Scientific Foundations of Crime Scene Reconstruction: Introducing Method to Mayhem, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Scientific Foundations of Crime Scene Reconstruction

Introducing Method to Mayhem, 1st Edition

By Jon J. Nordby, Ph.D.

CRC Press

681 pages | 863 Color Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781420051681
pub: 2012-12-17
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429248849
pub: 2012-12-17
from $111.00

FREE Standard Shipping!


Philosophers of science have long used reconstructive reasoning to develop historical explanations covering the origins of natural phenomenon. The application of the scientific method is a powerful tool for solving crimes through reconstruction of the events. Scientific Foundations of Crime Scene Reconstruction: Introducing Method to Mayhem demonstrates how to use the scientific method and exercise the critical thinking that is essential for the development of sound data and the construction of reliable explanations.

  • Provides a clear yet rigorous account of the scientific method accessible to non-philosophers
  • Supplies examples showing the application of scientific methods to the reconstruction of events that leave physical evidence at crime scenes
  • Presents self-contained chapters—each with specific points about how a scene reconstruction is built upon the analysis of specific physical evidence
  • Discusses the scope and limitations of physical evidence and the resulting analyses that they support in crafting scientific crime scene reconstructions
  • Includes case studies of crime scene reconstructions from Dr. Nordby’s experience, complete with color photographs and laboratory notes

Moving systematically from case to case, this volume is an essential reference for forensic and law enforcement professionals who need to step into new or unfamiliar areas to understand how science can help them do their jobs. It enables forensic scientists to apply the natural sciences to casework in shooting and nonshooting cases. It also educates attorneys who need to understand scientific evidence and the process of crime scene reconstruction from the scientific point of view.

Table of Contents


Three Strikes and Out

Introduction to a Shooting Reconstruction

Ballistics and Scientific Method

The Scope of This Reconstruction

Hoodie Analysis: Photogrammetry Method

Use of the Autopsy Photos in the Shooting Reconstruction

Reconstruction Methods

External Autopsy Photographs and Developed Measurements of Entrances and Exits

Shooting Reconstruction of Deal’s Position for the 1-Second, Three-Shot Sequence Only

Laboratory Notes and Drawings

Laboratory Photographs: Clothing and Other Items Submitted to the Laboratory


Entrance Wounds and Scene Measurements, Photogrammetry, and Total Station Measurements for Limited Shooting Reconstruction

The Medical Examiner’s Autopsy Report

Scientific Shooting Reconstruction Independent Measurements

Trajectory and Muzzle Movement in Triple-Tap Firing

Instrument Calibration and Validation Data

Misplaced Method

The Scene

Shotguns, Shells, and Sabots

Other Shotgun Injuries to Document

Search of the Premises

The State’s Expert "Reconstructionist" Reconstructs the Shooting Murder from the Clues

Revisiting the Scene Science: The Problem of Data

Testing to Develop Scientific Inferences from Data

Scientific Inferences from the Decedent’s Sweater

Scientific Inferences from the Suspect’s Glasses

Scientific Conclusions about the Shooting Events

The Room with the View

Case Review

Autopsy Terminal Ballistics

Examination of Smith & Wesson Revolver

Trace Evidence

Bloodstain Pattern Summary: Clothing, Bedding, and Cloth Items


Issues with a Small Room and Powerful Ammunition

The Experiment’s Conclusion


Maxalline’s Injury Hypothesis

Clothing Examination: The Blue Sweatshirt from Lesella

Blanket Folded on Bed

Yellow Towel

Red Bedspread

White Pillow


Basic Progress

See No Evil

"Ballistics" Further Clarified

Gunshot Residue as Trace Evidence Analysis and Analytical Chemistry

Posing the Questions

Scene Visit

Evidence Examinations

Crime Scene

Scene Reconstruction Based upon Physical Evidence Examined

Brief Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Glossary

A Christmas Story

Target Construction Based upon My Analysis of Jimmy DeLauro’s Jacket

U.S. Model 856 Air Rifle

Canadian Model 856 Air Rifle

Summary of the Project

Summary of Conclusions

Medical Data

Ballistics and Firearms/Bullet Examinations

Comments Regarding the Limits of Both the Data and the Conclusions

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer

Official Stories

My Assignment

Scene of Shooting

Evidence Examination: Item #10 Orange Jacket

Evidence Examination: Item #11 Black Nylon Pants

Trajectory Analysis: Item #10 Orange Jacket, Item # 11 Black Pants, and Autopsy Data

Scene Photographs

Limited Trajectory Analysis

Evidence Examination: Item #5 Old English Label Bottle—Broken Pieces of Glass

Shooting Evidence Examination: Item #6 "Black Bag Containing Miscellaneous Items"

Use of Deadly Force Issues

Crime Scene Shooting Reconstruction Summary

Laboratory Notes and Evidence Photographs


Man Down

Administrators’ Use of the Shooting Reconstruction

Further Administrative Review

Reconstruction Data


A Flash in the Pan

Basis for Arson Determination

Analysis of the Data

Fire Basics

Melting Points of Common Substances

Flash Points and Autoignition Temperatures

J.B.J. Fourier, French Mathematician and Physicist: Heat Transfer

Testing and Experiments

Aftermath: Trial

The Party’s Over

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis and Scientific Method

Conclusions and Their Basis

Documentation in Reconstruction Reports

Data and Interpretations

Medical Examination: Defendant’s Injuries

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis: Examination of Bloodstains and Trace Evidence

The Dagger

Event Reconstruction Based Upon Data Supplied

Developing Additional Data

Brief Illustrated Reconstruction

Dagger, Decedent’s Left Hand Injury and Bloodstained Clothing

The Dagger and Its Location in the Truck

Brief Summary of Overall Conclusions

Manner of Death Issues

The Picture of a Crime

Issue and Focus

The Videotape Data

Method: Photogrammetry

Photographic Comparisons

The Best Method Possible versus This Method of Relative Approximation


Addendum: Bertillon’s Anthropometric Calculations for Identification

Cold Case Crackpots

Introduction: "Cold Cases" and Forensic Science

Science versus Nonscience

Case Review

Summary of Basic Conclusions

Shoe Print Evidence

Necessary Preliminaries for Photoanalysis

Photogrammetry Again (Measurements from Photos)

Pattern Matching and Analysis

Tracker Report: The Photographic Evidence

The Photos in General

Bloodstain Pattern Evidence

Decedent’s Position(s) and Movements Based on BPA and Autopsy Data

Limited Crime Scene Reconstruction: Postmortem Position Only

Sciences That Could Have Been Applied in 1973, in 1986, or Now

Negative Effects of Evidence Destruction

Bombs Away

The Device and the ATF Review

The Device Errata

Description and Analysis of the Device

Testing the Device

Alternative Contexts and Their Effects on the Device

The Brothers Grimm

Scene Description

Examination of the Suspect

Examination of the Knife

The Scenario

Testing of Force Required to Reproduce the Victim’s Fatal Injury

Examination of Bloodstain Patterns and Trace Evidence

Crime Scene Analysis: One-Story Residence

Crime Scene Reconstruction

Photographs from Final Analysis Forensics

Slow But Sure: Testudines Chelonia

The Evidence and the Trial

The Injuries

Histology Study

APPENDIX A: Error Rates, Certainty Factors, and Confidence Coefficients

APPENDIX B: Bloodstain Pattern Basics


About the Author

Jon J. Nordby runs Final Analysis Forensics, an independent consulting practice in death investigation, forensic science, and forensic medicine. He specializes in scientific scene reconstruction, evidence recognition, collection and analysis, ballistics, bloodstain pattern analysis and medical-legal death investigations.

He served the National Disaster Medical System with Region X DMORT, deploying to the scene of the 9-11 World Trade Center attack on the United States. He has worked as a medical investigator with the Pierce County and King County (Washington) medical examiners' offices and the British Columbia Coroner’s Service Forensic Unit. He also taught crime scene investigation and scientific evidence analysis to countless members of Washington State's legal, coroner, and law enforcement agencies. In addition, Dr. Nordby has investigated and reconstructed a number of officer-involved shootings as well as many homicide cases around the United States, Canada, and Europe. All the cases and discussions in this volume are developed from his own scientific work with each case and his investigative experience over the last 25 years

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
SCIENCE / Research & Methodology