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A Validation Study for Duct Tape End Matches

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Fracture matches are considered to be the strongest association achievable in forensic examinations of glass, metal, wood, plastic, paint, tape, and other trace evidence. Despite being fairly routine examinations, few publications exist to support their admissibility in court. This study was designed, using duct tape as the fractured medium, to determine the validity and error rate associated with conducting end match (fracture match) examinations on this material. Five test designs, which varied either the source roll of tape or manner of separation (torn or cut) from the roll, were administered to four analysts with instructions to examine the assigned test sets for end matches. If an end match was not identified by the initial analyst, the entire test set was independently evaluated by the remaining three analysts. Results indicated that while tape grade did not hinder end match identification, the manner of separation could affect results.
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Keywords: duct tape; end match; error rate; forensic science; fracture match; physical match; trace evidence; validation study

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laboratory Division, 2501 Investigation Parkway, Quantico, VA 22135.

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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