Author(s): Virkler K, Lednev IK
Body fluid traces recovered at crime scenes are among the most important types of evidence to forensic investigators. They contain valuable DNA evidence which can identify a suspect or victim as well as exonerate an innocent individual. The first step of identifying a particular body fluid is highly important since the nature of the fluid is itself very informative to the investigation, and the destructive nature of a screening test must be considered when only a small amount of material is available. The ability to characterize an unknown stain at the scene of the crime without having to wait for results from a laboratory is another very critical step in the development of forensic body fluid analysis. Driven by the importance for forensic applications, body fluid identification methods have been extensively developed in recent years. The systematic analysis of these new developments is vital for forensic investigators to be continuously educated on possible superior techniques. Significant advances in laser technology and the development of novel light detectors have dramatically improved spectroscopic methods for molecular characterization over the last decade. The application of this novel biospectroscopy for forensic purposes opens new and exciting opportunities for the development of on-field, non-destructive, confirmatory methods for body fluid identification at a crime scene. In addition, the biospectroscopy methods are universally applicable to all body fluids unlike the majority of current techniques which are valid for individual fluids only. This article analyzes the current methods being used to identify body fluid stains including blood, semen, saliva, vaginal fluid, urine, and sweat, and also focuses on new techniques that have been developed in the last 5-6 years. In addition, the potential of new biospectroscopic techniques based on Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy is evaluated for rapid, confirmatory, non-destructive identification of a body fluid at a crime scene.