100th SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Fall 2002)
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINALISTS
October 14-18, 2002
Huntington Beach, CALIFORNIA
THE FUTURE OF X-RAY ANALYSIS IN FORENSIC SCIENCE
Dennis Ward, Federal Bureau of Investigations
X-ray analysis in an extremely useful tool for elemental characterization of materials in the forensic laboratory. This tool, however, whether SEM/EDS or XRF, historically has been used simply to compare materials, and then only in a laboratory setting. The FBI has several current programs that will expand the usefulness of elemental analysis on several fronts. It will create a reliable database of NIST traceable x-ray spectra from standard materials. This database will contain spectra uploaded from forensic laboratories, as well as from NIST and other government laboratories. It will consist of "NIST certified" spectra, manufactured materials, pure elements, compounds, and materials of specific forensic interest such as explosives and pyrotechnics. This database will be commercially available, and structured, managed and used in a fashion similar to the ICDD "Powder Diffraction File." The FBI also intends to develop "field use" XRF, which when interfaced with this x-ray spectral database will permit "on-the-spot" identification of materials associated with more common criminal activities, as well as materials, devices, and components used in weapons of mass destruction.
REED MCLAUGHLIN AND A 1950 MURDER IN LOS ANGELES
Jon Babicka, Los Angeles Police Department - SID
In 1950, an elderly woman was shot to death by a prowler in her Los Angeles home. Crime scene investigators recovered a partial palm print on a piece of broken glass from the kitchen door. The intruder broke the kitchen door window in order to enter the residence. LAPD Sergeant Alfred R. "Reed" McLaughlin was a Latent Print Specialist in 1950. He examined the partial palm print recovered at the crime scene and determined that it matched the suspect's palm print. This evidence was instrumental in leading to the conviction of the defendant. This same Reed McLaughlin, and his wife, Virginia, left an endowment to the CAC. This endowment currently funds CAC-sponsored research and training. The endowment also funds the Edward F. Rhodes Award. Discussion of the crime scene as well as the official 1950 LAPD photos of the crime scene will be shown. Further talk will be about Reed McLaughlin and the endowment that Reed and Virginia McLaughlin left to the CAC.
CASE REVIEW: A VALENTINE'S DAY STORY
Carolyn Gannett, San Diego Sheriff's Department Crime Laboratory
It's Valentine's Day, and it's cold, grey, and drizzly. A wife calls 911 to report her husband had gone jogging that afternoon and still had not returned to their horse ranch. It's now 7:30 in the evening. Search and Rescue descends upon the rural area and fans out along his usual jogging routes. They find his rain-soaked jacket, discarded in the gutter of a main road. Not far away they discover his body, as lifeless, as wet, and just as discarded as his jacket. But his jacket fared better than his body, which is bloody, broken, dressed in jogging clothes, and sporting a ligature. At least it's not soaking in the pool of blood investigators would expect if he had been killed here. But, they find other clues: tire impressions and tracks from at least two different vehicles, shoe impressions ("Oh, no! Of course none of us deputies walked in that area where the impressions are!" - Yeah, right!), possible footwear and drag trails between the body and the tire impressions, but no pool of blood. Back at the ranch, the family mourns inside while investigators spend all day traipsing 40 acres in the cold rain. A few minutes into the consent search and they quietly agree the murder scene is probably in the house. They had found rope that looked just like the ligature, and a truck, the right size with the right tires mounted in the right places to put it at the body site. Finally, they politely remove their muddy shoes and enter the house. They find nothing visually. But, in front of a bed stand beside the master bed, a stocking-footed investigator feels a wet carpet underneath. She looks more closely: blood stains, missed in a cleanup attempt. A search warrant reveals the need for bloodstain pattern interpretation. The investigation inside the house continues all night, with the mourning family trying, or pretending, to sleep. Investigators find bloody fingerprints, including one on a syringe containing traces of a potent horse tranquilizer. Fluorescin reveals the husband's blood on the truck bed. By late morning the wife is arrested for the murder of her husband. She is ultimately found guilty. Some Valentine's Day.
NO CHARGE FOR SHIPPING & HANDLING: LA COUNTY CORONER CASES INVOLVING DECEDENTS IN CONTAINERS
Mark Schuchardt, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner
A survey of containers used to hide or dispose of bodies encountered in Los Angeles County.
THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY CORONER SPECIAL OPERATIONS AND RECOVERY TEAM (SORT)
Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D., Forensic Anthropologis;Lieutenant Erik Arbuthnot, California State University Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Dept. of Coroner
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner/ Coroner (LACDOC) is one of the busiest such offices in the United States. In 2000, the LACDOC certified 9,156 cases. It is estimated that approximately 75 of these cases involved multiple decedents (multiple fatality incidents), mass fatality incidents, special decedent recovery, and buried body recovery. Because of the difficulty in processing such scenes, the need for specialized training was recognized, and in 2001 the LACDOC created the Special Operations and Recovery Team (SORT). The SORT is a special program of the LACDOC, staffed by specially selected and trained coroner investigators, criminalists, forensic technicians and forensic attendants, and other experts, including an anthropologist and an archaeologist. SORT is designed to provide field assistance in cases needing special handling, or traditionally needing assistance from outside agencies. The LACDOC is, to the knowledge of the authors, the only county agency in the country to initiate such a team. The reasons for this are likely many, but prominent among them is the large number of "special" cases seen in Los Angeles County. Through the use of case studies the utility of teams such as the LA County Coroner's SORT will be illustrated, particularly from the standpoint of evidence recovery.
ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS: ARSON/BOMB DOG, NARCOTICS DOG, CADAVER DOG, SCENT, SEARCH & RESCUE DOG
Arson: Frank Oglesby, LAPD; Narcotics: Sgt. Robert Mueller, LASD; Cadaver: Joe D'Allura, LASD, Scent; Search & Rescue: Ted Hamm, LASD
During this special segment, our brave and talented canine members and their trainers will give a presentation on their training and duties on the job.
WORLD TRADE CENTER - NEW YORK DISASTER SLIDE SHOW
Investigator Emil Moldovan, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner
The presentation has 104 slides and discusses the various efforts taken in New York. The discussion will involve DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Response Team), DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team), USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). While I do not pretend to speak for the various agencies involved, the attendees will get an overview of how these agencies respond to major disasters and coordinate rescue and recovery efforts.
DETECTING A STAGED CRIME SCENE
W. Jerry Chisum, Life Member, CAC
A crime scene is staged when someone deliberately tampers with the evidence to change the direction of the investigation. Usually this is to direct the investigation away from themselves. The most common staging is to make a homicide appear to be a suicide; however it can also be to make a suicide appear to be a homicide. Framing someone for the crime is a special case of staging. The problem is in detecting when the crime scene is staged. The author describes some of the evidence that can point to staging. This includes the position of hair, and clothing, shoes, bloodstains and firearms evidence.
FORENSIC TESTING AT THE U.S. ARMY YUMA PROVING GROUND
Jim Roberts, Ventura Co. Sheriff's Forensic Science Laboratory
Over the past several years the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground along with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and The Southern California Firearms Study Group has hosted a test session for firearms examiners each fall. The test sessions have allowed the testing of a large number of firearms with Doppler radar and high-speed video and a look at a number of firearms phenomena. The presentation will explain some of the history and show some of the data and images produced over the past several years.
BLUE INKS AND UV-VISIBLE MICROSPECTROPHOTOMETRIC ANALYSIS
Dr. Paul Martin, CRAIC Technologies, 2400 N. Lincoln Ave., Altadena, CA 91001
Blue inks are one of the most common found on Questioned Documents. Yet they are also one of the most difficult to analyze. The purpose of this paper is to show the results of a novel analysis of a series of commonly occurring blue inks. The deep UV spectra (220 to 400 nm) of samples as small as 4 microns were analyzed by measuring the transmission of the raw ink, the transmission of the ink on paper, and the reflectance of the ink on paper. The results are compared and discussed.
THE FORENSIC CHARACTERIZATION OF GLITTER COSMETIC PARTICLES
Scott Kirkowski, Intern, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Regional Forensic Laboratory
Glitter particle cosmetic products are very popular among young women and teenage (and even preteen) girls. There is a high probability of transfer of these particles in sexual assaults, abductions, or any crime where there is intimate contact between victim and assailant (or environments associated with a suspect such as his apartment or the trunk of his car). Assisted by a grant from the A. Reed and Virginia McLaughlin Endowment Committee of the CAC, under the direction of Senior Chemist Robert Blackledge, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Regional Forensic Laboratory in San Diego is developing a protocol for the detection and recovery of glitter particles from evidence items and crime scenes, and for their comparison and characterization. Glitter particles were detected using the naked eye, white light, and an alternate light source. Recovery methods tested included individual particle picking with fine forceps, scraping clothing items over butcher paper, and various methods of tape lifting. Different particle types were characterized by microscopic examination and cataloging using an Inf~500TM CCD Video Microscope (Moritex Corp., Tokyo, Japan) along with VisionGauge™ software (VISIONx Inc., Pointe-Claire, Canada). Additionally, particles were examined with a Video Spectral Comparator (VSC I, Foster & Freeman, England), and selected particles were examined with an FT-IR Microscope. Initial indications are that although there are numerous glitter cosmetic products on the market, in the USA most of the glitter particles used in these products is made by one manufacturer, Meadowbrook Inventions, Inc., Bernardsville, NJ. The glitter cosmetic particles are made from polyethylene terphthalate (PET) film but can be of several different colors, sizes, shapes (hexagonal, square, rectangular) and may have surface coatings on one side. This talk will discuss detection and recovery methods, demonstrate characterization methods, and with numerous video microscope images illustrate the wide variety of glitter cosmetic products in terms of shape, size, color, and surface morphology. Although at this point incomplete, in addition to a protocol, this study will eventually produce on CD a catalog of different glitter particle types. This CD will be made available to other crime labs and will be read/write so that future additions may be made.
GLITTER PARTICLE TRACES: AN ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENTIAL VALUE
Klaya Aardahl, Intern, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Regional Forensic Laboratory
The previous talk by Scott Kirkowski detailed the preliminary results of a study (funded by a grant from the A. Reed and Virginia McLaughlin Endowment Committee of the CAC) of glitter particle cosmetic traces. Yes, glitter particle cosmetic products are very popular among young women and teenage (and even preteen) girls. And yes, there is a high probability of transfer of these particles in sexual assaults, abductions, or any crime where there is intimate contact between victim and assailant (or environments associated with a suspect such as his apartment or the trunk of his car.) Certainly it would seem reasonable that glitter particle cosmetic traces might help to provide an association between a suspect and the victim. However, consider the following scenario: A sexual assault victim was wearing a glitter cosmetic product. Some glitter particles matching this product are recovered from the clothing of a suspect. The case goes to trial and the prosecution presents the evidence. But upon cross examination, the defense attorney states: "Today, these glitter particle cosmetic products are so popular that they are virtually everywhere. My client could have picked up these glitter particles on his clothing from just about anywhere!" Unless this assertion can be refuted with solid scientific data, the usefulness of glitter particle trace evidence in helping to establish an association between the victim and the suspect would be considerably weakened. From the assortment of different brands and types of commercial glitter cosmetic products collected and characterized by Scott, I have selected four different specific types as "target particles." By specific, I mean specific in terms of size, shape, color, surface morphology, and chemical composition. I then made arrangements to make tape lifts at booths in local bars and restaurants. Arrangements were also made to make tape lifts of the back seat of police cars when they were brought into the station at change of shift. These tape liftings were then searched microscopically to help give insight into the following two questions:
1) In general, how ubiquitous are glitter particles in the general environment?
2) If one has a specific target particle, how likely is it that one or more of these particles would be picked up on one's clothing?
Results of these searches will be presented, and their significance in assessing the evidential value of glitter particle trace evidence will be discussed.
PSYCHOTRIA VIRIDIS, A BOTANICAL SOURCE
Robert D. Blackledge*, Senior Chemist, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Regional, Forensic Laboratory; Charlotte M. Taylor, Ph.D., Curator, Missouri Botanical Garden
N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a Schedule I Controlled Substance, was identified by GC/MS in a sample of dried leafy vegetable material that was subsequently identified as Psychotria viridis (Rubiaceae), a tropical shrub native to Central and South America. The chemical identification of DMT in the unknown vegetable material was straightforward. However, its botanical identification was a challenging mystery for the presenter (RDB). This talk will take the audience along this mystery trail, with stops at Google (the Internet search engine), the curator of botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum, a search of the website of the Missouri Botanical Garden (with ultimate location of Dr. Taylor), a convoluted drive through the bureaucratic maze of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Diversion Control, and finally a successful transfer of a part of the sample to Dr. Taylor and its positive identification. [Yes! I was right! It was Col. Mustard with a candlestick in the library!] Along the way, the audience will learn something about the ethnobotanical use of this plant as a hallucinogen by many indigenous peoples in tropical South America, and with drawings from Dr. Taylor the botanical characteristics of Psychotria viridis will be illustrated and described. And to conclude this mystery tour, the audience will learn of an Internet site where this vegetable material was likely procured.
A BRIEF EVALUATION OF A REFLECTED ULTRAVIOLET IMAGING SYSTEM (RUVIS) FOR FORENSIC EVIDENCE
Kevin Andera & Laurie Crutchfield, Orange County Sheriff- Coroner Department
Our laboratory obtained a demonstration model of a Reflected Ultraviolet Imaging System (RUVIS) from SPEX Forensics (brand name of Scenescope) for a two-week evaluation. The RUVIS consists of an external UV light source and a handheld imaging device. The imager is composed of a UV filter, quartz optics, a photomultiplier, and a view screen. An image capture device such as a 35mm camera, digital camera, or video camera can be attached to the imager. Certain evidence which is not visible in normal light can been' seen through the imager when illuminated with ultraviolet light. The Scenescope is marketed primarily for the detection of latent fingerprints prior to any chemical treatment. Therefore, the device was tested with a 254 nm UV filter, a wavelength at which latent fingerprint residues are highly reflective. In addition to latent prints, any substance that has a high degree of IJV reflectivity or absorptivity compared to the background can be seen. The RUVIS can also be fitted with a 320 nm filter to visualize bruising on live subjects after it has faded past visibility on the surface of the skin. A special Luminol filter allows photography of bloodstains in less than totally dark rooms or after the luminescence has faded below normal visibility. (Neither of these filters was available with the demo model we tested.) We examined several different types of forensic evidence with the 254 nm filter. The RUVIS successfully visualized remnants of flaked-off blood on finished wood, bloody fingerprints on black tile, bloodstain patterns washed off of painted drywall with 10% bleach, undiluted semen on white cotton/polyester and blue denim, pepper spray on white tile, shoeprints in dust, white fibers on a background of a different white fiber cloth, and undiluted blood on black paint. We were also able to see untreated fingerprints on a variety of smooth, nonporous surfaces. Fingerprints that had been processed with cyanoacrylate stood out with even more contrast. We were unable to detect painted over blood, semen and saliva on cloth (except as mentioned above), blood on cotton cloth after washing with 10% bleach, pepper spray on cotton cloth, and fingerprints on rough or porous surfaces. Additionally, when fingerprint target surfaces were developed with black powder all of the prints seen by the RUVIS were made visible, as well as several additional prints not seen through the imager. One of the main advantages of the RUVIS is the ability to rapidly scan a large area for evidence from a distance of 10 to 15 feet. Fingerprints and the shoeprint in dust were easily visible from this distance. This particular model was also able to take extremely close-up images to capture fine detail. However, the UV reflectivity of items is highly dependent on the incident angle of the lighting, and we found it required two people to successfully search an area: one to hold the UV lamp at various angles and the other to operate the imager. The greatest deterrent to using RUVIS on biological evidence is the fact that 254 nm light can rapidly destroy DNA in body fluids.
SWGDRUG: PHASE TWO
Jerry Massetti, CA Criminalistics Institute; Gary Chasteen, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Laboratory
The Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG) continues to develop recommendations for minimum standards for the forensic examination and analysis of seized drugs. SWGDRUG has begun Phase II of its efforts. An overview of recent SWGDRUG Core Group meeting activities will be presented. The process SWGDRUG is using to develop recommendations and to communicate them to the forensic community will be described. Changes to the organizational makeup of SWGDRUG will also be discussed.