What Can Tape Reveal?

“Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” – Mark 10:9

Tale of the tape: Small piece of adhesive leads to arrest in Connecticut cold case murder | Fox News.

Beyond the point that the tape was rare (as far as numbers sold), the story linked above does not reveal exactly how the tape was used to tie the criminal to the crime.

Unless each roll of the particular brand and make of tape ever sold could be accounted for, its presence would be circumstantial. If the arrested man is guilty, I hope he will be punished to the full extent of the law and the victim’s family will find peace.

While a small piece of adhesive tape may not look like much, it can be a rich storehouse of evidence. In this posting I will describe different ways that adhesive tape can be used to identify a criminal.

1. Fingerprints

Using chemicals or “wet” powders finger or palm prints can be enhanced on both sides of the tape.

2. DNA 

Tape is sticky and does an excellent job pulling and holding skin cells or hairs from a criminal’s hands. The DNA can be matched to the criminal.

3. Fibers or fragments

The stickiness can also pull fibers or even tips off of latex gloves. These can match gloves in a criminal’s possession.

4. Fractures

I like  jigsaw puzzles so this is the one I enjoy most. Take a look at the photo of tape above. Click on it for a closer look. It is easy to see the torn edges fit together much like one jigsaw piece would fit another.  In this example the tape is paper. The crinkling lines (from manufacturing) and the stress distortions (from tearing) in the tape also  match. I have used the fracture matching to compare everything from paint chips to automobile fenders. Fortunately it is a type of evidence that many criminals do not think about.

Jesus was quoted in the Gospel of Mark 10:9 regarding divorce. Yet His words lend truth to evidence analysis also. While things can be torn apart, the separate pieces will always bear a trace or sign of the original union. This fact applies to tape, the connection between criminals and crime, and relationships between people. There is no such thing as a clean break.