein**
*MVA, Inc., Norcross, GA
**Bundeskriminalamt, Kriminaltechnisches Institut Wiesbaden, Germany

The layer sequence of multi-layered white and off-white paint chips usually encountered by the forensic scientist in cases involving structural and/or maintenance paint is sometimes difficult to discern when utilizing commonly employed microscopical methods. This layer sequence information becomes vitally important when comparing a questioned paint sample to a paint sample of known origin. Techniques such as reflected light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EOS) may not provide the needed discrimination. Also, binder information may not be available for comparison since the thinness of the layers the difficulty in detecting individual layers, and the abundance of the extender pigments may preclude analysis by infrared microspectrophotometry.

Cathodoluminescence microscopy (CLM) may provide the needed layer sequence information and discrimination when analyzing and comparing multi-layered white and off-white paint samples. Cathodoluminescence (Cl) is the emission of radiation from the sample in the visible light region and neighboring wavelengths during excitation by electrons generated from a cathode electron gun. ClM provides further discrimination of layer sequence of multi-layered white and off-white paint samples since cathodoluminescence is sensitive to phase differences, trace amounts of foreign atoms, and other lattice imperfections. For example: calcite which is a common pigment/extender in paint samples, may show orange, red or brown Cl colors; titanium dioxide which is a common pigment shows blue Cl colors with the anatase crystalline phase but shows no colors when present in the rutile crystalline phase; and zinc oxide, another common pigment in white paints, may show blue, green, or white colors.

Analysis of polished cross-sections by CLM was accomplished utilizing a light microscope with an attached vacuum chamber coupled with a cold-cathode electron gun. Comparison of layer information from CLM, darkfield reflected light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and SEM-EDS of the several paint cross-sections will be presented.

Walter C. McCrone, Ph.D. McCrone Research Institute

Science, as practiced by most of us, is being challenged by the growing belief that newer instruments and techniques are better than older instruments and techniques; automated, especially computer-controlled, methods are superior to methods requiring use of single instruments by scientists trained to use hands and brain; electron and other particle beams are far superior to photon beams. These beliefs are resulting in banning the use of older methods such as optical crystallography and microchemical tests and disbelief in such results. Obviously, we know all this is stupid. I will illustrate with two highly visible cases how the use of "modern" methods yielded incorrect results whereas the microscope as used for over 150 years yielded the correct result.

Norman D. Sperber, DDS

Identification of burned, decomposed and fragmented bodies is essential in homicide investigations. In a number of cases the perpetrator will attempt to obliterate their victims through the application of lye-type compounds, burning and dismemberment. In some cases, the facial tissue has been sectioned and removed.

Through the use of color slides, the lecturer will present a number of actual cases, in which obliteration of the victim was attempted. Each case will be complete from the discovery of the body remains, to the final outcome in court. The benefits of dental identification as compared to DNA findings are speed and low cost.

Margaret Whelan, BSN, RN Pomerado Sexual Assault Response Team

California law enforcement officials are mandated to provide the means to collect evidence from victims of sexual assault. Due to the increased workload on hospital emergency departments and downsizing of staff, forensic nurses, as independent practitioners, are providing essential services for victims of sexual assault. These services include the use of colposcopic examination, chemical markers, alternate light sources, and other techniques in the forensic examination process. These technical advances were previously unavailable by traditional means both in the clinical setting and in the postmortem examination of deceased victims in suspected sexual assault cases. The effective evaluation of sexual assault trauma is a complex process requiring the combined expertise of a variety of professionals working together as a team. This multidisciplinary team includes, among others, experienced law enforcement investigators, forensic nurse examiners, forensic pathologists, toxicologists, and criminalists. Clearly, the evaluation of findings in sexual assault is fundamentally dependent upon accurate data identification, collection, and preservation processes of valuable biological and trace evidence. This presentation is designed to describe the most advanced methods of evidence collection based on current scientific research and to introduce the role of the forensic nurse examiner of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) San Diego County.

Sgt. R.B. Kennedy, Forensic Identification Research and Review Section, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Forensic barefoot morphology deals with the comparison of the weight bearing areas of the bottom of a bare foot in order to establish a link between the bare foot of an individual and an impression found in mud, blood or inside of another shoe that has been matched back to a crime scene. Footwear impressions are quite often found at crime scenes and many times a match between a suspectís footwear and the crime scene can be established, but it becomes necessary to establish the wearer of the footwear in order to link a suspect back to the crime scene.

As a result of several murders which took place in New Brunswick in 1989 and the necessity of linking the suspect to a pair of work boots that had been identified back to one of the murders, a research project was set up to study the uniqueness of barefoot impressions. A computer database has been constructed, using linked barefoot impressions from volunteers. The data consists of 19 different measurements and tracings of the impression of each foot, using a digitizing tablet and AutoCad software. It became clear that much research had to be done in order to establish the uniqueness of the human foot, as no extensive study of the sort had ever been carried out. To date 5000 volunteers have given their linked impressions (10,000 feet) and approximately 2500 individuals (4,000 feet) have been entered and searched through this database. Each entry was searched against all previous entries and no matches have been found. To date this research has shown that a great degree of uniqueness does exist between the bare feet of individuals.

It is a known fact that anyone committing a crime, must walk to, from, and around the crime scene, leaving telltale footwear impressions, and at times, barefoot impressions. There are a number of instances where the examination of a footprint, recovered at a crime scene, can be extremely important. The most obvious example is the comparison of a suspect's bare foot with that on an impression found at a crime scene in mud, blood or some other medium. Often overlooked, but equally important, is the possibility of eliminating a suspect whose feet do not match the crime scene impression. Also dependant on the uniqueness of a barefoot impression is the technique of matching a foot to the impression found on the inside of a shoe. Crime scene footwear impressions, having several accidental characteristics, can be positively identified to the shoes that made the impression at the crime scene. If a suspect is not found in possession of this footwear, it may still be possible to link the suspect to the footwear and hence to the crime scene. This is accomplished by comparing the wear areas on the outsole of the shoe, the wear areas, caused by the tops of the toes, on the inside uppers of the shoe, and the darkened and indented sweat areas found on the insole of the shoe, to the shoes the suspect may have been wearing at the time of arrest and with the inked barefoot impressions taken from the suspect.

Skip Palenik, Microtrace

Although most forensic soil examinations are comparative in nature, situations occasionally arise in which it would be useful to be able to describe the location or discover the geographic source of a sample of sand or soil collected in the course of an investigation. Thoughtful study of the mineralogical, biological and anthropogenic components of these samples can often provide enough evidence to answer these questions to at least some degree of satisfaction. Biological and anthropogenic particles, with minerals in a subordinate role, are particularly useful in building up a picture of a location. Grains of minerals and rocks, along with botanical particles, serve best to locate a particular geographic origin. The microscopical and microchemical techniques which permit these investigations to be undertaken are well established although this application is somewhat novel. It is frequently essential to call in specialists, particularly field botanists and geologists to fully exploit the information collected from the assembly of microscopic particles. The techniques which the author employs to answer these questions are illustrated with actual examples from casework.

Eugene J. Wolberg, San Diego Police Department Crime Lab

With the passing of the "Assault Weapon" Control Act of 1989, the identification of so called "Assault Weapons" has caused much confusion and erroneous identifications. The end results are numerous erroneous prosecutions and convictions. The firearm that has caused the greatest number of bad identifications is the "SKS with DETACHABLE MAGAZINE," The author will identify the relevant variants of the SKS including just what is a "detachable" magazine and what is a "removable" magazine. While a specific model of SKS with a detachable magazine does exist and is correctly identified in the Attorney Generals Identification Guide, conflicts with the firearms terms of art of "detachable/removable" and the plain use of the term "detachable" has lead to misidentifications and subsequently to prosecutions for the wrong firearm. The differences in identification concepts of both the Federal and the State of Calif. "Assault Weapon" identification will also be discussed.

John Murdock, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

It is the authors view that adherence to a properly written Code of Ethics helps ensure that quality forensic casework is produced and that balanced reports are written which help described the results. The development of ethics codes and enforcement procedures within the California Association of Criminalists and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors will be discussed as well as the views on the ethics held by the California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors. The relative value of detailed ethics codes versus brief statements of values will be discussed. The use of ethical dilemmas as a training tool will be stressed and the issue of incompetence as a defense in allegations of unethical conduct will be explored. And finally, a method for requiring adherence to the CAC ethics code by non CAC member employees of public agencies will be described.

Fred Whitehurst, Forensic Justice Project

Public concerns about proprosecutorial bias within forensic science have been raised in recent years as more and more examples of past misconduct within forensic laboratories have come to light. This paper explores implications of such attitudes and actions on the part of forensic scientists and offers possible solutions to the problem which already exist within the justice community. After a short history of publicized cases of forensic misconduct, the legal and practical implications of this misconduct are discussed and then solutions ranging from the Hard Lock Doctrine to the Highest Corporate Official Doctrine, both derived from environmental law, are offered as solutions. The issues are explored within the context of the 1930's case involving the Scottsboro Boys and their inability to protect themselves within an adversarial justice system due to their abysmal ignorance. The analogy is made between those defenseless young men and defendants in modern courts of law unable to protect themselves from biased science.

John DeHaan, Ph.D. California Criminalistics Institute

Myths were the creations of primitive peoples to try to explain, or at least put into some perspective, events or phenomena that were mysterious beyond their knowledge. Ancient gods made the wind, the sun, the stars, volcanoes, and plagues. Modern myths are the creations of people whom, when confronted by something they cannot readily explain, turn to the popular press as a source of guidance. When several alternative explanations are offered, the selection of the most outrageous or illogical of them is called "tabloid logic", since many of them seem to originate (or at least propagate) through tabloid print and TV media. Thus arise the myths of living Elvises, sewer alligators, and spontaneous human combustion (SHC). Of all modern myths, SHC is one that criminalists are likely to encounter via otherwise rational police and fire investigators. The author will present the results of combustion tests carried out on animal tissue and carcasses (and on human tissue using room and core calorimetry) that document the ignition and combustion properties of fires involving bodies as the primary fuel. The combustion of bodies is possible when 1) a rigid, porous wick is present, 2) the body fat represents the most significant fuel (i.e., absence of furniture that would produce a conflagration), 3) a prolonged external flaming ignition source is available, and 4) sufficient time is allowed for the resulting low energy, flaming fire to consume the body tissues. Test results will be presented (via videotape) and case examples will be offered. The role of science in defeating such myths will be discussed.

Tom Abercrombie DOJ Berkeley, DNA Lab

One area of critically needed expertise that has for too long been overlooked in the field of criminalistics is that of supervision or administration. Too often, technical staff are promoted to management positions for which they have absolutely no training or understanding. Even after promotion, the skills needed to adequately perform as a supervisor are generally not made available in any concerted or organized manner. These skills are critical to maintaining morale and ensuring case-productivity as well as appropriate quality assurance. This presentation will deal with what the author feels are the minimum necessary "tools" to adequately address the needs of both the "new" supervisor as well as forensic scientists who are thinking of moving to management at any time in their future careers. The approach to the presentation will be "real world" from the perspective of a "new" supervisor.

Frederic A. Tulleners and James S. Hamiel, California Criminalistics Institute (CCI)

This article illustrates subclass characteristics found in groove impressions on lead bullets that were fired from 10 sequentially manufactured 38 Special, Smith & Wesson revolver barrels. These subclass characteristics were present on some, but not all of the ten sequential barrels and in some but not all of the grove impressions. The rifling impressions of these barrels were the result of the step cutting broach-manufacturing process. These subclass characteristics were not found on the land impressions of the fired lead bullets or on the land or groove impressions of the copper-jacketed bullets.

Steven Barlow, Ph.D., Electron Microscope Facility, San Diego State University

The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is widely used in a number of different fields from police forensics to plant taxonomy. High-resolution images from this machine are used to observe surface features, while concurrent x-ray analysis provides chemical composition of samples. Given increasing workloads and the need for uninterrupted sample analysis, it can be difficult for new users to get trained to use a heavily utilized SEM. There are two recent innovations that can address this problem. First, there are simulation packages available for SEM. These programs can provide some 'virtual' experience, which can shorten 'hands-on' training sessions. Second, it is now possible to connect to a SEM over the Internet. In this case, the operator in his/her office can view samples on a microscope located at a distance (across the hall, street, city, etc.). Training would therefore take place via a remote link to other machines without interfering with the in-house analysis of samples or the necessity for a new operator to travel somewhere else to receive training. The details of the SEM-Internet link, sLich as the one currently available at SDSU, will be discussed (see www.sci.sdsu.edu/emfacility/CUCMEoutreach.html).

David L. Exline, A.J. Schwoeble and Kristin R. Lee RJ Lee Group, Inc.

Computer Controlled Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy has become a common method of analysis for the detection of gunshot residue on the hands or clothing of a suspected shooter. Following the detection of potential unique (Pb-Ba-Sb and Sb-Ba) and characteristic (Pb-Ba, Pb-Sb, Pb, Sb, and Ba) particles by this automated method, the particles are relocated and manually examined to confirm the composition. The distribution of elements in a single gunshot residue particle is an important consideration when determining the overall composition of a particle. Due to the process of gunshot residue formation following the discharge of a firearm, one may infer that the chemical composition of the resulting particle is homogeneous. This study shows the heterogeneous distribution of the elements within gunshot residue particles. X-Ray Mapping is used to analyze the cross sections of individually selected gunshot residue particles.

Erin A. Trujillo, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

The Technical Working Group for the Analysis of Forensic Drug Samples (TWGDRUG) was established in September 1998. TWGDRUG's mission is to make recommendations for internationally accepted minimum standards for the forensic examination of seized drugs. Four subcommittees have been established: Education and Training, Methods and Reports, Quality Assurance, and Communications, each with a specific scope of responsibilities. This presentation will focus on the informing the forensic community of the existence of TWGDRUG and to provide an update on the progress of each subcommittee and any recommendations that TWGDRUG has developed to date.

Richard Watkins, Forensic Science Laboratory

Preparation: Start early. Prior to making the transfer, do civil cases or any others that your organization will allow you to do on the side (moonlighting). It is important in private practice to have a curriculum vitae (C.V.) that demonstrates your experience and expertise in the areas of forensic science that you plan to work. Doing research and writing papers to be published or presented at scientific seminars are also important to your development as an independent forensic scientist.

The work: In my areas of work (alcohol, firearms, tool marks, and general criminalistics) the trend in private practice appears to be less number of cases involving a wider variety of activities, when compared to public practice. A typical private case will include extensive review of the whole case, including DR's and lab reports, conferences with the retaining attorney, evidence examination, writing questions for my own testimony and the expert on the other side of the case; attending depositions, and testimony at trial.

Questions of ethics: My experience has been that there is no pressure from the retaining attorney to slant or bias my work. There is pressure to go as far as is justifiable with ones opinions. To control this pressure I believe it is important to carefully define the scientific basis of the opinions and remain firmly on that basis.

Business considerations: If you aren't a self-starter don't go into private practice. Billing and record keeping take a much larger portion on the day than you expect. Little tricks, like including the retaining attorney's phone number with the case reference number on your copy of the invoice, make your independent consultant life more efficient and leave more time for test firing, etc. Court appointed work can be an eye opener. Find out the limit of the funding for your work before spending your time on the case.

Patrick Besant-Matthews, MD; Eugene J. Wolberg

The science of wound ballistics seeks to understand the interaction of bullets and living tissue. In short "how bullets work" or more specifically, what happens when people are shot. Mr. Wolberg will discuss the methods of bullet incapacitation on humans and their effect on the reconstructive efforts of the criminalist at a shooting scene. Terms like "stopping power & knock down power" will also be addressed.

The identification and documentation of gunshot wounds in shooting events is of critical importance to the reconstruction criminalist. Dr. Besant-Matthews will discuss the characteristics of different types of gunshot wounds on skin. Also discussed will be how to assess and use an autopsy report in the reconstruction report and what classic errors one should be aware of.

Lucien Haag

This unique ammunition is gaining popularity in law enforcement and other indoor shooting ranges because of its totally lead-free construction. Such ammunition is also being used in Police "shoot houses" and has been considered for use in entry (raid) situations because of its reduced range and frangible nature when striking 'hard' objects such as walls, windows, doors, etc. At least three manufacturers are now supplying frangible ammunition in a number of popular calibers each with its own special composition and design features.

As these products become more popular, they can be expected to show up in case work where the first surprise will be that these bullets cannot be associated with the gun that fired them nor are these bullets necessarily frangible. Following a description of the design, composition and exterior ballistic characteristics of these cartridges, their terminal ballistic behavior in various targets and tissue simulants will be illustrated.