The Science of Crime Scenes

The Science of Crime Scenes

2nd Edition - July 7, 2017

Write a review

  • Authors: Max Houck, Frank Crispino, Terry McAdam
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128498774
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128498781

Purchase options

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

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


The Science of Crime Scenes, Second Edition offers a science-based approach to crime scenes, emphasizing that understanding is more important than simply knowing. Without sacrificing technical details, the book adds significantly to the philosophy and theory of crime scene science. This new edition addresses the science behind the scenes and demonstrates the latest methods and technologies with updated figures and images. It covers the philosophy of the crime scene, 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 terroristic events. Written by an international trio of authors with decades of crime scene experience, this book is the next generation of crime scene textbooks. This volume will serve both as a textbook for forensic programs, and as an excellent reference for forensic practitioners and crime scene technicians with science backgrounds.

Key Features

  • Includes 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
  • Includes an instructor site with lecture slides, images and links to resources for teaching and training


Forensic program students, forensic practitioners and crime scene technicians with science backgrounds, and those interested in the science of crime scenes (sibling forensic science programs, such as anthropology and digital evidence)

Table of Contents

  • Cover image
  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Dedication
  • Copyright
  • Author Biographies
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Forensic Science as History
  • What Plagues Forensic Science?
  • Complexity: The World Is More Complicated Than We Can Imagine
  • Individual Focus: The Tyranny of the Particular
  • Applied Science: A Book of Recipes
  • Entropy and Taphonomy: The Center Cannot Hold
  • Crime Scenes as a Process
  • Conclusion
  • 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
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 1.1. From Scene to Laboratory to Court
  • Access to the Scene
  • Sensitivity to Initial Conditions
  • Downstream Effects
  • Documentation
  • Chain of Custody
  • Submitting Evidence for Analysis
  • Conclusion: Evidence in the Courtroom
  • 2.0. What Is a Crime Scene?
  • Introduction
  • A Definition
  • Staged Crime Scenes
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2.1. Crime Scene Intelligence: Connecting People, Places, and Things
  • Connections Through Contact: Transfer and Persistence
  • Classification and Resolution
  • Individualization of Evidence
  • Relationships and Context
  • Known and Questioned Items
  • Conclusion
  • Section 2. Personnel and Procedures
  • Chapter 3.0. Personnel
  • CSI Isn’t Like CSI
  • High-Performance Workplace Organizations
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for Crime Scene Investigators
  • Forensic Scientist Focus
  • Cost, Time, and Quality
  • Contamination
  • Logistics
  • Building the Team
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3.1. First Responder on the Scene
  • Competing Responsibilities
  • Securing the Scene
  • Preserving the Scene
  • Preserving the Scene
  • Releasing the Scene
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3.2. The Investigator-In-Charge
  • What Attributes do Successful IIC People Have in Common?
  • Chapter 3.3. The Forensic Team: Officers, Scientists, and Specialists
  • What is a Crime Scene Team?
  • Forensic Specialists at Crime Scenes
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3.4. Nonforensic Personnel Superiors, Officials, and the Media
  • 1.110—Media Relations, Effective Date: 3/21/2012
  • Public Information Officers
  • 15Minutes of Fame
  • 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
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4.2. The Chain of Custody
  • A Chain of Custody Example
  • Problems With Chains of Custody
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4.3. Recording the Scene: Sketching, Photography, and Video
  • Crime-Scene Photography
  • Video
  • Measurements
  • Sketching
  • Geographic Information Systems and Crime Mapping
  • Conclusion
  • Section 3. Detection and Reconstruction
  • Chapter 5.0. Searching for Evidence: Recovery
  • Introduction
  • From Trace to Proof, or Why Finding a Trace Is Not Sufficient
  • Which Evidence Is Useful?
  • The Search for Evidence
  • Practical Search: Focal and Ancillary Points
  • Optimizing the Search: Applying Locard’s Theory
  • Controlling Contamination
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 5.1. Detecting
  • What Is Light and How Do We See an Object?
  • Luminescence
  • From Theory to Practice: The Forensic Light Source
  • General Crime-Scene Screening
  • Photoluminescence
  • Specific Crime-Scene Screening
  • Chapter 5.2. Collection
  • Introduction
  • Types of Evidence to Collect
  • Materials and Containers
  • Available Techniques to Collect Evidence
  • Chapter 5.3. Preserving
  • Threats to Evidence (Schiro, 2016)
  • Safety at the Scene
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 5.4. Submitting Evidence to the Laboratory
  • Request for Laboratory Examination
  • General Submission Guidelines
  • Biological Evidence
  • Trace Evidence
  • Impression Evidence
  • Explosives
  • Physical Match
  • Firearms Evidence
  • Toolmark Evidence
  • Latent Prints Evidence
  • Chapter 6.0. Evidence Types and Enhancement
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 6.1. Chemical Evidence
  • Drugs
  • Arson
  • Explosives
  • Gunshot Residue
  • Restoration of Serial Numbers
  • Chapter 6.2. Biological Evidence
  • DNA and Trace DNA
  • Chapter 6.3. Impression Evidence
  • Human Traces
  • Fingerprints, Palm Prints, and Bare Footprints
  • Human Skin
  • Integrating a Global Analytical Sequence
  • Earprints
  • Other Human Prints
  • Object Traces
  • Shoeprints and Tireprints
  • Gloveprints
  • Toolmarks
  • Chapter 6.4. Other Types of Evidence
  • Introduction
  • Questioned Documents
  • Computers, Cellphones, and Other Mass Storages
  • Pollen
  • Bones
  • Insects and Time Since Death
  • Diatoms
  • Odors
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 7.0. Crime Scene Reconstruction
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 7.1. An Archaeological Approach
  • Of Artifacts and Evidence
  • Terminology
  • Time and Space
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 7.2. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
  • Directionality
  • Grouping Bloodstains
  • Droplet Size and Force
  • Types of Bloodstains
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 7.3. Photogrammetry and 3D Reconstruction
  • Photogrammetry
  • 3D Lasers Scanners
  • Conclusion
  • Section 4. Special Crime Scenes
  • Chapter 8.0. Special Crime Scenes
  • Chapter 8.1. Disaster and Mass Fatalities
  • The Disaster Scene
  • Human Remains
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 8.2. Terrorist Crime Scenes
  • Introduction
  • School Shooting Incidents
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 8.3. CBRN Crime Scenes
  • Introduction
  • Preparing for Forensic Collection
  • Collecting Relevant Evidence
  • Entering the Hot Crime Scene
  • An Operative Flowchart
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 8.4. Underwater and Underground Crime Scenes
  • Underwater Scenes (Voillot, 2001; Becker, 2013)
  • Locating the Scene
  • Working the Scene
  • Preservation of Materials in Water
  • Underground Scenes (Gagnier, 2009)
  • Conclusion
  • Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 460
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2017
  • Published: July 7, 2017
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128498774
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128498781

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"