Sunday, November 29, 2020

Forensic spray glue might help police preserve remains and identify fatal burns victims

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Michael Whyte
Crime Scene Officer and Fingerprint Expert with over 12 years experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Latent Print Analysis. The opinions or assertions contained on this site are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as those of any professional organisation or policing body.
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A researcher hopes a spray glue developed in South Australia will become part of the forensic kits of police investigators across Australia.

Dr John Berketa of Adelaide University’s forensic odontology unit said the glue could be used to help stabilise incinerated remains by setting a virtual cast over a victim’s jaw.

That could prevent damage during transportation of remains and cut the time taken to identify a burns victim.

Dr Berketa said dental records were often the most accurate way to identify burns victims.

“When someone tragically dies in a bushfire, house fire, plane crash or incinerated car, visual identification usually isn’t possible,” he said.

“Fingerprints and DNA are destroyed in temperatures of more than 250 degrees Celsius.

“Teeth are the most resilient part of the body and, in cases of severe burn victims, dental remains are the fastest and most reliable way to reveal the victim’s identity.”

Dr Berketa said the stabilising spray could help preserve dental remains and was a naturally-derived product.

South Australian police currently are being shown how to use the spray, to ensure they apply it correctly to any victims of fatal burns.

“I’d like to eventually see this stabilising spray in every Australian police forensic kit,” Dr Berketa said.

“This will make the job of forensic dentists much easier and will reduce errors and delays when it comes to providing the coroner and family and friends with a victim’s identity.

“When examining a burn victim’s dental remains we look at things like fillings, crowns and roots. We also look at the distance between teeth, the size of roots and teeth, and their curvatures. We compare all of this information with dental records to identify a deceased person.”

Having created the spray glue, the researcher is now working on a pre-mixed version police could have at the ready in their patrol cars.

Source: ABC News

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