Finger print analysis and the body of crime

Moser was dead. Sitting on an overstuffed chair in his office in arrested aggression and eyes wide open, he was stabbed by a dagger in the chest- boldly and strongly; the handle of the dagger was fixed and jutted out almost vertically from the left side of his chest. 

An hour ago, Sakshi had entered his office and began rambling about how a sample label was not fit to be deciphered since there were blood stains on the label. “I can’t even see the autopsy number on the label,” she said walking in and dropping herself on a chair opposite to Moser’s. She undid her hair, letting her curls fall on her back and shook her head with indignation. It was then that she suddenly saw Moser’s glaring eyes and a dagger across his chest. She gave out a continuous spurt of screams- her feet glued to the carpet and her body glued to the chair. Moser’s stretched legs had never looked so scary and his eyes looked blood shot- angry, scared and lifeless. The stillness of his open mouth was terrifying. Rakesh, an attendant, rushed in upon hearing the scream. Reeta and Rupesh, the computer operators who sat closest to Moser’s office cabin, followed. They were shocked upon seeing Moser’s corpse and took a while to respond. Rakesh stood close to Rupesh and suggested that the police be called. Rupesh thought for a while, walked out of the room and pulled out his mobile thereafter. He called David, a dear friend who was a police inspector.

“Hello David, there is an urgent matter. The Chief Forensic Scientist has been murdered. What should we do?” questioned Rupesh.

“How do you know it is a murder?” David replied.

“Know? There is a knife thrust into his chest!”

David murmured something under his breath.

“I will be there. It’ll take me fifteen minutes. I’ll have a doctor rush to the spot. Tell everyone to vacate the room without touching or disturbing anything. Let everyone wait just outside the office cabin”, said David in a rushed breath and with a certain urgency quite unknown to Rupesh.

Rupesh walked back to the rooms where Sakshi stood with folded hands, looking around in a blank and shocked state. Reeta was trying to call someone on her mobile quite frantically. Rakesh was moving towards the window to put the blinds. 
Rupesh shouted to Rakesh,

“Don’t do that. Nothing is to be touched”.

It seemed like ten long minutes before the doctor from the Emergency unit of a hospital in Sector 27 arrived, followed soon after by David and his team. The doctor walked towards the corpse in a casual way, oblivious to the fact that there was a corpse present. He slipped his hands into his gloves and checked the pulse and then tried bending his elbow. Walking up to David, he said,

“The guy has been dead for some time now. He needs to go to the morgue and have Dr Albert look at him.”

David was wrenched with the thought of interacting with Dr Albert who would invariably keep finding faults with his investigations and mince no words about it. However, he would eventually have a multitude of cases sorted out and solved. 
David called up Dr Albert and gave him the details of the case. Dr Albert took them all in and stated,

“Moser has been such an asset. He used to do the lab work in such cases meticulously. It is a pity he is now on the table rather than putting samples of people on it.”

David was slightly surprised with the sensitivity and emotion in Dr Albert, who had never come even close to saying something remotely soft about people and behaved like an absolute stranger when it came to lauding someone. 
He said to David,

“I am a bit occupied with an academic commitment for today. Dr Janet will be the Autopsy Surgeon. Of course, we would be a team for matters of discussion, as usual. Do send the body over to us. Any clue who could have done it in this audacious way? I mean, was he threatened? Perhaps, this is what you could explore and maybe the make of the dagger might help in getting some clues. It seems to be  quite antique piece from somewhere.”

David muttered a quick, “Thank you” and even before disconnecting the call, started giving instructions,

“Get the pictures of the spot and close up of the body. Search the dagger for any fingerprints. Get the body moving for Autopsy. Seize the mobile handset from the table after picking the marks from it. Inform his family of his death and that he is being taken for Autopsy.”

After the photographs and marks were taken, the body was shifted for Autopsy. 
In the mortuary, when Moser was brought in, Janet felt uncomfortable to be assigned the case. She had known Moser for some time and appreciated his objectivity. She normally handled her work with no emotional connect to the history or circumstances of the case. Instead, she secretly suspected herself of having blunted emotions, for she could carry on tasks people thought were unnerving and emotionally disturbing. But today, she had to remind herself to focus on facts and findings and not on who the person was.

The dagger’s blade was in the chest and the handle jutted out. Janet also brought the photographs in the mortuary. She had two junior colleagues with her, Shweta and Dharmesh. Shweta exclaimed,

“What a powerful thrust! It appears to be directed backwards, downwards and slightly to the left. And the victim almost did not move at all!”

Dharmesh added,

“I wonder what really happened when he was seated in his office.”

The autopsy took about an hour. Moser’s stomach was practically empty. No pathology or abnormality was detected. The stab had gone into the chest cavity from between the two ribs, cutting one of them and went through the lung and into the left ventricular chamber of heart. There was no other injury. No evidence of alcohol or any other intoxication was seen. Janet still asked for preservation of viscera to refute a suspicion of poisoning which she supposed could arise later, even for sole sake of discussion or to free the accused. She had seen enough in courts for the past 12 years to have a protocol fixed in her mind for such situations.

The dagger had one sharp edge and one blunt edge and a pointed tip. The sharp edge became blunt towards the base for 2cm near the handle. There was a hilt to the dagger between the blade and handle which stopped the dagger. The hilt caused a bruise on the chest when it was thrust.


Forensic Science office was in a frenzy today. Moser had a big name, was respected among professionals and was a very favourable boss.

Ranbir was working on completing the reports for the day. He was an Assistant to Moser for the past 8 years as Junior Scientist and had always received appreciation for his promptness and innovative ways. He was ambitious but his avenues for prominence and promotions were limited and that made him restless sometimes. Javed was the Senior Scientist with Moser and would execute the work assigned to him with a constant undivided attention  which each case required. He took control of the situation as if he had done the drill before. He would start his day much earlier than others whenever he expected the day to be heavy. He would reach the office and delegate work to the staff.

David and team had sent the body for autopsy and had started interrogating the staff. A forensic scientist of the calibre of Moser must have offended hundreds of offenders and invited trouble for himself. And David knew better to not limit to a single line of thought. The quiet and untroubled way in which the body was found was also troubling David. After starting the interrogation, he left for his own office to follow up with fingerprints and other clues.

The man working on the fingerprints started figuring out the marks on the dagger. There were many marks on the handle, although with the pattern of the handle which had grooves and ridges, he had some difficulty in picking the prints. He put them on AFIS and was shocked. He called David and asked him to come to his office immediately. David sensed the urgency and rushed, wondering what might have been unravelled. This was the crucial time. Any delay might mean harm to evidence or it’s report or worse, the person doing the investigation.

David entered the fingerprint office and immediately asked, “What? Who?” The guy looked silent, withdrawn and perplexed,

“Javed. Perfect match. No doubts.”

David almost could not believe  it, “Senior Scientist! Moser’s friend! Right there! Unbelievable!”


Javed was taken under police custody. David was talking to the person in charge of fingerprinting at his office,

“I still can’t believe it. Javed has been in Forensic long enough to know about fingerprints. He would not allow them to be there. But the circumstances in which the incidence got precipitated may not have allowed him time to think. Something does not seem right here.”

The other man thought for a moment and said,

“Such an evidence cannot be denied. Rest of the circumstances fit in with this assumption too. But I know what you mean. I don’t feel right about the case too. But facts stand out as facts”.

Meanwhile, in the Forensic lab, Ranbir had taken control of the lab and it’s work. It was tough work but he knew how to handle it. He stretched a while on his chair and closed his eyes. There was a print-out of the 3D fingerprints on a plastic sheet and he had made gloves with the fingerprint sheet and wore them on. But thrusting the knife was not as simple as he had thought. That was heavy work. Once he had come this far, he felt compelled to complete it till the end. Last evening he had burnt the gloves and removed the software for 3D fingerprints from his PC. The copy from fingerprint database was on the hard disc that he attached to the system. He destroyed that too. He felt safe. Nothing else was left behind which could cause trouble for him later. Only the case looked too simple and that could raise suspicion, he thought. But that may not happen……….. and he smiled. 

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