SAFS/ASTEE Workshop Abstracts

To Find a Needle in the Haystack, It Helps If You Know Where to Look!The Challenges of
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Investigations

Instructor: Marc Lebeau – Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory

Abstract: This session will discuss the crime of drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) and its
impact on victims, law enforcement, crime laboratories, and society. The challenges of this crime
include the drugs used, the reporting of the crime, proper evidence collection, and the
toxicological analyses of specimens. The challenge associated with strong, central nervous
system depressants used to commit DFSA emphasizes their pharmacological effects and how
these drugs create difficulties in the investigation.

For example, while sexual assaults in general are significantly underreported, the drug effects in DFSAs further complicate victims’ reporting to law enforcement. Any delay in reporting decreases the ability of a laboratory to detect the presence of drugs or metabolites in useful evidentiary specimens.

Finally, differences in instrumentation and mission from one laboratory to the next will affect the ability of a laboratory to provide unequivocal identification of DFSA drugs or metabolites in these cases. While the true prevalence of DFSAs may never be fully recognized, acknowledgement of the many challenges that come with these cases provides insight as to how to improve chances of
successfully investigating allegations of a DFSA.

LC-TOF/QTOF for Drug Screening Applications in the Toxicology Laboratory: Theory,
Development, and Application

Instructors: Jason S. Hudson, Ph.D., F-ABFT, Toxicology Section Chief, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Rebecca Wagner, Ph.D., Research Analyst, Virginia Department of Forensic Science

Abstract:The emergence of LC-TOF/QTOF (Liquid Chromatography-Time of Flight/Quadrupole Time of Flight) mass spectrometers available for toxicological analysis supports the need for a better understanding of the fundamental principles of the instrumentation, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the analytical technique. Toxicology laboratories require rapid screening techniques to guide their confirmation testing.

LC-TOF/QTOF instrumentation allows for screening by accurate mass without the need for robotic instrumentation or specific immunoassay kits traditionally required for enzyme immunoassay screening. This characteristic permits general drug screening that can be more specific and not limited by cross reactivity.

Additionally, accurate mass databases/libraries can be rapidly expanded to detect emerging drug targets such as fentanyl analogs and other designer drugs. This course will focus on the fundamentals of LC-TOF/QTOF theory as well as applications that are relevant to toxicology laboratories. Considerations for general acceptance criteria and method development/validation of these methodologies will also be addressed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Attendees will learn basic LC-TOF/QTOF theory and operational modes of instrumentation.
2. Attendees will gain knowledge of the method development process for LC-TOF/QTOF
3. Attendees will gain exposure to data acquisition, data processing, and general acceptance
criteria for targeted and general screening applications.

GCMS Fundamentals of Troubleshooting and Maintenance (597X/68XX/78XX/Intuvo 9000)


Abstract: The GC and GCMS workshop will be focused on the fundamental instrumental aspects
(theory/troubleshooting/maintenance) of GC (Split/Splitless) inlets, FID detectors, as well as MS
EI sources, as they all relate specifically to forensic analysis (street drugs, toxicology,
accelerants/fire debris).

Theory of GC inlet pneumatics, GC detector operation, and enhancing
MSD sensitivity, will be discussed. Column selection and inlet and flow path troubleshooting
will be presented for the 68XX/78XX technology and the Intuvo 9000 technology.

The workshop presentation will be PowerPoint based but will have hands on involving split/splitless
inlet modules, FID modules, MS EI sources, and an Intuvo 9000. The workshop will cover an
entire day and will be divided into 68XX/78XX technology and Intuvo 9000 technology. The
amount of individual hands on participation will depend on the size of the class.

Fentanyl and Other Synthetics: Synthesis, Prevalence and Unique Trends

Brian Escamilla, Clan Lab Program Director, NES, Inc.

Recent trends have influenced clandestine laboratories to produce highly toxic and, in many cases, never seen before narcotics. The rise in the designer synthetic narcotics is posing new challenges to law enforcement and forensic laboratories across the country. This course will highlight the current trend for manufacturing fentanyl and some of the other synthetic opioid compounds including krocodil and heroin. In addition, the production of other potent stimulant and hallucinogenic compounds such as the substituted cathinones and synthetic
cannabinoids will be discussed.

Combining a Theoretical and Practical Approach to Method Development and Validation in a Forensic Drug Chemistry Laboratory.

Erin Shonsey and Andrea Headrick

Any laboratory currently accredited or seeking accreditation is familiar with the ISO/IEC 17025 document. The provided guidelines are vague to allow for the variety of casework performed in
a forensic laboratory. When it comes to method validation with the laboratory, ISO/IEC 17025
states that an accredited laboratory must at minimum verify the proper performance of a standard
method prior to use in casework, and at most it must validate any “non-standard methods,
laboratory-developed methods and standard methods used outside their intended scope or
otherwise modified.”

ANAB further adds that the validation procedure shall include “associated data interpretation; establishes the data required to report a result, opinion, or interpretation; and identifies limitations of the method, reported results, opinions, and interpretations.” ISO/IEC17025 provides further suggestions on what to include in a validation study under Note 2.

The ultimate goal of the method development and validation is to provide a method that is
accurate, specific, and robust. This can be achieved a variety of ways, and often it is found that
each lab takes their own approach in what to include in method validation.

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) has outlined different studies to perform individually or in combination to achieve compliance with the ISO requirement. The Drug Chemistry section at ADFS has developed a standard template for all method validated within the section that
meets all the requirements and provides a strong foundation for case conclusions.

The workshop will discuss this approach from two different viewpoints: the research based viewpoint that routinely thinks, “More is better” and the productivity viewpoint that must keep track of efficiency and defensibility.

Comparison of Vapor Phase Infrared and Mass Spectral Methods for the Identification of Isomeric Synthetic Drugs

C. Randall Clark, Lewis W. Smith* and Younis Abiedalla, Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849 and *Forensic Spectral Research, Bridgeton, N.J. 08302

After attending this presentation, attendees will better understand the value of gas chromatography-infrared spectroscopy (GC-IR) for confirming the identity of regioisomeric synthetic drugs. Additionally, attendees will gain an appreciation for the role of alternate analytical methods such as GC-IR in the analysis of regioisomeric substances having equivalent mass based analytical signatures.

This presentation will impact the forensic science community by providing attendees with a description of the role of GC-IR in concert with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) for the specific identification of synthetic drug substances.

The overall goal of our studies is to provide an analytical framework for the identification of isomeric forms of synthetic drugs. This presentation will focus on vapor phase infrared spectroscopy (GC-IR) as a confirmatory method of identification for regioisomeric synthetic drugs having equivalent mass based analytical signatures. Examples from a number of drug categories will be used to illustrate the advantages of GC-IR in the identification of regioisomeric synthetic drug substances, synthetic intermediates and precursor chemicals.

The relentless development of new designer substances of synthetic origin creates challenges in forensic drug identification. The availability of a wide variety of precursor substances can yield numerous isomeric substances in a number of drug categories. Issues of regioisomerism are
prominent in the cannabinoids, cathinone derivatives, N-methoxybenzyl-phenethylamines (NBOMe)
compounds as well as most other synthetic drug categories.

Regioisomeric substances have the identical elemental composition, nominal and exact masses and in many cases yield regioisomeric fragment ions of equivalent elemental composition (equal mass).

1 Day Workshop Title: Elements of Statistical Inference

Presenter: Cedric Neumann, PhD.

Workshop description:
This one-day workshop is intended for forensic scientists with no or limited experience in
statistics and logical inference. Instruction will mix exercises designed such that the audience can discover general principles of interpretation of forensic evidence, and short lectures focused on reinforcing the theory behind these general principles.

The workshop will cover the logic of decision-making (induction, deduction, abduction); will offer a general model that explains the interplay between different types of information in the decision-making process and allows to discuss errors, bias, and different types of conclusions commonly encountered in forensic science. This model is the crux of the workshop and will help forensic scientists to structure their thinking process when interpreting their analytical observations.

Workshop abstract:
There exists a large variability between the different types of conclusions reported by forensic scientists depending on the evidence type that they are considering. In many cases, the observations resulting from the forensic examination is only part of the information that is used to reach a conclusion. Such information may include case circumstances, personal beliefs, training, experience, statistical data, and risks and rewards.

This workshop explores the logic behind decision-making processes. During this workshop, the audience will use a decision making model that structures and explains how the different types of information interacts with each other and with the forensic observations to support conclusions in casework.

The practice of the decision-making model will reveal to the audience why the use of certain types of information is necessary to reach certain types of conclusions, but can also result in errors or bias. Conversely, it will show what types of conclusions can be supported if one wants to report error- and bias-free conclusions. Overall, the workshop will help the audience organize, support
and describe their reasoning process when forming conclusions.

Learning objectives:
The goal of this workshop is to introduce forensic scientists from multiple sub-disciplines to the decision-making process behind forensic conclusions. At the end of the workshop, the audience
will be able to:
– Identify the different types of information entering into a decision-making process and
describe their interplay;
– Recognize the hierarchy between the different types of forensic conclusions and their
respective benefits and limitations.

2 Day Workshop Title: Forensic Wood Examination

Presenter: Larry Peterson, BS, Emeritus ASTEE, Emeritus ABC, SAFS and AAFS Retired

Workshop description:
This is a two day workshop intended for microscopists with no or limited experience in forensic
wood examinations. Instruction will include lectures on macroscopic and microscopic features
useful for discrimination/classification as well as sample preparation. Instruction will include
lab exercises for hands-on examinations.

Students with experience can concentrate on lab exercises during introductory instruction. Microscopes will be available for the lab exercises. Discussions will include case examples and considerations for courtroom testimony.

Workshop abstract:
Wood examination is one area of the ever shrinking specialty areas of trace evidence that
needs to be supported. Training in such areas is difficult for individual labs to provide. The object of this workshop is to combine an introductory type workshop for inexperienced examiners and also provide a platform for examiners who infrequently perform examinations and would like to expand their experience.

The hands-on approach is crucial to the understanding of both the sample prep techniques and morphological characteristics needed for success in wood characterization. Examining whole wood blocks and forensic sized samples will be included in the lab exercises. Examiners with no experience can begin with lectures of wood structure and sample prep techniques. Examiners with experience can be paired together and begin lab exercises right away.

Learning objectives:
At the conclusion of the workshop, beginning examiners would have the knowledge and confidence to further develop their experience. Experienced examiners will have gained a deeper knowledge of the discriminatory potential for wood examinations. Resources for additional information will be emphasized. This workshop experience will further develop/expand background knowledge/skills and, in addition, strengthen courtroom testimony.

2 Day Workshop Title: Forensic Wood Examination

4 very useful references for wood characterization…. REFERENCES 1 AND 2 VERY USEFUL TO

1) Textbook of Wood Technology, Panshin and de Zeeuw,., McGraw-Hill, 4th ed, 1980
(ebay or Amazon … $30 to $40; earlier editions also OK)
2) Identifying Wood, Hoadley, The Taunton Press, 1990 (ebay or Amazon … $30 to $40)
3) Anatomy of Seed Plants, Esau, John Wiley and Sons, 1960
4) Wood as an Engineering Material. General Technical Report 113.
Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products
Laboratory. 463 p. (


Robert Chisnall, B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed.

The forensic analysis of knots and ligatures draws on traditional knotting lore, behavioural research and the physical sciences in order to analyze evidence. The examination of knots and rope can be relevant in civil cases, wherein safety equipment has failed resulting in an accident involving injury or death.

The activity under investigation could be recreational (like rock climbing or water skiing for example) or professional (such as construction at height or arborist work). More frequently, knots and ligatures may have contributed to suspicious deaths, therefore becoming a matter of criminal investigation.

Knots are sometimes discovered at various crime scenes (including homicide, rape and robbery) and they can become significant pieces of evidence deserving careful preservation, examination and analysis. A detailed analysis includes the following details: accurate structural identification of all knots, determination of the tying sequence, recognition of potential knot changes, establishing knot function and efficacy, and noting any peculiarities that could be relevant. Knotted materials may also harbour a variety of trace evidence.

Knot evidence is group characteristic, like blood typing, and individualization is not possible. It can be corroborative or equivocal, offering several possible explanations. Qualitative features and certain patterns may suggest self-tying or external tying – thus distinguishing between suicide, homicide and autocratic fatalities. It may be possible to determine the number of tiers, and perhaps the handedness of those tiers, although the research in this regard is currently too limited to allow any statistical inferences.

In those rare cases involving more sophisticated knots that require training and experience, certain hobbies or occupations could be suggested. Knot evidence may provide grounds for search warrants and wire taps in order to acquire further evidence related to suspect knot-tying habits and activities.

The proposed course will be 12 hours in duration. Subsequent to the classroom sessions, participants will undertake an afternoon site visit to a rope manufacturer – amounting to an additional four hours, with travel.

Subject to change based on interest and time limitations, the course will be presented in six two hour modules, with mid morning, mid-afternoon and lunch breaks in between:

DAY AM 1 AM 2 PM 1 PM 2
MONDAY Introduction
I. Background
II. Forensic Analysis Overview
III. Knot Fuhdamentals
IV. Chirality and Combinations
V. Change and Variance
VI. Basic Procedures
VII. Materials
VIII. Analysis
TUESDAY IX. Behavioural Research
X. Civil Cases and Testing Research
XI. Reporting
XII. Sample Practice Cases
Rope Manufacturer Site Visit


Not Just Surviving the Trial: How to Prepare for and Provide Effective Courtroom Testimony

Amy M. Curtis, Esquire-Department Counsel with the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences

As forensic science has come under closer scrutiny in recent years, forensic scientists have to be
prepared for anything as they take the witness stand as expert witnesses. As criminal lawyers are
increasingly seeking training on understanding, presenting, and refuting forensic science evidence, the days of “I have no questions for this witness” may become a distant memory.

Even in the routine cases, forensic scientists need to be prepared, not only to effectively explain the foundations of their discipline, their processing of the evidence, and their conclusions to the factfinder, but also to survive and thrive during an effective cross-examination.

This workshop will walk the novice (and the seasoned forensic scientist) through the criminal trial process, the pertinent evidentiary rules, the keys to an effective direct examination, and the pitfalls to avoid during cross-examination. Discussion will include the prosecutor’s duties under Brady, the rise in Giglio inquiries, and the forensic scientist’s ethical obligations during the criminal trial process.

The testimony of forensic scientists in some high profile cases as examples for discussion. The presenter has seen both sides of the criminal justice system as a criminal defense attorney and as a local prosecutor. She currently serves as in-house counsel for the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, advising forensic scientists on legal issues, and often serving as the “bridge” between the scientists and the lawyers. Workshop participants are encouraged to bring their questions and their commentary.

Why Manage Employees When You Can Lead A Team?

Presenter(s): Justin E. Sanders, Section Chief, F-ABFT, MSFS, MBA; Mark A. Pevey, Regional Laboratory Director

What do successful teams, healthy workplace environments, and growing individual’s all have in
common?  Great Leadership, but few people are naturally gifted GREAT leaders.  The good news is leadership is a skill that can be developed through intentionality and perseverance.  This workshop will discuss the skills needed to grow your leader potential.  Topics to be covered will include discussions on emotional intelligence, personality types, team dynamics, culture development, and leadership.

A special emphasis will be placed on transitioning into a supervisor role, learning to lead from any position, and defining the different types of leaders and stages of leadership.  Mastering these concepts will enable a leader to effectively cultivate positive cultures and build strong, stable, productive teams, which results in increased productivity.  This workshop will benefit all audiences: managers, bench-level scientists, and trainees.

To incorporate leadership principles in the modern laboratory

Developing leaders will make a positive difference in your organization.

Forensic Lamp Analysis

Andrew is a licensed Professional Engineer specializing in vehicular accident reconstruction. He holds a Master of Science in Engineering from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida. Andrew has investigated over 1,000 incidents and has extensive training in accident reconstruction, forensic engineering, safety engineering, human factors, traffic engineering, and more.

Workshop description:
The workshop will explore the application of forensic lamp analysis, specifically as it relates to vehicular accident reconstruction. This analysis allows investigators to determine whether a lamp was on or off the time of a crash. Topics may include manufacturing processes, lamp types, general operation, investigation techniques, issues affecting performance, and forensic analysis. Onsite testing may be performed to demonstrate concepts.

Workshop abstract:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates there are over 6,000,000
automobile crashes per year, with nearly half of all serious crashes occurring at night. Lamps are
necessary for driving at night and signaling information to other drivers. One or more inoperable lamp can degrade driver performance and lead to a crash.

Due to these facts, forensic lamp analysis is an important aspect of vehicular accident reconstruction. This analysis provides the scientific principles and techniques to evaluate the performance and status of a lamp at the time of a crash. This can be beneficial for evaluating headlamps, taillamps, running lamps, brake lamps, turn signals, reverse lamps, interior lamps, and more.

Learning objectives:
 Be able to identify different types of lamps and describe their general operation
 Learn documentation and investigation techniques
 Be able to identify various failure modes
 Understand issues affecting lamp performance
 Interpret evidence to evaluate lamp status
 Understand limitations to forensic lamp analysis

References/Materials to bring:
Referenced will be provided.

Working with Millennials in the #MeToo Age

 Generations
 Challenges in the workplace
 Opportunities in the workplace
 Pitfalls in the workplace
o Sexual Harassment
o Title VII
o Fair Labor Standards Act
o Family and Medical Leave Act
o Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
o Age Discrimination in Employment Act
o Americans with Disabilities Act
o Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Emerging Cell Separation Techniques For Analysis of Sexual Assault Evidence

Tracey Dawson Cruz, PhD, and Sarah Seashols-Williams, PhD Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Forensic Science

Separation of individual contributions of mixed forensic samples is readily acknowledged as critical for analysis of biological evidence, and is of particular interest with the sexual assault samples frequently encountered in forensic casework. Interpretation of mixed samples is significantly simplified when those mixed cell populations are separated prior to DNA isolation. This workshop will provide an overview to a range of methods that separate cells prior to DNA isolation, and will introduce both methods currently in use for casework as well as those still under development. These methods range from simple size and filtration methods to laser-capture microdissection, optical trapping, DEP Array, flow cytometry and microchip-based automated methods. Upon completion of this workshop, participants will have attained a higher understanding of the morphological, structural and biochemical differences between the cells of interest to the forensic scientist, as well as an understanding of the methods that could soon be implemented for differential cell separation.