Volume 49, Issue 3 (May 2004)
Using STR Analysis to Detect Human DNA from Exploded Pipe Bomb Devices
This study investigated the possibility of recovering a bomb assembler's DNA from an exploded pipe bomb device. Metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes were examined to determine if one surface type would allow better DNA recovery than the other. Ten subjects each handled components of one metal and one PVC pipe bomb. The bombs were exploded, the fragments were collected and swabbed using the double swab technique, and the samples were extracted, quantified, amplified, and genotyped using polymerase chain reaction/short tandem repeat (PCR/STR). Of the 20 bombs handled by the subjects, four bombs gave reportable results that matched the subject's known DNA profiles. An additional eight profiles, also matching the subject's known DNA profiles, were generated but were below the reportable threshold. There was no difference in the success rate of obtaining DNA profiles related to the use of either PVC or metal in the manufacture of the pipe bomb. The variables that appeared to have the greatest influence on the success of generating a DNA profile were the amount of fragmentation and subsequent recovery of the bomb fragments. It is suspected that successful DNA profiling could also be dependent upon the bomb assembler's propensity to slough skin cells on objects they handled.