Even when a dead body is decomposed, burned, or distended, the ridges of the fingertips can often be evaluated. A company called CrossMatch Technologies makes livescan fingerprint systems that can help identify such bodies. Experts at the firm use a special roller device that features a silicone pad to enhance the ridges.
Based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., CrossMatch recently helped make a positive identification for law enforcement officials. “With ink, this [identification] wouldn’t have been possible,” said Robert Christensen, vice president of CrossMatch’s Federal Business Development division. With the digital livescan method, however, “the resulting print is approximately 65 percent the surface area of a rolled fingerprint,” according to Christensen, which could have an impact on the volume of matches obtained from a query.
Despite such results, the Medical Examiner’s Office in Snohomish County, Wash., has successfully used NEC’s 800-ppi scanner to make digital images of the fingerprints of dead bodies; the fingerprints are stored in NEC’s Versa LightPad table PC featuring NEC Image Capture Software. This system is used to obtain a right thumb print and index print from all cadavers in the morgue and also speeds up identification times for bodies found at murder sites and elsewhere.
Another benefit of digital inking is that images can be obtained instantly and sent wirelessly to several local, state, and national databases, including that of the FBI, and results can be retrieved within 1 hour to 1.5 hours, says Dennis Trettel, master investigator at the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from Law Enforcement Technology (06/06) Vol. 33, No. 6, P. 22; Garrett, Ronnie .