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Inter-comparison of unrelated fiber evidence.

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Max M. Houck

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The foreign textile fibers recovered from one item of evidence from each of 20 unrelated crimes in three categories (bank robbery, kidnapping, and homicide) were cross-compared. The items of evidence were scraped to remove the trace evidence and a sample of the collected fibers was examined using a standard scheme of analysis. The fibers were examined with light microscopy (including polarized light microscopy), fluorescence microscopy, and microspectrophotometry. The fibers were divided into natural and manufactured groups and then categorized by color and generic (polymer) class. Cross-comparing all 2083 fibers resulted in 2,168,403 comparisons, after removing duplicate (same fiber) comparisons. Colorless and denim fibers were excluded from this study. No two fibers were found to exhibit the same microscopic characteristics and analytical properties. Therefore, it is rare to find two unrelated items that have foreign fibers that are analytically indistinguishable. These results corroborate other population studies conducted in Europe and target fiber studies conducted both in the US and in Europe.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.