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Fingerprinting the Deceased: Traditional and New Techniques

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 46 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2001 Pages: 908-912
T. Kahana Ph.D.; A. Grande M.D.; J. Penalver; J. Hiss M.D.; D. M. Tancredi M.D.
Michael A. Peat Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2001
5 pages
In this paper, the different postmortem fingerprinting techniques proposed in the literature for diverse cadaveric conditions were reviewed with suggestions for some new procedures for mummified and charred bodies (where traditional inking cannot be applied).
Fingerprint comparisons yield the most successfully resolved cases among the various personal identification techniques. However, due to postmortem changes and those physical changes associated with the method of death, the fingerprinting of deceased individuals can present some difficulties. Prior literature has suggested various techniques for fingerprinting decomposed, mummified, and burn victims. This paper examined the diverse fingerprinting procedures implemented for cadavers under different conditions, emphasizing mummified fingers. Those main procedures reviewed included: direct reading, casting, photography, radiography, ionic rehydration of the fingertip; and charring. Some of the methods suggested require extreme care, while others demand a great deal of experience in fingerprint comparison. The method advocated for regenerating fingerprints in mummified fingers was the use of ammonia hydroxide. This method does not destroy the skin and has been used in Spain and Israel. References