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Recovering DNA from water traps as a behaviour of post-homicide clean-up, learnt from forensic awareness strategies

Webb, Jamie-Lee (2021) Recovering DNA from water traps as a behaviour of post-homicide clean-up, learnt from forensic awareness strategies. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Television is one of the largest sources of messages and images in history (2) and is watched by billions, including those that would, or will, become perpetrators of serious crimes. (3). So, what messages or ideas are future perpetrators seeing? And what perceptions are they taking from the programs they tune into almost every day? Media demonstrates behaviour, and these common behaviours are what viewers cannot discriminate between reality and entertainment. (5) There are scant studies on what knowledge viewers gain from programmes with violent behaviours and their impact on their perception of reality. Could a potential perpetrator gain such information from cultivating media programmes that showcase the glamourous and fictional renderings of scientific investigations (6), such as Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) and Law and Order? The theory behind the cultivation of such media messages is that Forensic Awareness (FA) and Detection Avoidance (DA) form a cultural zeitgeist known as the CSI Effect (9). While the existence and impact of the CSI Effect continue to be studied and debated on its effects in the courtroom, a literature search exposes little published information about the potential effect on criminal activity. (15) Various forms of literature are compared and discussed on their involvement in criminal behaviour, from the judicial system, sexual homicides and prisoner studies, cultivation from the media, violence in films and current known forensic awareness and detection avoidance behaviours.

A research gap inspired the project’s experimental aims from evaluating the minimal literature. Aiming to determine if potential criminals know they are performing detection avoidance behaviours as knowledgeable forensic awareness strategies. Criminals may manipulate or degrade evidence left behind through chemical agents and “washing” of the crime scene to adopt these forensic awareness strategies. The proposed project will determine if chemical manipulation prevents biological evidence, such as Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) through blood evidence, from being recovered at scenes. Or if degrative techniques also prevent blood evidence examination through presumptive and confirmatory testing. This project also aims to determine if a standard DNA recovery volume can be created, given the amount of blood recovered from the aqueous sink environment.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences
Supervisor(s): Chapman, Brendan
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