Volume 28, Issue 2 (April 1983)
Homicide with a Black Powder Handgun
A young white male was found shot to death in the entry hall of his home. The nature of the projectiles found in the body and the appearance of unusual residues on the walls of the hallway suggested that a percussion cap black powder weapon had been used. Interviews with acquaintances of the victim also suggested that a percussion cap revolver may have been involved, and it became of critical importance to reconstruct the circumstances of the crime, since the weapon itself was not recovered. Weapons similar to that allegedly used were test-fired under controlled conditions and residues from the muzzle and cylinder blast were compared to residues at the scene. Based upon these comparisons, standard distance determinations, the pathological findings, and the characteristics of the recovered projectiles, the dynamics of both victim and perpetrator could be reconstructed. Their relative positions and the sequence of shots were also reconstructed. The comparisons conducted in this case revealed that black powder revolvers produce large amounts of unusual residues which supplement the usual range of firearm evidence to make even complex reconstructions possible.