Persistence Data

There is only limited information available regarding the persistence of body fluids and cellular material on the skin of the living. A DNA STR profile matching the assailant has been obtained from a swab of unwashed facial skin 6 hours after an assault where it was alleged that the assailant salivated over the complainant's skin (Austin, C., personal communication, 2002). Rutty studied the transference and survivability of human DNA after simulated manual strangulation. Although this study found that when using the LCN technique DNA was recoverable from either the victim's neck or the offender's fingers for at least 10 days after the contact, the author stressed that this apparent persistence may have resulted from secondary or tertiary transfer from other individuals or objects (the study subjects worked in the same building and shared the same bathroom and kitchen facilities during the period of the study) (24).

Sweet and colleagues have shown that it is possible to obtain a DNA profile from saliva stains (corresponding to a bite mark) on cadaver skin when the saliva was deposited up to 48 hours earlier (Austin, C., personal communication, and ref. 36). This study showed that the amount of recoverable material diminished with time; hence, it is prudent to sample the relevant body areas as soon as possible after the offense.

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