MSU Research Could Help Boston Bombing Investigation

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

It was a day of chaos and now investigators are combing the scene in Boston for any clue. MSU Forensic Biologist David Foran says finding DNA evidence from bomb fragments can be difficult.

"This [bomb fragments] has undergone the most direct heat, the device itself. This is the hottest, there's the most flames involved with it," Foran said.

That means fingerprints left behind could've melted away. Foran is suggesting that investigators take a different approach.

"No one walks down the street with a pipe bomb in their hand, they have it inside something," Foran said.

According to research led by Foran, investigators have a far better chance of extracting evidence from containers that hide the bombs, like backpacks.

"The backpack has come into contact with people longer but you also have areas like straps or handles that have a nice rough surface, maybe a little easier to trap cells," said Foran.

During the study, Foran's team got DNA from eight backpacks blown up with pipe bombs inside. They were then able to match the DNA profile with all of the eigh volunteers who carried the backpacks for a week.

"What happens with IEDs all over the world, they're indiscriminate methods of killing people. Any research we can do here that helps identify that person and get that person out of society is better for all of us," said Foran.

The research has been published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Foran says it could change the way law enforcement officials investigate bombings and possibly uncover evidence to answer what happened in Boston.

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