Volume 29, Issue 3 (July 1984)
Suicide Reconstruction by Glue-Lift of Gunshot Residue
Based upon the recently developed glue-lift collection of gunshot residue particles for examination in the scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive X-rays, this laboratory has undertaken a research program to determine if reconstruction of gunshot deaths is feasible. Because undisturbed conditions of suicide victims may help in securing unambiguous results and high success rates, the program has been carried out to reconstruct suicides only. Data obtained from 13 firearms suicides and their laboratory reconstruction which involved primarily shotguns and handguns, indicate that reconstruction can be immensely useful to interpretation of the gunshot residue distributions on a suspect's or victim's hands. This reports outlines the basic experiments performed to relate the residue emission from the gun to the deposits found on the firing hand(s) and a description of the reconstruction technique that uses a target to simulate a human body. The technique can determine the specifics of a victim's hand position at the time of firing and which hand was used to pull the trigger. Because the technique is sensitive to the nature of the grasp of the firing hand and of the supporting hand, in the case of a shotgun, it has been possible in all cases to date, to determine which one of the potential eight hand positions existed at the time of shooting.