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Fbi Aid

The above techniques and procedures have been dealt with upon the

basis that the law enforcement officers would, when a corpse has been

found, attempt to secure a set of finger impressions in an effort to

identify the unknown dead. If, however, the officer feels that the job

is too difficult or is beyond his scope, consideration should be given

to cutting off the hands or fingers of the deceased and forwarding

them to
he Identification Division of the FBI for processing. If this

course is decided upon, it is reiterated that local statutes governing

the cutting of the dead must be complied with and proper authorization

must be secured.

In order to facilitate the transmission of such specimens to the FBI

the following suggestions are made:

First, it is deemed most desirable, when possible, to have both of the

hands, severed at the wrist, forwarded in their entirety (fig. 407).

It is desired that the hands, rather than each separate finger, be

sent inasmuch as it eliminates the possibility of getting the fingers

mixed up or incorrectly labeled. If, however, it is not possible to

send the hands for some reason, then, of course, the fingers should be

cut off and forwarded. In cutting, the fingers should be cut off at

the palm beginning with the right thumb, then the right index, ring,

etc., just as though they were to be printed. As soon as each finger

is cut off it should be placed in an individual container, such as a

small glass jar, and immediately marked as to which particular finger

it is.

In the event that the hands or fingers of more than one dead are being

transmitted, it is absolutely necessary that not only the fingers be

properly labeled but that each body also be given an identifying

number or symbol which must be indicated on the hands or fingers cut

from that body as well, in order to avoid the embarrassing situation

of identifying the hands and not knowing from which body they were


In shipping, the hands, fingers, or skins may be placed in preserving

solutions such as 5-percent solution of formaldehyde, 5-percent

solution of alcohol, or embalming fluid. When hands or fingers are

desiccated (dried out), however, it is most desirable that they be

placed in airtight containers and sent without any preservative. If

glass containers are used, the specimens should be packed in such a

manner as to avoid breakage. Dry ice is a suitable preservative for

transmitting such specimens but it should not be used when shipping

will take more than 24 hours.

In making up a package using dry ice, the hands or fingers, properly

tagged, should be placed in cellophane or paper bags. A material such

as sawdust, shavings or similar packing which acts as an insulation is

placed around the specimens. A sufficient amount of dry ice is then

placed in the package which is then packed tight with more sawdust or

shavings. The dry ice should not be in direct contact with the

cellophane or paper bags which contain the hands or fingers.

A letter covering transmittal of the specimens should be prepared in

duplicate. It should, of course, indicate the sender. The names of any

probable victims, sex, race and approximate age of the deceased

should, if such information is available, be secured from the coroner

or medical examiner and be included in the letter. A copy of the

letter should be placed in the package. The original should be mailed

separately. Both letter and package should be addressed as follows:





Attention: Identification Division--Latent Fingerprint Section.

If the package contains glass jars it should be marked Fragile to

insure careful handling in transit.

The package should be sent railway express, prepaid, or, where there

is need for speed, by air express, prepaid. When they are received by

the Identification Division, the specimens will undergo various

treatments which may necessitate further cutting, scraping, etc. In

all cases, regardless of condition, the specimens will be returned

after examination.

All of the foregoing matter has dealt with instances in which it has

been assumed that all ten fingers are available, or a sufficient

number of the fingers of a deceased have been secured and impressions

suitable for searching through the fingerprint files of the FBI have

been recorded.

There will be cases, however, where only a few, or possibly only one,

of the fingers has sufficient ridge detail for identification. In such

instances a search through the FBI files would be impractical. This,

however, does not preclude the possibility of making a positive

identification by the use of the one finger. Though a search through

the file is not possible, a comparison can be made with the

fingerprints of individuals who it is thought the deceased may be or,

in some instances, with the fingerprints of missing persons.

In this connection, where one or only a few fingers are forwarded to

the FBI, the names of all possible victims should also be submitted.

The fingerprints of those individuals, if available, will then be

taken out of file and compared with the ridge detail on the finger of

the deceased in an endeavor to establish a positive identification.

Many such identifications have been effected.

In conjunction with the usual services afforded authorized law

enforcement agencies, the services of an FBI fingerprint expert are

also made available in those cases where expert testimony is necessary

to establish the identity of the deceased through fingerprints,

providing, of course, such an identification has been made.

Extreme caution should be exercised in the case of the chemicals

previously mentioned in this article. Acetone, alcohol, benzine, and

xylene are highly inflammable and should neither be used near open

flames nor while the operator is smoking. The fumes given off by

acetone, benzine, xylene, and formaldehyde are toxic and may cause

sickness. They should be used in a well-ventilated room only. It is

also suggested that the fingerprint examiner wear rubber gloves when

using acetone, benzine, xylene, formaldehyde, potassium hydroxide, or

sodium hydroxide. These chemicals will cause the skin to peel. Strong

concentrations may cause burns.

In conclusion, it is pointed out that the procedures and techniques

which have been described are those currently being used by the

fingerprint experts of the FBI. These methods are fast and the results

have been most satisfactory. This Bureau does not claim, however, that

satisfactory results cannot be achieved through variations thereof or

different methods.