National Paranormal Society NPS FOCUS June 2016 - Page 69

mobile device forensics, network forensics, audio and video. Recent issues that have involved these professionals are the San Bernardino case where Apple and forensics professionals have argued as to whether cell phones can be unlocked when a crime, such as terrorism has been committed. There may be evidence on a mobile device that answers questions beginning in Who, What, Where and Why? As hacking continues on social media, between private companies and even between countries, this field will only continue to grow.

Other areas of forensics include fire investigation and accelerant detection (commonly used now to determine the cause of a fire and whether arson was involved.) There are professionals dedicated to the study of forensic engineering, linguistic, materials engineering, polymer studies, statistics, and accident reconstruction (be it an airline, train or car.)

What are the benefits of modern day forensics? While some professionals in law enforcement specialize in unsolved cold cases that have occurred decades ago, the media portrays their work in an unrealistic manner. It takes far more than 60-120 minutes (with time out for commercials) to review these cases. The original file needs to be reviewed with a

number of people that came into contact with it, the way it was stored, how and where it was stored. For example, in a town in New York State, some years ago, evidence was lost after the station itself was flooded and had water damage. Even if the sample is scientifically sound, there is the issue of the results with the DNA itself. Like with paternity cases, it is easier to remove a person from the possible offenders than point immediately to one person in the population. Again defense lawyers will point to false positive and make sure there was a double blind comparison and whether machines used were in good working order, regularly checked and calibrated.

Another issue with the federal, state and local laboratories is supply versus demand. Often there are not as many trained individuals on staff to deal with the requests. Time can be a concern when it comes to justice. Worse, as with any job, a rushed worker is more likely to make a mistake.

Many don’t realize that the first convicted murder through DNA (bodily fluids) happened in 1988. Today, plant DNA can be used to even identify or match samples from a particular tree or bush.

Sound analysis is an important part of forensic study. One only has to look at the released tapes of the

fresh set of eyes and new perspective. Witnesses may be deceased or may have to be located. If there is evidence with DNA, is it viable today? These are the questions that face the investigator with a cold case. This is one area where the world wide web and social media can help locate those who have moved or remarried.

If samples of blood or bodily fluid can be retrieved they are sent to the lab to be profiled. These samples can be compared to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National DNA Index System (NDIS). According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “The National DNA Index (NDIS) contains over 12,113,810 offender1 profiles, 2,201,763 arrestee profiles, and 674,150 forensic profiles as of December 2015. Ultimately, the success of the CODIS program will be measured by the crimes it helps to solve.” (FBI.gov)

While there are more and more profiles added, if the profile is not in the data bases, it becomes a dead end. When there is a lawsuit or criminal case involved with DNA, the defense will also look for possibilities of contamination of the evidence. Even with the most professional investigators must be careful of this flaw. With a cold case, specifically, evidence can be contaminated due to the