Forensic Evidence?

As many of you know, my background prior to starting a full time writing career was in Forensic Science.  A lot of folks are not familiar with this field and believe a lot of what they see on television.  Now I will be the first to admit I used to love CSI, but many of the things they do is baloney.  For example not every bodily fluid fluoresces or shows up under a black light.

Anyway, I am seeing terrible evidence procedure in several cases right now and I feel I have to get on my soap box.

First:  You cannot match fibers from a blanket to a blanket you didn’t collect and call it forensic evidence.  It isn’t open for debate.  You can’t say “well, this blanket is like one we saw at the crime scene and the fibers match this one, so they must match that one.”  It doesn’t work that way.  What you have proven is that the fibers match a blanket you bought down the street.    Not every yellow blanket has the same weave, fiber type, thread count or dye saturation.  That’s like saying “You have blonde hair, I found a blonde hair at the scene, you must have done it.”  Take an F for your forensic procedure.

Second:  What kind of procedure do you call it when you catch a potential murderer who uses neckties to bind his victims and YOU DON’T COLLECT THE CRUMPLED NECK TIE ON THE FLOOR OF HIS CAR?  I know my education is a few years out of date but last time I checked if you arrest a suspect you collect anything that could be evidence, even “back in the day.”

Lastly, it is standard police procedure to do what are called “tape lifts” of both a victim and a suspect in a violent crime.  And these are just what they sound like and a lot of you have done them.  You have cat hair on your skirt, you get some tape and you pull the hair off.  Police and crime scene technicians do the same thing.  They do lifts, and here is why:  Two bodies cannot come into contact without swapping materials.  I can’t hug you without getting my blonde hair on you, maybe some make up, fiber from my clothes, whatever.  It is very common to use tape lifts to prove that one person made contact with another.  There is a huge case right now where the officers failed to do this… and it is an elementary procedure.  You can get angry at me all you want, it was improper procedure for the lifts not to have been done.  It is again not a debate.  Epic Fail, guys.

I know I don’t always follow perfect procedure in my stories, for the same reason they do not on television; it isn’t good story telling.  But in reality can we do a little better?

Okay, off my soap box.  Hugs and Snugs!


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