Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Case of the Bloody Garbage Truck

by team UAB, lsw

A brief, but interesting article from Australia:

Police scientists were called in to test a large amount of blood which collected in the back of a garbage truck at Camperdown in Sydney's inner-west on Tuesday morning.

Initial tests on the blood were inconclusive, but tests eventually confirmed it was not human.

Garbage collectors had noticed the blood oozing out the back of their truck about 7am (AEST) and raised the alarm.

It's good to know that people are willing to get involved, and call the authorities, when they see something suspicious. At the same time, it also demonstrates the importance of presumptive and confirmatory tests. Something may look like blood, and may even be blood, but it may not be human blood. So where did this (non-human) blood come from? The police couldn't find any answers:

In full view of curious local residents, forensic officers spent several hours searching the truck's smelly contents for clues to the source of the blood, but found nothing.

NOTE: The above image is from a Google Images search, and is unrelated to the case.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Picric Acid, What is it good for?

found by troy m;comments by blogger jgl

There was some "old" picric acid in a forensic lab that had to be detonated. Picric acid is nasty stuff that has to be kept under liquid. Dry crystals are explosive (or something like that). I'm sure there is a legitimate reason, but does anyone know what this stuff is used for in a forensic lab?

The Alameda County Bomb Squad today detonated vials of crystallized picric acid from a forensics laboratory in Hayward, fire officials reported...

... "(There were) 100 grams in two small vials, (with) 10 to 20 little crystals at the bottom of the vials and the remainder sealed in liquid form," Berg said.

The chemical in the vials was about two years old, and when crystallized the acid becomes unstable and extremely reactive, according to Berg...

... Berg said forensics laboratories often have hazardous materials on site, but when used in a lab they are considered under control. However, in today's case, the crystallized picric acid was deemed out of control and required fire officials on site.