Lehigh Valley

Experts teach local course on blood spatter evidence

Experts teach local course about blood spatter evidence

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Catching a killer sometimes comes down to blood evidence. Now, a local college is making sure forensic experts have the skills they need with a special course being taught by world-renowned scientists.

In the Showtime TV series, "Dexter," blood spatter analysis plays a central role, but at the Northeast Forensic Training Institute at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, crime scene experts from the United States, Canada and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are sharpening their real life skills.

Dr. Mark Reynolds and Ted Silenieks from Australia are world-renowned experts in the field of blood spatter analysis.

"Spatter stains can be either round or they can be elliptical and, if they are elliptical, they have an angle which can be strung back to a particular point, which might be a point of origin for the blood stain," said Silenieks, with Forensic Science South Australia.

And just like on "Dexter," forensic scientists do countless experiments, using things like red threads and baseball bats in plastic-lined blood rooms.

But while most courses focus on non-porous surfaces like floors and walls, the expertise sharpened here focuses on how blood reacts to fabrics.

"Really studying fabric composition the weave and the actual makeup of the fabric and how it affects the formation of the bloodstains has been the most remarkable," said Leeann Singley, a forensic scientist from Pennsylvania.

It's a science that relies on the principles of math, physics, chemistry and biology, harmonized in such a way that scientists are able to determine the exact details related to the blood stain, and that evidence can be used to catch and convict a killer.

"Being able to contribute to develop robust techniques to bring people to justice or to  exonerate them if they weren't involved gives me a bit of a rush," said Reynolds, forensic science consultant for the Western Australia Police.

And in the words of Dexter Morgan, "blood never lies."

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