Collecting Evidence Related to Knots and Ligatures

The first step for a private investigator in a criminal defense investigation process is to collect as much information and evidence possible. The collection of relevant evidence is essential for a private investigator, as evidence, properly interpreted, will create a visual retelling of the events. Once evidence is collected, the preservation of the material is also of the utmost importance. Depending on the form and material, evidence can be vulnerable to a number of external factors, including time, weather and other physical elements.
The first step for a private investigator in a criminal defense investigation process is to collect as much information and evidence possible. The collection of relevant evidence is essential for a private investigator, as evidence, properly interpreted, will create a visual retelling of the events. Once evidence is collected, the preservation of the material is also of the utmost importance. Depending on the form and material, evidence can be vulnerable to a number of external factors, including time, weather and other physical elements.
In this blog post we will examine the presence and use of knots and ligatures in relation to a criminal investigation. Knots and ligature can play an important role in an scene of investigator and can require the special expertise of a private investigator and forensic knot investigator. In his book, The Forensic Analysis of Knots and Ligatures, Robert Chisnall examines the stages of a typical investigation scenario in relation to the presence of knots and ligatures at the scene of investigation. He then goes on to review the respective recommended procedures for collecting and preserving knot and ligature related evidence.
The first stage is the physical investigation of the crime or death scene. There are several situations in which a private investigator and a forensic knot investigator should examine the scene for knots, ligatures and related evidence. The following are possible situations where the presence of a knot or ligature may exist: homicide and attempted homicide involving strangulation, suicide involving hanging and strangulation, autoerotic death, asphyxiation, bondage and sadomasochism, rape, sexual assault and child molestation, forcible confinement and kidnapping, burglary involving intricate building access, arson involving mechanical triggering systems and equivalent scenarios like building escapes.
The material of any knot or ligature present at the scene of investigation is an important matter of consideration. Any present knotted materials like rope, cord and string are usually obvious to a private investigator or forensic knot investigator. Other flexible material containing a knot may include cables, cable ties, wires, chains, rubber or plastic hosing, thread, fishing line and paper. Less obvious material that may also contain a knot may include hair, clothing, bed sheets, toilet paper and jewelry (necklace chains and bracelets). Evidence may also be on the person of the victim or suspect, including drawstrings, ties and belts. Especially important are the tied shoelaces of either the victim or suspect, as these knots can be used for the purposes of comparison. A private investigator and forensic knot expert should consider and assess all flexible and semi-flexible materials at the scene of investigation.
The suspect’s home  should also be searched for relevant materials of interest. The presence of knots and ligatures may exist in relation to common household and hobby related activities and may be subject to examination and comparison. Knotted trash bangs, sailing gear, climbing equipment, macrame cords, tarps cords, ladder haul ropes, etc. could all demonstrate a suspect’s knot and ligature ability.
Particular crime and death scenes of investigation, which may include the presence of knots or ligatures, require the special attention of a private investigators and forensic knot expert. A private investigator and forensic knot expert are aware of what materials can be utilized and the respective methods employed. While it is easy to overlook common household items and their use in relation to knots and ligatures, it is important to thoroughly and expertly examine all evidence when reconstructing the events at the scene of investigation.
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