FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES


FFD 500X629


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2005 Edgar Award Nominee, Best Fact Crime

2005 Macavity Award Winner, Best Non-Fiction


Table of Contents

Introduction
About This Book
Foolish Assumptions
Icons Used in This Book 
Beyond the Book
Where to Go from Here

Part I: Cracking Open the Case

Chapter 1: Understanding the World of Forensic Science

Defining Forensics: The Science of Catching Criminals 
Integrating science into the practice of law
Drawing from other sciences
Getting the Big Picture: Forensic Science in Action
Starting out small: Basic forensic services
Looking at physical forensic science
Delving into biological forensic science
Investigating the Crime Lab
Creating the rst crime lab
Identifying common procedures
Peeking Inside the Criminalist’s Toolbox
The Cornerstone of Forensic Science: Locard’s Exchange Principle
Looking at Locard’s principle in action
Reading the trace evidence
Determining who did what where 

Chapter 2: Getting to Know the Forensics Team

Gathering the Evidence: The Criminalist at Work
From Analyzing Blood to Identifying Bugs: Forensic 
Science Specialists
Forensic Investigation’s Head Honcho: The Medical Examiner
Looking at two forensic systems
Checking out the duties of a coroner or medical examiner
Following the medical examiner in action
Dealing with the Dead: The Coroner’s Technician
Testifying as an Expert
Understanding the court system
Getting to the heart of the “truth”
Understanding the role of expert testimony

Chapter 3: Collecting and Protecting the Evidence

Assessing the Scene of the Crime
Distinguishing between primary and secondary crime scenes
Arriving at a crime scene
Preserving and processing the scene
Documenting the procedure
Reconstructing the crime scene
Recognizing a staged crime scene
Classifying the Evidence
Determining whether evidence is direct or circumstantial
Discerning physical from biological evidence
Understanding reconstructive evidence
Identifying associative evidence
Differentiating class and individual evidence
Analyzing the evidence
Locating the Evidence
Obtaining a search warrant
Searching without a warrant
Collecting and Preserving the Evidence
Searching the area
Gathering the evidence
Packaging the evidence
Collecting control samples
Protecting the chain of custody
Locating a Missing Corpse 

Chapter 4: Delving into the Criminal Mind

Defining the Role of the Forensic Psychiatric Professional
Differentiating forensic from clinical psychiatry
How the mind matters in forensics
Assessing the Brain
Getting started with a medical history and physical exam
Digging into the psyche
Asking the right questions
Employing dubious techniques
Dealing with Deception
Recognizing lying perps
Debunking the eyewitness
Dealing with false confessions
Assessing Competence and Sanity
Determining a defendant’s competence
Defining insanity, loosely
Tracking Serial Offenders
Classifying the multiple murderer
Making the monsters
Profiling the Perpetrator
Assessing the perpetrator’s psyche
Taking trophies and souvenirs
Distinguishing MO from signature
Profiling the victim: Victimology
Drawing boundaries: The killer’s domain
Linking Criminals and Crime Scenes

Part II: Analyzing the Evidence

Chapter 5: Fingerprints: Your Personal Signature

Getting a Grip on Fingerprints
Measuring bodies: A precursor to ngerprinting
Using ridge patterns
Making Matching Easier: Classifying Prints
Grouping by arches, loops, and whorls
Developing the Henry System
Speeding up identi cation: AFIS
Locating Those Sneaky Prints
Seeking latent prints
Powdering the print
Using chemistry to expose prints
Cleaning up the print: Digital techniques

Chapter 6: Painting A Gruesome Picture: Bloodstain Analysis

Understanding Blood’s Character
Thicker than water
Looking into blood clotting
Oozing, gushing, and dripping
Analyzing Bloodstain Patterns
Finding clues in passive bloodstains
Analyzing projected blood spatters
Classifying projected spatters
Latching on to transfer patterns
Reconstructing the crime scene from bloodstains
Putting It All Together: A Hypothetical Case

Chapter 7: Leaving Impressive Impressions: Shoes, Tires, and Tools

Stepping Out: Shoeprints as Evidence
Characterizing and using shoeprints
Matching sole to soul — so to speak
Collecting shoe impressions
Making the match
Tracking Down Tires
Analyzing tire‐track evidence
Obtaining tire impressions
Prying Clues from Tool Marks
Characterizing and using tool marks
Capturing tool impressions
Finding Facts in Fabrics

Chapter 8: Burning Down the House: Is It Arson?

Striking the Match: Looking into Fire‐Starters
Determining Where and How the Fire Started
Using other people’s eyes and ears
Locating the point of origin
Figuring out how it happened
Igniting the blaze
Heating Things Up: Accelerants
Collecting samples at the scene
Taking it to the lab
Digging deeper into iffy samples
Drawing conclusions from testing
Investigating Homicidal Fires
Location, location, location
Poisoned by air
Evaluating Explosive Situations
Defining explosives
Investigating a bombing scene

Part III: Examining the Body

Chapter 9: Determining the Cause and Manner of Death: Forensic Autopsies

Defining Death and Declaring It as Such
Searching for a de nitive method
Determining the causes and mechanisms of death
Uncovering the four manners of death
Shadowing the Forensic Pathologist
Discovering what makes an autopsy forensic
Deciding who gets autopsied
Performing an Autopsy
Identifying the body
Conducting an external examination
Dissecting the body
Sniffing out clues in chemicals: Toxicology
Filing the Of cial Autopsy Report

Chapter 10: Identifying Unknown Victims

Identifying the Body
Sifting through the artifacts
Examining scars, birthmarks, and tattoos
Finding evidence of wounds or disease
Fingerprinting the dead
Checking out the choppers
Using DNA To Make the ID
Dem Bones, Dem Bones: Working with Skeletons
Determining whether bones are human
Determining age
Estimating stature
Determining sex
Determining race
Seeking individual characteristics
Estimating time since death
Handling burned bones
Determining cause and manner of death
Reconstructing Faces
Comparing Photographs

Chapter 11: Estimating the Time of Death

Defining Time of Death
Examining the Body to Estimate Time of Death
Measuring body temperature
Stiffening up: Rigor mortis
Getting the blues: Lividity
Determining the rate of decay
Dealing with other possibilities
Breaking the surface: When sinkers become oaters
Gazing into the eyes
Gathering Other Clues
Discovering what was on the menu
Getting buggy
Checking other scene markers

Chapter 12: Ouch! That Hurts: Traumatic Injuries and Deaths

Unleashing the Power of Guns and Gun Evidence
Tracking those tricky bullets
Studying entry and exit wounds
Analyzing shotgun patterns
Slicing, Dicing, and Stabbing
Taking the Hit: Blunt‐Force Trauma
Scraping and abrading
Bruising and battering
Breaking bones
Getting toothy: Bite marks
Moaning and groaning: My aching head
A Shocking Situation: Electrocution
Wreaking havoc: Electricity’s path through your body
Assessing the damage
The R Word: Dealing with Rape
Conducting a rape exam
Dealing with fatal assaults

Chapter 13: Gasping for Air: Asphyxia 203

Understanding Asphyxia
Gasping for Oxygen: Suffocation
Suffocating environments
Smothering
Choking sensations
Applying pressure: Mechanical asphyxia
Suffocating gases
Grasping Strangulation
Finding common threads in strangulations
Hands on: Manual strangulation
Applying a ligature
Hangings
Inhaling Deadly Air: Toxic Gases
That sneaky carbon monoxide
Deadly cyanide
Getting down with sewer gas
Drowning: Water, Water Everywhere
Finding the manner of death
Diving deeper to identify drownings

Part IV: Utilizing the Crime Lab

Chapter 14: Analyzing Blood and Other Bodily Fluids: Serology 221

Blood: Life’s Most Precious Fluid
Understanding blood
Blood typing: The ABO system
Identifying a Bloodstain’s Source
Answering the rst question: Is it blood?
Knowing when blood’s really human
Narrowing the focus: Whose blood is it?
Testing for Paternity
Inheriting your blood type
Determining fatherhood
Looking at Other Bodily Fluids
Checking for semen
Checking for saliva
Detecting vaginal fluid

Chapter 15: Looking Deep Inside: DNA Analysis

Opening an Instruction Manual for Your Cells
Understanding the nuts and bolts of DNA
Mine, mine, all mine: Uniqueness and DNA
Fingering Criminals Using DNA Fingerprints
Tracking down and preserving DNA
Looking into the genome
Repeating yourself: How duplication identi es you
Understanding the DNA Fingerprinting Process
Getting even smaller with SNPs
Making the match
Shedding cells: Touch DNA
Keeping it in the family: Familial DNA
Using DNA to Determine Lineage
Who’s yer daddy? Paternity testing
Who’s yer granny and granddaddy? Mitochondrial and Y‐STR DNA
Indexing DNA: The CODIS system

Chapter 16: Testing for Drugs and Poisons: The Toxicology Lab

Understanding Poisons
Defining Toxicology
Seeking Toxins
Collecting samples
Determining the cause and manner of death
Examining the Testing Procedures
Presuming the results
Confirming the results
Interpreting the results
Looking at Common Drugs
Understanding alcohol
Getting down with depressants
Hopping up: Stimulants
Taking a trip with hallucinogens
Dirty deeds: Date rape drugs
Sniffing and huffing
Bulking up
Checking Out Familiar Poisons

Chapter 17: Picking Apart Trace Evidence

Defining Trace Evidence
Understanding Analytical Instruments
Peering through the microscope
Testing the chemical makeup of trace materials
Splitting Hairs: Linking Crime to Coiffure
Dissecting hair’s anatomy
Matching criminal to curly lock
Fiddling with Fibers
Classifying fibers
Collecting fibers
Comparing fibers
Breaking down the fiber
Cracking the Mysteries of Glass
Looking into how glass becomes evidence
Analyzing and matching glass
Breaking glass
Puttering with Paints
Dissecting paint
Solving the puzzle
Getting Down and Dirty: Soils and Plants
Identifying soils
Looking at plants and seeds

Chapter 18: Bang! Bang!: Analyzing Firearms Evidence

Figuring Out Firearms
Extracting Info from Ammo
Handling bullets
Breaking down bullets
Determining caliber and gauge
Shuffling through shell casings
Getting Groovy: Comparing Rifling Patterns
Understanding rifling
Reading the ridges
Searching for answers in databases
The Proof’s in the Powder: Gunshot Residues
Tracing gasses and particles
Testing for GSR
Determining distance

Chapter 19: Questioning the Validity of Documents

Analyzing Handwriting
Obtaining standards
Comparing handwriting
Fingering forgers
Exposing Alterations
Wiping away writing
Eradicating the original
Adding words
Looking for Indentions
Examining Papers and Inks
Distinguishing papers
Identifying inks
Dissecting Typewriters and Photocopiers
Hunting and pecking for clues
Finding distinctive traits in copies

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 20: Ten Famous Forensic Cases 321

Using a Homemade Ladder: The Lindbergh Kidnapping
Sacco and Vanzetti and Sacco’s Gun
Ted Bundy’s Bite Marks
Stella Nickell’s Trail of Fingerprints
Finding Fibers on Jeffrey MacDonald
Georgi Markov and the Lethal Umbrella
The Hendricks Family’s Last Meal
Picturing John List
Being Anastasia Romanov
Faking Hitler’s Diaries 

Chapter 21: Ten Ways Hollywood Gets It Wrong

The Quick Death
The Pretty Death
The Bleeding Corpse
The Exact Time of Death
The One‐Punch Knockout
The Disappearing Black Eye
The Fast‐Acting Poison
The Untraceable Poison
The Instant Athlete
The High‐Tech Lab 

Chapter 22: Ten Great Forensic Careers

Criminalist
Crime Scene Investigator
Forensic Investigator
Forensic Pathologist
Forensic Pathology Technician
Forensic Anthropologist
Forensic Toxicologist
Fingerprint Examiner
Forensic Document Examiner
Forensic DNA Analyst 

Index

© Douglas Lyle 2015