The Art of Impression Evidence

There is no branch of detective science that is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps”, simply stated by the fictional detective character, Sherlock Holmes, from A Study in Scarlet written in 1881.

How important is impression evidence?

The shortest answer, it is extremely important to any crime scene investigation.

I find the various types of impression evidence to be a fascinating study in crime scene investigation.  This is the one area, with exception to the study of the psychological aspect of a criminal, which really piques my forensic interest.  Impression evidence comparison is based upon the details of the particular object of interest that can be examined for distinctive and unique details.

Various impression evidence left behind at a crime scene is similar to fingerprint evidence in that it is in two or three-dimensional form. The most common types of pattern evidence found at a crime scene are footwear and tire track imprints and impressions.  Footprints or tire tracks can lead investigators through the actual path that the criminal took, to finding secondary crime scenes, and even indicating the criminal’s height, or whether they were running or walking.

It is imperative that the crime scene detective be attentive and mindful of not disturbing any of these types of important impression evidence so that each clue can be documented, collected, and preserved.

What falls into the impression or pattern evidence category?

  • Footwear Imprints/Impressions in dirt, mud, or snow
  • Tire Track Imprints/Impressions in dirt, mud, or snow
  • Bite Marks found on a victim or food items
  • Lip and Ear Impressions
  • Fingerprints
  • Glove Prints
  • Tool Mark Impressions from prying, breaking, cutting, and scraping a surface
  • Shoe Impressions
  • Barefoot/Sock and Foot Impressions
  • Contusion and Abrasion Patterns
  • Fabric Impression/Transfers
  • Various Typed Documents

Imprints are two-dimensional markings that have only length and width; they are usually made in residue, such as blood, dust or mud and can either be positive or negative markings.  Impressions are three-dimensional markings that have length, width and depth. They are most commonly found in soil, sand, or snow and are negative markings.

The most common methods of collecting, documenting and preserving impression evidence includes the various processes:

  • Seizure of a particular item (e.g. doors, window glass, sections of flooring, etc.) containing the imprint/impression.
  • Photographing the imprint/impression at the scene utilizing special photographic and lighting techniques.
  • Making a cast of the impression using various casting materials and methods (e.g., dental stone, plaster of paris, or paraffin wax).
  • Lifting imprints using appropriate materials and equipment (e.g. rubber or adhesive lifters, Electrostatic Dust Lifter, fingerprint dusting powders, etc.).
  • Enhancement of particular areas to develop latent or low quality imprints using various chemicals and alternate light sources.

In 1968, James W. Osterburg, author of many criminal investigation textbooks wrote this in his preface of his first edition of “The Crime Laboratory, Case Studies of Scientific Criminal Investigation”, wrote “The adaptation of science to the needs of the law seems an obvious step that must be employed to assist in the administration of justice.  However, with the exception of medicine, only in recent times has science been enlisted to enlighten the problems of investigation and proof in criminal law.”


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Book Trailer Love Fest Needs Your Vote!

Book Trailer Love Fest 2Show your support of over 30 authors including USA Today bestsellers by voting in the first ever Book Trailer Love Fest. Watch the trailers, vote in the polls, and share the contest with your friends! The voting is live from February 15th to February 22nd. Winner will be selected on the February 23rd. This is a fun, free contest made to support all authors! So hop on over to and get your vote on!

Vigilante Detective Emily Stone is proud to be a part of this great line up of book trailers and would LOVE your vote!


Here is a list of authors participating in the contest:

USA TODAY Bestselling Authors:

DelSheree Gladden

Noree Cosper

Rainy Kaye

Angela Fristoe

Amazon Bestselling Authors:

Devorah Fox

Alesha Escobar

Emerald Barnes

Fiona Skye

Frank E. Bittinger

Award Winning Authors:

J. Andersen

Jennifer Chase

Also featuring these fabulous authors:

Charles Ray

Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson

Susan Laqueur

L. Bachman

J.R. Smith

Lindsey L. Loucks

Sessha Batto

Angelica Dawson

Yolanda Renee

Katherine Jean Pope

Jamie Marchant

Everett Robert

Charity Tober

Tam Linsey

W K Pomeroy

Jordan Mierek

Elle Boca

Isabella Tredway

Elle Jacklee

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Forensics and Criminology: How Did They Do That?

MME078As we go about our daily routines, there are scientists hard at work trying to discover answers for the criminal justice arena, as well as breakthroughs to improve our way of life.  Many of these tests, studies, and theories aren’t reported in most areas of the mass media.

When I have a moment, I love to peruse the scientific world of forensics and criminal psychology to see what is new.  I found three interesting scientific studies that caught my immediate attention and I wanted to share.

Predicting Aggression in Boys

Predicting potential violent behavior in young men and boys has been the forefront of many studies for quite some time now.

Photo: APOne such study, I became aware of a few years ago, was conducted by Joel Norris who wrote the book: SERIAL KILLERS.  He was the founding member of the International Committee of Neuroscientists to study Episodic Aggression.   He began to find connections between episodic aggression and serial killers.  It is a fascinating read into the complicated mind and impulses of serial killers.

A study published in Psychiatric Quarterly with research led by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, suggests that a simple saliva test could be a tool used in predicting violent behavior in boys.

Saliva samples were collected from boys between the ages 7 and 9 years old, three times on the day they were admitted.  The test was for three hormones: testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and cortisol.  The levels of hormones coincided with the severity of aggression.

“… It could offer a quick way to anticipate violent behavior in child psychiatric units.  Eventually, we hope this testing might also provide a tool to help improve safety in schools.”  According to head researcher, Drew Barzman, MD, a child and adolescent forensic psychiatrist.

Plentiful Trees, Shrubs, and Grass Deters Crime in the City 

urbangardensAn interesting article about how the presence of maintained green areas with trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in the Philadelphia area.   It has made an impact on crimes, such as robberies and assaults.  It raises some interesting questions about sustainable green areas in urban locations

According to an article published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, it states that there is a deterrent effect rooted in maintained greenery as well as a potential calming effect, which have led to reduced violent crimes in the Philadelphia area.

I’m not quite sure how they can accurately gauge this theory, but it certainly poses an interesting concept as a contributing factor in deterring crime.

Spider Silk Repels Slow .22 Caliber Rifle Bullet

Some of the arachnids have the strongest webs, and scientists have been looking to all of the potential benefits.  SPIDER WEBSA fantastic study has been released where by grafting a spider silk between the epidermis and dermis, it produces an extremely strong skin.

While it failed to repel a .22 bullet fired with normal speed, it did stop a .22 bullet at a reduced speed.  That’s amazing.  Although not quite bulletproof, it still poses some interesting attributes about what it could mean for safety in the future, such as with law enforcement and the military.


More articles that might be of interest:

Why Do We Cringe at Terrible Sounds?

New Forensic Technologies Could Improve How Crime Scenes are Processed

How Can Henna Help Catch Criminals?


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I’ve Stared Into the Heart of a Psychopath

CoverImage_SmashwordsAs with my fictional heroine Emily Stone, I have stared into the heart of psychopath.  The first book in the award-winning Emily Stone Series is loosely based on some of my experiences with a violent sociopath that lived next door.  It was not only an interesting, eye-opening experience, but a frightening one as well.  It drove me to study and eventually earn my master’s degree in Criminology.  I lived my life for more than two years with the threat that I would be murdered, ambushed, and brutally attacked by this person.  I always believed that good things come out of bad experiences.  My series was one of them.  I want to thank everyone who has supported me and the series.




When Serial Killers Terrorize a California Beach Community, One Woman Stands in Their Way

Emily Stone doesn’t have a badge. But that hasn’t stopped her from tracking down some of the West’s most dangerous child-killers. Armed with a digital SLR camera, laptop computer and her trusty Beretta, Stone uses her innate gift for detective work to identify the perps — and then anonymously e-mail the evidence to the cops.

Now, the hunt for two brazen serial killers on the loose right in her own coastal California town threatens to expose Stone’s identity — unraveling her carefully constructed cover and jeopardizing her life’s work. But when she gets too close to the action, this razor-sharp hunter becomes the hunted. Cooperating with the handsome local police detective could be the only hope for stopping the rampage directed at unsuspecting young women — and saving herself. Can they piece together the clues in time?

Compulsion mixes CSI-style investigation with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot and a dose of romance for a keeps-you-guessing, fast-paced and savvy thriller, right up until the shocking finale.


“A strong female lead!”

“As the first in the series, “Compulsion” is a strong, promising start that certainly impressed and left me wanting more.”

“Right from the start this has you, I read it one day.  I had to find out what happens next with the main character.  Loved that it is a strong smart woman.”


Check out the Award-winning EMILY STONE THRILLER SERIES available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, iTunes, Smashwords, and most online and book retailers.


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6 Mistakes to Avoid at a Crime Scene Straight From a Cold Case Detective


My friend and cold case detective Joe Giacalone is a great resource for writers and cops. I wanted to repost this great guest article on what to avoid at a crime scene.

Originally posted on Author Jennifer Chase:

Photo: Courtesy of

Crime scenes aren’t as cut and dry as one might think.  There are many variables and each one should be carefully identified, searched, documented, and processed correctly.  The process doesn’t flow like the television shows or movies would like us to think.

Here’s a great article I wanted to share on “6 Mistakes to Avoid at Crime Scene” from a retired NYPD police detective and cold case expert, Joe Giacalone.  It doesn’t get any better than learning it straight from the source.


6 Mistakes to Avoid at a Crime Scene

Crime Scene Mishaps:

By: Joseph L. Giacalone

You don’t get a chance to scream, “Do over!” like we did in the playground when it comes to criminal investigation. You only get one chance at it, so you have to do it right. Sometimes, doing something right is about learning what not to do. Crime scenes…

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Infant Abducted from Home Following Shooting Found Dead

policetapeThe community was already stunned when the news reported that three people in Long Beach had been shot inside their home. This anger and fear turned to horror when it was revealed that a three-week-old infant was now missing from the home and assumed abducted.

Eliza Delacruz

Eliza Delacruz

All attention turned to bringing baby girl Eliza Delacruz back safely. Sadly, we now have learned that this innocent child was not spared as her body was discovered in a dumpster in the San Diego area. Her killer, who is assumed to be the same man who shot her parents and uncle, is still at large. Two of the adult victims remain in the hospital in critical condition while the third has been released. Even if all three make a full recovery from their injuries, this crime has altered their lives forever.

No one wants to start a new year with such tragedy, when we hope that . . . somehow . . . this year can be different. But cases such as this one, and the resolve that the investigators in Long Beach have shown in bringing this cowardly killer to justice, remind me of the amazing respect I have for the men and women who face these situations every day and work tirelessly to remove predators from our communities. It’s cases like this that weighs heaviest on me the most.

While the surviving family members have provided some clues, the circumstances still seem murky with many more questions than answers. So the search will move forward and I am confident that this criminal will be found. He cannot be allowed to continue to roam free on the streets. It will not matter how many years I study the criminal mind, the thought process involved in harming and discarding a child like a piece of trash is not one I believe I ever will understand.  My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the victims.

I would love to hear from you — what should we expect for this year and how do you feel about cases like this. I can’t help but think how my fictional heroine would handle this case.


Emily Stone Crime-Thriller Series


Crime has a new nemesis and her name is Emily Stone. She will continue to hunt serial killers and child abductors as long as they are out there.

This is her life. Tag along with vigilante detective Emily Stone in a first time ever “live action” novel short film. Be sure to watch it full screen, turn up the volume, and enjoy.

Click here to watch Short Film Trailer


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Happy New Year!

2015 Happy New Year Greeting Card With Sparking Spot LighI want to wish all my friends, family, and readers a fabulous New Year! I am so lucky to have you ALL in my life.  2014 was a bit of a challenging year for me, but I feel truly blessed for the wonderful and positive aspects in my life.

Thank you to all of my followers, readers, and those who were so kind to share my books and articles through social media. 2015 is going to be full of new possibilities and new books!  I wish everyone health, happiness, laughter, and endless opportunities.


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