FORENSICS BLOGS FOR WRITERS
Forensics for Fiction
Information from Adair, a retired senior criminalist with 15 years of forensic experience.
Top Forensics Blogs
From White Collar Fraud to cybercrime.
Writer’s Forensics Blog
From D. P. Lyle, MD, award-winning author and consult to writers and Hollywood.
Lots of links to Forensic Anthropology and Human Osteology on subjects like Anatomy and Physiology, Know Your Bones, Human Dentition, and much more
Forensic Anthropology Center
This site is from the University of Tennessee where Dr. William Bass set up the famed body farm.
A brief explanation and overview of the science
Forensic and Human Skeletal Archaeology
Investigating Forensics: Forensic Archaeology
Outline of Forensic Archaeology
A good basic overview of what forensic archaeology is and how it’s done.
ARSON & FORENSICS
Fire Investigation Articles
Articles on the basics of fire investigation, sampling debris at the fire scene, etc.
Kruglick’s Forensic Arson Links
Prometheus Forensic Services
Prometheus Forensic Services Company is specialist in all kinds of Forensic Services especially in Fire related accidents and explosions Prometheus provides comprehensive services from crime scene to court room.
TC Forensic, Australia
TC Forensic Pty Ltd was incorporated in 1991 as a service provider to the insurance industry to help determine the causes of fires, and provide laboratory analysis of fire debris samples for liquid petroleum accelerants. Their web site has some case files and articles.
American Academy of Forensic Sciences
The AAFS site has online back issues of their professional newsletter, and info on careers and colleges, as well as links.
American Board of Criminalists
The ABC is composed of regional and national organizations which represent forensic scientists. The site has rules of professional conduct and their certification program.
American Board of Forensic Anthropology
The site lists the Board’s certification requirements.
American Society of Forensic Document Examiners
American Board of Forensic Entomology
The site includes the science and history behind forensic entomology, as well as some case studies and additional links.
American Board of Forensic Odontology
The Board’s site includes a database of experts and guidelines on subjects like human identification, bitemarks, and missing person and unidentified body cases.
American Board of Forensic Psychology
They have a directory anyone can use to locate experts by geographical location or area of professional specialty.
American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators
A medicolegal death investigator is a professional having the legal authority to investigate deaths for a medicolegal (medical examiner/coroner) jurisdiction, who performs scene investigations, collects evidence and develops decedents’ medical and social histories to assist the medical examiner/coroner in determining the cause and manner of death. Medicolegal death investigators should have a combination of education and skills encompassing areas of medicine and law.The Board’s site has a copy of “Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator,” as well as certification requirements.
American College of Forensic Examiners
They have a database of experts and selected articles from The Forensic Examiner.
Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners
Their site has lots of links about ballistics, as well as links to firearms manufacturers.
Forensic Science Society
The Forensic Science Society is an international professional body with members in over 60 countries.
International Association of Identification
The IAI site has training and certification information, as well as links including those to a PDF document on the Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence/Best Practices for Computer Forensics.
AUTOPSIES, EMBALMING & TIME OF DEATH
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
Autopsy diagrams from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner
Death: The Last Taboo
Includes a history of death rituals, but also a section on what happens after death, including decomposition, with pictures and a video of a pig that has decomposed through time, as well as body changes that occurs (again with a picture or two, so faint stomachs, beware), forensic evidence used to determine time of death, and a nice database of bacteria and insects, with photos, that are associated with decomposing bodies and which help to determine death time and causes. There’s also a good section on autopsies, including steps taken and instruments used during the process.
“Everything you ever wanted to know about embalming.” It includes a history, an overview of techniques, and photos of equipment used during the embalming process.
The Routine Autopsy
An overview of autopsy procedures by Ed Uthman, MD, along with tools used: http://web2.iadfw.net/uthman/autopsy_tools.html
The types of natural sudden death and potential causes
The Twenty-Six Stages of Death
A listing of what happens to a corpse from the moment of death up to a period of three weeks after death
The Virtual Autopsy
A very interesting interactive site with photo illustrations to accompany case histories
Blood stain pattern analysis.
Collection and Preservation of Blood Evidence
A paper by George Schiro, Forensic Scientist, Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory.
Bloodstain pattern analysis software, plus other links and terms.
How Blood Stain Pattern Analysis Works
By forensic pathologist Dr. Dinesh Rao.
Serology: It’s In the Blood
Case files in which blood analysis played an important role
CASE FILES, NEWS & HISTORY
Forensics and Investigation
Lots of actual case files showing how forensic science helped solve the crimes
From the National Institutes of Health, Visible Proofs is about the history of forensic medicine. For strong constitutions (there is a disclaimer), you can look at their photo galleries, including one of an actual autopsy being performed. There are also online educational activities and lesson plans.
What Every Law Office Should Know About DNA Evidence
A PDF document from the National Institute of Justice, this is a good but very basic overview of what DNA evidence is, and how to preserve it.
COMPUTER FORENSICS / CYBERCRIME
An overview, training, types of work performed in computer forensics, types of computer crime
Computer Forensic World
Everything you want to know about computer forensics (the use of analytical techniques to identify, collect, preserve, and examine evidence/information which is magnetically stored or encoded)
The latest from the U.S. Department of Justice
High Technology Crime
High Technology Crime Investigation Association
U.S. Department of Justice Comptuer Crime and Intellectual Property Section
Crime and Clues
The art and science of criminal investigation.
Crime Writer Consultations
Crime Writer Consultations: Veteran officer and investigator Derek Pacifico answers writers' questions, and also teaches a Homicide School for writers.
Criminology Tutorial Articles and Videos Online
CRYPTOGRAPHY / CRYPTOLOGY
Handbook of Applied Cryptography
Free downloads of chapters from the book by Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot and Scott A. Vanstone. Lots of detailed mathematical information.
Information on various historical ciphers such as the Gronsfield Cipher, the German Enigma Cipher, and even an article on Edgar Allan Poe and Crytography. Contains some applets, downloads, and tools.
Introduction to Cryptography
Stanford Unviersity class supporting materials and handouts.
Overview of Cryptography
A nice general overview of cryptography with an intro, trust models, and algorithms.
Publications, websites, tools, organizations
Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
The FBI Laboratory's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) blends forensic science and computer technology into an effective tool for solving violent crimes. CODIS enables federal, state, and local crime labs to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to convicted offenders.
The site includes a history of DNA evidence, collection methods, and general information.
DNA in the Criminal Justice System
A map with clickable links to forensic labs by state in the U.S.
DNA Testing: An Introduction For Non-Scientists
How DNA Evidence Works
A nice overview and links.
The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal clinic affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. The site includes case files.
Small Police Department Forensics & DNA
A list of resources from the International Association for Property and Evidence, regarding DNA collection and handling.
DOCUMENT EXAMINATION & HANDWRITING ANALYSIS
Emily J. Will Forensic Document Examiner
Articles and information on the tools of the trade from the same expert listed under “Forensic Document Examinaton”
Handwriting, Typing, Shoeprints, and Tire Treads
Despite its title, this FBI document deals primarily with handwriting and document analysis
Identify a font by answering a few questions
A guide to writing systems around the world
Virtual Typewriter Museum
A virtual museum which is based on various collections from around the world.
A case solved by the FBI in which they looked at almost 2,000,000 samples of writing to find a suspect.
What the Font
Scan text, upload the image, and this site will identify the font.
EAR MARKS AND IDENTIFICATION
Gives a history of such evidence and a brief overview
Ear Identification Research
If a person places his ear against the hard surface of a door in an attempt to overhear what people may be talking about behind the door, the eavesdropper may well leave an impression of his ear on the door's surface--an impression that can be "developed" much like a latent fingerprint at a crime scene can be made visible.
Police Play It By Ear
Police are compiling what is believed to be the world's largest computer database of ear prints to be used in the same way as fingerprint evidence in linking suspects to crimes.
American Board of Forensic Entomology
Includes a brief overview and history, as well as case studies and links
Forensic Entomology at Department of Agriculture, Western Australia
The bottom of this page has information on collecting evidence from a corpse and links to insect photos
European Association for Forensic Entomology
Includes links to identifying various insects
The Role of Entomology in Forensic Investigation
An overview and chart.
The Why Files: CSI Fly
Aimed at kids, this is a nice and brief overview of the science
FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION & FORENSIC ARTISTS
A step-by-step pictorial description of the reconstruction process from skull to sculpture
News and articles
Forensic Artist Certification
Certification requirements by the International Association for Identification
Considered one of the leading forensic artists in the United States, Harvey has spent over 40 years in law enforcement, completing thousands of witness description drawings and hundreds of soft tissue reconstructions. Harvey is a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member and is recognized as an accomplished master Native American Indian artist.
The Forensic Artists of Project EDAN donate their work to make facial reconstructions for Law Enforcement Agencies that do not have access to or funding for a qualified Forensic Artist.
Complex Latent Print Examination
Lots of reference articles, including the history of fingerprints, although definitely on the technical side
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS)
The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, more commonly known as IAFIS, is a national fingerprint and criminal history system maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. The IAFIS provides automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent searching capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Latent Print Examination
Articles for experts and how crime scene investigators can help protect evidence; even has an “Ask the Expert” section
Includes a link to an Interpol document outlining methods and procedures for use in the identification of fingerprints, as well as legal issues and articles on identification critera and processing techniques
Michael Triplett’s Fingerprint Dictionary
A dictionary of fingerprint terminology
Ridges and Furrows
A history, new advances in digital image enhancement and how techniques such as FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) can help in analyzing fingerprints found at crime scenes, and articles on subjects like “Friction Skin Anatomy” and “Friction Skin Growth”
Selection & Sequencing of Latent Fingerprint Processing
This is a very technical site, but has a lot of detailed information about the various types of equipment and materials used to test for fingerprints on different surfaces. It might help to have a little chemistry in your background, but very interesting, nonetheless.
Superglue to the Rescue
Scarcely visible fingerprint evidence can be saved with proper fuming.
FOOTWEAR & TIRE TREADS
Estimation of Stature from Foot and Shoeprint Length
In the articles section of this NEIAI site, there is a link to a PDF document which gives an overview of the subject. There’s also a link to estimation of stature tables.
Footwear, the Missed Evidence
Latent Prints: Footware and Tires
From the Maine State Police.
Shoeprint and Tire
A descriptive site from the FBI with good general information on how casts and impressions are taken of such evidence
Shoeprint Expert Testimony
This is a transcript of testimony given by FBI Special Agent William Bodziak in 1995 in a trial in which he explains the steps he took to collect and qualify the evidence being used in the trial at hand. It shows how such evidence can play a part in criminal cases.
GENERAL FORENSIC SITES & INFORMATION
A Beginner's Primer on the Investigation of Forensic Evidence
A nice overview, or what they don’t show you on TV
Conducting Forensic Science: A Tutorial For Mystery Writers
A good, and brief, overview
Crime Lab Project
A non-profit organization started by writers and producers to increase awareness of the problems facing public forensic science agencies.
A history of forensic science and crime, in timeline format
An array of crime scene, forensics and law enforcement products - lighting, evidence packaging, scene screens, photographic scales and more - used by the police, FBI, military and more.
Daily Forensic News
Up-to-date headlines, particularly relating to science and technology behind forensics
D.P. Lyle, MD’s Writers’ Medical and Forensic Lab
Dr. Lyle is the the Macavity Award winning and Edgar Award nominated author of the non-fiction books Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers and Forensics For Dummies, in addition to thrillers, and has worked as a consultant for various TV shows like “CSI: Miami.” His site includes some articles and links and a Q&A section.
ExploreForensics contains articles written by their team of experts, with new articles added each month on subjects such as evidence analysis (e.g. ballistics, fingerprints, fibers/hair, etc.), pathology (DNA, serology), and types of forensics.
FBI Handbook of Forensic Science
Procedures on submitting evidence, evidence examinations, crime scene safety, crime scene searches, etc.
Forensic Databases: Paint, Shoe Prints, and Beyond
An overview of the various databases currently availablel to forensic scientists and law enforcement
Forensic Laboratory Database
Although this site is from Canada, is has a searchable worldwide directory of forensic labs in a variety of disciplines
A bibliography (and store) of books on various subjects related to forensics
This is a commercial site offering books and online courses, but it also has a free library of articles on Criminal Profiling, Digital Evidence, Education, Forensic Science, and Legal Issues.
Forensic Science Communications
Forensic Science Communications is a peer-reviewed forensic science journal published quarterly by FBI Laboratory personnel. The issues are included online, with lots of more scholarly articles on various topics such as “A New Approach for the Analysis of Duct Tape Backings,” “Fundamental Frequency Analysis of a Metal Baseball Bat,” The Boiling Technique: A Method for Obtaining Quality Postmortem Impressions from Deteriorating Friction Ridge Skin” and “A New Approach for the Extraction of DNA from Postage Stamps.” Includes pages of information on hairs, fibers, crime, and evidence <http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backissu/july2000/deedric1.htm>
Forensic Science 2.0
Lots of links to organizations and agencies
Handbook of Forensic Services
The purpose of the Handbook of Forensic Services is to provide guidance and procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting, preserving, packaging, and shipping evidence and to describe the forensic examinations performed by the FBI’s Laboratory Division and Investigative Technology Division. So, if your book’s local law enforcement officer needs to send materials off to the FBI Lab, this will tell you how they want it done.
What is the difference between a search dog, cadaver dog, decomp dog and a forensic evidence dog? An overview
NecroSearch is a non-profit organization that specializes in the search for clandestine gravesites. The site has some basic information on methodology.
Web page of Dr. Ray Murray, a forensic geologist since 1973
KNOTS AND LIGATURES
Death by Strangulation
A case involving the expertise of Dr. Anil Aggrawal, professor of Forensic Medicine
Forensic Knot Expert Witness
The web site for Mike Lucas, Forensic Knot Specialist
A Guide to the Physical Analysis of Ligature Patterns in Homicide Investigations
The definition for ligature homicide in this work is concerned specifically with cases in which the victim has been garroted. This term applies to cases where an assailant has placed a ligature around a victim's neck and has tightened it for purposes of controlling, silencing, and/or killing the victim. Commonly documented examples of ligatures include, but are by no means limited to: ropes, neckties, scarves, stockings, metal wires, shoe/boot-laces, necklaces, clotheslines, sweaters, brassieres, belts, and electrical cords.
LINGUISTICS & PHONETICS
Forensic Linguistics Institute
Includes an overview, examples of what forensic linguistics entails, and actual cases using the science in court.
International Association of Forensic Linguistics
The International Association of Forensic Linguists (IAFL) is an organization which primarily consists of linguists whose work involves them in the law.
International Association for Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics
IAFPA seeks to foster research and provide a forum for the interchange of ideas and information on practice, development and research in forensic phonetics and acoustics, and set down and enforce standards of professional conduct and procedure for those involved in forensic phonetic and acoustic casework.
Forensic linguistics and the Unibomber case
Rock and Roll and Forensic Linguistics
A blog entry from “The Language Guy”
Web site for forensic linguist Shuy which includes resources for students and lawyers (although you’ll need to register free first). Also includes an audio file of his two-hour lecture on forensic linguistics at the U of Montana Law School.
What is Forensic Linguistics?
A good and brief overview of the science
Bodies From Water
A look at drowning and its effects upon a body, including determinations as to whether a body was dead before being placed in the water
Forensic Medicine for Medical Students
This site has a disclaimer that it’s not for minors due to the images of wounds, bodies, and violence. The Wound section includes images and descriptions of various types of wounds, from abrasions to bite marks to incised wounds; the Firearms sections has tutorials on the types of wounds guns can cause depending upon various factors; the Autopsy section has a procedural description; the Asphyxia section talks about strangulation and the effects on the body; there’s an Animal Anatomy section, since the the forensic pathologist and anthropologist must have some knowledge of comparative anatomy to be able to distinguish between human remains and those of animals; and there are additional areas for legal issues, articles, and links.
Includes tutorials on firearm injuries and drug abuse pathologies, as well as lots of images pertaining to blunt force and physical trauma, environmental accidents, drug abuse and poisoning, trauma with sharp instruments, and of course the firearm injuries. If you want to see what an exit gunshot wound looks like, this is the place.
A site devoted to links on the subject of various pathologies, it includes a section for forensic pathology.
META-SITES ON FORENSICS
Carpenter’s Forensic Science Resources
An extensive bibliography of forensic science resources indexed by physical, bio/life, and behavioral sciences, with categorized links to forensics sites.
Kruglick’s Forensic Links
From the staff at Forensic Bioinformatics, another Web bibliography of forensic science links.
Michigan State University Forensic Science Links
Loads o’ annotated links
Reddy’s Forensic Home Page
A forensics page by Reddy P. Chamakura, who spent 36 years as a forensic scientist with Police Laboratory, New York City Police Department, this page includes news and links galore on just about every topic related to forensic science
Forensic Nursing is the application of nursing science to public or legal proceedings, as well as the application of the forensic aspects of health care combined with the bio-psycho-social education of the registered nurse in the scientific investigation and treatment of trauma and/or death of victims and perpetrators of abuse, violence, criminal activity and traumatic accidents.
Forensic Nursing Resource Homepage
A listing of links about forensic nursing, primarily from the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
ODONTOLOGY (BITE MARKS)
Bite Mark Analysis
This article gives a good overview of bite mark evidence, including a very brief history, the importance of digital photography in such evidence, and the case of Ted Bundy, which was solved in part by bite mark evidence.
Forensic Dentistry: Issues in Human and Animal Bite Mark Analysis
Links and a discussion of how bite mark impressions are handled
Forensic Dentistry Online
Articles on bitemarks, identification, and many links
How Forensic Dentistry Works
A good overview.
Ask a Biologist: Pollen’s Tiny Clues
Palynology is the branch of science concerned with the study of pollen, spores , and similar palynomorphs, living and fossil
Basic equipment needed for crime scene photography.
PSYCHIATRY & PSYCHOLOGY
David Willshire’s Forensic Psychology and Psychiatry (and Cycling!) Links
A look at the legal side of the subject, at what forensic psychiatrists contribute to court cases
Forensic Psychiatry and Medicine
This page, by Harold J. Bursztain, MD, provides “lots of information on the role of Forensic Psychiatrists in expert witness testimony, managed health care, and more.”
Overviews of various forensic disciplines such as criminal profiling and cognitive science, with additional links and resources.
Lot of links to relevant sites
SCIENCE, GENERAL & CRIME-RELATED
The Gene Almanac covers broad topics, including basic heredity, genetic disorders, eugenics, the discovery of the structure of DNA, DNA sequencing, cancer, and plant genetics. They also have some content available in off-line media (CD-ROM or DVD).
This web site has updated news reports and articles on Space, Animals, Health, Environment, Technology, History and “Strange News.” They also have RSS feeds to which you can subscribe.
A site where you can ask science questions and get answers, as well as search through thousands of archived questions and answers
Popular Science Blog
A blog from the print publication of the same name which includes free articles on various science subjects
Up-to-date science news
Scientific American Ask the Experts
This site from the magazine by the same name, has a section where you can ask science questions. There’s also an archive section.
The Centre for Australian Forensic Soil Science
The CAFSS)is the first formal worldwide network of soil and forensic scientists that combines research, training and services in soil forensics to fight crime, terrorism and environmental pollution. The CAFSS has been actively involved in soils forensic work, assisting police forces, government agencies and non-government organisations with the search, location and recovery of soil and mineral samples from crime and environmental disaster scenes in Australia and overseas.
Forensic Examination of Soil Evidence
Collecting crime evidence from earth.
Alan Barbour’s Forensic Toxicology Page
Links to experts, labs, and web sites
A look case files and how forensic toxicology was used to solve the crimes.
WWW Virtual Library on Forensic Toxicology
Lots of links about forensic toxicology, the analysis of alcohol, drugs, and poisons in body fluids and the interpretation of those analytical results for the benefit of the courts.
Condom Trace Evidence
The history of hair evidence, the six main methods of collection, the structure of hair, its identification (animal or human, e.g.), and toxicology considerations.
Hairs, Fibers, Crime, and Evidence
Part I: An overview of hair evidence, hair microscopy, hair anatomy and growth, animal hairs, human hairs and: body determination, racial determination, age and sex determination, treatment and removal, biological and environmental alteration; Part II: Fiber Evidence; Part III, Hair & Fiber Crime and Evidence
Interpretation, Collection, and Preservation of Glass Fragments
Michigan State Police: Trace Evidence
An overview of various types of such evidence
A study of trace evidence, using the somewhat controversial case of serial killer Wayne Williams who was convicted in part by the use of fiber evidence
Trace Evidence Recovery
Procedures and guidelines from the FBI on how to preserve trace evidence at crime scenes