Forensic News Latest

The use of fly artifacts in a crime scene: Is there any application for forensic toxicology?

Fly artifacts (FA) are bloodstains resulting from insect activity at a crime scene, usually by feeding on human blood. Whether these artifactual stains might be useful for forensic toxicological investigations in cases of absence of conventional and unconventional matrices, for example, in cases concealment of the body or of extensive putrefaction, has not yet been investigated. The purpose of this study is to understand if FA trace evidence permits toxicological analysis when traditional matrices are not available. To this aim, FA experimentally produced by Calliphora vomitoria feeding on human blood of a cocaine and heroin user were collected from absorptive and non-absorptive material. FA material was analyzed by a new simple and fast LC-MS/MS methods. Results were evaluated in terms of presence of the drug and relative amount of the detected molecules. From a qualitative point of view, the analysis of FA revealed all the substances originally detected in post-mortem blood in both cases. The ratios of cocaine/benzoylecgonine, codeine/morphine, and 6-monoacetylmorphine/morphine recovered in FA from cotton-textile materials and from non-absorptive surfaces were consistent with data resulted from original post-mortem blood. The preliminary study herein reported demonstrated that FA are extremely informative in case of cocaine and heroin users and merit further research in order to be applied in real caseworks.

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Males as victims of intimate partner violence - results from a clinical-forensic examination centre

Only a few studies have reported on males as victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) so far. The aim of this study is to analyse the frequency and case characteristics of physical violence against male IPV victims examined in a clinical-forensic medical examination centre for victims of violence in Germany over an 11-year period, contributing to a better understanding of IPV in men. Male victims represented 6.2% of IPV cases (n = 167) with a median age of 40 years. Cases were reported to the police in 78.4% before medicolegal examination. In 60.5% of the cases, the perpetrator was the current partner, and 82% occurred in a domestic environment with a predominance of female offenders. In more than half of the cases (57.5%), the victims consulted the examination centre without prior healthcare utilisation. About one-third of the victims reported previous IPV (31.7%). The findings point to the relevance of men as victims of IPV, case group–specific risk factors, injury-dependent behaviour related to healthcare utilisation, the need to establish or strengthen specialised support services for affected men and underscore the importance of clinical-forensic services in documenting and assessing violence-related injuries.

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Unlocking the potential of forensic traces: analytical approaches to generate investigative leads

Forensic investigation involves gathering the information necessary to understand the criminal events as well as linking objects or individuals to an item, location or other individual(s) for investigative purposes. For years techniques such as presumptive chemical tests, DNA profiling or fingermark analysis have been of great value to this process. However, these techniques have their limitations, whether it is a lack of confidence in the results obtained due to cross-reactivity, subjectivity and low sensitivity; or because they are dependent on holding reference samples in a pre-existing database. There is currently a need to devise new ways to gather as much information as possible from a single trace, particularly from biological traces commonly encountered in forensic casework. This review outlines the most recent advancements in the forensic analysis of biological fluids, fingermarks and hair. Special emphasis is placed on analytical methods that can expand the information obtained from the trace beyond what is achieved in the usual practices. Special attention is paid to those methods that accurately determine the nature of the sample, as well as how long it has been at the crime scene, along with individualising information regarding the donor source of the trace.

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Drug-related celebrity deaths: A cross-sectional study

Celebrities are at risk for premature mortality as well as drug-related death. Despite being a vulnerable patient group, celebrities influence people’s health behaviours through biological, psychological and social processes. Therefore, celebrity endorsement of the topic could be one way to challenge the current “opioid endemic”. The aim of this study was to better understand the factors surrounding drug-related celebrity deaths by investigating the incidence as well as substances used between 1970 and 2015 using a cross-sectional study design. Compared to the 20th century, the total number of celebrities who died from a drug-related death in the 21st century increased, possibly due to an increased involvement of prescription opioids. Negative effects on individual health decisions of celebrity’s followers could be the result.

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Multitechnique approach for discrimination and identification of lipsticks for forensic purposes

Cosmetics are becoming more and more popular; consequently, the chance for finding them as microtraces at a crimes scene increases. They are easily transferable and can provide a link between a suspect and a victim. For this reason, identifying and comparative analysis of red lipstick – the most popular and used – is required. The aim of this study was to apply a multitechnique methodology for the comparative forensic analysis of the red lipsticks traces of a very similar hue. The possibilities and advantages of attenuated total reflection infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), confocal Raman microscopy (CRM), capillary electrophoresis (MEKC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) were combined for this purpose, and this methodology has the potential to be applied in the comparative analysis of red lipsticks for forensic purposes.

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Violence against women and DFSA: a review of the main drugs

Sexual violence is a universal phenomenon without restriction to sex, age, ethnicity or social class that causes devastating effects in the physical and mental health spheres, in the short-term and long-term, such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and greater susceptibility to psychiatric symptoms, especially depression. Some cases of sexual assault and rape are based on the use of so-called drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), which cause victims’ loss of consciousness and inability to defend, making them vulnerable to violence. This article aimed to review the literature on gender violence and the drugs used to facilitate sexual assault, addressing their mechanism of action and pharmacokinetics, as well as drug detection times in human body and types of forensic identification. It is understood that the knowledge of these drugs and their pharmacological and diagnostic mechanisms should be widely disseminated, especially about sensitivity tests and the time the drug remains in the body, which would validate the promotion of evidence to prove abuse, and, thus, being able to give a promising outcome to cases of aggression, which is extremely beneficial for women.

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in the forensic setting: a series of 19 forensic cases

Extracorporeal membeane oxygenation (ECMO) employs vascular cannulation and a gas exchange circuit to provide support to patients with severely compromised cardiopulmonary function. ECMO is often the last intervention taken before death and thus presents a unique challenge to medical examiners. This study describes the characteristics of decedents on ECMO at the time of death, including clinical indications, types of circuit configurations, causes and manners of death, gross findings at autopsy, and therapeutic complications.

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The importance of forensic evidence on criminal guilt

Recent studies have found that the general public perceives forensic evidence to be relatively inaccurate and to involve high levels of human judgement. This study examines how important the general public finds forensic evidence by comparing decisions on guilt and punishment in criminal cases that involve forensic versus eyewitness testimony evidence and examining whether a CSI effect exists. The results indicate that forensic evidence was associated with more guilty verdicts and higher confidence in a guilty verdict. Forensic evidence did not change the expected sentence length and did not generally affect the ideal sentence length. However, for rape, respondents believed that the defendant should receive a longer sentence when forensic evidence was presented but forensic evidence did not alter likely sentence that respondents expected the defendant to receive. The results of this study did not support a CSI effect. Overall, this study suggests that forensic evidence – particularly DNA – has a stronger influence during the verdict stage than the sentencing stage.

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