Preserving Knot and Ligature Related Evidence

Evidence at the scene of an investigation must be properly handled and preserved, so that it may serve its intended function throughout the course of an investigation. Like any other type of evidence, knots and ligatures must also be appropriately analyzed, handled and preserved,in order to maintain the integrity of the evidence. Due to the complex nature of knot and ligature related evidence, thorough documentation, expert removal and precise handling are required. Private investigators and forensic knot investigators, with their expert body of knot and ligature related knowledge, should be called to the scene of investigation to help ensure all evidence is thoroughly documented, and precisely removed for further analysis.
Evidence at the scene of an investigation must be properly handled and preserved, so that it may serve its intended function throughout the course of an investigation. Like any other type of evidence, knots and ligatures must also be appropriately analyzed, handled and preserved,in order to maintain the integrity of the evidence. Due to the complex nature of knot and ligature related evidence, thorough documentation, expert removal and precise handling are required. Private investigators and forensic knot investigators, with their expert body of knot and ligature related knowledge, should be called to the scene of investigation to help ensure all evidence is thoroughly documented, and precisely removed for further analysis.

In order to minimize contamination, photographs, measurements and notes should be captured and recorded first. Knots and ligatures should be photographed from several perspectives, in order to capture their full complexity and orientation. It is also important to measure and note the lengths of unknotted cords, ends and loops, in case of any possible alterations during the removal process. This information may also be useful for determining the original length of the materials used and possibly whether self-tying or external tying occurred.

Some knot and ligature materials, such as cables, cable ties, duct tape, plastic strapping for sealing boxes, plastic belts and anything else with a smooth surface, may contain fingerprints which can then be lifted and analyzed. Unfortunately, knots and ligatures utilizing fabrics and cordages are typically too textured to provide usable fingerprints.

Knots and ligatures affixed to objects, such as furniture, bed frames, door handles, and appliances should be removed and transported as found at the scene of investigation in order to maintain the integrity of the evidence. If the objects with affixed knots and ligatures cannot be transported as found, then the knots and ligatures should be removed systematically and labeled appropriately. Knots and ligatures should only be systematically removed by an expert, and only after several close-up photographs have been taken from different perspective and the position of knots have been measured and documented.

- If knots and ligatures are attached directly to the decedent and external objects, they must be systematically removed for extensive examination. Whether knots and ligatures are removed at the scene of investigation or at the post mortem, there are several important guidelines and procedures to observe:

- Never untie knots, unwrap coils or generally alter the overall configuration in any way.

- If possible, measure loops, unknotted segments and ends prior to removal, especially if removal might alter the lengths and circumferences of these structures. Knowing the lengths of ends and the circumferences of coils can assist in the reconstruction of ligatures during the subsequent analysis. It can be particularly valuable to measure circumferences and lengths before removal analysis.

- An effort should be made to preserve all wraps and coils, however this can be impractical in certain situations. The number of coils and wraps at the scene of investigation should also be recorded prior to removal.

Knots and ligatures must be appropriately analyzed, handled and preserved, to maintain the integrity of the evidence. Due to the complex nature of knot and ligature related evidence, thorough documentation, expert removal and precise handling are required. In order to help ensure all knot and ligature related evidence is appropriately handled, private investigators and forensic knot investigators should be utilized at the scene of investigation and during any follow up analysis.

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