Yes, It’s Possible to Identify Criminal Suspects by the Hairs of Their Chinny Chin Chins
We all know how the story goes. A sly, blowhardish and extremely hungry wolf arrives at the front doors of the recently created homes of three very handy pigs, a trio of walking porkchops who’d built their individual abodes on prime pieces of suburban real estate.
The first pudgy, and not so construction-savvy pig fashioned his home from straw, and if you’ve watched HGTV lately you’ll recall that while inexpensive straw homes are susceptible to rot due to high moisture content, fire, and to the difficulty of obtaining homeowner insurance.
I imagine our first little porker thumbed his flat little nose at the rules, and safety, and bypassed the permitting process. I also believe he overlooked the possibility of wind damage and quickly learned of his error shortly after the wolf announced his presence on the front stoop.
“Little pig, little pig won’t you let me come in?” the mangy wolf cried out to pig number one.
“No, no, no, by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin,” said the worried hog.
Well, you know what happened next. The wolf, of course, huffed and puffed and in a matter of seconds enjoyed a tasty pulled pork appetizer.
The twisted and curly “tail” continues with the wolf’s forceful exhalations destroying pig number two’s stick-built home. As a result … pork roast for the entire Wolf family. And, as before, he’d gotten away without leaving a clue. Not even a paw print.
Then the murdering wolf, now deemed a serial killer by the local media, moved on to his next intended victim, the pig who lived in the brick rancher at the corner of Garlic and Rosemary Avenues.
Exasperated police almost captured the wolf thanks to a 911 call from the couple next door, Porky and Petunia, who’d seen the sneaky canine approaching pig number three’s doorstep. But, as bad luck would have it, the wolf escaped on foot, well, on four feet, actually.
The wolf was careless, though, during his third attempt at pig-killing. He’d forgotten it was the time of year when his species sheds their winter coats. Yep, you guessed it. Cops collected a few discarded hairs and subsequently rushed them to the lab where scientists immediately began testing them using an astonishing new process. They ‘d know the identity of the killer very soon. But this is fiction …
The Real Meat of the Story
Okay, the tale above is a bit stupid, I know. But I wrote it as a prelude to the true subject matter of the day—identifying a criminal suspect using his or her shed hairs found at a crime scene.
It’s fairly common knowledge that scientists and other lab experts, as well as law enforcement investigators and writers, are already familiar with the use of human hair from the head as a source used to identify people through DNA testing, etc. Suppose, though, that any hair from any part of the body could be used to identify the person who shed it, not just hairs from the head. To have this capability would be HUGE in the real world of crime-solving.
Sure, writers make up stuff like this all the time to help tie up loose ends in their books. After all, Jack Reacher, Bosch, DD Warren, and Tami Hoag’s Detectives Fourcade and Broussard, well, they’re unstoppable because their creators make it so. But actual cops must use actual evidence and actual crime-fighting tools and equipment to locate killers, such as the extensive catalog of items developed and manufactured by Sirchie.
But here in the world of genuine cops and murderers, the use of wishful thinking and fictional methods and procedures is not an option that’s available to local, state, and federal law enforcement.
However, thanks to a group of researchers, fiction is now a reality.
Yes, a groundbreaking technique of human identification using hairs from ANY part of the body is now possible. It’s the result of a yearlong study by researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Forensic Science Center and Michigan State University.
The process interprets hair protein chemistry and how it effects protein marker identification.
Chemist Fanny Chu, a graduate student and researcher at MSU, along with other researchers involved in the Lawrence Livermore/Michigan State University study, took the hair testing process a step further by studying and comparing arm and pubic hair with head hair. The result—the hairs fundamentally presented the same data as head hair.
Additionally, the protein content of the hairs indicate whether a single hair is from a person’s head, arm, or pubic area, etc.
The team also learned that the protein content of pubic hair is appreciably greater than head and arm hair.
A single one-inch strand of hair has a unique pattern, much like DNA or fingerprints, that distinguish a person from among a population of 10 million people.
Fun Fact: Human hair proteins are chemically more stout than nuclear DNA. In fact, scientists have detected protein markers in human hair that’s more than 250 years old.
Sirchie products (mentioned above) are used by law enforcement professional worldwide. Additionally, they’re often seen in use by CSIs and detectives on popular television show/series.
In August, just a few weeks from today, writers, fans, and readers will have the opportunity to attend hands-on homicide investigation training sessions at Sirchie’s elite compound near Raleight, N.C. The event, MurderCON, is brought to you by the Writers’ Police Academy and Sirchie. It’s a rare opportunity to learn at a world-renowned facility in classes taught by some of the best instructors in the world. I cannot stress enough how extremely valuable attending MurderCon could be to the knowledge base of crime fiction writers.
The material offered at MurderCON is the identical material taught to top investigators from around the globe. Not only that, classes are scheduled at Sirchie’s facility, the source of crime scene investigation tools and equipment. It’s where ideas are conceived by researchers and are then brought to life by developers and scientists. Next, a team of experts fabricate assemble everything from fingerprint brushes and powders to fuming chambers, alternate light sources and even surveillance vehicles.
The subject material offered at MurderCon has never before been made available to the public.
Again, this is a RARE chance to go behind the scenes, affording you, the writer, to add better realism to your work by experiencing the touch, sight, smells, sounds, and even tastes associated with crime scene investigations. This is the key to activating the senses of your readers!!
We’ve nearly reached maximum capacity for the 2019 MurderCON event; therefore, registration will soon close. So again, I urge you to consider taking advantage of this unique opportunity. It’s a KILLER event!
Sign up today at:
See you in August!
I live in Utah, and I am so thankful for the advancements made in criminal identification-DNA From a little 5year old girl being desecrated by her uncle to a college senior whose body parts are partial burned and partial buried is the lock down guarantee.
So, this is just for protein content, but that can be used for ID, too–as soon as everyone realizes and approves it, sounds like. Thanks!!
So, you don’t need the root of the hair any more? Just any old hair that’s been shed, snipped, left on the brush?
You should have the intact root for DNA testing. This is a new technique. Keep in mind, though, that courts must approve and recognize any new process as sound science before admitting it as evidence.