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LAWRENCE MURDER: CRIME SOLVING TECHNOLOGY THEN AND NOW

RANDY MACKIN

REVIEW Editor

When evidence was first collected in the Robbie Lawrence murder case thirty-seven years, investigator used the most advanced technology in processing it—including lifting of prints from Lawrence’s own Remington 30.06 rifle the killer used to commit the crime.

Developing prints using the super glue method was relatively new, having only been discovered in 1978 and then used extensively in following years because of the quality of print produced from the simple procedure.

If you’re a fan of crime TV, you’ve probably seen the super glue method practiced on shows such as CSI, where an object to be printed is placed in a clear, sealed chamber and a gas makes the prints visible on the non-porous surface, such as a gun barrel or drinking glass.

Once the oils left behind by the fingers or hand touching the surface react with the gaseous form of the super glue—made by heating the glue itself until it reaches boiling temperature—dusting powder can be applied to the ridges of the prints, then lifted with a piece of clear tape.

What scientists later discovered is that the super glue method protects any possible DNA left behind by the person who touched the surface of the item being printed—in this case, DNA deposited on the murder weapon on April 26, 1984.

Of course, DNA capabilities for solving crimes did not arrive until several years after Lawrence’s murder, and even then a large sample of DNA was needed to perform a successful analysis.

As detailed in last week’s Review, when the TBI crime lab tested for DNA under the super glue used in 1984 to lift latent prints from the Lawrence murder weapon, they found two different strains of DNA from a mixture of genetic material—the major contributor being “an unidentified male.”

Comparing the strains with DNA from a cigarette butt smoked by prime suspect An………………

…………….FOR COMPLETE STORY, PLEASE READ 8.4.21 ISSUE……………..

Please see the last three issues of the Buffalo River Review for more stories on the Lawrence case, based on information from the investigation case file.

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