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Forensic Sci Int. 2006 Oct 16;162(1-3):6-12. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

The forensic analysis of soils and sediment taken from the cast of a footprint.

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1
Oxford University Centre for the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK. peter.bull@hertford.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

The routine production of a cast of a shoe-print taken in soil provides information other than shoe size and gait. Material adhering to the surface of the cast represents the preservation of the moment of footprint impression. The analysis of the interface between the cast and soil is therefore a potentially lucrative source of information for forensic reconstruction. These principles are demonstrated with reference to a murder case which took place in the English Midlands. The cast of a footprint provided evidence of a two-way transfer of material between the sole of a boot and the soil of a recently ploughed field. Lumps of soil, which had dried on a boot, were deposited on the field as the footprints were made. Pollen analysis of these lumps of soil indicated that the perpetrator of the imprint had been standing recently in a nearby stream. Fibre analysis together with physical and chemical characteristics of the soil suggested a provenance for contamination of this mud prior to deposition of the footprint. Carbon/nitrogen ratios of the water taken from the cast showed that distilled water had been used thus excluding the possibility of contamination of the boot-soil interface. It was possible to reconstruct three phases of previous activity of the wearer of the boot prior to leaving the footprint in the field after the murder had taken place. This analysis shows the power of integrating different independent techniques in the analysis of hitherto unrecognised forensic materials.

PMID:
16919902
DOI:
10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.06.075
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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