Evaluation of Blood Saturation as a Mechanism of Change in Stabbing Defects in Clothing

Boltman, B.; Adair, T.W., and Brown, L


The analysis of evidence relating to stabbing events, like many forensic analyses, can be complex. The analysis of clothing is but one factor to consider within the totality of the evidence comprising the commission of a crime. Other relevant factors are the analyses relating to the wound and the weapon. These three elements comprise a kind of forensic triad with symbiotic relationships which, when viewed in isolation, provide less information than when viewed as a whole. This analysis typically becomes more complicated with the presence of multiple weapons, especially when these weapons have similar dimensions. Several authors have commented to various degrees on this phenomenon (1-6). Through several investigative articles, both Taupin and Sitiene et. al. discuss the variations in wound and damage morphology created by changes in clothing type, position, body movement, weapon type, decomposition and other relevant factors (2,3, 4,7). Additionally, these authors observe that it may be impossible to unequivocally choose between alternating possibilities if this data is missing or incomplete. Daenid et. al. observed that clothing damage defects were affected by the weapon type, fabric type, and whether the fabric was stretched or loose over the body (1). Furthermore, Monahan and Harding observed that depending upon volume applied, blood saturation of clothing tended to alter the appearance of defects in fabric by binding fibers to one another (8).

Our purpose is not to discuss the linking of a weapon with a wound or defect. Nor are we proposing any systematic approach to the examination of wounds, weapons, and defects in clothing in an effort to create a viable nexus. The purpose of this study is merely to determine if blood soaking, and subsequent drying, can influence or change the size of said defect, thus adding an additional consideration for examiners in their evaluations. This study was initiated following a request by defense experts to examine bloodstained clothing in a homicide case.

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