Volume 28, Issue 2 (April 1983)
Positive Identification of Torn Burned Matches with Emphasis on Crosscut and Torn Fiber Comparisons
Torn paper match examinations are one of the important types of examinations made by the Document Section of the FBI Laboratory and are probably some of the least heard about and least publicized examinations made by this laboratory. These examinations have often been extremely important and conclusive, particularly in investigations involving arson on both federal and nonfederal properties, espionage, burglary and breaking and entering, as well as in at least one prison escape case.
This paper will delineate the basic conditions of identifying torn burned matches with a matchbook, and in particular a method whereby positive identifications can be effected entirely by what will be referred to as crosscut and torn fiber comparisons. It will describe two elements of comparison that, to the author's knowledge, have not been previously used in torn match identifications. These elements require high magnification examinations of crosscut and torn fibers and foreign bodies embedded in the paper matrix, called inclusions, which, when properly interpreted, will allow positive identifications where other elements of comparison are inconclusive. This method in theory is basically a simple side-by-side comparison procedure, as are most all other crime laboratory comparisons. However, in practice, it is a very painstaking, time-consuming, and difficult comparison method, requiring extreme caution.