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Focus on Pores

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 57 Issue: 6 Dated: November/December 2007 Pages: 874-882
John M. Turner; Amy S. Weightman
Date Published
November 2007
9 pages
This article presents a case study to show how useful pores can be when there are insufficient traditional points of comparison for individualizing a fingerprint comparison.
The case involved a badly decomposed body that caused the crime-scene officer, upon initial examination, to suggest that fingerprint identification might be difficult due to poor visibility for ridge detail on the hands of the deceased. A likely identity was suggested for the deceased, and there were a number of fingerprint forms on file for the suggested person. The pathologist permitted the removal of two areas of skin from the deceased's palm. Because of the length of time the skin had been exposed to the elements, much of the ridge detail had disappeared entirely. The pore detail, however, was good. There was a nice arrangement of three ridge endings that would have been strongly supportive of an identification during the initial comparison. The investigators could reliably predict that these three ridge endings would be present if they could see the same area of the decedent's palm clearly. This is where the quality of the pores became important. When looking at the pores, a number of features were considered: the spacing between the pores, the size of the pores, the shape of the pores, and the position of the pores on the ridge (how close to the edge). Because the quality of the exemplar was good and the pore detail on the decedent's skin was plainly visible, investigators concluded that the decedent's prints were identical to those of the exemplar on file. The failure to consistently record pores often limits their usefulness in most cases; however, given the sufficient quality and quantity of detail, pores can have tremendous corroborative weight when used in conjunction with more traditional fingerprint characteristics. 7 figures