Experimental study of how far blood spatter stains on fabrics can be found from the blood source, and relevance to crime scene reconstruction

Faflak, Richard
Attinger, Daniel
Attinger, Daniel
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Mechanical Engineering
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Mechanical Engineering

For investigative purposes, the bloodstain pattern analyst might have to estimate whether a given stain on fabric could have originated from a specific location. A wide range of values of the maximum distance that a blood drop can travel have been reported based on experiments, ranging from less than 1 m to more than 10 m. It is also known that stains on porous materials such as fabrics are more difficult to interpret than stains on non-absorbing surfaces, because of wicking. Here, we perform several fluid dynamic spatter experiments and formulate a fluid dynamics model to describe the trajectories of the blood drops. The experiments are performed with swine blood, the properties of which are well understood. The main parameters screened are the drop size, initial velocity, the launch angle, and the orientation of the fabric. A large number of blood drops are produced by impact events. The resulting stains on knitted white T-shirt fabric are digitally measured. Their position relative to the source and size is reported. Trajectories are simulated accounting for the influence of gravity and drag forces. A simple relation between drop size and stain size is established based on extensive experiments on a specific fabric. Results of the trajectory simulations are then searched and mined for parameters directly measurable on a crime scene, such as the stain size on fabric and the relative location of the fabric with respect to the blood source. The experimental results are compared and found in agreement with the numerical predictions. The results are presented in one chart relevant to crime scene reconstruction. The chart is easy to use and only requires minimum knowledge of fluid dynamics.


This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Experiments in Fluids. The final authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1007/s00348-021-03187-7. Posted with permission.