Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory

Quantico, VA, United States

Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory

Quantico, VA, United States
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Domenick K.,George Mason University | Christensen A.,George Mason University | Christensen A.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory
Journal of Forensic Identification | Year: 2016

Wood chippers have been portrayed as a quick and effective method of disposing of a body, destroying features that could lead to identification, and aiding the perpetrator in avoiding detection. Wood chippers are also easily accessible at relatively little cost and have been used in actual cases of human dismemberment. Most of what is known about wood chipper trauma is based on popular media portrayals, a small handful of documented cases, and very few scientific studies. The following study attempts to better understand wood chipper trauma on the skeleton through an experiment in which five domestic pig (Sus scrofa) limbs were inserted into a home model wood chipper. Results suggest that wood chippers create a pattern of skeletal trauma that can be identified and associated with wood chippers in a forensic context. This pattern includes the production of bone fragments with the majority measuring approximately 3-6 mm, two-sided complete cuts creating roughly parallel-sided fragments, and other alterations that may be related to the type of wood chipper used. Combined with the failure to significantly reduce soft tissues and retention of material within the machine, results indicate that, contrary to popular belief, wood chippers are not an effective means of disposing of remains, and the recovery and identification of remains dismembered using a wood chipper is still possible.


Dineen S.M.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Aranda R.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Anders D.L.,Hazardous Materials Science Response Unit
Journal of Applied Microbiology | Year: 2010

Aims: To evaluate six commercial DNA extraction kits for their ability to isolate PCR-quality DNA from Bacillus spores in various soil samples.Methods and Results: Three soils were inoculated with various amounts of Bacillus cereus spores to simulate an outbreak or intentional release of the threat agent Bacillus anthracis. DNA was isolated from soil samples using six commercial DNA extraction kits. Extraction and purification efficiencies were assessed using a duplex real-time PCR assay that included an internal positive control. The FastDNA® SPIN kit for Soil showed the highest DNA extraction yield, while the E.Z.N.A.® Soil DNA and PowerSoil® DNA Isolation kits showed the highest efficiencies in removing PCR inhibitors from loam soil extracts.Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that commercially available extraction kits can be used to extract PCR-quality DNA from bacterial spores in soil. The selection of an appropriate extraction kit should depend on the characteristics of the soil sample and the intended downstream application.Significance and Impact of the Study: The results of this study aid in the selection of an appropriate DNA extraction kit for a given soil sample. Its application could expedite sample processing for real-time PCR detection of a pathogen in soil. © 2010 The Authors. Journal of Applied Microbiology © 2010 The Society for Applied Microbiology.


Bottegal M.,Treasury Obligations Section | Lang L.,Forensic Science Laboratory Washington | Miller M.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | McCord B.,Florida International University
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry | Year: 2010

Black powder substitutes are an important sub-group of explosive propellants in the United States because they are readily accessible, and can be used as fillers for improvised explosive devices. Many brands of black powder substitutes incorporate an ascorbic acid fuel source with potassium nitrate (KNO3) and/or potassium perchlorate (KClO4) oxidizer(s). A gradient high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-QToFMS) method has been developed for the analysis of both the organic and the inorganic constituents. The HPLC/ESI-QToFMS method was utilized to examine aqueous extracts of intact samples and post-burn residues from six different brands of ascorbic acid based powders. Aqueous extracts of the post-blast residues from two brands of ascorbic acid based propellant were also analyzed. The results showed that both the ascorbic acid fuel and the inorganic oxidizer(s) KClO4 and/or KNO3 were successfully detected via the [M-H]- ion of ascorbic acid and the anions (ClO- 4and NO- 3-) of the oxidizers. This method was proven to be a rapid and efficient procedure for the analysis of this class of explosives. The high mass resolution provided by the QToFMS instrument fulfills the degree of certainty required in a court of law.


Tarvin M.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | McCord B.,Florida International University | Mount K.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Sherlach K.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Chromatography A | Year: 2010

Two complementary methods were optimized for the separation and detection of trace levels of hydrogen peroxide. The first method utilized reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (HPLC-FD). With this approach, hydrogen peroxide was detected based upon its participation in the hemin-catalyzed oxidation of p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid to yield the fluorescent dimer. The second method utilized high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection (HPLC-ED). With this approach, hydrogen peroxide was detected based upon its oxidation at a gold working electrode at an applied potential of 400mV vs. hydrogen reference electrode (Pd/H2). Both methods were linear across the range of 15-300μM, and the electrochemical method was linear across a wider range of 7.4-15,000μM. The limit of detection for hydrogen peroxide was 6μM by HPLC/FD, and 0.6μM by HPLC/ED. A series of organic peroxides and inorganic ions were evaluated for their potential to interfere with the detection of hydrogen peroxide. Studies investigating the recovery of hydrogen peroxide with three different extraction protocols were also performed. Post-blast debris from the detonation of a mixture of concentrated hydrogen peroxide with nitromethane was analyzed on both systems. Hydrogen peroxide residues were successfully detected on this post-blast debris. © 2010.


Koch S.L.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Michaud A.L.,National Laboratory Center | Mikell C.E.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2013

Although it has been generally accepted within the forensic hair community that decompositional changes in the form of an identifiable banding pattern can occur in the root area of hairs after death, little detailed information with regard to this phenomenon is known (e.g., rates at which this occurs and conditions that cause this banding). Hairs were collected daily from bodies placed in water, an air-conditioned environment, an enclosed vehicle, on the surface of the ground, and buried at the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center. The hairs were examined microscopically and the level of change documented for each environment. The onset of the banding was observed to have been delayed in water, air-conditioning, and cold weather and was hastened by warm weather and within the vehicle. This study provides validation that decomposition does produce varying effects on hair at the proximal portion of a hair root, including a dark band. © 2012 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


Jagerdeo E.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Schaff J.E.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory
Journal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences | Year: 2016

We present a UPLC®-High Resolution Mass Spectrometric method to simultaneously screen for nineteen benzodiazepines, twelve opiates, cocaine and three metabolites, and three "Z-drug" hypnotic sedatives in both blood and urine specimens. Sample processing consists of a high-speed, high-temperature enzymatic hydrolysis for urine samples followed by a rapid supported liquid extraction (SLE). The combination of ultra-high resolution chromatography with high resolution mass spectrometry allows all 38 analytes to be uniquely detected with a ten minute analytical run. Limits of detection for all target analytes are 3 ng/mL or better, with only 0.3 mL of specimen used for analysis. The combination of low sample volume with fast processing and analysis makes this method a suitable replacement for immunoassay screening of the targeted drug classes, while providing far superior specificity and better limits of detection than can routinely be obtained by immunoassay. © 2016.


Jagerdeo E.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Montgomery M.A.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Karas R.P.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Sibum M.,Spark Holland Inc.
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry | Year: 2010

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illicit substances. The high usage of this substance results in it being commonly encountered in clinical samples throughout the USA and Europe. Due to its wide availability and use, marijuana is also commonly encountered in forensic toxicology laboratories. The proposed method utilized an automated solid phase extraction (SPE) coupled to liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). The automated SPE procedure was developed using Hysphere C8-EC sorbent, and the high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation was performed using an Xterra MS C18 column with a total runtime of 10 min. The standard curves linearity generally fell between 6 and 500 ng/mL. The limits of detection ranged from 2 to 4 ng/mL, and the limits of quantitation ranged from 8 to 12 ng/mL. The bias and imprecision were determined using a simple analysis of variance (single factor). The results demonstrate bias as <11% and percent imprecision as <12% for all components at four quality control levels. This method has been in use for over 2 years and has been applied to numerous forensic samples. When compared to other published methods, it exceeds others in its simplicity and speed of analysis. This method takes advantage of robotics and automation for a total analysis time of 10 min, including sample preparation, separation, and detection. © 2010 US Government.


Schaff J.E.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Montgomery M.A.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory
Journal of Analytical Toxicology | Year: 2013

This paper presents a fully validated method for the qualitative identification of bromadiolone, brodifacoum, coumachlor, coumatetralyl, difenacoum and warfarin in whole blood specimens. Samples are protein precipitated with acetonitrile, processed via solid-phase extraction and analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography with high resolution tandem mass spectrometric detection. Limits of detection were 10 ng/mL or better for all analytes. © Published by Oxford University Press 2013.


Schaff J.E.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Karas R.P.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory | Marinetti L.,Montgomery County Coroners Office
Journal of Analytical Toxicology | Year: 2012

In cases of death by inert gas asphyxiation, it can be difficult to obtain toxicological evidence supporting assignment of a cause of death. Because of its low mass and high diffusivity, and its common use as a carrier gas, helium presents a particular challenge in this respect. We describe a rapid and simple gas chromatography-thermal conductivity detection method to qualitatively screen a variety of postmortem biological specimens for the presence of helium. Application of this method is demonstrated with three case examples, encompassing an array of different biological matrices. © The Author [2012]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Christensen A.M.,Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory
Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging | Year: 2014

Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is a relatively recently-developed CT technology that is currently used primarily in maxillofacial applications. CBCT may also be very useful in some forensic contexts, offering several advantages for postmortem forensic imaging including good resolution for skeletal imaging, relatively low cost, portability, and simplicity. Here we present an overview of CBCT technology, comparing and contrasting to conventional CT in regards to various forensic applications, and conclude that CBCT may be an advantageous and accessible alternative in many cases. © 2014.

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