Forensic Technology Center of Excellence

Introduction

DNA recovery after sequential processing of latent fingerprints on copy paper

DNA recovery after sequential processing of latent fingerprints on copy paper

Publication

Journal of Forensic Sciences, September 2021

Authors

Abigail S. Bathrick, M.F.S. | Bode Technology, Lorton, VA
Sarah Norsworthy, M.S. | Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, RTI International, Durham, NC
Dane T. Plaza, B.S. | Bode Technology, Lorton, VA
Mallory N. McCormick, B.A. | Forensic Services Division, United States Secret Service, Washington, DC
Donia Slack, M.S. | Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, RTI International, Durham, NC
Robert S. Ramotowski, M.S. | Forensic Services Division, United States Secret Service, Washington, DC

Abstract

Forensic examiners must determine whether both latent fingerprint development and DNA profiling can be performed on the same area of an evidence item and, if only one is possible, which examination offers the best chance for identification. Latent fingerprints can be enhanced by targeting different components of fingerprint residues with sequential chemical treatments. This study investigated the effects of single-reagent and sequential latent fingerprint development processes on downstream DNA analysis to determine the point at which latent fingerprint development should be stopped to allow for DNA recovery. Latent fingerprints deposited on copy paper by one donor were developed using three sequential processes: 1,8-diazafluoren-9-one (DFO) → ninhydrin → physical developer (PD); 1,2-indanedione-zinc (IND-Zn) → ninhydrin → PD; and IND-Zn → ninhydrin → Oil Red O (ORO) → PD. Samples were examined after the addition of each chemical treatment. DNA was collected with cotton swabs, extracted, quantified, and amplified. DNA yields, peak heights, number of alleles obtained, and percentage of DNA profiles eligible for CODIS upload were examined. DNA profiles were obtained with varying degrees of success, depending on the number and type of treatments used for latent fingerprint development. The treatments that were found to be the least harmful to downstream DNA analysis were IND-Zn and IND-Zn/laser, and the most detrimental treatments were DFO, DFO/laser, and PD. In general, as the number of treatments increase, the opportunities for DNA loss or damage also increase, and it is preferable to use fewer treatments when developing latent fingerprints prior to downstream DNA processing.

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This project was supported by Award Nos. 2011-DN-BX-K564 and 2016-MU-BX-K110, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

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