Morphometry of latent palmprints as a function of time

  • Barros R
  • Faria B
  • Kuckelhaus S
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In many crimes, the elapsed time between production and collecting fingermark traces is crucial. and a method able to detect the aging of latent prints would represent an improvement in forensic procedures. Considering that as the latent print gets older, substantial changes in the relative proportion of individual components secreted by skin glands could affect the morphology of ridges, morphometry could be a potential tool to assess the aging of latent fingermarks. Then, considering the very limited research in the field, the present work aims to evaluate the morphometry of latent palmprint ridges, as a function of time, in order to identify an aging pattern. The latent marks were deposited by 20 donors on glass microscope slides considering pressure and contact angle, and then were maintained under controlled environmental conditions. The morphometric study was conducted on marks developed with magnetic powder in 7 different time intervals after deposition (0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30. days); 60 ridges were evaluated for each developed mark. The results showed that: 1) the method for the replacement and mixing of skin secretions on the palm was appropriate to ensure reproducibility of latent prints, and 2) considering the studied group, there was a time-dependent reduction in the width of ridges and on the percentage of visible ridges over 30. days. Results suggest the possibility of using the morphometric method to determine an aging profile of latent palmprints on glass surface, aiming for forensic purposes. © 2013 Forensic Science Society.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aging
  • Latent palmprints
  • Magnetic powder
  • Morphometry
  • Ridgeology

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