Maggot Analysis with Mass Spectrometry via Locard’s Lab

A new proof-of-concept study by researchers at the University at Albany in New York has developed a mass spectrometry-based technique for the rapid species prediction of blow fly larvae for use in forensic investigations.

Entomological evidence (evidence relating to insects) has proven invaluable to forensic investigations for decades, particularly in the estimation of time since death. Insects which feed on decomposing remains, known as necrophagous insects, will colonise a body in a reasonably predictable pattern, with different insects arriving at different stages throughout the decomposition process. Different species of flies, beetles and mites are commonly encountered. Blow flies in particular will often arrive at the scene within minutes of death to lay eggs on the body. As these eggs hatch, larvae (or maggots) emerge to feed on the decomposing remains. By studying the type and age of insects present at a scene, it may be possible to estimate the time since death, or postmortem interval.

The ability to achieve this hinges on the correct identification of insect species, which is unfortunately not always straightforward. The larvae of different species of blow fly are visually very similar, thus difficult to distinguish by eye. For this reason, maggots are often reared to maturity for species identification, with adult blow flies exhibiting more distinguishing physical differences. Inevitably the rearing of maggots to adulthood is a time-consuming process that requires the expertise of a forensic entomologist.

In recent years, researchers have tried to develop more rapid approaches to insect species identification, particularly using chemical analysis. Researchers at the University at Albany in New York have been applying direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry (DART-MS) to the analysis of insect evidence to provide a rapid species identification tool. In DART-MS, the sample is placed between the DART ion source and the inlet of the mass spectrometer, allowing chemical components in the sample to be ionised and drawn into the MS for direct analysis. DART-MS requires minimal or no sample preparation and results can be obtained almost instantly. Using this technique, Rabi Musah and her team have already demonstrated the ability to determine the species of larvae, pupae and adult flies, highlighting a promising new tool in rapid species identification in forensic entomology.

However, until now this research has focused on the analysis of individual species. In a real-world scenario, maggots present on the body may consist of multiple different species, therefore any techniques developed for rapid species identification of larvae must be able to work with mixed samples. In a recent study, the team have taken the method one step further by examining the potential to identify larvae from mixed species.

Blow flies of various species were collected from Manhattan, New York. Maggots were submerged in 70% ethanol and the solution exposed to the ion source of the DART-MS to produce chemical signatures of both individual species and combinations of species. Mixtures of two, three, four, fix and six different species were analysed. Using the chemical profiles produced, a predictive model was constructed for the subsequent identification of unknown insect samples. Using this model, maggot species could be established with an accuracy of up to 94% and a confidence interval of 80-95%. Individual insect species are readily differentiated, with different species producing distinct chemical profiles. Similarly, mixtures of two different species could also be differentiated. As might be expected, samples containing a higher number of species were more difficult to differentiate.

Although only a proof-of-concept study and further validation is required, the study demonstrates that DART-MS could offer a way of rapidly determining the species of blowfly larvae, thus allowing investigators to establish which insects are present at the scene of a death and work out postmortem interval faster.

 

Beyramysoltan, S. Ventura, M. I. Rosati, J. Y. Giffen, J. E. Musah, R. A. Identification of the Species Constituents of Maggot Populations Feeding on Decomposing Remains—Facilitation of the Determination of Post Mortem Interval and Time Since Tissue Infestation through Application of Machine Learning and Direct Analysis in Real Time-Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chem, 2020, In Press. 

A new proof-of-concept study by researchers at the University at Albany in New York has developed a mass spectrometry-based technique for the rapid species prediction of blow fly larvae for use in forensic investigations. Entomological evidence (evidence relating to insects) has proven invaluable to forensic investigations for decades, particularly in the estimation of time since […]

via Maggot Analysis with Mass Spectrometry — Locard’s Lab

4 alternative ways to analyze personality via Inspiring enlightened living

“Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.” ― Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm The dawning of a new year brings a fresh opportunity to […]

via 4 alternative ways to analyse personality — Inspiring enlightened living

#Forensics: Contextual bias influences jury outcomes via CSIDDS

When police lab results are weak or ambiguous, juries commonly use non science circumstances to increase its value. https://phys.org/news/2019-10-csi-current-impact-bias-crime.html

via #Forensics: Contextual bias influences and weak forensic testing results leads to jury overestimation of guilt — FORENSICS and LAW in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends

$7.5M Award paid for BIASED evidence analysis via FOX6Now.com

MILWAUKEE —  Robert Lee Stinson spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now, he is finally getting justice for a conviction based on flawed evidence. His long-awaited day in court came amid a national effort to put forensic science on trial.

 

For decades, television shows have conditioned people to believe that people can pinpoint a criminal suspect with a shoe print, tire mark, or a single strand of hair, and they can do it with absolute certainty. However, the advent of DNA technology has proven that other forensic disciplines, once thought to be bulletproof, are susceptible. Those errors have put hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people in prison.

The conviction and exoneration of Robert Lee Stinson

When Robert Lee Stinson walked out of New Lisbon Correctional Center at the age of 44, his smile revealed a full set of teeth.

“It’s been a long time. Twenty-three years. I was accused of something I didn’t do,” Stinson said when he was released in 2009.

More than two decades earlier, one of those teeth was missing, and that’s all it took to convict him of murder.

“That was essentially the case. The whole case against Mr. Stinson,” said Keith Findley, co-founder of the Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences.

In fall 1984, the body of 63-year-old Ione Cychosz was discovered in the backyard of a home near 7th and Center. She’d been raped and beaten to death. There were bite marks all over her skin.

“Whoever left these bite marks had some irregular dentition,” Findley explained.

Milwaukee police brought in a dental expert from Marquette University to examine the marks. Doctor L. Thomas Johnson helped police develop a sketch, which showed the killer would likely have a cracked or missing upper right tooth.

“It’s a difficult job,” Dr. Johnson said during a 2007 interview with FOX6 about forensic odontology.

Stinson lived just steps from the crime scene, and had a missing upper right tooth.

“The detectives closed this case after seeing Mr. Stinson,” said Heather Lewis Donnell, Stinson’s attorney since 2009.

The jury never saw the sketch, which showed a different tooth missing than the one in Stinson’s mouth, but they did hear Dr. Johnson say that the bite marks “had to have come” from Stinson. There was no margin for error. A second expert agreed.

“So they were saying, ‘It has to be him,'” Lewis Donnell explained.

She said the level of certainty the dental experts relayed to the jury in 1985 was never supported by the science.

“That they had the ability, their science had the ability to say, ‘It was this person, and only this person,'” Lewis Donnell said.

“It’s really kind of preposterous,” Findley said.

Twenty-three years would pass before Findley and the Wisconsin Innocence Project would prove the doctors were wrong.

“Did you ever think this would come?” a reporter asked Stinson after his 2009 release.

“No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t, but with the help of the Innocence Project — came through,” Stinson responded.

DNA technology would eventually identify the real killer as Moses Price, but Findley said the bite mark analysis that put Stinson away instead was flawed from the start, and more recent research proves it.

“It’s essentially junk,” Findley said.

Questioning bite mark analysis

For more than 50 years, Dr. Johnson was a pioneer in the field of forensic odontology. He led a team of dentists that identified victims of the 1985 Midwest Airlines crash, and he helped police identify the remains of victims dismembered by serial killer Jeffery Dahmer.

However, Findley said using bite marks to solve crimes is an entirely different process.

“Matching human remains is not the problem. Matching bite marks to a particular individual is a huge problem,” Findley said.

Matching actual teeth to actual dental records is precise, but a growing body of research finds that bite marks left on the skin are unreliable, because skin is a terrible medium for retaining bite mark indentations.

“Because skin is malleable,” Lewis Donnell explained.

“It stretches. It bloats. You bruise in funny patterns,” Findley explained further. “And that’s where the science has completely fallen apart.”

Study after study now questions the validity of bite mark analysis, with one expert calling it “the poster child for bad forensic science.” A 2009 report by The National Academy of Sciences went further, citing “serious problems” across the entire “forensic science system,” from fingerprints to firearms, and footwear to hair comparison.

Changing the face of forensic science

It was that government report and another that followed in 2016 that ultimately prompted Findley to join some of the nation’s leading criminal defense experts in launching The Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences. The first symposium was held in June at Northwestern University.

“This is one of our inaugural events,” Findley said during the symposium. “We can’t wait for the federal government to fix this.”

“We want to ensure that the science we’re producing is reliable and defendable,” said Jennifer Naugle, deputy administrator of the Wisconsin State Crime Lab.

Naugle said she’s on board with improving the science behind forensic science.

“‘The only thing we’re trying to do is seek the truth through science. That’s it. That’s really all it is,” Naugle said.

She said a 2016 report by the Obama Administration unfairly lumped more reliable techniques used every day, like fingerprint and firearms analysis, with things like hair and bite mark analysis, which has been largely discredited.

“That’s not something we would ever do at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab,” Naugle said.

“We’re not suggesting that all of the forensic disciplines are useless. They’re not, but what we are suggesting is that they need to be improved,” Findley said.

Dr. Johnson retired in 2013, but the following year, he published his final study on bite mark analysis. It concluded it is sometimes possible to narrow the source of a human bite mark to about 5% of the population. In other words, nowhere near a precise individual match. The FOX6 Investigators contacted Dr. Johnson by telephone, but he is 93 years old and unable to hear well. His wife declined an interview on his behalf.

Now that Dr. Johnson is retired, there is only one board-certified forensic odontologist in Wisconsin — Dr. Donald Simley in Madison. He declined an interview for this story because Dr. Johnson is a close personal friend and mentor. Dr. Simley has not testified in a bite mark case since 2003. While he believes there is still value in this type of evidence, he said police are better off swabbing a bite mark for DNA than trying to match a suspect’s teeth.

Across the country,  the Innocence Project has exonerated more than 160 people who were convicted with flawed forensic evidence, including 10 because of bite marks.

“This evidence is dreadful,” said Jennifer Mnookin, UCLA School of Law, during the symposium.

Yet, bite mark evidence is still admissible in more states, including Wisconsin, where, ironically, Stinson’s case still serves as the legal precedent.

“Even though Stinson has now been conclusively exonerated, and the bite mark evidence in his case has been shown to be false,” Findley said.

Robert Lee Stinson seeks justice in federal court

Ten years after Stinson’s release, his federal civil rights case against the dentists and the City of Milwaukee finally went to trial.

“There was a lot of powerful and moving testimony,” Lewis Donnell said.

Just before the case went to the jury, they settled out of court. The City of Milwaukee will pay Stinson $7.5 million. Stinson’s attorney said the remaining terms of the settlement — including any amount other defendants have agreed to pay — will remain confidential.

“We’re just really grateful that this is how it ended, and that Mr. Stinson got some measure of justice after all he’s been through,” said Lewis Donnell.

Thirty-four years later, Stinson can finally move on, but the injustice he endured is sure to leave a mark.

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MILWAUKEE — He spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now, a Milwaukee man is finally getting justice for a conviction based on flawed evidence. His long-awaited day in court came amid a national effort to put forensic science on trial. For decades, television shows have conditioned people to believe that people can pinpoint a criminal suspect with a shoe print, tire mark, or a single strand of hair, and they can do it with […]

via ‘It’s essentially junk:’ $7.5M bite mark settlement underscores national call for better forensic evidence — FOX6Now.com

7 Countries with the Best Forensic Technologies via iTHINK

Civilizations that have thousands of years invested in perfecting a field tend to NAIL IT with more accuracy….

Many research and development solutions can be obtained through information sharing from countries that have had centuries of trial and error based experiementation. Seek to learn from mentors in the field, and save yourself from complicating your analysis.

7 Countries with the Best Forensic Technology

7. China

Technology

China has been investing time, energy and resources into forensic science since the 1980’s and globally-renowned forensic scientist Henry Chang-yu Lee believes it’s about to pay off tipping China to become a world leader in high-tech evidence collection.

“I believe the technology in China will be more advanced than ever in the United States within five years,” the Chinese-American expert said in a recent interview with China Daily.

Lee, who has racked up more than five decades of experience in forensic science, has worked on a number of high-profile criminal cases in the US, but has also shared his wealth of knowledge with students, lawyers, judges and law enforcement in China over the years.

“The apparatus and devices used to identify fingerprints or footprints, for example, were very simple when I first visited Chinese forensic laboratories,” he said.

However, he has seen the technology improve over the years and there have been many advances, particularly in electronic evidence collection and fraud prevention by means of real-time monitoring.

In 2016, Lee and several other experts established the Silk Road Forensic Consortium in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, to fight crime and safeguard security by boosting scientific exchanges among countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The consortium, which has 150 members from 30 countries and regions, provides an open platform for forensic specialists, police officers and judges to share ideas and difficulties as well as experiences in DNA identification studies.

Lee, who acts as chairman, said, “Although we speak different languages in our daily lives, we all speak the same ‘language’ at work, and that’s the language of the criminal investigation. We share the same goal – to speak for the dead using forensic science.”

In September, at the organisation’s third annual conference in Yantai, Shandong province, Lee announced plans to unify DNA identification standards among its members to try and build a mutual DNA database that can better solve criminal cases.

Unified standards are essential to the world of forensic science, he told China Daily.

“If we can achieve unification in China, it can be extended across Asia, to the consortium and finally the world,” he added. “It would mean a brighter future for forensic science.”

6. European Network of Forensic Institutes

Although not a country, the European Network of Forensic Institutes (ENFSI) is recognized as a pre-eminent voice in forensic science worldwide. It is a network of forensic specialists covering a broad range of fields of expertise, from 38 countries geographically spread across Europe:

Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The ENFSI has seventeen Expert Working Groups working on a diverse range of forensic specialisms, from textiles and hair to explosives and firearms. It also provides invaluable training to police officers and crime scene investigators.

5. Germany

Technology

Police in the German state of Bavaria have the power to use forensic DNA profiling after a controversial law passed in 2018 in the Landtag, the state parliament in Munich. The law was the first in Germany to allow authorities to use DNA to help determine the physical characteristics, such as eye colour, of an unknown culprit.

The new DNA rules are part of a broader law which has drawn criticism of the wide surveillance powers it gives the state’s police to investigate people they deem an “imminent danger,” people who haven’t necessarily committed any crimes but might be planning to do so.

The move was prompted, in part, by the rape and murder of a medical student in Freiburg, Germany, in late 2016. An asylum seeker, originally from Afghanistan, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

But some authorities complained that they could have narrowed their search more quickly if they had been able to use trace DNA to predict what the suspect would look like.

Federal and state laws previously only allowed investigators to use DNA to look for an exact match between crime scene evidence and a potential culprit, either in a database of known criminals or from a suspect.

Germany also forms part of the aforementioned ENFSI.

4. South Korea

To say that smartphones have changed the digital forensic landscape is an understatement. The device has become the core of every criminal investigation and helped propel digital forensics as a serious, scientific investigation tool.

South Korea is leading the way in digital forensics, with its largest digital forensic firm, Hancom GMD, playing a crucial role in prosecuting some of the country’s most powerful politicians.

In late 2016, South Korea was rocked by one of its biggest political corruption scandals in history – its President Park Guen-hye was accused of bribery and by law, investigators only had 60 days to investigate and prosecute.

They had confiscated over 300 smartphones as from suspects and needed to analyse tens of thousands of phone records and chat messages within a tight deadline. Hancom GMD successfully analysed all of the data in the 300 smartphones and extracted crucial evidence that led to several convictions.

With 5G set to be rolled out globally this year, forensic teams in South Korea are already preparing for this further growth in the collection of digital evidence.

Hancom GMD is planning to launch a service that recovers data from the cloud, though privacy regulations in each country are expected to be a challenge to overcome.

3. United Kingdom

Technology

Prior to its closure in 2012, the UK Forensic Science Service (FSS) was a world-leader in forensic technology. It pioneered the use of the handheld breath alcohol roadside tester and the DNA national database was first worked on and initially tested on all staff and police forces to ensure its reliability.

The organisation later pioneered the use of large scale DNA profiling for forensic identification and crime detection when it moved the facilities to Birmingham.

This enabled the launch of the world’s first DNA database on 10 April 1995. The FSS’s innovative and highly sensitive DNA profiling technique called LCN (low copy number) was used in convicting Antoni Imiela (the M25 rapist).

As well as,  Ronald Castree (for the murder of Lesley Molseed in 1975) but the organisation came under attack when it failed to recover blood stains from a shoe in the murder of Damilola Taylor.

Forensic laboratories in the UK are now privately-owned but are experiencing similar financial difficulties, a recent inquiry by the House of Lords heard.

Mark Pearse, the commercial director in the forensics division of Eurofins, one of the three major providers in the UK, described an “unsustainable toxic set of conditions” when he appeared before the inquiry.

Representatives from the two other largest providers – Key Forensics, which had to be bailed out by police last year after going into administration, and Cellmark – raised similar concerns.

However, that’s not to say that the UK is not involved in researching and implementing new forensic technologies.

Forensic scientists are currently working with the British military to open the United Kingdom’s first body farm — a site where researchers will be able to study the decomposition of human remains.

Details are not yet finalized, but the plans are at an advanced stage: project leaders hope this year to open the farm, also known as a forensic cemetery or taphonomy facility, after the discipline devoted to the study of decay and fossilization.

Such sites generate data on tissue and bone degradation under controlled conditions, along with chemical changes in the soil, air and water around a corpse, to help criminal and forensic investigators.

2. The Netherlands

The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) is one of the world’s leading forensic laboratories. From its state-of-the-art, purpose-built premises in The Hague, the NFI provides products and services to a wide range of national and international clients.

To ensure that their work remains at the forefront of developments, the Netherlands Forensic Institute invests heavily in Research and Development. In this way, it lays the foundations for innovative forensic methods and technologies that will play an important part in the coming decades.

Amongst these innovative forensic technologies is the invention of Hansken, a system that can store large quantities and diverse data easily from different sources. All data is stored, indexed, enriched and made rapidly searchable, cutting down the turnaround time of forensic evidence.

It now contains over 150 samples of glass from a large number cases. In several cases, this glass database has linked suspects to several crimes.

Offenders who carry out robberies, smash-and-grab raids or ARM gas attacks may have splinters of glass on their clothes or in the soles of their shoes and these splinters of glass can remain in place for months, even though they are barely visible to the naked eye, if at all.

These splinters can be of great value. The composition of each piece of glass is unique because of minuscule contaminants in the raw materials for making glass.

By comparing the unique composition of splinters of glass found on a suspect to glass from the database, it is possible to check whether that glass originates from a crime committed earlier.

The glass analysts of the NFI measure the concentration of twenty elements in each piece of glass. This produces a kind of ‘chemical fingerprint’ of the material.

1.United States of America

Technology

It will come as no surprise that at the forefront of cutting-edge forensic technology is the USA, home to over 400 crime labs and the biggest crime lab in the world, the FBI Laboratory.

 

To help train government and industry organisations on cyberattack prevention, as part of a research project for the U.S. Army, scientists at The University of Texas at San Antonio, have developed the first framework to score the agility of cyber attackers and defenders.

“The DOD and U.S. Army recognize that the cyber domain is as important a battlefront as ground, air and sea,” said Dr. Purush Iyer, division chief, network sciences at Army Research Office, an element of the Army Futures Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

“Being able to predict what the adversaries will likely do provides opportunities to protect and to launch countermeasures. This work is a testament to successful collaboration between academia and government.”

The framework developed by the researchers will help government and industry organizations visualize how well they out-maneuver attacks.

Their work is published in IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security, a top journal for cybersecurity.

Education and training programs in the field of forensics are also on the rise, supported by organisations such as The Forensic Sciences Foundation and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

In fact, there are 485 Forensic Science schools in the US, so it’s no wonder that it is the home of the some of the most influential forensic scientists, such as Dr. Michael M. Baden and Ellis R. Kerley, and is sure to produce a great deal more talent in the future.

This is certainly an exciting time to be working in forensic science, with the challenges presented by the world of AI, Smartphones and Cloud data calling for rapid improvements to existing technology.

With these challenges comes the need for those countries with more developed forensic facilities to provide training and education opportunities to those in less developed areas so that science can play its rightful part in the criminal justice system.

For now, these are among the 7 countries who have the most advanced forensic technology and it is not the end. As the world continues to evolve, so will technology and the forensic industry itself.

Hi! I’m Isabella and I’m an Italian living in the UK studying for a Masters in Crime & Justice. I currently work in the prison education sector and have a background in teaching, having completed a PGCE after reading languages at the University of Durham. I love travelling, cooking, reading and playing the piano.

Technology is at its peak moment and with it has bought about some of the finest forensic techs. Here are 7 countries with the best forensic technology.

via 7 Countries with the Best Forensic Technology — iTHINK

Essentials Of Educational Protocols – Do You Really Need Them?

ISO 13485
ISO 13485 Medical devices — Quality management systems — Requirements for regulatory purposes is an International Organization for Standardization standard published for the first time in 1996; it represents the requirements for a comprehensive quality management system for the design and manufacture of medical devices.

This standard supersedes earlier documents such as EN 46001 and EN 46002, the previously published ISO 13485, and ISO 13488.

The essentials of validation planning, protocol writing, and change management will be explained.

via ESSENTIALS OF VALIDATION – Do You Really Need It? — Compliance4all