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Sensitive Site Exploitation Through Trace Chemical Analysis of Latent Fingerprints (SETCAF)

NCJ Number
Daniel Pinto
Date Published
November 2017
32 pages
This project's primary goal was to provide a smart collection capability to gain enhanced information from chemicals extracted from finger marks and smudges, with a focus on fatty acids that would expand the role of the traditional latent fingerprint collection and analysis process into an additional repository of probative information.

Identifying gender and ethnicity, among other demographics, from unknown fingerprints would be an invaluable investigative tool. This study suggests that such identification may be possible with further research in this field. Further research of fatty acids in latent fingerprints and sensitive site exploitation through trace chemical analysis of latent fingerprints (SETCAF) present potential for determination of an individual's age, gender, and ethnicity; however, the number of samples beyond the 160 from the current study is necessary. The researchers estimate that a number above 1,000 samples will enable determination of an unknown individual's age, gender, or ethnicity through the analysis of fatty acids in latent fingerprints. This information will enable investigators to narrow their pool of suspects, apply additional forensic testing if warranted, and develop and analyze more discerning and relevant leads. Although current forensic science considers DNA the gold standard of forensic evidence, insufficient amounts of DNA in latent fingerprints and lack of a match in the Combined DNA Index System are limitations that SETCAF does not have. Fatty acids are ubiquitously present in fingers and are transferred to latent fingerprints. In addition, some of the limitations of conventional fingerprinting, such as a fingerprint smudge, do not interfere with SETCAF. 4 figures, 4 tables, and 21 references