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Forensic analysis of wooden safety matches - a case study

Farmer, N. L. and Ruffell, A. and Meier-Augenstein, W. and Meneely, J. and Kalin, R. M. (2007) Forensic analysis of wooden safety matches - a case study. Science and Justice, 47 (2). pp. 88-98. ISSN 1355-0306

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Abstract

In this case, an individual was suspected of attempting to burn materials potentially relating to a murder case. A number of spent and unspent matches were seized at the scene by police for forensic examination. Coincidentally, a police raid at the suspect's house revealed a number of matchboxes, all of the same brand, containing matches that had a visual similarity to those recovered at the scene. Stable Isotope Profiling (SIP) was used to assess whether matches could either be distinguished or shown to be indistinguishable by 13C and 2H isotopic composition. These results were then compared to those from the X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis of match heads and microscopy of the wood. SIP showed the scene matches and seized matches to be different, which was confirmed by XRD and microscopy analyses.