1997 Spring Meeting Abstracts

Abstracts From Spring 1997

Toxicology | Alcohol | Firearms | Drugs / Clan Labs | Trace / Scenes | Arson | Wildlife | Serology | Other
Pick your section


1. TITLE: “Drug Testing in Professional Sports”

AUTHORS: Dr. Brian Finkle, Chief Consulting Toxicologist, National Football League

ABSTRACT: Presentation will describe workplace drug testing with special emphasis on the National Football League (NFL) program. How the program is structured, the preventive features which have been installed by the NFL, and the analytical toxicology procedures associated with this drug testing program will be discussed.
2. TITLE: “Adventures in Babysitting: How Not To Treat Your Ward!!!”

AUTHOR: Judith Hoffmann, Lynn Kurtz, Scott Schlueter, Dr. Gary Dale, and Jim Hutchison*, Montana State Crime Laboratory

ABSTRACT: Perhaps one of the saddest and most tragic cases in recent times occurred during the evening hours of September 9, 1995 in Kalispell, Montana. Two and a half year-old Joshua Scott Norman died as a result of intentional poisoning at the hands of his teenage (15 years old) babysitter.

Early efforts at denial of any wrong doing on the part of the babysitter were quickly dispatched through the combined efforts of the State Medical Examiner, Toxicology and Chemistry Sections of the Montana State Crime Laboratory. The lab was able to show that young Joshua Norman had succumbed to lethal levels of codeine and phenol (one of the active ingredients present in Pine-Sol).

The lab’s analytical results provided the investigators of the Kalispell Police Department with the necessary tools to challenge the babysitter’s questionable participation. After 10 days of compassionate, though painstaking interviews, the babysitter confessed to intentionally “dosing her young ward”. Consequently, the babysitter was remanded to adult court where she plead guilty to homicide.

This case, though tragic and heartbreaking, may not have had a successful conclusion if not for the combined efforts and close communications between the State Crime Lab, Kalispell Police Department, Flathead County Coroner’s Office and the Flathead County Attorney’s Office.

The analytical results of the toxicology testing will be presented and discussed.

3. TITLE: “Parent-Aid Program”

AUTHOR: James O. Pex, Oregon State Police Forensic Lab, Coos Bay, OR

ABSTRACT: The Parent-Aid Program was developed by this laboratory in response to the changing trends in law enforcement. Following the model for community policing, we contacted the schools and partnered with them to develop a drug testing program that would help parents deal with their children when drug use was suspected. As a result we started a program where parents could collect a sample from their child and bring it to the laboratory for free testing. This included an EMIT screen and confirmation by GC/MS. The results were only provided to the submitting parent. The schools and other law enforcement agencies were not privy to the results unless the parent wished to tell them. The schools quickly adopted the program as it was a mechanism to deal with troublesome students and their parents who were usually both in denial about drug use.

In the past two years, approximately 370 samples have been tested. Every high school and junior high school in the county is using the program. Results indicated that this program is one of the earliest methods of intervention available as well as being one of the most cost effective.


1.TITLE: “The Supreme Court Decides: Intoxication and Accountability”

AUTHORS: Joe Mazurek, Montana Attorney General, Montana Department of Justice

ABSTRACT: Montana Attorney General Joe Mazurek will welcome delegates and provide a brief overview of State of Montana v. James Allen Egelhoff which was decided in the United States Supreme Court. The case involved the age old question of whether intoxicated people are responsible for the acts they commit while under the influence of alcohol – in this particular case, murder.

2.TITLE: “Alcohol: Three Case Studies”

AUTHORS: Scott Schlueter, Melanie Shaw, Dr. Gary Dale, Jim Hutchison, Lynn Kurtz*, Montana Forensic Science Division

ABSTRACT: A discussion of three recent cases analyzed at the Montana State Crime Lab will be presented – including the scene descriptions, results of the autopsies, and analysis of the samples.

Case #1: Victim was described as an alcoholic, 41 year old male, who was found with his trousers and underwear around his ankles and dead in a closet in a trailer house. There was no evidence of trauma noted on the body and there was no pornographic material present, ruling out an autoerotic episode. Cause of death was not determined at the scene or during autopsy. Analysis of submitted laboratory samples indicated high levels of methanol. Investigating officers returned to the scene and found a gallon bottle of windshield washer fluid that contained 35% alcohol under the kitchen sink. Cause of death in this case was due to methanol poisoning. Manner of death was suicide.

Case #2: Victim was described as a 75 year old female who was found dead, lying on the snow between her residence and her vehicle. Some small patches of fresh blood were noted in the snow around her, but no evidence of trauma was noted. Cause of death was not determined at the scene or during autopsy. Analysis of submitted laboratory samples indicated the presence of ethanol in both the blood and urine, and also high levels of glucose in the urine. Cause of death was attributed to hypothermia. Manner of death was accidental with alcohol (ethanol) as a contributing factor.

Case #3: Victim was described as a 36 year old, non-drinking female, who was found dead, lying on the front porch of her home with her coat for a pillow. A small amount of fresh blood was noted oozing from one ear during the autopsy, but no visible signs of trauma were noted. Again, in this case, no cause of death was found during autopsy. Noted during the autopsy was the presence of a large fatty liver and signs of atrophy of the brain. Analysis of submitted laboratory samples indicated a very high blood alcohol concentration and presence of caffeine in the blood. High levels of glucose were also detected in the urine. Cause of death was attributed to hypothermia. Manner of death was accidental with acute alcoholism as a contributing factor.

Firearms and related topics

1. TITLE: “Application of Variable-Pressure SEM for Gunshot Residue”

AUTHOR: H.P. Lentz, A.J. Schwoeble, and Kristin Lee*, R.J. Lee Group, Incorporated

ABSTRACT: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis provides an opportunity for better speciation of gunshot residue (GSR) than the more traditional analysis by atomic absorption (AA). However, SEM analysis has been time-consuming and expensive, which has limited its application in this area. This paper describes a high-volume, cost-efficient SEM with an automated GSR analysis package. The system allows unattended analysis of GSR stub samples; on-line review of data, images and spectra; and one-button relocation of flagged, potential GSR particles. The variable-pressure feature enables the analysis of SEM stub samples, clothing, fabric and various other materials in an uncoated condition.

Specimens in the “as-collected” or “received” condition can be placed directly into the SEM for examination, eliminating the possibility of particle loss by redeposition. The PERSONAL SEM (PSEM) with GSR application software provides a high-speed, accurate analysis with particle classification information, images and elemental spectra printouts at the completion of each analysis.
2. TITLE: “Persistence of Gunshot Residue on Clothing”

AUTHOR: Matthew Noedel*, Ray Kusumi, and Jim Krylo, Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory

ABSTRACT: A study was performed to determine gunshot residue persistence on clothing. Test patterns were generated by shooting into samples of cotton/polyester fabric at close distances. These test shots were then exposed to a variety of different handling techniques including light handling, rough handling, machine washing/drying, and burying in soil. Visual Griess and sodium rhodizonate processing for gunshot residue was performed on each test pattern. Differences in the appearance of the gunshot residue pattern are outlined and presented.

Drug Chemistry and Clandestine Labs

1. TITLE: “Mexican National Methamphetamine Laboratories in Central California-Trends and Adaptations Over Time”

AUTHOR: Julie A. Doerr*, Mark F. Kalchik, and Jerry Massetti, California Dept. Of Justice Crime Lab

ABSTRACT: Since the early ’90’s, Mexican Nationals have been highly involved in methamphetamine production, virtually taking over the whole enterprise from the more traditional biker gangs. This involvement has encompassed the entire state of California, including the central valley and central coast regions. These laboratories operate on a large scale, producing 20 or more pounds of methamphetamine per batch. As controls have been placed on hydriodic acid and bulk ephedrine, hydriodic acid manufacturing sites and ephedrine/pseudoephedrine extraction sites have also been encountered.
2. TITLE: “The Duquenois-Levine Test Revisited”

AUTHOR: James B. Crippin, Colorado Bureau of Investigation

ABSTRACT: The Duquenois-Levine test has long been considered the standard presumptive color test for cannabis. It is quick, simple, easy to use and utilizes relatively cheap chemicals. There are very few other compounds that give false positives.

Traditionally, hydrochloric acid has been used as the acidifier in the Duquenois-Levine reaction. The main drawback with the test is its use of concentrated hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid gives off a strong odor. The fumes tend to degrade nearby objects as well as any dropper bulbs that they come in contact with. The fumes also tend to “smoke-up” other objects in the area.

I have been unable to find any record of any other type or concentration of acid ever having been tried in the place of hydrochloric acid. For the past three years I have tried various other acids in varying concentrations. The only other acid that gives the same colors and transfers is a 65% sulfuric acid instead of concentrated hydrochloric acid, the reaction proceeds the same and is virtually indistinguishable from the “normal” Duquenois-Levine test.

Trace Evidence and Crime Scenes

1.TITLE: “Developing Bloody Prints on Cloth with Amido Black”

AUTHOR: Daniel Holshue, Montana Forensic Science Division

ABSTRACT: This presentation will cover latent prints left in blood on cloth. It will consist of slides showing multiple pieces of cloth (bed sheet) with different latent hand prints with varying amounts of blood on each. These were treated with amido black, a chemical that reacts with blood proteins to enhance areas that are contaminated with blood. After treatment, photographs were taken and then enhanced by one of the vendors, “More Hits”. Photos will be shown before and after enhancement.

In a previously worked case, heavy deposits of blood were found which had almost turned black and were of no value. The one palm print that was identifiable was not visible at the time of processing. It was enhanced using the method described in the above paragraph. It is important for those collecting evidence to be aware that more than just the visible blood print may be present on an item. Further processing may be needed so that “all” ridge detail can be seen and a possible identification made.
2. TITLE: “Trace Evidence – Science or Skill?”

AUTHOR: Richard Saferstein, Ph.D., Mt. Laurel, NJ

ABSTRACT: In the past five years, there have been significant forces at work that are bound to have impact on the role forensic trace evidence analysis plays in the courtroom and on the laboratory bench. For many, it will be easy to ignore these events and carry on business as usual, but at this point in our history, the forces of change are gaining momentum. The reality of the situation is that the defense bar and an enlightened judiciary will impose changes on our way of doing business if we, in the forensic science community, don’t begin to take forceful actions to create the image of a profession bent on improving its technology; striving to define the significance and value of its work products; desiring to implement quality assurance programs in its workplaces; and one that is very mindful of the high ethical standards that must guide its practitioners.

This paper will discuss how we can expeditiously proceed to implement practices that will thoroughly demonstrate to the scientific and legal communities that forensic trace evidence analysis is derived from acceptable scientific practices governed by appropriate quality assurance concerns.
3. TITLE: “Natural Fibers, Furs and Hair”

AUTHOR: Phyllis L. Friesen, The Arbidar Company

ABSTRACT: There are over 2000 usable natural fibers growing in all parts of the world. This wide world has now become so much smaller due to the ease of modern transportation that we may someday be seeing nearly any of these fibers.

Of these 2000 natural fibers, only about 50 are commercially usable. As a general rule, however, with worldwide travel so available to everyone, we may easily come in contact with some that are not of the 50 commonly used fibers. We must be ever alert to a fiber, fur or hair that we have not been in contact with previously.

Some very common fibers that we are accustomed to seeing only in a color-dyed form, are now being grown in a natural color due to selective breeding and advanced plant genetics.

Fibers that have not even been grown in the U.S. for years are now being brought on the market due to changes in the law. Farmland used for older common crops is now being utilized for the more uncommon crops due to the drop in use of some formerly grown cash crops. Fibers that we have never seen before are now being grown in the U.S. and are quite commonly used in many forms and we may easily come in contact with them at any time.

Hair and fur evidence is ever important and the ability to identify each species or breed that the samples originated from is of the utmost importance in the pursuit of forensic science and research.


No arson papers at this meeting

Wildlife Forensics

No wildlife papers at this meeting

DNA and Conventional Serology

1. TITLE: “The Evaluation of Sexual Assault Evidence: Employing the Differential Extraction Method: Some Case Examples”

AUTHORS: Rodney H. Andrus*, Edwin K. Scruggs, Kenneth Penner, Delia Frausto-Heredia, and Michi L. Lee, California Dept. Of Justice Crime Lab

ABSTRACT: The differential extraction procedure has been utilized for some time in forensic laboratories conducting sexual assault evidence examinations, especially those with DNA analysis and typing capabilities. The power of this relatively simple method to effectively separate the biological and genetic components of sexual assault evidence, has greatly enhanced the significance of DNA typing interpretations.

This laboratory has found that the differential extraction procedure is also a valuable addition to its basic compliment of methods used in sexual assault stain characterization. Its effectiveness in identifying spermatozoa will be discussed through a presentation of a variety of cases where the more traditional identification methods of acid phosphatase screening, sperm searching and p30 protein analysis provided only negative or, at best, inconclusive results.


1. TITLE: “Montana Right Wing Extremists Groups”

AUTHOR: Lee Johnson, Montana Criminal Investigation Bureau

ABSTRACT: This presentation will identify and describe statewide anti-government militias and the Montana based “Freeman.” Local confrontations between law enforcement and these groups will be presented in an effort to identify the violent tendencies of extremist group involvement.
2. TITLE: “NWAFS Web Site: Macabre or Cool, What’s Your Opinion?”

AUTHOR: Lisa Caughlin, Sacramento County Laboratory of Forensic Services

ABSTRACT: Recently, I announced the opening of the Internet web site for the NWAFS on the Forens-L Internet list. I have received many comments regarding this site. This presentation will demonstrate the site for the membership and look at the comments that have been received. Members are encouraged to bring creative suggestions of what they would like to have available on the NWAFS web sit for their reference use.
3. TITLE: “Hazardous Materials Response Initiatives by the FBI Laboratory”

AUTHOR: R.S. Murch*, D.C. Richardson, and D.L. Wilson, FBI Laboratories

ABSTRACT: Beginning in October, 1995, the FBI Laboratory determined the need for strong scientific and technical capabilities against the illicit use of hazardous materials (chemical, biological and nuclear) either by terrorists or criminals (e.g. environmental crimes). The roles for the FBI Laboratory in this arena are primarily scientific and technical integration of the array of Federal resources, and forensic exploitation of the potentially hazardous crime scene. This vision gained momentum with the assumption by the Laboratory of coordinating responsibilities for the multi-agency chemical-biological incident response for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In May, 1996, the Hazardous Materials Response Unit was created, with all requested resources appropriated in Fiscal Year 1997. Several other initiatives are underway to bring this program into a position of principal leadership at the national level.
4. TITLE: “Practical Low-Power Photomicrography”

AUTHOR: Kay M. Sweeney, Kirkland, WA

ABSTRACT: Standard laboratory equipment can be successfully used to create high quality color photomicrographs. Equipment needed includes: stereo microscope, video-style tripod and SLR, 35mm manual camera. Control of specular and stray lighting, as well as focusing techniques, centering, and exposure, are critical to image quality. A few practice drills in aligning the camera lens with the microscope eyepiece, will guarantee consistent high-quality photographs.