NOVA Online: Bombing of America


fingerprint chemically highlighted

Fingerprint identification is a well-established science, which investigators attempt to use at virtually every type of crime scene. Although it can be quite difficult to find fingerprints at a bomb scene, they do sometimes turn up.

Fingerprints can be left on a wide range of surfaces:
  • skin
  • glass
  • wood
  • metal
  • plastic
  • any type of paper
to name just a few. A fingerprint is "lifted" using a variety of chemicals, depending on the surface. Although fingerprinting is now a regular part of crime scene investigation, it has only been in use in this country for about a century. A British surgeon named Henry Faulds noted, in a letter to the British journal Nature, that since fingerprints were readily found on clay, glass and other surfaces, they might be used to identify criminals some day. That was in 1880. It was over a decade before fingerprints were used in England for identification purposes, and not until 1903 that the New York City Police department began fingerprinting every person arrested.

Examining other physical evidence:

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