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Crime Science

Methods of Forensic Detection

Joe Nickell and John F. Fischer

Publication Year: 2014

The O.J. Simpson trial. The Lindbergh kidnapping. The death of Marilyn Monroe. The assassination of the Romanovs. The Atlanta child murders. All controversial cases. All investigated with the latest techniques in forensic science. Nationally respected investigators Joe Nickell and John Fischer explain the science behind the criminal investigations that have captured the nation's attention. Crime Science is the only comprehensive guide to forensics. Without being overly technical or treating scientific techniques superficially, the authors introduce readers to the work of firearms experts, document examiners, fingerprint technicians, medical examiners, and forensic anthropologists. Each topic is treated in a separate chapter, in a clear and understandable style. Nickell and Fisher describe fingerprint classification and autopsies, explain how fibers link victims to their killers, and examine the science underlying DNA profiling and toxicological analysis. From weapons analysis to handwriting samples to shoe and tire impressions, Crime Science outlines the indispensable tools and techniques that investigators use to make sense of a crime scene. Each chapter closes with a study of a well-known case, revealing how the principles of forensic science work in practice.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. C-C1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix-x

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1. Introduction to Forensic Science and Criminalistics

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pp. 1-22

The rational basis upon which the work of today's investigator is predicated is called the scientific method. This method is empirical (from the Latin empiricus, "experienced"), meaning that knowledge is gained from direct observation. Underlying the empirical attitude is a belief that there is a real knowable world that operates according to fixed rules and that...

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2. Crime-Scene Investigation

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pp. 23-53

In crimes of violence and in burglary, the scene of the crime may be the most important aspect of the investigation. When Charles E. O'Hara states in his Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation that "there is not only the effect of the criminal on the scene to be considered, but also the manner in which the scene may have imparted traces to the criminal,"1...

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3. Trace Evidence

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pp. 54-84

The term trace evidence is a generic one, referring to minute physical evidence that may be transferred from a criminal to a victim or crime scene, or vice versa (Locard's Exchange Principle, discussed in chapter 1). Consider, for example, the body of a nude female dumped in a remote area: Fibers on the body may be traced to the seat covering or trunk carpet of...

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4. Firearms

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pp. 85-111

Murders by firearms became common in the seventeenth century after various wars placed such weapons in the hands of the peasant class. Reluctant to return to their life of poverty, many former soldiers became highwaymen—an occupation they invented. Many victims died before anyone conceived of trying to match a gunshot to the person who fired...

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5. Fingerprinting

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pp. 112-147

Great interest was shown them in ancient times, then for centuries they were neglected, but fingerprints have played important roles in modern crime detection. For example, after a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was recovered following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Dallas Police crime lab found underneath the stock a latent palmprint...

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6. Impression Analysis

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pp. 148-166

Just as the markings left by firearms on bullets and shell casings are distinctive and the impressions of the bare hands and soles of the feet are unique, so may other mechanical markings and other impressions be individualized for forensic purposes. The familiar principles apply. Remember...

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7. Questioned Documents

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pp. 167-191

Forged checks, "poison pen" letters, ransom notes, disputed legal documents, altered ledgers, counterfeit identification papers—these and similar fakes are the targets of the forensic questioned-document examiner. Most of the examiner's methods fall under the heading of handwriting and typewriting comparison or forgery detection and employ various analytical...

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8. Serology

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pp. 192-218

Blood is the bodily substance most commonly found at the scene of a crime or on a person, clothing, or a weapon potentially associated with a crime. It is a highly complex substance containing many cells, proteins, enzymes, and inorganic materials. This discussion is divided into three...

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9. Chemistry

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pp. 219-245

When the public, along with Dr. Watson, were introduced to Mr. Sherlock Holmes in 1887, they found him a student in a hospital laboratory, busily developing a chemical test for bloodstains. When it was proposed that he and Watson share lodgings (Holmes had his eye on "a suite in Baker...

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10. Pathology

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pp. 246-268

As mentioned in the introduction, the earliest forensic scientists were physicians who were called upon to give an opinion as to the cause of death in individuals. Increasingly in the United States, medical examiner programs are replacing the old system of elected coroners, who are...

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11. Anthropology

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pp. 269-291

The pathologist's domain is that of dead bodies; the forensic anthropologist applies his expertise to skeletal remains. "In between, we share," quipped one anthropologist, commenting on the interrelationship of the respective disciplines and the frequent cooperation between experts in those fields.1 The noted forensic anthropologist, the late William R. Maples of...

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pp. 292-293

In the preceding chapters, we have attempted to portray the various forensic sciences as they typically are carried out today at crime scenes and in laboratories, and we have endeavored to provide perspective by discussing the pioneers and techniques of the past. We have seen how the...


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pp. 294-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780813146614
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813120911

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Criminal investigation.
  • Forensic sciences.
  • Criminal investigation -- Technological innovations.
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