Volume 35, Issue 6 (November 1990)
A New Approach to Unraveling Tangled Adhesive Tape for Potential Detection of Latent Prints and Recovery of Trace Evidence
Occasionally, crumpled adhesive tape strips are encountered in criminal cases involving rape, murder, kidnapping and explosives (bombing). Such tape is usually submitted to a crime laboratory for the detection of latent prints, to establish a physical match with other strips or roles of tape, or to be examined for associative evidence, such as hair, fibers, or paint, which may be adhering to the tape surfaces. To achieve these objectives, it is often necessary to unravel the tape without affecting the potential latent prints which may be present on the adhesive or nonadhesive surfaces. This paper describes a new technique, using a solvent consisting of a blend of aliphatic and halogenated hydrocarbons, to unravel tangled tape which, unlike existing freezing or heating methods, minimizes disturbance of latent prints. This procedure was used on various types of commercially available adhesive tapes bearing latent prints, which were subsequently detected by crystal violet, cyanoacrylate fuming, and fluorescent dye stain development procedures. This simple technique proved to be very convenient and successful in unraveling various types of adhesive tapes for the detection of latent prints and possible recovery of trace evidence.