DNA evidence collected from death scenes is an essential tool for law enforcement, death investigators, and forensic pathologists—providing insights into cause and manner of death as well as the identification of the responsible person or persons. Ineffective collection procedures raise the risk of evidence being altered or lost during transportation of the body. Using real death scene photos and actual cases as examples, Forensic DNA Collection at Death Scenes: A Pictorial Guide provides a practical approach to evidence collection with emphasis on proper identification, collection, documentation, and preservation.
The first atlas of its kind, it demonstrates best practices for collecting DNA from decedents depending on the circumstances of the death scene and other materials present on the decedent such as clothing, bindings, and other objects. The authors discuss the success of the techniques employed in each scenario and analyze the DNA results obtained. The techniques employed at death scenes can also be applied to sexual assault cases, where DNA is collected from the body after an assault takes place.
The increasing applications of evidence-based medicine and forensic science to criminal justice and civil litigation demand that crime scene investigations be more scientific, better organized, and multidisciplinary. This atlas provides a step-by-step guide to effective, uncompromising evidence collection.
Table of Contents
Introduction and History
The Program Matures
Preservation and Packaging
Bindings, Clothing, Wrappings
Trace Success Cases
Dr. Rhonda C. Williams earned her doctorate in biochemistry/molecular biology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2006. Dr. Williams joined the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Forensic Genetics Laboratory in May 2006 as a DNA analyst. She was appointed to the DNA Trace Evidence Collection Team in February 2007 and currently serves as the team’s lead. In addition, Dr. Williams serves on the Mass Fatality Committee for the institute. Dr. Williams is a member of the Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, and is certified as a Molecular Biology Fellow by the American Board of Criminalistics.
Dr. Roger Kahn holds a PhD in human genetics from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He joined the Miami-Dade Police Department in the late 1980s to establish one of the first forensic DNA laboratories in the United States. He later served the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for nearly a decade as director of the state crime laboratory system. Currently, he is crime laboratory director of the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston, Texas. Dr. Kahn is a past president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and he is certified as a Fellow in Molecular Biology by the American Board of Criminalistics.