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Biological science, specifically forensic pathology, has become an important tool in civil and criminal investigations due to its ability to determine the cause of death of an individual (Naples et al. 2010, 162). It helps to determine how a person died, what were the exact causes and to determine whether foul play was involved in the death (Naples et al. 2010, 162).
It is a branch of science that has actually gained popularity within recent years as a result of the hit television series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations” which has glamorized the job of a forensic pathologist and has created the general notion that most crimes can be resolved by forensic pathologists should the proper evidence be obtained.
Modern technology along with constantly innovating techniques in forensic investigation have resulted in a plethora of concepts, methods and frameworks from which a forensic pathologist can draw on in order to solve a case. The role of forensic investigators goes beyond merely analyzing and solving a case but rather acts as a method of crime reduction through which the guilty are put behind bars to safeguard the rest of society.
Perpetrators of violent crimes have a tendency for leaving DNA evidence behind resulting in their subsequent capture once the trace amounts of DNA are examined. Murders, rapists and other violent criminals always seem to believe that there would be no possible method for investigators to trace them if they do not leave anything behind at the crime scene.
What they fail to take into account is the fact that there is no such thing as the perfect crime and that one way or another some form of evidence is left behind. This can come in the form of skin scrappings located under the victims fingernails, bite marks on the suspects body, pieces of hair, dried semen or even eyelashes can be used as possible samples for DNA analysis in order to catch criminals.
The U.S. alone has one of the most extensive criminal DNA databases in the world where all it would take is the click of a button to compare a DNA sample today with one taken years ago when a person was arrested (Gabriel et al. 2010, 396). This has resulted in drastic drop in the amount of violent criminals that have been allowed to go free due to lack of evidence which as a result keeps the society safe.
The human fingerprint is a unique identifying mark that can connect an individual to a scene of a crime resulting in their subsequent arrest should it be proven that they were the perpetrators of the act itself. Most criminals seem to be unaware of is the fact that virtually any surface can hold an imprint of a human fingerprint for a certain length of time. This is due to the fact that the hands of all individuals secret a combination of oil and sweat that when combined form a thin layer covering the hand.
When pressed upon a surface this thin layer is subsequently transferred on the surface itself resulting in fingerprint. Not only have new fingerprint detection methods been invented but the subsequent automation of fingerprint detection systems means that it is now far easier and faster to compare fingerprint records from a crime scene with those from an individual that has been arrested for a violent crime (Dias and Dingeman 2004, 22).
Cause of Death Analysis
Autopsy techniques have advanced to such a degree that they can determine the time and cause of death and in the case of foul play what particular type of weapon or poison was used to kill a person (Chapter 4 2004, 56).
Catching criminals is not always a case of finding DNA evidence or fingerprints, premeditated crimes often involve careful planning and subterfuge in order to fool forensic investigators and police detectives alike into believing a crime was committed by someone else other than the perpetrator in their midst. It is up to forensic investigators to examine the cause of death of the victim and compare it to the story given by various suspects at the scene in order to determine who the perpetrator of the crime really is.
Chapter Four. 2005. Examining the Body. Pathology 56. EBSCOhost .
Dias, Gary, and Dingeman, Robbie. 2004. Chapter 2 Fingerprints. Honolulu CSI 22. EBSCOhost .
Gabriel, Matthew and others. 2010. Beyond the Cold Hit Measuring the Impact of the National DNA Data Bank on Public Safety at the City and County Level. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 38, no. 2: 396-411.
Naples, Virginia and others. 2010. A Skeleton Tells Its Own Story Forensic
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Analyses of Skeletal Elements for the Science Classroom Laboratory. American Biology Teacher 72, no. 3: 162-171.