Sunday, April 25, 2010
Forensic Science-Bone Chilling Facts, By Sharon Powell
Among the many unsolved crimes lying in wait are mysteries surrounding the death of a human body. Masked within the silence of life are untold stories of terror. Unpleasant as it may seem examining the remains of a decayed human body are crucial steps for solving clues left behind when “criminal homicide is believed to be at fault.”
“Forensic Science” has been a part of “anthropology and crime investigations” since the earlier part of the 19th Century. Although techniques of the 1800’s were somewhat prehistoric in comparison to contemporary methods, their ability to solve crimes became a reality through the aid of scientific procedures used in Forensic Anthropology. Not all dead bodies discovered are the results of crime, but “Forensic Anthropologists” continue to study the remains in an effort to learn about the social culture. Information gathered by “anthropological scientists” continues to provide important knowledge into the daily lifestyles and habits of man.
Among the two-hundred six bones forming the frame of the human body “genetic markers known as “DNA code, (Deoxyribonucleic Acid,) along with bone structure, gender, age, hair and eye color, provide the answers for determining who’s who in the world; including the possible cause of death. By examining various parts of the body including the blood, teeth, skull, and bone fragment, the “Scientific Pathologist” provides insight into the physical signs of aging, and degeneration. These signs are crucial steps for finding the truth involved with difficult crime investigations. Characteristics of the human skeleton” such as size of the skull, or shape of the chin and protruding brow ridges are all features for determining the nature of the sex involved; including the shape and distance of the pelvic region where as women are equipped with greater distance in order to allow for child bearing.
X-ray’s of the teeth, are sometimes used for identification purposes. Distinct characteristics such as the visible signs of tattoos, bone fractures, blood samples, and prior DNA reading are the “Forensic Pathologists” ties for making a positive Identification. Scientists use these genetic markers and other techniques for identification processes. Without the aid of Forensic Anthropology, crime investigations could remain unsolved.
Imagine for a moment that you are a “Forensic Scientist assigned to perform an autopsy on an individual involved in a crime scene." The body has suffered multiple stab wounds, gunshot blast, and was then left to drown in a near-by lake. The corpse was concealed beneath rock and mud located near a heavily foliaged shoreline. The body had been discovered nearly six month after death and visible signs of a decomposing corpse had already begun making it extremely difficult for family and friends to positively identify the remains. In order to help investigators solve the case, scientist seek the aid of highly trained professionals specializing in specific areas of Forensic Science. Working together, the team will unravel hidden clues required for solving crime.
Investigators arriving on the scene will assist pathologists in order to establish the cause of death. Evidence is then gathered and placed inside sterile containers protecting them from contamination and chemical reaction, and, are then forwarded directly to crime labs where technicians perform various tests revealing the physical signs of fingerprint, shoeprints, and any trace of blood found. Most all perpetrators who intentionally commit a crime will leave a trace of some kind of evidence at the crime scene. As difficult as it may seem, the pathologist searches for trace evidence such as fragments of hair, fabric, or dust and fiber particles removed from the body or skeletal remains. Chemical labs will perform tests on the body for traces of alcohol and illegal drug use. Blood and urine samples are also important and are able to determine if medicines or poisons were the cause of death.
As mentioned earlier, criminals will usually leave a trace of their identity, which may often be found somewhere on the remains of the victim. Sound easy, not at all! However, with proper training and scientific technology, scientists are able to solve difficult questions involving human nature, and finding the clues is the job of the Forensic Pathologist.
In this particular situation, the corpse had suffered from multiple stab and gunshot wounds. Therefore, firearms units will perform “weapons testing” which are able to match the pattern of the wound and establish the distance of the weapon when fired prior to penetration. If a sharp, or blunt object was used such as a knife or spade, both the body and fabric are examined to determine the proper “angle and precision of the cut. Samples of the fabric will also undergo various tests in search of “stains and dyes” which may lead the investigator to a specific geographic location or manufacturing industry. Weapons may often be found at the crime scene, and include blood residue. If so, the blood is then compared with that of the victim in order to determine if it was in fact the same weapon used in the crime scene. Remember too, that the body was located near water and will reveal various signs of “microscopic algae-like creatures” present inside the victims lungs, bone marrow, stomach, and bloodstream.
Forensic Science is a world filled with the magic of discovery. Technology and the skills required to become a forensic specialist provide a “guiding light” supporting the future of existing life and the death of all cultures. To find our more go to http://www.forensicscience.net
1.) Owen, D. Noguchi, T.; K.; Hidden Evidence, Quintel Publishing, London England 2000.
2.) Ferllini, R.; Silent Witness, Quintell Publishing, London England, 2002.
3.) 3.) Newton, D.; DNA Evidence and Forensic Science; Infobase Publishing, New York, NY, 2008
4.) Lyle, D.P.; Forensics; a guide for Writers; Writers Digest Books; Cincinnati, OH, 2008.