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Recoverability of Fingerprints on Paper Exposed to Elevated Temperatures--Part 1: Comparison of Enhancement Techniques

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 59 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2009 Pages: 325-339
Ainsley J. Dominick; Niamh Nic Daeid; Stephen M. Bleay; Vaughn Sears
Date Published
June 2009
15 pages
This research investigated the recoverability of fingerprints that had been exposed to elevated temperatures, such as those found in arson scenes.
Findings show that all of the fingerprint enhancement techniques did enhance deposited fingerprints to some degree. The technique that produced the best results was 1, 8-diazafluoren-9-one (DFO), followed by physical developer (PD). Fluorescence was a technique not previously considered but this work has shown it to be effective. Results indicate that when undertaking fingerprint analysis on paper recovered from a fire scene, fluorescence should be the first technique to be considered. It is nondestructive and will not affect any further fingerprint enhancement. The next technique would be dependent on whether the paper remained dry or wet during the extinguishing of the fire. If the paper was wet, then only PD would be effective at developing fingerprints. If dry, DFO would be the optimal technique. Because DFO targets the eccrine component of the fingerprint deposit and PD targets the sebaceous part, it would be advantageous to further expose the paper to PD after DFO. Ninhydrin has been shown to enhance marks not developed by DFO as part of a sequential process and as such could be used in the sequence of DFO ninhydrin PD, but this would depend on the paper color for sufficient contrast. References, tables, and figures