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Monday, December 17, 2007

The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.
Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

New Fingerprints Found in Blood of British Student Killed in Italy INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, FRANCE - Nov 17, 2007 ...bloody fingerprints have been found on the pillow of a student found slain in her bedroom...

Trial Begins for One of Two Men Accused of Killing Family of Five WCBS-TV, NY - Nov 16, 2007 ...a bloody partial palm print found in the doorway matched prints collected from suspect...

Prints Link Man to Victim's Car   MUNSTER TIMES, IN - Nov 15, 2007 ...a fingerprint expert testified that evidence gathered from a crime scene matches the fingerprints of a man on trial for the 2004 slaying...

Ohio Wants Your Fingerprints  CANTON REPOSITORY, OH - Nov 14, 2007 ...agencies are required by a new state law to get fingerprints from everyone they cite for any of at least 71 misdemeanor crimes...

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New York Case
Charles Parker 11 16 Dec 2007 05:19 pm

They Walk Among Us
Charles Parker 2709 16 Dec 2007 03:09 pm

Charles Parker 42 15 Dec 2007 06:37 pm

Quality Assurance in Small Labs
Jeremy Johnson 257 14 Dec 2007 05:03 pm

Pat A. Wertheim 371 13 Dec 2007 07:18 pm

Forensic Scientist Positions at Phoenix Police Department
Carl Speckels 119 12 Dec 2007 10:26 pm

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 2132 12 Dec 2007 09:23 pm

IAI Position Paper
L.J.Steele 1338 10 Dec 2007 05:52 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group web page with FIG # 26.

Updated the Detail Archives

Updated the van der Vyver page with links to .pdf reports and news

Last week

we reviewed Pat Wertheim's van der Vyver report.

This week

Mike Grimm brings us supplemental reports involving the acquittal of Fred van der Vyver.  The reports in their original format are linked below:

  Footwear Report #1

  Footwear Report #2

  Wound Report

Van der Vyver Reports
by Michael Grimm

July 25, 2006

Certificate of Re-Examination

Reference: Inge Lotz Homicide/ Footwear Impression Evidence

Evidence Submitted:

Compact disc bearing images of impressions from crime scene


Photograph 02, indicated as taken by Inspector Desmond Share on March 17, 2005 of the victim’s bathroom floor, depicts two separate and distinct impressions in a reddish-brown substance. These impressions are adjacent to a beige bathmat and a white towel, and are separated by a single grout line in the tile floor. Each of the two impressions is approximately 3cm in length and of differing physical shapes.

The lower of the impressions depicted in the photographic images, possess two distinct curved edges, each of these is likely synonymous with the shape of the contact object that produced the marks. The uppermost of the two impressions is more consistent with the smearing of spatter consisting of the reddish-brown substance rather than a contact transfer of a design element of footwear or similar object.

It should be noted that the white towel in Photograph 02, also bears a considerable amount of the aforementioned reddish-brown discoloration, however it does not appear to be saturated to the extent as to produce the questioned marks.

Photographs 05
and 06, indicated as taken by Superintendent Koekemoer on April 28, 2005, each depict the original or same impressions photographed on March 17, 2005. Photograph 05, like Photograph 02, was taken without the use of a photographic scale or ruler for reproduction purposes; however, photograph 06 does include a proper photographic scale. These two images (05 and 06) also indicate the removal of the aforementioned floor mat and towel. Visible in these two images are a third impression or mark, previously obscured by the white towel. This impression or mark is further addressed in an additional paragraph.

The lower of the two previously described impressions, which had clear and distinct curved edges in Photograph 02, now has, in Photographs 05 and 06, a distinct appendage, approximately 3mm square on the lower right side. The upper side of this lower impression has been obliterated with moisture and the reddish-brown color is now visible on the grout joint between the tiles.


It can not be determined whether these alterations were by intent or by accident, it can however be concluded that these two areas of the mark are not part of the original impression and therefore, can not be considered either class characteristics or individual characteristics for comparison purposes.

The previously mentioned third impression or mark obscured by the white towel is a thin, curved, reddish-brown, vertical line approximately 3cm in length. The lower portion of this impression has likewise been obscured by moisture. It should be noted that this impression is in direct correlation with the stitching of the outside border of the towel and is likely the result of contact with this corresponding area of the towel.

Photograph 07, indicated as taken by Superintendent Koekemoer on April 28, 2005, and Photograph 09, indicated as taken by Superintendent Kock on June 10, 2005, both depict the aforementioned three impressions after the floor was processed with Amido Black or a like biological stain. This process does little to enhance the impressions from their previous state of comparability. It does however, accentuate the altered areas of the lower impression previously described in this report. (see Photographs 7 and 9 below)

It is important to note that there is no noticeable parallax or distortion in any of the examination photographs that could account for dissimilarities in the comparison process.



Photograph 10, indicated as taken by Superintendent Bartholomew on August 16, 2005, depicts the heel portion of a right Hi-Tec brand athletic shoe. This image appears slightly out of focus, but otherwise correctly displays a majority of the heel outsole.


Additional photographic images were submitted either in the aforementioned compact disc or by email, and include photographs indicating the location of the victim’s body in the living room, as well as images of the outsoles and uppers of a pair of Hi-Tec athletic shoe. The right shoe is the same shoe depicted in Photograph 10.

Additional Observations and Conclusions

Inasmuch as there are no sequential impressions leading from the area nearest the victim’s body to the bathroom where the questioned impressions were located, it is highly unlikely that said impressions were blood tracked from the location of the victim to the bathroom, unless the perpetrator were aware of the presence of blood on his or her shoe. If this were the case, the impressions in question would likely have been removed by the perpetrator before leaving the scene.

Typically when blood or other thick liquids are tracked through a scene, upon initial contact with the floor, the majority of the liquid is relegated to the recesses of the shoe outsole; therefore, the succession of impressions to follow would reflect a mere outline of the design element and not true likeness of the element as is suggested in this case.

Although the submitted photographic images depict only one image of the victim’s location, there does not appear to be a source of blood on the floor for initial contact with a suspect shoe other than the area directly below the victim’s head. That area should reflect a like impression to that on the bathroom floor if it were in fact the source of the impression.

It should also be noted that there is nothing in the photographic evidence of the impressions that would indicate the marks were produced exclusively by footwear. The reddish-brown stains or blood could have been transferred by any number of physical items and may have been produced by the murder weapon itself.

Typically, comparison examinations of this type are conducted by first reproducing the mark in question on a similar substrate. The impressions in this case are two dimensional in nature. They are not impressed into the substrate as would be a mark in soil. Therefore, for accurate comparisons, a two dimensional standard of the suspect shoes should have been prepared using ink or another approved method. This would render a known standard suitable for comparison purposes, rather than a mirror image of a three dimensional object. This would eliminate a false association as in this case.


Photograph 14
, referred to as the Barthomew Court Chart, exhibits only similar shaped class characteristics; however, these are very much in disagreement. All conclusions involving impression evidence are based on the presence of class characteristics (outsole design, size and wear) and the presence of individual characteristics (cuts, scratches, holes and embedded foreign objects) being in agreement. In using these two types of characteristics, three separate and distinct conclusions can be reached. 1. Positive conclusions (Identifications or Individualizations) require the presence of both class characteristics and individual characteristics. These characteristics must be in direct correlation (total agreement) in both the questioned and known impressions. 2. An Inconclusive Conclusion can result from corresponding class characteristics in total agreement, but without the presence of individual characteristics. This should never be considered an identification, only a possible association. 3. Exclusions result when neither class characteristics nor individual characteristics are in agreement.

The purported Bartholomew affidavit {A131} translation indicates “In respect to type, size, place, position and relation of the unique characteristics to each other, the class of (the) impressions are comparable with the right shoe…..). This is an incorrect statement, as none of these class characteristics (type, size, place, position and relation of uniqueness) are in agreement. There is no uniqueness of comparable value in this impressions examination and to assert so would be a false conclusion.

Final Conclusion

Based on the aforementioned observations and conclusions, it has been determined that the questioned impressions appearing in Photographs 02, 05, 06, 07 and 09 were not made by the aforementioned Hi-Tec athletic shoes. Further, any association between these impressions and the suspect Hi-Tec shoes, by anyone purporting to be qualified in this forensic discipline, should be considered an erroneous conclusion by the court.

The remaining images included in the submitted compact disc were not used for analysis or in reaching the stated conclusions, due to the indistinct nature of the images.

I attest that the afore stated results are a true and accurate compilation of my findings in the captioned case and that these results are based on my independent analysis of the aforementioned photographic images. These results are in no way based on conclusions reached previously by other examiners, whether contradictory or affirming my results.

February 5, 2007

Certificate of Re-Examination

Reference: Inge Lotz Homicide/ Footwear Impression Evidence

Evidence Submitted:
Electronic images of a court chart and known impressions of a Hi Tec athletic shoe.


This report supplements and confirms the results of my re-examination of the impression evidence in this case.

The images depicted in the court chart marked State vs. Federick Barend Van Der Vyfer and bearing the name Supt B. S. Bartholomew, each contain two elliptical markings designated 1 and 2. It should be noted that these areas in question are quite different to the competently trained impression evidence examiner.

This court chart clearly depicts a manipulation of the factual aspects of the two photographic images. These aspects include the following observations:

Characteristic 1 of the questioned impression appears as a random blood spatter or smear at approximately 30 degrees to the right of a vertical plain. This characteristic also possesses a curved design feature above and to the right of the oval.

Characteristic 1 of the known shoe depicts a vertical design element divided by a series of horizontal grooves. This design element is adjacent to two areas of zig-zag or herringbone design features. Characteristic 1 in this image appears at approximately 5 degrees left of the vertical plain.

Characteristic 2 of the unknown impression includes a curved lower right border which straightens as it flows downward to the left. This characteristic includes the manipulated or tampered area set forth in my previous Certificate of Re-Examination.

Characteristic 2 of the known shoe depicts the right side of an oval shaped design element that is divided by a series of horizontal parallel grooves. The lower center portion of this oval connects with a vertical groove in the outsole of this shoe. It should be noted that the oval design element continues to curve upward and to the left at this point, unlike the questioned impression.

If a substance such as blood were present on the suggested areas of the suspect shoe shown in this court chart, those areas would produce either an exact reproduction of the design element or a reverse color image depicting the grooves of the elements. This would include the horizontal lines or grooves in Characteristics 1 and 2 and depicted in the known  inked impression of the shoe heel. Likewise and most important, Characteristics 1 and 2 would posses the same spatial relationship (distance between ovals)           to each other. There would never be the drastic spatial difference between these characteristics as exhibited in the court chart.

It should further be noted that the manner in which the photograph of the shoe sole on the right has been cropped at the base of the image to infer that it corresponds with the manipulated or fabricated area of the questioned impression is a further deception of the facts.

The purported individual characteristics (grains of sand) have no scientific basis for consideration due to their inconsistency with the class characteristics (design elements) in both images. To assert otherwise by an expert would conflict with the basic principles of forensic comparisons. These principles or standards require that class characteristic must be in direct agreement before individual characteristics can be considered. It is further important to consider, that there is nothing about the questioned impression image that would cause myself or any qualified examiner to believe that the white specks depicted in the image were caused by sand. These features could just as well be anomalies in the floor tile. If these features were made by grains of sand adhering to a shoe sole, it is beyond my comprehension that they would remain but for a brief moment and would not presently be attached to the sole. Most significant, it is quite apparent from the inked impressions provided, that were sand particles adhering to the shoe in the suggested area, that they could not have made contact with the floor, thus preventing any form of association. To suggest that this area of the shoe made contact with the floor is beyond scientific probability.

Final Conclusion

It is my expert opinion that this court chart is a misrepresentation of the scientific facts of this examination and a blatant attempt to convince the courts to the contrary. Any attempt by Supt Bartholomew or the South African Police Services to perpetuate this erroneous and fabricated conclusion shall be considered unethical by the international forensic science community. There is no consistency whatsoever between the two images depicted in this chart.

I attest that the afore stated results are a true and accurate compilation of my findings in the captioned case and that these results are based on my independent analysis of the aforementioned photographic images. These results are in no way based on conclusions reached previously by other examiners, whether contradictory or affirming my results.

August 28, 2007

Certificate of Examination

Evidence Submitted:

1        Photographic images
2        Statement of Dr Rachel Johanna Adendorff


On 2007-08-28, I examined a series of photographic images consisting of numerous injuries to the head and body of Inge Lotz. These photographic images depict a variety of both blunt force and sharp force injuries.

My examination of this evidence was requested based on my experience in the interpretation and comparison of patterned injuries on human skin over the last twenty plus years. As an impression evidence examiner, I was cross trained in this form of examination under the direct guidance of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s State Medical Examiner Office in Roanoke, Virginia, USA.  This guidance and subsequent oversight was conducted by Drs. David W. Oxley and William Massello. My training included the examination detection of all forms of epidermal and dermal injuries, including blunt force, sharp force and thermal. I have examined hundreds of patterned injuries on dozens of both deceased and living individuals. I have successfully associated, positively identified and/or positively excluded weapons of assault and murder in the majority of these cases. I have likewise testified on approximately twenty occasions in both State and Federal Courts to the results of my findings. Many of these testimonies have resulted in convictions or acquittals in Capital Murder cases. I have also lectured on the subject of patterned injury examinations on many occasions to both medical professionals and law enforcement officers. The procedures and conclusions reached in this form of examination are not unlike that of other impression evidence examinations including that of footwear impressions.

All injuries in this matter (Inge Lotz Case) were previously measured and described in a separate document prepared by Dr. Rachel Adendorff. Those descriptions, in part, are being used in my examination observations.

I began with the injury previously described as 1(a), a 30mm long semi-circular or oval shape laceration and avulsion. This injury also consists of bruising on the anterior side.  The posterior side of this mark is devoid of bruising at the edge of the laceration and is consistent with contact with a circular semi-sharp object of the approximate same diameter as the injury.

Injury 1(b) was found to be an avulsion/laceration of a similar shape and size to that of the 1(a) injury. However, this injury displayed what appears to be even more force when inflicted than the 1(a) injury as there is more discernable avulsion or tearing of the skin and, there is consistent bruising on all sides.

The examinations of injuries 1(c) and 1(d) each revealed linear lacerations similar in shape and size. These two lacerations are consistent with blunt force contact by a cylindrical object. These injuries are approximately 30 and 35mm respectively.

Injury 5(a) appears as a rectangular contusion (bruise) with a deep laceration in the centre area. This laceration is devoid of skin and the underlying tissue, thus exposing the skull or a portion of skull fragment. Likewise, injury 5(b) is similarly shaped rectangular contusion with a like area devoid of skin and tissue in the centre. Injuries 5(a) and 5(b) are adjacent to each other in a diagonal position.

The victim’s left cheek bears two (2) small lacerations, designated 7(a) and 7(b). Each of these marks is adjacent to diagonal bruises in the direction of the nose. These lacerations are superficial in comparison to the other injuries in the report. However, their shape and size may be representative of the contact object and should not be considered of a lesser value in the examination and comparison.

Injury 9 is a linear laceration approximately 30mm in length. This laceration is surrounded by broad bruising or contusion indicative of forceful contact with a heavy cylindrical object.

The 10(a) injury is a blunt force laceration approximately 35mm in length and surrounded by extensive bruising, 10 to 15mm in width and relative to the size of the striking object.

Examination of injury 10(b), a small laceration approximately 15mm in length, included the adjacent bruising in the left temporal area, as well as injury 10(c) an 8mm laceration. This area roughly forms a square or rectangle and over all appears similar in shape and size to injuries 5(a) and 5(b).

Injury 10(d) is a laceration that bisects the helix of the left ear as well as the skin directly behind the ear. This laceration is indicative of blunt force trauma.

The lacerations forming the curved or semicircular wounds in injuries 1(a) and 1(b) are of approximate equal size (30mm to 35mm) and were likely consecutive contacts. These injuries are representative of the shape and size of the object inflicting the injuries. The 1(b) injury possesses irregular abraded edges.

Under magnification, the linear lacerations described in injuries 1(c), 1(d), 9, 10(a) and 10(d) all possess irregular abraded edge characteristic as well. These five (5) lacerations were all the result of substantial strikes from a cylindrical object. This conclusion can be further substantiated by the defused bruising adjacent to the lacerations that occur with cylindrical forceful contact. Laceration in these instances occur when the skin and underlying tissue is fully compressed between the skull and the object of force, thus causing the skin to split in a random manner, but still consistent with the linier shape of the object. The 1(b) irregular semi-circular laceration is likewise the result of extreme compression of the skin and underlying tissue. The aforementioned irregular lacerations and associated bruising are not indicative of sharp force trauma, such as would be seen with a knife, hatchet or other similar sharp tool.

Injuries 5(a), 5(b) and 10(b) are consistent with a rectangular object such as the muzzle end of some semi-automatic handguns with regard to shape and approximate size. Likewise, these same injuries are similar to the magazine, grip and back strap portion of this style firearm.  The linear lacerations addressed as injuries 1(c), 1(d), 9, 10(a) and 10(d) are all consistent with injuries inflicted with the barrel portion of a firearm.

The aforementioned injuries, with exception to the two (2) semi-circular injuries, 1(a) and 1(b), could not be associated with marks commonly caused by a hammer on a human head. Blunt force trauma resulting from forceful contact with a hammer is usually represented by a full circular laceration or deep puncture of the skin and underlying skull and most often can be directly associated to the hammer with regard to size and shape. If the two (2) semi-circular injuries in question were made by a hammer, the dimension (width or diameter) of that hammer head would need to be consistent with the width of the injuries, which is 30mm.

Although a definite determination as to the object or objects used to inflict the aforementioned injuries can not be made, injuries of this size and shape, collectively or in combination with each other, are indicative of forceful contact with a weapon having a variety of structural shapes. My experience with injuries of this type (shape, size and depth) suggests they are most indicative of a handgun.

The remaining injuries on the head, described in Dr. Adendorff’s report, were not examined due to the lack of discernable patterns.

Respectfully submitted as my conclusions and opinions of the injuries in this case.

Michael R.Grimm


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