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Forensics News


Forensic Mitochondrial DNA Analysis

Saturday 2 November 2002 in Forensics 11 Comment(s)

A Different Crime Solving Tool
On a December evening in 1994, a woman and her 4-month-old son were abducted and left to die in a wooded area in Pennsylvania. Although the woman’s husband was an early suspect, detectives soon realized that he had not been involved in the crime. Before long, his jealous ex-girlfriend became the prime suspect in the murder investigation. Due to the careful collection of trace evidence from the victim’s vehicle, investigators located a hair, stained with the victim’s blood, on the back of the driver’s seat. Laboratory tests performed on this hair and a sample from the suspect demonstrated that the evidentiary hair had the same mitochondrial DNA sequence as the one from the suspect and possibly could have come from her. Later, the suspect was tried and convicted of killing both the woman and her baby.




The Forensic Anthropologist

Thursday 20 June 2002 in Forensics 2 Comment(s)

In recent years, just as the investigation of a crime scene has become more complex and sophisticated, so has the task of the forensic anthropologist. Forensic anthropologists assist medical and legal specialists to identify known or suspected human remains. The science of forensic anthropology includes archeological excavation; examination of hair, insects, plant materials and footprints; determination of elapsed time since death; facial reproduction; photographic superimposition; detection of anatomical variants; and analysis of past injury and medical treatment. However, in practice, forensic anthropologists primarily help to identify a decedent based on the available evidence.




Latent Fingerprints

Monday 18 March 2002 in Forensics 3 Comment(s)

Whether to stop them from fleeing, immobilize them, or dispose of them, murderers often grab their victims. What homicide detective has not wished for the ability to develop identifiable fingerprints of a suspect from the skin of a dead body? Crucial fingerprint evidence linking the perpetrator to the victim must be right there, but, until recently, attempts to retrieve those prints rarely met with success.




Forensic Entomology: The Use of Insects in Death Investigation

Tuesday 20 November 2001 in Forensics 10 Comment(s)

© Dr. Gail S. Anderson - RCMP


Forensic (or medico-legal) entomology(1) is the study of the insects associated with a human corpse in an effort to determine elapsed time since death. Insect evidence may also show that the body has been moved to a second site after death, or that the body has been disturbed at some time, either by animals, or by the killer returning to the scene of the crime. However, the primary purpose of forensic entomology today is to determine elapsed time since death.




What Every Law Enforcement Officer Should Know About DNA Evidence

Thursday 15 November 2001 in Forensics 8 Comment(s)

With the exception of identical twins, every person's DNA is different—this has made DNA samples one of the most important pieces of evidence from crime scenes. What Every Law Enforcement Officer Should Know About DNA Evidence describes the need for investigators to have fundamental knowledge about identifying, preserving, and collecting DNA to help solve cases. This NIJ brochure also discusses CODIS (COmbined DNA Index System), an electronic database of DNA profiles that can identify suspects. NIJ Sept 99




The Rebirth of Forensic Psychiatry in Light of Recent Historical Trends in Crimi

Thursday 6 September 2001 in Forensics 2 Comment(s)

Forensic Psychiatry & Medicine Harold J. Bursztajn, MD, Albert E. Scherr, JD, Archie Brodsky
The two psychiatrists portrayed in the award-winning movie Silence of the Lambs -- Dr. Hannibal Lector and his keeper, Dr. Chilton -- represent two of the more prevalent caricatures of the profession: the evil wizard and the pretentious buffoon. As commonly as such stereotypes are applied to physicians, they are even more commonly applied to psychiatrists. They are conjured up perhaps most intensely in relation to those psychiatrists who sail the treacherous shoreline where psychiatry and the law meet: forensic psychiatry. This shoreline might be considered an endangered area, having survived repeated tidal waves of public sentiment to have it declared off-limits. The latest such tidal wave arose in the early 1980s, particularly in the aftermath of the verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" in the trial of John Hinckley, who nearly succeeded in assassinating President Ronald Reagan.




The Role of a Forensic Psychiatrist in Legal Proceedings

Wednesday 5 September 2001 in Forensics 1 Comment(s)

Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D.
Forensic Psychiatry & Medicine


A forensic psychiatrist is a medical doctor with, first, the additional training of a psychiatrist, and then with special training and experience (forensic) in the application of psychiatric knowledge to questions posed by the legal system. A forensic psychiatrist may also have a clinical practice. However, when acting in the capacity of a forensic specialist, he or she is not providing therapy to alleviate the patient's suffering or to help the patient be free and healthy, but an objective evaluation for use by the retaining institution, attorney, or court.




Feminism and Forensic Psychiatry

Sunday 2 September 2001 in Forensics 2 Comment(s)

Dr Brian Boettcher© Psychiatry On-Line
Version 1.1 January 1997



Is Feminist Research different and of any use to psychiatry ? Does Feminist Research have any lessons for Forensic Psychiatry or the behavioural sciences in general.

The qualitative and subjective nature of psychiatric techniques along with the tendency of some psychiatric clinical practice to empower marginalised groups causes it to have a kinship with feminism . Of course Forensic psychiatry can disempower just as much as empower these groups , often without the psychiatrist being aware that it is even happening and especially if the psychiatrist is not sensitised to feminist principles which are discussed in this discourse. The disempowerment can also be deliberate and in the name of such things as administration , law or money (especially hired guns) . Feminist research targets areas where there is disempowerment and inequality for women whether the area is in the use of the law, in criminological theory, institutions such as the Criminal Justice system or some other area of society. Feminist research tends toward a more holistic method, but does so in an attempt to question 'traditional truths' within any field of knowledge (discourse) and this is also true for criminology and to a lesser extent forensic psychiatry. Feminism attempts to take account of difference and provoke a more 'realistic' view of the position of people in the world.




Hidden Evidence: Latent Prints on Human Skin

Monday 27 August 2001 in Forensics 1 Comment(s)

By Ivan Ross Futrell FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin April 96
Mr. Futrell is a supervisory fingerprint specialist in the Latent Fingerprint Section of the FBI Laboratory in Washington, D.C. ____________________ (Recent research proves that identifiable prints can be obtained from the skin of homicide victims under real field conditions, not just in the laboratory.) Whether to stop them from fleeing, immobilize them, or dispose of them, murderers often grab their victims. What homicide detective has not wished for the ability to develop identifiable fingerprints of a suspect from the skin of a dead body? Crucial fingerprint evidence linking the perpetrator to the victim must be right there, but, until recently, attempts to retrieve those prints rarely met with success.




Understanding DNA Evidence: A Guide for Victim Service Providers (May 2001 NIJ)

Monday 11 June 2001 in Forensics 2 Comment(s)

DNA evidence is playing a larger role than ever before in criminal cases throughout the country, both to convict the guilty and to exonerate those wrongly accused or convicted. In light of this increasing role, NIJ and OVC developed this brochure to describe the value of DNA evidence for victim service providers so that they can understand the potential significance of DNA evidence to their clients' cases. It also discusses evidence collection, contamination, and preservation issues; the interpretation of DNA test results; and the CODIS index. BC 000657




Biometrics

Tuesday 22 May 2001 in Forensics 2 Comment(s)

In a nutshell Biometrics are any physiological or behavioral characteristic that can be used to verify the identity of an individual. Examples include fingerprints, retinal scans, voice patters and even signatures.

Biometrics are important in any area where there is a need to verify the identity of an individual. This particular holds true in criminal investigations. Unlike photo identification or personalised pin numbers used in banking and teller machines across the world, it is almost impossible for Biometrics to be transferred between individuals.




Crime Scene Investigation - A Guide For Law Enforcement

Wednesday 9 May 2001 in Forensics 1 Comment(s)

Physical evidence has the potential to play a critical role in the overall investigation and resolution of a suspected criminal act. Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement published by the DOJ's National Institute of Justice, discusses the fundamental principles of investigating a crime scene and preserving evidence that need to be practiced in order to yield reliable information. This research report is intended for use by law enforcement and other responders who have responsibilities for protecting crime scenes, preserving physical evidence, and collecting and submitting the evidence for scientific examination.




 

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