Volume 38, Issue 1 (January 1993)
A Technique for Developing and Photographing Ridge Impressions on Decomposed Water-Soaked Fingers
One of the most challenging tasks confronting a crime laboratory technician is the fingerprinting and subsequent identification of an unknown homicide or drowning victim whose fingers have been subjected to a long period of exposure to water and the effects of decomposition. If the fingers of the individual have not been exposed to the erosive effects of water and decomposition for a long period of time, they may be allowed to dry, and suitable impressions are often obtainable. In other cases the fingers may have to be removed, with the permission of the Medical Examiners Office, and processed by the Crime Laboratory in an attempt to develop suitable ridge structure for inked impressions or an exact photographic copy of the individual's fingers. In extreme cases the effects of water and decomposition make the fragile ridge structure appear to be nonexistent to the naked eye.
The procedure used in this case report, combines the use of cyanoacrylate vapor, commonly called “super glue fuming,” and the ninhydrin process in conjunction to develop fragile ridge structure into discernable ridges that are easily seen and photographed for the purpose of making an identification of the individual.