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    Volume 47, Issue 3 (May 2002)
    Volume 47, Issue 3 (May 2002)

    Comparison of the Elemental Composition of Office Document Paper: Evidence in a Homicide Case

    (Received 10 December 2001; accepted 29 November 2001)

    Published Online: 2002

    CODEN: JFSOAD

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    Abstract

    In suicidal asphyxia smothering is very rare, especially when caused by winding strips of adhesive tape around the head to cover the nose and mouth. The authors report a very unusual case in which the deceased, a 66-year-old man, was found with two strips of tape wound around his head: the first, more superficial tape was wrapped six times and the second was wrapped nine times. Only integration of the crime scene data with those of the autopsy and the patient's psychological profile enabled identification of the event as suicide.


    Abstract

    Fraudulent substitution of a page within a multiple page document such as a will or business contract, the counterfeit manufacture of paper banknotes, and linking ransom or extortion notes have all been the focus of criminal investigations at one time or another. In a recent homicide investigation, document examiners were requested to compare a threatening letter received by a business partner of the deceased with paper samples seized under warrant from a suspect's house. Through a quantitative elemental analysis of the concentrations of nine elements (Na, Mg, Al, Mn, Sr, Y, Ba, La, and Ce) within the questioned and specimen documents, determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), it was concluded that (i) the paper of the threatening letter originated from a different source to that of the paper seized from the suspect's house and (ii) all six pages of paper seized from the suspect's house originated from the same source. This discrimination of paper is presented as both a statistical t-test analysis (99.9% confidence limit) as well as construction of an elemental fingerprint for individual replicates within the questioned and specimen sample populations. This is the first reported use of the comparison of the elemental composition of document paper, determined by ICP-MS, to assist in a criminal investigation.


    Author Information:

    Di Vella, G
    DI.M.I.M.P., University of Bari, Policlinico, Bari,

    Spence, LD
    Forensic and Technical Services Branch, Queensland Police Service, Brisbane, Queensland

    Belviso, M
    DI.M.I.M.P., University of Bari, Policlinico, Bari,

    Neri, M
    DI.M.I.M.P., University of Bari, Policlinico, Bari,

    Francis, RB
    Queensland Health Scientific Services, Queensland

    Tinggi, U
    Queensland Health Scientific Services, Queensland


    Stock #: JFS2001256

    ISSN:0022-1198

    ISSN:0022-1198

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS2001256

    Author
    Title Comparison of the Elemental Composition of Office Document Paper: Evidence in a Homicide Case
    Symposium ,
    Committee E30
    Author
    Title Comparison of the Elemental Composition of Office Document Paper: Evidence in a Homicide Case
    Symposium ,
    Committee E30