Hair and Fiber Evidence - Hair and Fiber 1 Hair and Fiber...

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Hair and Fiber 1 Hair and Fiber Evidence Genise Caruso January 25, 2009 Hair and Fiber 2
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Most trace evidence found at a crime undergoes forensic analysis for two main purposes: identification and comparison. Often tiny strange particles are found, and testing for identification purposes establishes exactly what the material is. Obviously, this is a vital step in determining if questionable substances left at a crime scene are traces of blood, illegal drugs, or if hairs collected are human or animal. Comparisons attempt to determine if the evidence found at a scene shares a common origin with that from a suspect. For example, crime-scene fibers would be compared with fibers from clothing, carpets, etc. of a suspect, to see if they match. (Lyle, 2004). The primary significance and most valuable characteristic of trace evidence is it can unknowingly be transferred from one person to another, or between a person and crime scene. During the commission of a crime, tiny particles of items such as hair, fibers, dirt, blood, skin or saliva from a perpetrator are transferred to clothing, hair, etc. of a victim, or vice-versa. This evidence is vital, as often it is the only thing that connects suspect to the crime scene and was first brought to the attention of investigators in the early 1900s, by Edmond Locard, a French police officer. This is the real cornerstone of forensics and known as Locard’s Exchange Principle. (Lyle, 2004). Two types of trace evidence often recovered at crime scenes are hair and fibers. While in most cases, evidence of this nature cannot conclusively identify a particular person, it is a valuable source of associative evidence. Analyzing hair evidence Prior to the year 1900, scientists could not differentiate human hair from animal hair, as no information on the subject was available. Failure in this area meant hair had little value as forensic evidence; therefore, an ineffective support for investigators. Francois Goron, Chief Hair and Fiber 3
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Investigator with the French Surete, was the first one to solve a crime using hair as evidence, after confirming the hair of a murder victim was dyed. (Steck-Flynn). Like other types of trace evidence, hair’s primary value is for identification and comparison purposes. Because it is small and resilient, easily shed, naturally adheres to most materials, lasts after body decomposition and conveniently gets transferred unknowingly, hair evidence can be quite useful. However, its ultimate value is highly dependent on the skill and experience of the examiner, as the majority of analysis involves structure and chemical characteristics. Most often, the first question examiners must answer is whether hair from a crime scene came from a human or animal. While this task can usually be done with ease, it is important to understand the structural characteristics of hair are extremely inconsistent, not just
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2010 for the course CRJ 381 taught by Professor Giannoni during the Spring '09 term at New York Institute of Technology-Westbury.

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Hair and Fiber Evidence - Hair and Fiber 1 Hair and Fiber...

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