Author Topic: The Locard’s Exchange Principle of Crime Scene Investigation  (Read 118 times)

Offline Mahmud Arif

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The key principle underlying crime scene investigation is a concept that has become known as Locard’s Exchange Principle. It states that whenever someone enters or exits an environment, something physical is added to and removed from the scene. This principle is generally summed up by stating: “Every contact leaves a trace.”

Dr. Locard believed that no matter where a criminal goes or what a criminal does, he will leave something at the scene of the crime. At the same time, he will also take something back with him. A criminal can leave all sorts of evidence, including fingerprints, footprints, hair, skin, blood, bodily fluids, pieces of clothing and more. By coming into contact with things at a crime scene, a criminal also takes part of that scene with him, whether it's dirt, hair or any other type of trace evidence.

Dr. Locard tested out this principle during many of his investigations. In 1912, for instance, a Frenchwoman named Marie Latelle was found dead in her parents' home. Her boyfriend at the time, Emile Gourbin, was questioned by police, but he claimed he had been playing cards with some friends the night of the murder. After the friends were questioned, Gourbin appeared to be telling the truth.

When Locard looked at the corpse, however, he was led to believe otherwise. He first examined Latelle's body and found clear evidence that she was strangled to death. He then scraped underneath Gourbin's fingernails for skin cell samples and later viewed the results underneath a microscope. Very soon, Locard noticed a pink dust among the samples, which he figured to be ladies makeup. Gourbin confessed the murder -- he had tricked his friends into believing his alibi by setting the clock in the game room ahead.


Arif Mahmud
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