Compound-specific isotope analysis offers potential for fingerprinting of diesel fuels, however, possible confounding effects of isotopic fractionation due to evaporation need to be assessed. This study measured the fractionation of the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopes in n-alkane compounds in neat diesel fuel during evaporation. Isotope ratios were measured using a continuous flow gas chromatograph/isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Diesel samples were progressively evaporated at 24 ± 2°C for 21 days. Increasing depletion of deuterium in nC12-nC17 alkanes in the remaining liquid with increasing carbon chain length was observed. Negligible carbon isotope fractionation was observed. Preferential vaporization was measured for the shorter chain n-alkanes and the trend decreased with increasing chain length. The decrease in δ(2) H values indicates the preferential vaporization of the isotopically heavier species consistent with available quantitative data for hydrocarbons. These results are most important in the application of stable isotope technology to forensic analysis of diesel.
This study investigated the influence of paraquat, a prevalent poison used by suicides, on initial oviposition and development of Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) using minced-beef substrates. Paraquat in lethal dose for human (40 mg/kg), two times the lethal dose (80 mg/kg) and five times the lethal dose (200 mg/kg) were mixed thoroughly with respective minced-beef substrates (1 kg each) that were decomposed in a shaded habitat fully protected from rain. Results of four replications of the above experiment revealed that the presence of paraquat neither delayed initial oviposition nor prolonged the developmental stages of C. megacephala. Therefore, estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) based on empirical baseline data obtained using animal models devoid of any poisons would still be appropriate for estimating PMI in paraquat-related deaths.
Smokeless powders are low explosives and are potentially found in cases involving firearms and improvised explosive devices. Apart from inorganic compound analysis, forensic determination of organic components of these materials appears as a promising alternative, especially the chromatographic techniques. This work describes the optimization of a solid-phase microextraction technique using an 85 μm polyacrylate fiber followed by gas chromatography-flame ionization detection for smokeless powder. A multivariate experimental design was performed to optimize extraction-influencing parameters. A 2(4) factorial first-order design revealed that sample temperature and extraction time were the major influencing parameters. Doehlert matrix design has subsequently selected 66°C and 21 min as the compromised conditions for the two predetermined parameters. This extraction technique has successfully detected the headspace compounds of smokeless powders from different ammunition types and allowed for their differentiation. The novel technique allows more rapid sample preparation for chromatographic detection of smokeless powders.
This article presents an analysis of handwritten signature dynamics belonging to two authentication groups, namely genuine and forged signature samples. Genuine signatures are initially classified based on their relative size, graphical complexity, and legibility as perceived by human examiners. A pool of dynamic features is then extracted for each signature sample in the two groups. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) is carried out to investigate the effects and the relationship between the perceived classifications and the authentication groups. Homogeneity of variance was ensured through Bartlett's test prior to ANOVA testing. The results demonstrated that among all the investigated dynamic features, pen pressure is the most distinctive which is significantly different for the two authentication groups as well as for the different perceived classifications. In addition, all the relationships investigated, namely authenticity group versus size, graphical complexity, and legibility, were found to be positive for pen pressure.
Statistical validation is crucial for the clustering of unknown samples. This study aims to demonstrate how statistical techniques can be optimized using simulated heroin samples containing a range of analyte concentrations that are similar to those of the case samples. Eight simulated heroin distribution links consisting of 64 postcut samples were prepared by mixing one of two mixtures of paracetamol-caffeine-dextromethorphan at different proportions with eight precut samples. Analyte contents and compositional variation of the prepared samples were investigated. A number of data pretreatments were evaluated by associating the postcut samples with the corresponding precut samples using principal component analysis and discriminant analysis. Subsequently, combinations of seven linkage methods and five distance measures were explored using hierarchical cluster analysis. In this study, Ward-Manhattan showed better distinctions between unrelated links and was able to cluster all related samples in very close distance under the known links on a dendogram. A similar discriminative outcome was also achieved by 90 unknown case samples when clustered via Ward-Manhattan.
In estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) using maggots obtained during autopsy, the forensic entomologist makes decisions regarding the effects of low-temperature storage of the body on the insects. In this case report, a corpse was found in an abandoned house in the residential area of Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia. The maggots were found to be alive inside the mouth of the deceased although the corpse had been in the morgue cooler for 12 days. The maggots were reared and identified as Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius). The emerged adult flies were kept as a stock colony, and the duration of development under the indoor fluctuating temperature regime was studied. The total duration of developmental process of this species was 9.5 ± 0.5 days, and the PMI estimated was 3.2 ± 0.6 days. This case report demonstrates the survival of Ch. megacephala maggots for 12 days and their growth inside the morgue cooler.
The likelihood of dipteran maggots colonizing a corpse due to nocturnal oviposition can be used to challenge the postmortem interval (PMI) estimated assuming diurnal oviposition. Earlier experiments tested nocturnal oviposition behavior by exposing fresh baits once during a single night. In this pilot study, oviposition behavior was studied using beef baits, which, simulating the decay of the body seen in case situations, decomposed inside cages designed to open and close at scheduled intervals during consecutive night or twilight periods. Freshly hatched maggots from diurnally oviposited eggs emerged in control baits on the third day, while a limited number of maggots attributable to nocturnal or twilight oviposition were observed in experimental baits only on the fifth or sixth day, indicating a categorical delay. These results suggest that such delayed and limited nocturnal oviposition is not forensically significant since the larger maggots deriving from diurnal oviposition would be the ones considered when estimating PMI.
Bloodstain photography is important in forensic applications, especially for bloodstain pattern analysis. This study compares the enhancement effect of bloodstain photography using three different types of light source: fluorescent white light, near-ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diode (LED) light, and 410 nm LED light. Randomized complete block designs were implemented to identify the lighting that would statistically produce the best enhancement results for bloodstains on different types of surfaces. Bloodstain samples were prepared on white cotton, brown carpet, tar road, and wood. These samples were photographed in darkroom conditions using a Canon EOS 50D digital SLR camera, with Canon EFS 60 mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. Two-way analysis of variance and Fisher's least significant difference test were used to analyze the contrast of the images. The statistical analysis showed that 410 nm light is the best among the tested lights for enhancing bloodstains on the tested surfaces, where the contrast of bloodstain to background was the highest.
This paper investigated the class characteristics in English handwriting of the Chinese, Malays and Indians in Singapore, many of whom learned their native language as a second language. One hundred and fifty-four handwriting exemplars were collected and features such as letter designs, pen-lifts, letter spacing and embellishments were studied. A number of characteristic features peculiar to the individual racial group were identified, which confirmed the impact of their native language writing systems on English handwriting.
Paraquat poisoning is commonly associated with suicide or homicide in Malaysia. In a case involving advanced body decomposition, pathological analysis regarding the cause of death may become difficult or almost impossible. Insects serve as common alternative matrix for poison detection in forensic analysis. Paraquat detection via secondary bioaccumulation in fly larvae tissue has never been reported. In this study, tissues from blowfly larvae collected from a rabbit carcass with paraquat poisoning were analyzed for secondary bioaccumulation. Larvae samples were collected and analyzed using liquid-liquid extraction. The detection was performed via reduction of quaternary ammonium presence in paraquat and analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) with selected ion monitoring mode (SIM mode). GC-MS showed the elution of reduced paraquat was at retention time 12.8 min. Blowfly larvae tissue has proven useful as a secondary detector in paraquat-related deaths.
Gunshot residues, produced after shooting activity, have acquired their importance in analysis due to the notoriety of firearms-related crimes. In this study, solid-phase microextraction was performed to extract the headspace composition of spent cartridges using 85-μm polyacrylate fiber at 66°C for 21 min. Organic compounds, that is, naphthalene, 2,6-dinitrotoluene, 2,4-dinitrotoluene, diphenylamine, and dibutyl phthalate were detected and analyzed by gas chromatography-flame ionization detection technique. Evaluation of chromatograms for diphenylamine, dibutyl phthalate, and naphthalene indicates the period after a gunshot was discharged, whether it was 1 days, 2-4 days, <5 days, 10 days, 20 days, or more than 30 days ago. This study revealed the potential effects of environmental factors such as occasional wind blow and direct sunlight on the estimation of time after spent cartridges were discharged. In conclusion, we proposed reliable alternative in analyzing the headspace composition of spent cartridges in a simulated crime scene.
The human sex test in forensic multiplexes is based on the amelogenin gene on both the X and Y chromosomes commonly used in sex genotyping. In this study of 338 male individuals in a Malaysian population comprising Malays, Chinese and Indians, using the AmpFlSTR Profiler Plus kit, the amelogenin test gave a significant proportion of null alleles in the Indian ethnic group (3.6% frequency) and 0.88% frequency in the Malay ethnic group due to a deletion of the gene on the Y chromosome. This sex test also failed in a forensic casework sample. Failure of the amelogenin test highlights the need for more reliable sex determination than is offered by the amelogenin locus in the Malay and Indian populations. The gender of the Indian-Malay amelogenin nulls was confirmed by the presence of three Y-STR alleles (DYS438, DYS390 and DYS439). For the Indian ethnic group, one of the Y-STR forms a stable haplotype with the amelogenin null. The amelogenin-deletion individuals also showed a null with a male-specific minisatellite MSY1, indicating that a very large deletion was involved that included the amelogenin and the MSY1 loci on the short arm of the Y chromosomes (Yp).