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Forensic Sci Int. 2013 Dec 10;233(1-3):283-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.09.025. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

Effect of laundering on visible damage to apparel fabric caused by sharp force impact.

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  • 1Clothing and Textile Sciences, Department of Applied Sciences, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Sharp force violence is a common way of committing assault in numerous countries and regions around the world. When a stabbing occurs, the clothing worn by the victim may provide vital evidence: for example the weapon used to stab the victim may be identified from severance in the clothing. However, whether laundering the clothing after an attack affects the severance morphology of the fabric and fibres, and whether identification of the weapon is possible from the severance in the clothing after laundering is not known. This study focussed on the effect of laundering 100% cotton twill weave (drill) and single jersey (knit) fabrics. Specimens had been pre-treated and stabbed with either a kitchen knife or a Phillips screwdriver. These specimens were photographed and were again laundered for one wash cycle before being photographed again. Ten expert judges compared the photographs taken before and after laundering. A difference in the appearance of the fabrics before and after laundering was evident. The morphology of the fabric and fibres thus would be expected to differ after laundering the clothing, making identification of a weapon used to stab through clothing more difficult.


Cotton apparel fabrics (t-shirts); Sharp force trauma; Single jersey; Twill weave drill (jeans); Visual assessment

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