The Science of Crime Scenes

The Science of Crime Scenes

1st Edition - July 6, 2012

Write a review

  • Authors: Max Houck, Frank Crispino, Terry McAdam
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123864659
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123864642

Purchase options

Purchase options
DRM-free (EPub, PDF, Mobi)
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


The Science of Crime Scenes addresses the science of crime scene investigation and processing, including the latest methods and technologies. This book covers the philosophy of crime scenes as historical events, the personnel involved at a scene (including the media), the detection of criminal traces and their reconstruction, and special crime scenes, such as mass disasters and terrorist events. Written by an international trio of authors with decades of crime scene experience, it is the next generation of crime scene textbooks. The book provides in-depth coverage of disasters and mass murder, terror crime scenes, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear) – topics not covered in any other text. It includes an instructor website with lecture slides, test bank, outlines, definitions, and activities, along with a student companion site with an image collection. This text will be of interest to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in forensic science programs, as well as to forensic practitioners and crime scene technicians.

Key Features

  • Offers a science-based approach to crime scene investigation
  • Includes in-depth coverage of disasters and mass murder, terror crime scenes, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear) – not covered in any other text
  • Written by an international trio of authors with decades of crime scene experience
  • Instructor website with lecture slides, test bank, outlines, definitions, and activities, and a student companion site with an image collection


Advanced undergraduate and graduate students in forensic science programs; forensic practitioners and crime scene technicians

Table of Contents

  • Dedication




    Section 1 The Science of Crime Scene Investigation

    Chapter 1.0. The “Forensic Mindset”

    Forensic Professionals Are Knowledge Workers

    Hunting as an Origin for Forensic Science

    Trifles, Traces, and Clues

    From Science to Art to Literature

    Evidence Is Proxy Data


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 1.1. From Scene to Laboratory to Court

    Access to the Scene

    Sensitivity to Initial Conditions

    Downstream Effects


    Chain of Custody

    Submitting Evidence for Analysis

    Conclusion: Evidence in the Courtroom

    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 2.0. What Is a Crime Scene?


    A Definition

    Staged Crime Scenes


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 2.1. Crime Scene Intelligence

    Connections through Contact: Transfer and Persistence

    Classification and Resolution

    Individualization of Evidence

    Relationships and Context

    Known and Questioned Items


    References and Bibliography

    Section 2 Personnel and Procedures

    Chapter 3.0. Personnel

    Forensic Scientist Focus

    Time and Money



    Building the Team


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 3.1. First Responder on the Scene

    Competing Responsibilities

    Securing the Scene

    Preserving the Scene

    Releasing the Scene


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 3.2. The Investigator in Charge

    Security at the Crime Scene

    Leadership at the Scene



    Chapter 3.3. The Forensic Team

    A Forensic Team



    Chapter 3.4. Nonforensic Personnel

    Information: Two Points of View

    The Public as Reporters

    Communicating to Superiors



    Chapter 4.0. General Crime Scene Procedure

    Chapter 4.1. “Freezing” the Scene and the Three R’s (Recognize, Recover, and Record)

    Death Investigations

    Preliminary Search

    Recognizing Evidence

    Recovering Evidence

    Recording Evidence


    Chapter 4.2. The Chain of Custody

    A Chain of Custody Example

    Problems with Chains of Custody


    Chapter 4.3. Recording the Scene

    Crime Scene Photography




    Geographic Information Systems (GISs) and Crime Mapping



    Section 3 Detection and Reconstruction

    Chapter 5.0. Searching for Evidence

    From Trace to Proof, or Why Only Finding a Trace Is Not Sufficient

    Which Evidence Is Useful?

    The Search for Evidence


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 5.1. Detecting

    What Is Light and How Do We See an Object?


    From Theory to Practice: The Forensic Light Source

    General Crime Scene Screening


    Specific Crime Scene Screening

    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 5.2. Collection

    Types of Evidence to Collect

    Materials and Containers

    Available Techniques to Collect Evidence

    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 5.3. Preserving

    Threats to Evidence

    Safety at the Scene


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 5.4. Submitting Evidence to the Laboratory

    General Submission Guidelines

    Biological Evidence

    Trace Evidence

    Impression Evidence


    Physical Match

    Firearms Evidence

    Toolmark Evidence

    Latent Prints Evidence

    Chapter 6.0. Evidence Types and Enhancement

    Chapter 6.1. Chemical Evidence





    Restoration of Serial Numbers

    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 6.2. Biological Evidence

    DNA and Trace DNA

    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 6.3. Impression Evidence

    Object Traces

    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 6.4. Other Types of Evidence

    Questioned Documents

    Computers, Cellphones, and Other Mass Storages



    Insects and Time Since Death




    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 7.0. Crime Scene Reconstruction


    References and Bibiliography

    Chapter 7.1. An Archaeological Approach

    Of Artifacts and Evidence


    Time and Space


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 7.2. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis


    Grouping Bloodstains

    Droplet Size and Force

    Types of Bloodstains



    Chapter 7.3. Photogrammetry and 3D Reconstruction


    3D Laser Scanners


    References and Bibliography

    Section 4 Special Crime Scenes

    Chapter 8.0. Special Crime Scenes

    Chapter 8.1. Disaster and Mass Fatalities

    The Disaster Scene

    Human Remains



    Chapter 8.2. Terrorist Crime Scenes


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 8.3. CBRN Crime Scenes

    Preparing for Forensic Collection

    Collecting Relevant Evidence

    Entering the Hot Crime Scene

    An Operative Flowchart


    References and Bibliography

    Chapter 8.4. Underwater and Underground Crime Scenes

    Underwater Scenes

    Locating the Scene

    Working the Scene

    Preservation of Materials in Water

    Underground Scenes


    Reference and Bibliography


Product details

  • No. of pages: 400
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2012
  • Published: July 6, 2012
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123864659
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123864642

About the Authors

Max Houck

Max Houck
Dr. Max M. Houck is an international forensic expert with over 25 years of experience. Houck has experience in the private sector, academia, local government, and worked at the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory Division. He has worked as a forensic anthropologist, a trace evidence analyst, a researcher, and has managed millions of dollars in grants and awards. Most recently, he was the inaugural Director of the Department of Forensic Sciences in Washington, D.C., overseeing 150 employees and managing the forensic science laboratory, the public health laboratory, and crime scene sciences for the nation’s capital. Houck has worked on a number of mass casualty scenes, including the Branch Davidian Investigation and the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. Widely published, Houck has dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and is the author and editor of numerous books. He is co-author of the best-selling Fundamentals of Forensic Science, Science of Crime Scenes, and Success with Expert Testimony, among others. He is the editor of the Advanced Forensic Science series of books. Houck is also founding co-editor of Forensic Science Policy and Management (the official journal of ASCLD), the only journal that addresses the management, policy, and administration of forensic science. Houck has served on numerous committees, including for the National Academies of Science, NIST, Interpol, The Royal Society, the Director of the FBI, and the White House. He is a popular public speaker and has given presentations at NASA, the Max Planck Institute, an Oxford Roundtable, as well as keynote talks at numerous international conferences. Houck has taught at several universities, including West Virginia University and University of Tampa. His research topics include management, leadership, and policy implications for forensic organizations. Houck has a Bachelors and Masters degree in anthropology from Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry Summa Cum Laude from Curtin University in Perth, Australia. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Affiliations and Expertise

Vice President, Forensic and Intelligence Services, LLC, Virginia, USA

Frank Crispino

MPhil and PhD from the University of Lausanne, Frank Crispino is a former Cadet of the French Air Force Academy and a retired Colonel of the French Gendarmerie, qualified from the French War College (the Gendarmerie is a French police with a military status). During his law enforcement career, he served as: - Head of two Gendarmerie regional criminal investigations departments in charge of investigating serious, organized international crimes and preventing terrorist incidents; - Deputy chief of the anti-terrorism office at the General Directorate of the French Gendarmerie in Paris. - Head of the forensic anthropology department (1993-1997) and the fingerprint department (1997-1999) at the Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmerie Nationale (IRCGN – Forensic Lab of the Gendarmerie). - Forensic adviser of the Brigadier General, head of the forensic assets of the Gendarmerie, in charge of proposing new strategies to develop forensic intelligence. From February 1999 to July 2002 he provided forensic capacities to the Palestinian Authority granted by the European Union within the Oslo Agreements, and became Scientific and Forensic Adviser of the European Union Special Adviser Office (EUSAO) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on counter-terrorism. He left the Middle East after the destruction of the Palestinian forensic assets in 2002. In the summer of 2012, prof. Frank Crispino joined the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières, Canada, to launch the first forensic academic programme in this French Canadian Province, aiming at educating forensic scientists dedicated to security traces investigation and analysis. He is the author of about 50 papers in various forensic and security journal.

Affiliations and Expertise

Chemistry-Biology Department, University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada

Terry McAdam

Mr. McAdam has 40 years of experience in the field of forensic investigations. He has served with distinction both the Washington State Patrol (30 years) and The Northern Ireland Forensic Science Service (10 years). He is currently employed as the Laboratory Director of the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. He is also a proud graduate of the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1979. He has developed subject matter expertise and decades of total experience in the following areas of trace evidence: • Glass analysis (23 years) • Paint analysis (23 years) • Small particle identification (23 years) • Fibers (14 years) • Explosives (3 years) • Hair (17 years) • Clothing damage interpretation (20 years) • Scanning Electron Microanalysis (17 years) • Shoe impressions (14 years) • Tire impressions (14 years) Furthermore, during the course of his career, Terry McAdam has personally processed over 330 violent felony crime scenes, to include homicides and rapes (175), arsons and bombings (60), hit and run accidents (45), and firearms assaults (50). Terry McAdam has also played an integral role in the investigations of both the Robert Lee Yates (Spokane and Tacoma serial murder) and the Gary Leon Ridgeway (Green River serial murder) cases. He has testified in various felony cases in superior and federal courts throughout the State of Washington on 175 occasions involving trace evidence and crime scene processing. In addition to his academic credentials and work experience, Terry McAdam has successfully completed nearly 900 hours of additional education and training in forensic science and crime scene technology during his tenure with the Washington State Patrol.

Affiliations and Expertise

Laboratory Manager, Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory, Seattle, Washington, USA

Ratings and Reviews

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for "The Science of Crime Scenes"