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Crime Scene Case Report


Cheyenne Benson
Dayton Regional STEM School
Advanced Biomedical Sciences
17 September 2014
Ms. Kate Cook Whitt

Crime Scene Case Report


This report evaluates the case of Anna Garcia, a 38 year old Hispanic woman (Autopsy Report),
who was found dead in her home on August 15, 2014. On the morning of the incident, neighbor
Doug Greene noticed Ms. Garcias dog had been barking for some time. Normally Ms. Garcia
would have taken the dog on a walk. Mr. Greene called Ms. Garcia and rang her doorbell, but
both went unanswered. At this point (9:45 am) Mr. Greene called 911. By 9:56 am, EMTs had
arrived at the scene and pronounced Ms. Garcia dead.
Brief Case Description
Ms. Garcia was lying face-down in her entry hallway. A pool of blood and a smaller pool of
vomit was spreading from her head. The scene showed signs of disruptionthe table was
overturned, a vase with flowers lying on the floor, two syringes and four white pills strewn
around Ms. Garcias head and a spilled
glass of orange juice. Most evidence
was located all in the same general
area. When the crime scene was split
into quadrants, most evidence was
concentrated in quadrants 2 and 4, the
right half of the scene below.
The scene contained evidence such as
bootprints, pills, syringes, blood
spatters, fingerprints, DNA, and hair. All of this evidence was analyzed in an attempt to uncover
how Anna Garcias death occurred. Also investigated were suspects involved with Anna Garcia

during her life. Anna Garcia had been going over paperwork the night before she died with her
ex-husband, Alex Garcia (persons of interest). The neighbor who called 911, Doug Greene, had
been in a romantic relationship with Anna
Garcia until she ended things abruptly the

Fig. 1
Overview of the crime scene divided into
quadrants.

week before her death. Also investigated were Lucy Leffingwell (Annas best friend and business
partner, though lately their relationship had been strained) and Erica Piedmont (Alex Garcias
new wife). After recording all evidence at the scene of the crime with both photography and a
sketch, evidence was sent to the laboratory. Fingerprints, blood type, DNA, shoeprints and hair
evidence was analyzed to determine who was present at the scene of the crime. The blood spatter
patterns were analyzed to find in what way Ms. Garcia bled out. The content of the four white
pills was determined. Finally, an autopsy was conducted and revealed time and possible causes
of death.

Summary of Findings
This is a summary of all evidence found at the crime scene, and what laboratory analyses and
forensics revealed.
Fingerprints
One fingerprint was found on the overturned table at the crime scene. Fingerprint analysis
involves the matching of arch patterns (loop, whorl or ridge) and twelve to fifteen similarities
between fingerprints (minutiae). The fingerprint found at the crime scene was a twelve-point
match with that of Alex Garcia. Both fingerprints had an ulnar loop pattern and shared forks,
Minutiae

Ulnar Loop

Fig. 2

Crime Scene

Fingerprint at crime
scene vs. Alex
Garcias fingerprint

dots, and eyes in common (enough


the fingerprint found at the crime scene belonged to Alex Garcia.
Blood Type

Alex Garcia

to draw a match). Therefore,

The blood found at the crime scene was treated to find the blood type and then compared against
the blood types of Anna Garcia, Alex Garcia, Doug Greene, Erica Piedmont, and Lucy
Leffingwell. It is important to note that while if a blood type does not match the suspected owner
of the blood, it can rule the suspect out, but if a suspects blood type is found at a crime scene, it
cannot be used to say that the suspect was there. Too many people share a common blood type to
determine that. All people share four blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Blood type is determined by
the shape and type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A antigens are present on red
blood cells of type A blood, B antigens for type B, both A and B antigens for type AB blood, and
neither (no antigens at all) on type O blood. Blood with a certain type of antibody will clump in
the presence of the corresponding antibody (a protein that bonds to antibodies to mark a cell).
Using this technique, it was determined that the blood type at the crime scene was type B blood.
The suspects with type B blood are Alex Garcia and Anna Garcia. Considering the blood was
spreading in a pool from Anna Garcias head, it is more likely that the blood belonged to Anna
Garcia.
Shoeprint
Shoeprints can not only identify what type of shoe was worn at the crime scene (and therefore
provide some evidence pointing to a specific suspect), they can also provide information about
the height and weight of who wore them (if there is enough evident wear on the undersole). At
the crime scene were two muddy shoeprints near Anna Garcias body. A comparison between the
undersole pattern of the shoes each suspect wore and the pattern found at the crime scene
revealed that the pattern of the shoeprint at the crime scene was the same pattern as was on Anna
Garcias shoes.

Fig. 3
Shoeprint at crime
scene vs. Anna
Garcias undersole

Hair
Hair analysis can be used to identify the possible presence of suspects at a crime scene by
examining three parts of hair: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. Each individual has a
unique hair pattern. Cuticles (the outer layer of the hair) can be ragged, smooth, thick, thin, or a
certain color. The thickness, color, and distribution of pigment granules in the cortex can be very
individual to a certain race,
in the center of the hair strand,

Crime scene
hair

group, or even individual. The medulla,


Fig. 4
Anatomy of hair; hair at
crime scene vs. Anna
Garcias hair

can also be distinct (sometimes


it is continuous, sometimes
fragmented, and it may be

Anna Garcias
hair

different thicknesses). The hair found at the crime scene matched with that
of Anna Garcia. The pigment, cortex and cuticle patterns were all the same, while it didnt match
with any of the other hair samples from the other suspects.

Autopsy Report
Anna Garcias autopsy revealed a few things about her death. In the lab, Ms. Garcias body was
simulated by a vial of waterlock, which was placed in a water bath and the rate of cooling
measured. The water bath was room temperature, like the room Anna Garcia was in when she
died. Using the Glaister Equation

( 98.4measured rectal1.5temperature (Fahrenheit )=approximate hours since death)


it was determined that her time of death was 5:56 a.m. on August 15, 2014. As Ms. Garcia died
in a temperature-controlled house, the Glaister equation (which works off of the principle of
algor mortis, or body cooling after death) is accurate in this situation.
The autopsy report revealed findings on what was present in Ms. Garcias bloodstream when she
died, the type of injury that she sustained (and how it may have happened) and other clues
present in or on her body. Important excerpts from the report are as follows:
The body is admitted to the morgue clothed and within a body bag. One ring is present on the
right ring finger. Clothes are not torn but are stained with blood. A small amount of vomit is
present on the shoulder area of the blouse
There is an injury to the right temple, including an open wound where pre-mortem bruising is
evident. Neck shows no sign of injury

The ankles are swollen and signs of edema are positive with moderate fluid accumulation.
The fingernails show substantial graying, indicative of low oxygen. The right proximal humerus
shows signs of a recently healed break, as does the left distal tibia
Inflamed, red injection sites on left thigh
A head wound at the right temple, 2 cm in length, and 5 mm in depth at the center.
Surrounding area bruised, limited bleeding evident. No skull fracture. Right elbow bruise, 2 cm
in diameter, limited contusion. No other visible injuries
Generalized pallor and evidence of oxygen deprivation. Fingernails and toenails blue/gray
color. Evidence of vomit in oral cavity. Blunt trauma to the head, wound indicative of a fall
against a solid object, light bleeding suggesting lack of blood flow. Edema of ankles visible.
Based on this autopsy report, the Medical Examiner drew the possible cause of death (physically,
what caused Ms. Garcia to die) to be the head wound sustained by Ms. Garcia. The possible
manner of death (events that occurred causing Ms. Garcia to die) was that she hit her head on the
table falling down and bled out.
Blood Spatter
Blood spatter analysis can be used to determine from what height blood fell on the crime scene.
If Anna Garcia did, as the autopsy report suggests, hit her head and bleed out on the table, the
height from which the blood fell should be lower than Anna Garcias height (64 inches, or
approximately 163 centimeters). The diameter of a blood drop from the crime scene was
compared against the diameter of blood dropped from varying heights. It was determined that the
drop of blood fell from a height of 80 centimeters. The blood fell from a height shorter than Ms.
Garcias full height, indicating that it likely fell while she was falling forward.

DNA Analysis
The DNA found at the crime scene could be used to rule out the presence of any other suspects at
the crime scene. The method of DNA analysis used (gel electrophoresis) cannot positively
identify any suspects, but can eliminate all others. In gel electrophoresis, DNA is gathered from
the crime scene, and then it is gathered from the suspects. Restriction enzymes cut the DNA into
differently size strands (the size is dependent upon the individuals genetic code). These
differently sized strands of nucleotides are placed in a gel with a negative charge on one side and
a positive charge on the other (DNA has a slightly negative charge, and so will move away from
the negatively charged side and towards the positively charged side). Larger pieces of DNA will
travel slower than smaller pieces, so eventually a banding pattern occurs with smaller fragments
of DNA further towards the positively charged side and larger pieces of DNA further away from
the positively charged side. By comparing the banding pattern of suspects DNA to the banding
pattern of the DNA found at the crime scene, we can eliminate suspects if their banding pattern
doesnt match (if the banding pattern does match, it cannot be a positive identification because
gel electrophoresis only looks at a section of DNA, a section that two people may share in
common). The banding pattern of the DNA found at the crime scene matched that of Anna
Garcias, but did not match that of any of the suspects. Therefore, the DNA was likely Ms.
Garcias, and definitely not any of the suspects.
Drug Analysis

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The four white pills found at the crime scene were crushed into a powder and compared against
other possible substances. Indicators were used on all substances to determine which were most
similar, and find the substance that matched the one at the crime scene. Compared against the
unknown substance from the crime scene was cocaine, acetaminophen, acetylsalicyclic acid,
methamphetamine, and ecstasy. All were white powders, but a close visual inspection revealed
that the unknown substance had a thick, off-white, clumpy-powdery texture (like acetylsalicyclic
acid and acetaminophen, unlike cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine). Now, the unkown
substance narrowed down to most likely either being acetaminophen or acetylsalicyclc acid, all
substances were exposed to three indicators. The unknown substance and acetylsalicyclic acid
responded the same way to all three indicators (clouding up, no reaction, and fizzing: not so for
any other comparison substances), indicating that the pills found at the crime scene were
acetylsalicyclic acid (aspirin).
Analysis of Findings
It should be noted that, as with all scientific and laboratory endeavors, forensic science is subject
to the factors of uncontrolled variables, human error, and other inconsistencies. A conclusion one
person may draw from the evidence could be different from the conclusion another draws. The
evidence itself may be inaccurate. The house Anna Garcia died in may have been a few degrees
too cold for the Glaister Equation to predict precisely when she died. A twelve-point match may
have been made with another fingerprint (Alex Garcias fingerprint may have shared more than
twelve points of similarity, and the other fingerprint shared only twelve, but both could be
accepted as matches, possibly giving incorrect evidence). Measuring errors when determining
blood drop diameter, mixing up two similar-looking substances on the drug analysis or having
two suspects with very similar undersole patterns and matching the shoeprint to the wrong

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suspect are all examples of uncontrolled variables affecting the accuracy of the evidence. These
considerations are important to keep in mind when analyzing the evidence.

Conclusion
After a summary review of all evidence, it has been determined based on my experience as a
crime scene investigator that Anna Garcias death was an accident. There is only one piece of
evidence that points to any suspects at the scene of the crime, which is Alex Garcias fingerprint
on the table (understandable, as the night before Ms. Garcias death he had been going over
divorce paperwork with her, presumably on that table). All other evidence points to Ms. Garcia
being alone at the time of her death. Both the autopsy report and analysis of the pills found at the
crime scene say that Ms. Garcia had been taking aspirin that morning, perhaps immediately
before she fell and died, given their state strewn about the floor. Aspirin can be used as an
emergency insulin replacement. The syringes found by Ms. Garcias body were used for insulin,
and the autopsy report states she had injection sites on her thigh, indicating that she attempted to
give herself insulin. Orange juice was also found at the scenea natural blood-sugar-spiking
beverage. Ms. Garcia and her bakery business partner had recently been discussing expanding
into a line of sugar-free products. Taking all this evidence together, it is most likely that Ms.
Garcia suffered from diabetes. Low blood sugar causes diabetics to pass out. If Ms. Garcia
passed out from low blood sugar, she could have hit her head on the table while falling down and
suffered the head wound detailed in the autopsy report. As the report states, Ms. Garcia suffered
a blunt trauma to the head, wound indicative of a fall against a solid object. Judging by the
direction the table is tipped (towards Ms. Garcia) and the haphazardly arranged and knocked
over evidence on the floor (indicative of an accident) and the emergency insulin and blood sugar-

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spiking substances present, Ms. Garcia died when she passed out from low blood sugar and
struck her head on the table, bleeding out.