Posts

Did you know …

The FBI maintains an Anonymous Letter File. The file is searchable and contains images of anonymous and threatening letters. Letters may be examined and compared to those from other cases. Original documents are preserved in the manner in which they were received. They may not be folded, stamped, written on, handled excessively, or altered in any way. Avoiding these problematic issues preserves unseen evidence, such as indented writing.

Bank Robbery Notes – Like the Anonymous Letter File, the FBI also maintains a searchable file containing images of notes used in bank robberies (“Gimmie all your money,” signed I.M. Wearingamask). Notes may be compared to others used in other robberies. Original notes are preserved in the condition in which they are received. They, too, are checked for unseen evidence.

Bullet Examinations

The FBI’s Forensic Services is available to examine fired bullets. Measurements collected are – bullet weight, specific design, caliber, direction and characteristics of the grooves (rifling) carved into the bullet by the lands and grooves formed into the barrels of rifles and handguns.

Bullets collected as evidence must be packaged separately to prevent contacting other bullets and/or other objects. Bullets are generally soft and easily marred by contact.

Spy Stuff!


Coded messages are sometimes used by criminals such as terrorists, gang members, and even prison inmates. They devise the secret codes to relay messages they want to conceal from authorities and rivals/enemies.

Cryptanalysis

Knowing the content of these hush-hush communications is key to solving crimes and sometimes protecting life. Therefore, the FBI employs a team of Code Breakers whose job is to decipher the encrypted notes. They often find directives of murder, prison escape, confessions to crimes, drug activity, and more.

Collecting DNA Evidence – Bone, Tissue, Teeth

The FBI is quite specific about the evidence samples needed to complete proper testing/examination. The requirements for bone, teeth, and tissue are as follows:

  • Submit whole bones, if possible. Cutting increases the risk of contamination
  • Pick up bone and teeth using a clean gloved hand or some type of forceps
  • Teeth are to be collected in order of preference for testing
  1. molar (no dental work)
  2. premolar (no dental work)
  3. canine (no dental work)
  4. front tooth (no dental work)
  5. molar (restored)
  6. premolar (restored)
  7. canine (restored)
  8. front tooth (restored)

Tissue

Handle/pick up tissue with clean gloved hand or forceps. The ideal sample would be 1-2 cubic inches of red skeletal muscle, placed into a clean, airtight container. NO Formalin! Samples may be frozen, placed in Styrofoam containers along with dry ice and shipped overnight to the FBI lab.

This One’s For the Birds!

FBI experts are on hand to examine bird feathers. No, you didn’t imagine this. It’s very real. FBI scientists can determine species from feathers or bits of feather found on clothing, shoes, vehicles, etc. Then they compare those finds with feathers discovered at a crime scene. A positive match could place a suspect at the scene of a crime.

Feathers (evidence) are packaged in either paper or resealable plastic bags.


The FBI is far more than what we’ve seen lately in the news. I’ve worked with a number of agents over the years and they are wonderful people who’re dedicated to performing their duties as professionals. They’re very good at what they do.

So please don’t let headlines and a couple of bad apples destroy the work and credibility of the more than 35,000 employees of the agency. On the other hand, I’ve had personal dealings with one of those bad apples and those times left me feeling absolutely disgusted. Oops, I’ve come close to violating my own rule of NO POLITICS on this site. Therefore, it’s time to follow my own advice and … ZIP IT!

Available soon!

 

 

Fingerprinting birds. Sounds crazy, right? I mean, why would someone need to lift a print from a bird? Would an Emu stand still while a crime scene investigator dumped fingerprint powder on it’s beak? Probably not.

Have a seat for a moment and I’ll explain. This is good stuff, starting with …

Chicken Thieves

Years ago, chicken thieves were considered as the lowest of all crooks. After all, stealing someone’s chickens was to take away a family’s source of meat and eggs and even income if the farmer sold his birds to help make ends meet.

Therefore, it was not at all unusual for the local sheriff to receive a call about the shooting of a chicken thief. That sort of “farm justice” was unofficially permitted back in the day, because, well, why not?

Eggers

But it was easier to catch chicken thieves back then than it is to catch modern day bird bandits, the bad guys who poach or kill birds of prey and/or steal their eggs. The eggs, by the way, are most often sold to collectors known as “eggers.”

Eggers go to great lengths to obtain their prizes, climbing tall trees to reach hidden nests and venturing into other even more dangerous situations. For example, in 2006, a 63-year-old egger named Colin Watson fell to his death while climbing a 40-ft tree in search of eggs. Watson, by the way, had been convicted six times in the past, and for over twenty years was on the radar of authorities.

During a raid in 1995, police discovered a collection of over 2,000 eggs in Watson’s home.

The number of egg collectors has decreased over the years; however, the poaching of birds of prey has increased. Many of those killing these magnificent animals are ranchers and farmers who shoot, trap, and poison the birds who hunt on their land.

In the past, all officials could do was to collect the bodies of dead birds, many of which were discovered in odd places, places where deceased birds shouldn’t be found—at the bottoms of ravines, etc. In other words, they were found in locations and in positions that made it obvious they were placed or tossed there by humans who were attempting to hide their crimes.

DNA

DNA and toxicology testing are extremely valuable when investigating crimes involving wildlife (toxicology tells us an animal was poisoned and DNA can help establish whether an animal was involved in an attack, or not), but they’re not useful when it comes to pointing toward a lawbreaker. So …

A PhD student, Helen McMorris, at Abertay University (Dundee) has found a means to develop and record human fingerprints on bird feathers. The exciting discovery will now assist law enforcement with their investigations

In a recent interview, McMorris said, “The structure of a feather is very similar to the fine weave structure of some fabrics such as silk. It has recently been found that fabric with a thread count of three per millimetre can sustain a fingermark or grab mark and, after microscopic examination, it was found that bird of prey feathers have a barb count of three per millimetre, suggesting that they could sustain a fingermark.”

During her research, McMorris found that green and red magnetic-fluorescent fingerprint powder produced the best results when excited with a blue wavelength of light and viewed through a yellow filter. Doing so causes prints to fluoresce.

Bingo! If the person’s prints are on file, well, police would then have their suspect. At the very least, a fingerprint on a wild bird of prey’s feathers 100% proves a human touched the animal, telling authorities it was most likely man, not natural causes, that killed the bird.