Epilogue—and Prologue.

The field of forensic science constantly evolves… Yet it also readily acknowledges and even depends on past technology. Sometimes the latest trends and techniques are simply the result of a person revisiting methods from the past: An idea is dusted off, made more viable and reliable through time, attention, and validation.

In other instances, the seed for new technology is planted and takes time to grow. That is readily apparent with two articles in this issue that represent a sort of epilogue to articles published in earlier volumes of the magazine:

  • In the January-February 2009 issue, we published an article titled “Teleforensics” that explored the possible application of communications, robotics, and other technologies to allow crime scene investigators and forensic scientists to do their work remotely. That article left off with the conclusion that more research and funding would be necessary to make teleforensics a reality. Three years later, the article on Page 15 of this issue, “Evidence Examination: Anytime, Anywhere”, describes a new and very real technology—a teleoperated comparison microscope—that enables an off-site examiner to study and compare markings on bullets and spent cartridge casings. It may not be the application to evidence collection that was discussed in the 2009 article, but it is a big step toward helping budget-conscious agencies put experienced examiners in more locations without requiring extra manpower or travel expenses.
  • In the November-December 2007 issue, David E. Weaver, Mason Hines, et. al. contributed an article, “Improving Visibility of Fingerprints Using Sublimation Dyes and Superglue”, that described research that was being done (with National Institute of Justice funding) “to enhance latent-print visualization by combining sublimation dyes with the cyanoacrylate monomer deposition process.” In 2010, Weaver passed away, but his work was continued by Hines and others—and the result was “Fuming Orange”. This product is discussed and compared to traditional cyanoacrylate fuming combined with dye staining with Rhodamine 6G in the article “One-Step Cyanoacrylate Development” on Page 24 of this issue.

In a way, these two articles serve as an epilogue to previous articles published in the magazine. But anyone familiar with the nature of forensic science understands that there is never truly an end to the story of a technology’s development—and each innovation has the potential to become a prologue to future stories.

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Evidence Technology Magazine

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Digital-Image Management at Mass Gravesites

SKELETONIZED REMAINS that were carefully unearthed from the desert sands of Iraq tell their own story: the bones of an adult, still dressed in a woman’s apparel, lie supine. The skull is perforated by a bullet hole. Tucked in the space between the ribs and the left humerus is a much smaller skeleton, bones in the skull un-fused, and the fully clothed body partially swaddled in a blanket.