FORENSIC CHEMISTRY LABORATORY MANUAL

by R.Q. Thompson; Oberlin College

CASE OF THE

TAMPERED TESTAMENT

 

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MAJOR EVIDENCE TECHNIQUES SET UP FOR A PARTICULAR CASE *

Samples to be tested for poisons and drugs

  • blood from J. Rochester
  • icing from birthday cake
  • tube of decorator icing from Millers' room
  • liquids from Millers' room

 

Gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (drugs)

  • blood: 1 mg/mL methyl benzoate ("strychnine")
  • icing from cake: 2 drops methyl benzoate mixed into 7 g icing
  • icing from tube: no added methyl benzoate
  • methyl benzoate in bottle from Millers' room

Carpet samples to be tested for accelerants

  • from Rochesters' room
  • from Millers' room
  • from D. Forsythe's room
  • liquids from Rochesters' room
  • liquids from Millers' room

Gas chromatography

  • Rochesters: paint thinner added to burnt carpet
  • Millers: no added accelerant to carpet
  • D. Forsythe: no added accelerant to carpet
  • bottles of ethanol, lighter fluid, and paint thinner from Rochesters' room
  • paint thinner in bottle from Millers' room

Ribbons

  • from alleged Will
  • from J. Shelby
  • from M. Rochester
  • from around stuffed ostrich's neck

UV-Visible reflectance spectrophotometry (color)

Raman spectrophotometry (composition)

  • The ribbon found on the Will and from Margaret Rochester's room are the same.

Ink Samples from Pens

  • J. Rochester's Will
  • from D. Forsythe and J. Rochester
  • from B. Miller
  • from G. Rochester
  • from M. Rochester

UV-Visible spectrophotometry (color)

Liquid chromatography (components)

  • Will: Bic Roller; altered with Pentel Superball
  • D. Forsythe & J. Rochester: Bic Roller
  • B. Miller : Sanford Saga
  • G. Rochester : Pilot BetterGrip
  • M. Rochester : Pentel Superball

Samples to be tested for inorganic poison

  • J. Rochester's hair
  • Powder found in safe
  • Powder found in D. Forsythe's room
Inorganic qualitative analysis
  • Hair sample: no added lead
  • Powder (safe): lead nitrate
  • Powder (room): lead nitrate

* ONE POSSIBLE SCENARIO: Margaret Rochester found Julia Rochester's original Will and altered it to her advantage. She also decided to kill Deborah Forsythe, leaving husband George Rochester as Executor, by setting fire to Forsythe's room the night after the murder of Julia Rochester. Beatrice Miller found the altered Will and, discovering that she was to receive a substantial sum of money and desperate for money, poisoned Julia's piece of birthday cake.