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Robert Blackledge

Contributor II
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Blackledge_Robert.jpgRobert (Bob) D. Blackledge received his BS (chem.) from The Citadel in 1960 and his MS (chem.) from the University of Georgia in 1962. Starting with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Tallahassee Crime Lab in 1971, Bob has worked in forensic science for over thirty years. Stops along the way included eleven years with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory-Europe, back during the Cold War when we had a crime lab in Frankfurt, Germany. Bob’s final stint was as the Senior Chemist with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Regional Forensic Laboratory-San Diego from 1989 to 2006. The author or co-author of roughly forty journal articles and book chapters, his interests are wide-ranging but his special passion is trace evidence. Reports of his research have been published in the FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin, the FBI’s Crime Laboratory Digest, the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Science & Justice, Forensic Science International, Forensic Science Review, Microgram Journal, and Analytica Chimica Acta. He is the editor for, “Forensic Analysis on the Cutting Edge: New Methods for Trace Evidence Analysis”, scheduled to be published by Wiley-Interscience in 2006.


GLITTER as Forensic Evidence

Locard's Exchange Principle states, "Every contact leaves a trace." When these traces involve an exchange between a criminal, victim, and crime scene, there is the potential that they may help to establish a common association. Well known examples of such trace or associative evidence are hairs, fibers, paint chips, and broken glass fragments. Although not as well known, we will see that in many respects "glitter" is the ideal contact trace. Today, glitter may be found in every possible variation of cosmetic products. Glitter is also in widespread use as material for arts and crafts; it is used as decorative material on items of apparel, and it is incorporated in numerous clear plastic commercial products. This presentation will tell you what glitter is; how it is made; the many ways it varies; how it may be found and collected from crime scenes and evidence items; and the many ways it can be characterized and distinguished from other glitter samples. The talk will conclude with several brief case histories (including photomicrographs and infrared spectra from the actual evidence) where glitter was important associative evidence.

Plant Poaching: Prevention/Investigation/Prosecution

The theft and trade in endangered, exotic, and commercially valuable plants is a huge national and international problem. The international science community needs to become aware of this problem and to exert their expertise towards the prevention of plant poaching and to provide means of detection and identification of poached plants so that violators may be successfully prosecuted. The audience will be told of the scope of this problem, illustrated by a few specific cases. They will also be made aware of the applicable major international/national conventions and statutes, and the elements of the crime that must be proved if prosecution is to be successful. Specifically of interest to scientists, the talk will conclude with marking/detection/identification methods that have led to successful prosecutions, and offer hints of future approaches.

The Floyd Landis Sports Doping Case as Evaluated by a Forensic Analytical Chemist

Floyd Landis, a professional bicycle racer from Murrieta, California, won the 2006 Tour de France. However, not many days after the race's conclusion, the Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage (LNDD) "announced" (actually the information was leaked to the press) that a urine sample obtained from Floyd after stage 17 had been found to be positive for a form of synthetic testosterone. If this finding were to be upheld, Landis would be stripped of his title and also banned from participation in the sport. Landis denied any sports doping and his strategy in fighting these charges has been to try to generate public support and to make all of the documentation of the LNDD tests available to the public. GC/MS is used by LNDD for preliminary sample screening, and carbon stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry is used for final confirmation. From the standpoint of a forensic analytical chemist with experience in forensic laboratory accreditation standards, this presentation will examine the analytical data and correspondence from the Landis case in terms of: chain of custody requirements; World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) guidelines and LNDD SOP; and reasonable standards of good laboratory practice.

The Forensic Characterization of Surface-Modified Fibers

Locard's Exchange Principle states, "Every contact leaves a trace." When these traces involve an exchange between a criminal, victim, and crime scene, there is the potential they may help to establish a common association. Fibers are one of the most common examples of such trace or associative evidence. However, in developing analytical methodologies for single fiber identification/comparison the forensic science community has not kept pace with changes in fabric manufacturing processes. With increasing frequency the fabrics used today for garments, carpeting, drapery, and furniture upholstery have received some type of surface modification treatment. These surface modification layers are typically so thin they do not appreciably change the feel or draping characteristics of the fabric and are virtually undetectable via optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and even the surface analysis method of attenuated total reflectance infrared spectromicroscopy. However, the author will relate how x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) can not only distinguish between otherwise identical individual fibers where one has received a surface modification treatment and the other has not, but can even distinguish between otherwise identical fibers that have received different surface modification treatments.

Density Determination by Magnetic Levitation and its Application to Trace Evidence

The research group of George M. Whitesides at Harvard University has developed a method of density determination that is rapid, easy, reliable, non-destructive, does not require highly-trained operators, does not involve expensive instrumentation, requires no source of electricity, and used with verified density standards involves a simple linear relationship. “MagLev” has application in many different fields, but is especially useful in forensic science for determining the density of small, irregularly shaped objects, - i.e. - trace evidence. Examples shown will include various types of glitter, smokeless gun powder samples, and how particles of bone may be distinguished from the mineral apatite. The MagLev device will be available for inspection and a handout will show how it could be easily constructed for not much more than $50.


Naval Criminal Investigative Service, RFL (Retired)

8365 Sunview Drive

El Cajon, CA, United States, 92021


Home: 619-443-8522

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