Estimating the time since the last discharge of firearms and/or spent cartridges may be a useful piece of information in forensic firearm-related cases. The current approach consists of studying the diffusion of selected volatile organic compounds (such as naphthalene) released during the shooting using solid-phase microextraction (SPME). However, this technique works poorly on handgun cartridges because the extracted quantities quickly fall below the limit of detection. In order to find more effective solutions and further investigate the aging of organic gunshot residue after the discharge of handgun cartridges, an extensive study was carried out in this work using a novel approach based on high-capacity headspace sorptive extraction (HSSE). By adopting this technique, for the first time 51 gunshot residue (GSR) volatile organic compounds could be simultaneously detected from fired handgun cartridge cases. Application to aged specimens showed that many of those compounds presented significant and complementary aging profiles. Compound-to-compound ratios were also tested and proved to be beneficial both in reducing the variability of the aging curves and in enlarging the time window useful in a forensic casework perspective. The obtained results were thus particularly promising for the development of a new complete forensic dating methodology.
|Number of pages||8|
|Early online date||1 Apr 2014|
|Publication status||Published - 6 May 2014|