Volume 33, Issue 2 (March 1988)
The Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA) and Its Effects on Latent Prints on Paper
For almost a decade, document examiners have used the electrostatic detection apparatus (ESDA) to detect and visualize indentations on paper. Many of the same papers that undergo the ESDA process, however, may also be capable of yielding latent print evidence of vital importance to the successful prosecution of a case. Both the questioned document examiner and the latent print analyst, therefore, have a valid interest in the protection of paper evidence. It is common knowledge that treating a paper document with ninhydrin for latent prints can effectively destroy any indentations. This study was initiated to determine whether the ESDA process resulted in any corresponding detrimental effects to latent prints on paper documents. Four different variables were manipulated and evaluated during the testing process. The results, which seem to contradict earlier published data, are discussed as well as what steps may be necessary to best protect both latent print and indentation evidence.