Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

JULY 2022

Welcome to the July 2022 Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis in Snow

Senior Constable J. David North


Blood shedding events occurring in snowy conditions are conceivable and potentially likely in alpine environments. An examination of the current literature indicates there is limited information on the topic of bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) in snow or icy conditions. The aim of this study was to replicate classic bloodstain patterns including drip and spatter stains, to record observations to increase knowledge in the discipline. Due to the weather conditions during this study, the "hardness" of snow had an effect on reproducing bloodstains patterns consistently. Reproducible bloodstain patterns were produced in powder snow and icy snow, indicating the potential for investigators to reconstruct and understand the bloodshed events associated with a crime scene. Hence, the bloodstain analyst working in areas where snowfall is likely should develop an understanding of how blood will react with snow.


Crime scene examinations generally are associated with dwellings or structures. In reality many crime scenes involving bloodshed may occur outside including wilderness environments. While examination within a dwelling may take significant time to process, it will not degrade dramatically as the surrounding structure provides protection. In contrast, the outdoor scene is subjected to the full gambit of the environmental and weather conditions.

Although approximately two thirds of the Australian continent is classified as arid or semi-arid, with one third classified as desert, Australia also possesses mountainous, snow covered, wilderness areas which are popular with tourists, particularly in the winter ski season. As these snowy, wilderness areas become more appealing to hikers, and there is an increased potential for incidents involving blood shedding events to occur, whether criminal or accidental.

A search of the current literature was only able to locate a limited number of articles about BPA in snow and freezing conditions. James, Kish and Sutton indicated that, "bloodstains are frequently recognizable in snow and should be recorded." Hence the bloodstain pattern analyst working in areas where snowfall is likely should develop an understanding of how blood will react with snow.


The location for the study was near the summit of Ben Lomond, Tasmania, Australia with an approximate height of 1600m (5200 feet) Average day time temperatures were approximately 0oC (32oF) with evening temperatures of -7oC (19oF). Blood was drawn from a healthy male and used immediately to create spatter and drip stains, which were the focus of this research. Transfer stains were omitted due to the unlikely possibility that they would produce recognisable bloodstain patterns.

The bloodstains were produced over two days, with the first day on hard, icy snow and the second day on soft, freshly fallen powder snow. The effect of snow covering existing bloodstains was also observed.

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NOTE: This article appeared in the JBPA, Volume 32, Number 1 and is licensed for use here by the author under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The Crime Scene Investigator Network gratefully acknowledges the author for allowing us to reproduce the article.

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