Monday, 24 October 2011

Are You Sure You Didn't Leave Finterprints?

You didn’t plan to kill her but no denying that is her body on the floor. She just pissed you off, teasing you and then saying no. You grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back, her head hit the counter and end of story.

You back out the way you came, a rag in your hand to wipe down the place. You didn’t touch much so it is easy to erase your fingerprints. One last look and you leave, sure you didn’t leave any fingerprints.

Guess again.

Thanks to the work of forensic experts at the University of Abertay Dundee and the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA), you might just have left enough evidence to put you behind bars.

The group is pioneering a new technic using vacuum metal deposition (VMD) that uses gold and zinc to recover the fingerprint marks left on fabric. The fabric is put in a vacuum chamber. Gold is heated to evaporate it and it spreads in a fine film over the material. They then heat zinc in a similar fashion but zinc only attaches to the gold wear there is no fingerprint.

The success is still spotty (no pun intended) but the process has other forensic uses than just identification. Finding a palm print on the back of a “suicide” victim might indicate they were pushed. And since DNA is deposited along with the fingerprints, it can give forensic specialists a better indication of where to collect DNA.

The experts are making it harder and harder for criminals…and writers who still need the perfect crime.

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