By Don Penven
Over the years I have worked with virtually every crime scene casting medium available. My first casts were of tire tracks in soft sand behind a business that had experienced a burglary during the previous night. Plaster-of-Paris was the casting medium because that’s all we could get from the local hardware store. And way back then, dental stone hadn’t even been heard of. Four 18” casts were submitted to the NJ State Police Crime lab, and all four were matched against the tires of a suspect vehicle.
Since then I’ve worked with several silicone compounds for toolmark and bite mark recovery. I’ve had good success with liquid silicone rubber, Mikrosil and Durocast, and I figured that nothing better was likely.
But remember that old saying, something about building a better mousetrap. Well someone did just that, but this mousetrap has become a valued addition to many crime scene investigation kits. And Polyvinylsiloxane is now my all-time favorite for most toolmark recoveries.
Polyvinylsiloxane (PVS) differs from the many silicone-based toolmark recovery methods in that it uses equal parts of base material and catalyst. Most of us who have used Mikrosil or Durocast have messed up casts because we used too little or too much catalyst when mixing the material. But the guesswork is eliminated when using PVS because of its unique delivery system.
PVS is supplied in cartridge form. Two side-by-side cartridges (base and catalyst) are hooked onto the delivery end of a device that resembles a caulking gun. A specially manufactured tip mixes the two compounds as the trigger is pulled on the applicator. Setup time for the cast is about 4-6 minutes.
PVS is the ideal medium for lifting powdered latent prints from textured surfaces. The base material is available in white brown and transparent. The technical manual explains it all HERE
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Point of Interest: It hasn’t changed much in over 100 years.
The first spring-loaded mouse trap was invented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon Illinois, who received US patent 528671 for his design in 1894. James Henry Atkinson, a British inventor who in 1897 invented a prototype called the "Little Nipper", probably had seen the Hooker trap in the shops or in advertisements and used it as the basis of his model.
Top Photo: Quarter with developed latent print
Bottom Photo: PVS Cast of developed latent print