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Cutting Crime: The Analysis of the 'Uniqueness' of Saw Marks on Bone

By P.A. Saville, Sarah V. Hainsworth and G.N. Rutty


Metadata only entryThis paper was published as International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2007, 121 (5), pp.349-357. It is available from Doi: 10.1007/s00414-006-0120-zWitness marks produced on bone by the use of saws have traditionally been examined using stereomicroscopy. The marks are typically found on the kerf wall or floor and give important information about the implement that made them. This paper describes a new approach to the analysis of witness marks left on kerf walls and floors from crimes involving dismemberment. Previously, two types of marks have been identified: deep furrows formed during the pull stroke and fine striations formed on the push stroke. These types of striation allow the class of saw to be identified, but not an individual saw. With the advent of environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), insulating materials can now be examined without the need for conductive coatings to be applied. This allows materials to be examined at higher magnifications than those available with stereomicroscopy. Here we report on a new, third type of striation that is visible at higher magnifications on ESEM images. These striations are formed from the imperfections on the cutting teeth of saws and give real possibilities of uniquely identifying whether or not a particular saw was used to cause the mark. In blind trials conducted on sawing of nylon 6.6, different individual saws could be successfully identified even if different people used the saw. We discuss ways in which these results can be extended to bone and how this may assist in the investigation of the act of dismemberment

Publisher: Springer Verlag
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s00414-006-0120-z
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