Volume 49, Issue 5 (September 2004)
A Case Study on Forensic Polymer Analysis by DIOS-MS: The Suspect Who Gave Us the SLIP®
New technology was used to identify traces of a commercial barrier/spermicide in evidence from a case of a man accused of rape of a minor. Examination of vaginal swabs performed by another laboratory had been negative for seminal fluid or other sources of DNA from the suspect and we were asked to examine the remaining swabs for any traces that might have originated from the commercial product. Encare® consists of vaginal inserts having a suppository-like shape. They contain the spermicide, nonoxynol-9, in a matrix consisting of approximately two parts polyethylene glycol (PEG) 1000 to one part PEG 1450, plus minor inorganic components added to produce foaming. Portions of the cotton from vaginal swabs from the victim and penile swabs from the suspect were extracted with methanol and subsequently examined by desorption ionization on silicon time-of-flight mass spectrometry (DIOS TOF MS). Low levels of PEG in the same mass range as Encare® were found on two separate vaginal swabs from the victim and one penile swab from the suspect. Subsequent to these findings, the suspect (through his attorneys) provided us with a sample of SLIP® Plus, a commercial sexual lubricant that also contains nonoxynol-9. Traces of PEG in the same mass range as Encare® were found in this sample, while no PEG was found in a sealed sample of SLIP® Plus provided by the manufacturer At trial the suspect's attorneys stipulated that their client had added some Encare® to the SLIP® Plus sample he had provided.