Barry Fookes


This thesis examines the capability of current techniques in fiber classification such as UV-visible microspectrophotometry (MSP) (for dye in situ and/or extracted) to discriminate between fibers from sources known to be different. When these methods fail to adequately distinguish the fibers, novel alternative techniques'such as pulsed pumped laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (LIF) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)'are utilized to provide definitive forensic evidence.

The FBI Dye Extraction Classification and Chromatography Schemes: Forensic Fiber Examination Guidelines provides the methodology used by the majority of crime labs across the United States (Fong, 1984). In the case of cotton fibers'the most frequently encountered fiber form of trace evidence'the scheme fails to produce adequate evidence to establish a questioned/known match (Grieve & Wiggins, 2001). In fact, in many criminal investigations the protocols indicate a false positive association (Cheng, 1991). New methods of discriminating between dyed cotton fibers are needed to promote the evidential value of trace fibers.

The preliminary data confirm unique identification of all the fibers using these enhanced investigative tests, a task not possible by conventional analysis alone. Analysis by multiple techniques greatly enhances the probative value of trace fibers in criminal investigations by providing fiber discrimination at a higher degree of certainty. This study demonstrates the benefit of applying new techniques in the forensic investigation of fibers to reduce the chance of an incidental match. Sixty percent discrimination was achieved by employing current protocols; discrimination was improved to one-hundred percent by applying the methods outlined in this paper. The application of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and ultraviolet fluorescence spectroscopy to the analysis of cotton fibers is shown in this paper to greatly increase their evidentiary value by providing highly specific chemical and structural information about the dyes and brighteners.

About the Author

Rachel Russo is a senior in the Burnett Honors College enrolled in the Forensic Science program at the University of Central Florida. Her research concentrates in applied analytical chemistry for the investigation of fiber dyes. This research was conducted over the course of two years at the National Center of Forensic Science and the University of Central Florida Chemistry Department as a project for the Burnett Honors College Honors in the Major Program, under the guidance of Dr. Barry Fookes with assistance from Dr. Michael Sigman and Dr. Andres Campiglia. Upon graduation Rachel plans to attend medical school to pursue a career in forensic radiology.



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