Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Monday, April 25, 2011

T & U are for Trace Evidence and Undercover

Well, I've slacked off over the weekend with my posts. I'm sure we've all experienced burn out, but I blame the Easter holiday for falling behind. Today I plan to give you information on trace evidence and working undercover to improve that mystery or thriller novel or short story you're working on. My information comes from the HOW DUNIT Series: Forensics and Police Procedure & Investigation


What is it?

-       Hair
-       Body Fluids
o   Blood
o   Saliva
o   Tears
o   Semen
-       Fiber
-       Glass
-       Soil and Plants
-       Dust

Note: Not all trace evidence contains DNA, such as semen, saliva and tears. The evidence, when secreted, picks up epithelial cells containing the DNA.

Why is it important?

-       Trace evidence places the suspect at the scene or in contact with the victim.
-       Trace evidence is very durable, lasting from months to years.
-       “It clings to clothing, hides in shoe seams, nestles into hair, and settles into nooks and crannies (p. 320).”

Dr. Edmond Locard

-       A pioneer in forensic science. He was known as the Sherlock Holmes of France.
-       He’s known for the Locard’s Exchange Principle
o   Whenever any two objects contact each other, a transfer of materials occurs.
-       His principle lead to today’s crime scene investigation protocol.
o    Securing the scene
o    Controlling access to the scene to avoid contamination and removal of trace evidence.


-       Going undercover allows the investigator (police, private or amateur) to infiltrate groups and areas under suspicion.
-       People are more willing to open up and divulge information to someone similar to himself or herself, than someone possibly linked to the police.
-       Information might be difficult to obtain without diving deeper into the suspects life.

-       First and foremost, an investigator planning to do undercover surveillance or infiltrate a specific group must research the area and people to understand and plan their appearance and back story.
-       Blend in by mirroring the suspects:
o   Dress
o   Mannerisms
o   Slang
o   Culture
-       On occasion an undercover investigator will be faced with performing illegal activities to gain access to groups or obtain information.
o   If they don’t, they risk exposing themselves and getting hurt or killed.

What information have you researched for your novel and/or stories? 


septembermom said...

You're a great researcher apparently! Very interesting. I think a well researched and thoughtful novel is so very evident from page one. Thanks for sharing this info and your kind comment on my post today. Enjoy your day!

Amy Brantley said...

Very interesting. I studied cyber crime for a while and while the trace evidence is different, it's still quite important. Great post.

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