Developing Latent Prints from Gloves


Daniel J. Rinehart
Rinehart Forensics

Developing and Identifying a Latent Print Recovered from a Piece of Latex Glove Using Ninhydrin-Heptane Carrier

Developing suitable ridge detail on the interior side of surgical type gloves is infrequent and identifying recovered ridge detail is even more unusual. Thanks to the research and publication of the work done by Jason Pressly of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, I had the benefit of having another option in which to process evidence.

As a crime scene investigator and latent print examiner for the Harris County Sheriff's Department, (Houston, Texas), I responded to a death scene, April 27, 1999, where a 78 year old white female was found deceased in her residence due to multiple stab wounds. During the course of the investigation, a finger portion of a surgical type glove was recovered. Having very little success in the development of ridge detail on the interior portion of latex or surgical type gloves, Deputy K.G. Mills and I decided to use the Ninhydrin-Heptane Carrier formula developed by Jason Pressly.

The glove piece was carefully turned inside out, dipped into the solution and allowed to dry in a vent hood. Ridge detail was noticeable after a 15-minute interval. The clearest detail was visible at the 1-hour interval. The ridge detail began fading at the 1 hour and 30 minute interval. The latent was partially visible under two 750 watt white lights. Several filters were used with the #58 (green) filter providing the best results in capturing the image. The latent was photographed using the #58 (green) filter on an Omega View 4 x 5 copy camera that was mounted on a table and using Kodak 4415 tech pan, 200 ISO sheet film, shutter speed at ½ second and f stop at f-11.

I obtained inked palm prints of a suspect in the investigation. I was able to identify the latent to the second joint of the right little finger of the suspect.

Developing Latent Prints on Household Rubber Gloves Using Ninhydrin-Heptane Carrier After Superglue Fuming

The use of ninhydrin on household rubber gloves is not a common practice. Jason Pressly's work with Ninhydrin-Heptane gave me an experimental option in the development of prints on the exterior of household rubber gloves.

In April of 1999, I was asked to process a pair of yellow household rubber gloves used in an offense against a fellow Deputy Sheriff. The gloves were lined with a cloth like material. The gloves were treated with superglue fuming and examined with the Luma Lite, two 750 watt white lights and fluorescent light. No ridge detail was visible under any of these light conditions.

With the assistance of Deputy K. G. Mills and Deputy L. Prouse, we decided to use the Ninhydrin-Heptane Carrier process in this case. The gloves were dipped, interior and exterior, and allowed to dry in a vent hood. Both gloves were cut open along seams where ridge detail would not normally be located forming a "butterfly" with each glove. The right glove began developing visible ridge detail at the 55 minute interval. The best development was at the 3 hour and ten minute interval and began fading after that. The right glove began developing ridge detail in two locations. Location #1 began at the 1 hour interval and location #2 began at the 2 hour interval. Location #1 displayed the best development of ridge detail at the three hour and 40 minute interval. Location #2 displayed the best development of ridge detail at the four hour and fifty minute interval.

The latents on both gloves were partially visible under two 750 watt white lights. Several filters were used with the #58 (green) filter providing the best results in capturing the images. The latents were photographed using the#58 (green) filter on an Omega View 4 x 5 copy camera that was mounted on a table using Kodak 4415 tech pan, 200 ISO sheet film, shutter speed at 1/15 second and f stop at f-11. The latents recovered are of identifiable quality.

Discussion

Jason Pressly's work with the Ninhydrin-Heptane Carrier has developed another tool in which to process physical evidence. The results show that this process does in fact work on actual case evidence as Jason Pressly's work indicated. In addition, the results show that this process can not only be used on household type rubber gloves but also can be used after superglue fuming.

References

Pressly, Jason, "Ninhydrin on Latex Gloves: An Alternative Use for an Old Technique", Journal of Forensic Identification, 49(3), 1999, pp 257 - 260

Ninhydrin-Heptane Carrier Formula


  • 33 grams ninhydrin
  • 220 mL ethyl alcohol
  • 1 gal heptane
  • magnetic stir plate
  • magnetic stir bar
  • 2 - 600 mL beakers

  1. Weigh out 33 grams of ninhydrin crystals.

  2. Place ninhydrin crystals in a 600 mL beaker and add 220 mL ethyl alcohol. Place a stir bar in the beaker and place the beaker on a magnetic stir plate. (Note: Cover the beaker to prevent evaporation). Gently stir until crystals are completely dissolved.

  3. Remove 200 mL of heptane from the gallon bottle and place it in a 600 mL beaker. (Note: Do not dispose of heptane; it will be used later).

  4. Add the stirred ninhydrin and ethyl alcohol mixture from step 2 to the gallon bottle of heptane. Stir thoroughly.

  5. Add the 200 mL of heptane removed in step 3 to the solution stir thoroughly.


About the Author

Daniel Rinehart was with the Harris County Sheriff's Department, (Houston, Texas), for 18 years and had been assigned to the Identification Division/Crime Scene Investigation Unit for 17 years. Specialization includes Crime Scene Investigations, scene/forensic photography, fingerprints/latent prints, and bloodstain pattern analysis. Member of the IAI and is a Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst; Past Regional Vice President of the Homicide Investigators of Texas; and Past Vice President of the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts. Holds a TCLEOSE Master Peace Officer and Instructor License. Has made presentations and instructed Crime Scene and instructed Bloodstain Pattern Analysis courses across the United States.

Currently, a private consultant who recently has worked on the personal effects pertaining to the Alaska Airline Crash of October 1999; and most recently with the International Commission on Missing Persons in Bosnia — Herzegovina, assisting with the identification of bodies recovered in mass graves across the country.

Daniel Rinehart can be reached at drine@sprynet.com



Article submitted by the author
Article posted July 26, 2000