To be thorough, start the search at the top of the head. Proceed down one side of the body to the foot and
the soles of the shoe. Next, repeat the process on the other side. Try to spot hairs clinging to the clothing or
attached to the fingernails. To see hair or fibers you may need to view the silhouette of the body against a light.
It is rarely wise to take elimination fingerprints of a dead victim at the crime scene. Nor should you scrape
the corpse's fingernails in the field. Weather conditions and the likelihood that rigor mortis will have occurred
pose too many problems. Such tasks are better done at the morgue. To protect the victim's hands from
contamination, place clean paper bags over them and tie or fasten them securely at the wrist. Avoid using plastic
After searching the body and removing it from the crime scene in a clean sheet (bedsheet), it should be
placed in a clean, disposable body bag for shipment to the morgue. This makes sure physical evidence is not lost.
It also prevents cross-contamination of the evidence on the body during shipment. After the body is removed,
ensure that the area under the body is photographed and examined in detail immediately after the body is moved.
An investigator should accompany the body to the morgue.
The search of the body is continued at the morgue. This is usually done by the pathologist doing the
autopsy. Because the pathologist should have someone present who is aware of all the details of the crime and the
crime scene, you also should be present. You should stay during the autopsy. The pathologist or medical
examiner is in charge of the body and related evidence until the examinations are done, and the body is released
for further disposition. Therefore, you must key your own examinations and actions to the pathologist's or
medical examiner's policies until the body is released.
Make notes of the cause of death, depth and general nature of the wounds, and other contributing factors as
described by the doctor. Also note the pathologist's estimate of the time of death. Arrange to get a copy of the
death certificate and autopsy report.
Before a deceased victim is undressed, the clothing and hands should again be examined for trace materials.
Because the lighting is usually better at the morgue, quite often material that was missed in the field will be found
during this search. When the body is undressed, try to see that garments are not cut for removal if this is at all
possible. If a cut must be made, bloody or stained areas and points of obvious damage must be left as they are.
Entry and exit points of bullets or weapons must be preserved.
Garments should not be shaken out. If a garment is wet or bloodsoaked, it should be laid out flat to dry
naturally in a ventilated space at room temperature. It may be wrapped in clean paper, as long as one wet area
does not come in contact with any other surface of the garment. Wrap each item of clothing separately. Never
put damp garments in a plastic bag; rapid biological change will almost always result.