Carefully examine the vegetation in the area for damage. It may be possible to tell the path taken by the
suspect. And it will also help you reconstruct the events leading up to the crime. Tree limbs or woody vines with
tool marks should be carefully noted and collected.
Broken limbs or twigs around or leading to the focal point of the crime should be checked closely for fibers
or fragments of clothing. Look for paint chips and other trace evidence items that may have been deposited by the
passage of the suspect or his vehicle. Examine the area around the base of any tree or bush that appears to have
been altered by the passage of an object. If blood or semen is suspected to be mixed with soil, samples of the soil
should be collected, processed, packaged, and marked.
Make careful search for tire and shoe impressions. Those found should be photographed and processed. If
you can tell the position on the vehicle or the tire that made the impression, put that fact in your notes. Collect
soil samples from the immediate area of foot or tire impressions. Place each sample in a separate clean container.
Record each sample's exact location and the date and time of collection in your notes. Mark the same information
on the container and add your initials.
In outdoor death cases, the area directly under the body should be given the most attention. It is here that
important physical evidence is most likely found. Although the wind may blow away pieces of trace evidence
originally on or around the body, evidence that is under the body will usually be trapped and protected from the
weather. But be sure to search the area close to the body for materials that could have been transferred to the
suspect during the commission of the crime. Collect samples of the soil and other remaining materials to be sent
to the crime lab to be examined in detail. The vegetation itself is of little importance, but the microscopic
materials that it may carry could be valuable evidence.
PRESERVING THE EVIDENCE
It is your responsibility to make sure that every precaution is taken to preserve evidence in its original state
until its final disposition. The main scientific requirement for handling and preserving evidence is that the
evidence be protected from change. Organic materials will always undergo some change. Inorganic materials
may undergo change from the weather or other unavoidable actions. You should take every precaution to prevent
or to minimize change. Handle the evidence as little as possible. Rubber gloves may be used. Use only clean
containers to store and ship evidence. Clean containers reduce the chance for chemical and bacterial
accidentally scratch, bend, or unnecessarily touch evidence. Watch for cross-exchange, such as placing a suspect
tool that will be examined for paint in contact with painted surfaces at the crime scene.
If you touch a piece of evidence and leave your fingerprints on it, show this fact in your notes. Also, if lab
personnel are to examine the evidence, be