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How do police track down serial killers? Forensics is the key to their success.

Forensics are vital in catching a killer. This may mean hours of lab work for scientists, but in most cases, it leads to success. In 16.5% of cases where a killer has been caught, it has only been possible due to forensics.


DNA is the most obvious method. A killer is closer to being caught if they leave behind blood, bodily fluids, or a strand of hair. Technological advancements mean forensic scientists can compare this DNA with ones on a database. DNA is a rather new way to catch a killer; the first court conviction as a result of DNA was 1987. This can often see cold cases re-open and become solved even decades later. New technology means scientists can even analyse smaller and possibly contaminated samples of DNA.


Obtaining the killer’s fingerprints is also vital, with physical evidence proving successful in helping catch killers. In 2011, the FBI introduced more advanced fingerprint technology; it can match fingerprints with 92-99.6% accuracy. Footprints are also a good way to catch a killer, with police databases up-to-date with varying treads of different footwear. It helps to clarify the height of the killer by their shoe size, which can help verify the gender of the attacker. Shoes can also indicate the killer’s profession and age, depending on their style.


Looking for discarded bullets or a discarded weapon is also vital. This is because the killer sweats. The sweat corrodes the metal before the weapon, in this case a gun, is discharged, leaving behind a fingerprint. The analysis of the weapon is also helpful in determining the killer’s physique, especially in cases of knife crime. It can show the strength of the attacker as well as their height and what hand they favour.


Glass can be the end of the killer’s freedom. Fragments that are at both a crime scene and on the suspect’s clothing is helpful evidence in a case. Forensic scientists measure the refractive index of the two glass sources, if the composition is the same – you have a match.

Personal life

A killer who is a pet-lover may face their downfall because of their pet. The killer may leave behind a hair from their pet cat or dog. Once examined under a microscope, the breed of the dog can be determined. Police can then track down people with said breed in the area, bringing them closer to the killer.

Technology advancements are clearly bringing murderers’ reigns of terror to a quicker and more abrupt end.


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