Novel Forensic Technique To Be Applied To Decade-Old Murder Probe

January 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A pioneering forensic scientist at Northamptonshire Police and the University of Leicester is being called on by US force officers to tackle a decade-old murder case.

Dr John Bond, Scientific Support Manager at Northamptonshire Police and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leicester Forensic Research Centre, is collaborating with Bristol Police Department, Connecticut.

He is being asked to probe the murder of a well-known and respected businessman who was shot in the bedroom of his own home. Later this month a detective from Connecticut, Detective Garrie Dorman, will meet with Dr Bond at Northampton in order see if his pioneering research technique can shed new light on the crime.

Dr Bond has developed a method that enables scientists to ‘visualise fingerprints’ on metal (eg bullet casings) even after the print itself has been removed. He and colleagues conducted a study into the way fingerprints can corrode metal surfaces. The technique can enhance - after firing- a fingerprint that has been deposited on a small calibre metal cartridge case before it is fired.

The technique has been cited by Time Magazine as one of the top 50 inventions of 2008.

Detective Dorman said: “On February 10, 1998, Louis "Pete" LaFontaine was found shot to death in his home on Stafford Avenue in Bristol, Connecticut. Mr. LaFontaine was a resident of Bristol for many years and owned operated a successful appliance repair shop on Park Street. Mr. LaFontaine was well known throughout the City of Bristol, and his murder shocked the community and devastated his friends and family. The Bristol Police have conducted an extensive investigation into the murder of Mr. LaFontaine, but despite interviewing countless individuals, analyzing forensic evidence, and executing a number of search warrants, the murder remains unsolved. Despite this, the murder is still being actively investigated by Bristol Police Detectives and the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“I want to thank Dr. Bond and his staff, as well as the Northamptonshire Police and the University of Leicester Forensic Research Centre for providing us with assistance in this investigation. Dr. Bond’s procedure is a tremendous advancement in forensic science, and has the potential to be a valuable tool in many criminal investigations. Detectives have logged countless hours into this investigation since 1998, and have developed a great deal of information on the facts and circumstances surrounding the murder of Mr. LaFontaine. Fingerprint evidence on a shell casing would certainly bring us much closer to identifying Mr. LaFontaine’s killer.”

Dr Bond has already worked with a number of US police forces on reopening ‘cold cases’ and has found latent prints on shell casings.

Dr Bond said "We very much look forward to Detective Dorman's visit and hope we are able to assist his enquiry. We have found fingerprints on shell casings in a number of cases recently that are assisting police in the US and are confident that if fingerprint corrosion is present on Detective Dorman's casings we will find it."

The Force hopes to sell the process - which has been patented worldwide - to interested buyers who could run the operation on a commercial basis or manufacture units to sell on to law enforcement agencies worldwide. This could generate benefits for both organisations.

Provided by University of Leicester

Explore further: New method could help estimate time of death for a ten-day-old corpse

Related Stories

What motivates men who kill police?

March 18, 2015

Who intentionally seeks to kill a policeman and why? In 2014 the rate of policemen purposely killed in the line of duty in the U.S. was nearly 1.5 times greater than in 2013. These incidents and what may have motivated the ...

Forensics research to make cadaver dogs more efficient

August 25, 2014

Specially-trained victim recovery dogs can perform phenomenal feats in sniffing out the whereabouts of bodies and body parts, even beneath mounds of rubble or deep below water.  But University of Huddersfield researcher ...

When criminal evidence goes viral

May 19, 2014

Should we be able to watch a man being tasered to death? That's a question being asked by legal scholar Katherine Biber who is researching what she calls the cultural afterlife of criminal evidence.

Recommended for you

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.