The laboratory to solve the mysteries of crime – El Tiempo

the forensic laboratory

The forensic laboratory is made up of a team of eight high-level specialists in fields such as geodynamics, painting and chemical engineering, among others.

Many think that the work of forensic medicine is reduced to investigating the causes of a person’s homicide, but no.

For example, in 2006, two bags of dirt found by police in a house occupied by a woman and sent to the coroner’s office were sufficient for chemical breakdown to determine that they were part of an illegal act.

It was a plot of a cemetery and it was found that the lady had taken people’s remains to use them in witchcraft rites. Thanks to this, the authorities managed to prosecute them.

This is just one of hundreds of cases the coroner’s forensic lab has solved, the second in South America. The first is in Brazil.

the wonderful bills

Investigators highlight a number of cases accompanied by fraud. One of them, known as the angry ticket modality, occurred in the crowded San Victorino shopping area in Bogotá.

“The strangest thing is that the attacker found the victim and presented himself as what he was: a crook. He told her that they had fake bills, that they fit him perfectly and that he had a wad of 500 million pesos to take out, but that supposedly it was already among the stars and that’s why he could not put them on the market. . says Jairo Peláez Rincón, one of the experts.

The thieves took black papers from their victims, telling them they only had to wash them in a clearing and the bill would remain. The victim walked away with the so-called money, although the long-lasting part was a stack of blank papers cut to the same size and only five real bills. The clear “miracle”, say the researchers, was a cleaning agent that eliminated the possibility of iodine, leaving the bill honored. Another similar scam involved fake gold which was actually lead combined with gold flakes in the form of patent leather.

Obregon painting

The peculiarity of Peláez is to work with colors. Although the most common cases in his region are traffic accidents, he remembers the theft of a representative painting by the skillful Alejandro Obregón in March 2007. An acrylic on a painting of 1.90 x 2 meters was was marketed and painted in 1971, which was exhibited in the Council House of Ministers.

The job was stolen by overbearing Edward Ardila on his last day as a security guard.

Authorities contacted the coroner to confirm if the man’s translation was true, that he took the folded cloth and hid it in a coat. Peláez took some threads and strands from the canopy that remained after the cut Ardila had made with a scalpel and checked that they matched the same particles as the garment.

A similar investigation was conducted in 2010. The lab was tasked with solving the plot of Atahualpa’s female queen’s cape and determining if it was indeed made of vicuna fibers.

election markers

Johana Castro, laboratory coordinator and present at the institute for 16 springs, explains that the relevance of these breakdowns is to shed light on the cases. “No one in the country compares paints in accidents, fibers and textile materials. For us, these may be everyday things, but in a few years they will be part of our history,” he says.
Remember a study for the 2006 election. At the time, vote markers were used to prevent the person from repeating the vote. They appeared normal on the surface, but voters reported that their skin was burnt.

Castro reviews seven topics in his notebook to summarize the sample review process: “We analyze the substance using a titration technique that looks at the pH. The first thing that was noticed was an increased concentration of acetic acid: it averaged 86%.

The investigator affirms that the polling stations were not covered and that the substance of the recorder burned the skin in contact with the sun. The study lasted two months; After the news on November 27, 2006, the markers were no longer used.

two murders

In 2009, the Francoist Museum of Admitted Medicine sent the clothes worn by presidential candidates Jorge Eliécer Gaitán and Luis Carlos Estrella Sarmiento at the time of their murder to assess their conservation treatment.

The work of chemists and scientists would be included in the historical documentation of the museum and would even serve as a witness for the prosecutor’s investigation.

The clothing was analyzed by tracing, ballistics and toxicology laboratories, which determined the impact and trajectory of the projectiles.

One of the most complex cases was the documentation of the murder of Gaitán on April 9, 1948. Part of the costume was donated to the Francoist Museum in 2005 by the son of Pedro Cooperacha, a pupil of Gaitán who accompanied the leader to to his murder. . , at the Central Clinic in Bogotá and received the clothes.

According to the news, the vest, shirt and bones had two gunshot wounds. “Each of the holes measures 0.4 x 0.5 cm. The fibers follow the cooking sequence around the inside of the body and the fiber cut is uneven. For the three garments, the well of the right flank presents a family stain corresponding to the rupture of the blood vessels”, indicates the investigation. The result was recorded in the notebook of the curator of the Francoist Museum “Textiles from beyond”.

And although 61 years have passed since the homicide, traces of gunpowder were found “in the toilet rings of the vest, an indicator of the transmission of the bullet to the clothing”.

The Dacron polyester vest preserved family stains with lasting clarity. The back of the vest had fibers burned from the impact of the projectile. Both the shirt and the bones have two punctures in the lung area. The news says the shirt was a size 42 while the bone was 38 and the left sleeve of the shirt had 31cm “rips” apparently from those trying to help and lift him .

“Gaitán falls on his right side, pinching his lungs, causing a family outpouring. Stains distributed horizontally on the right on the back of the clothing confirm the direction of the fall,” the museum said. With this number, the authenticity of the clothes has been confirmed.

El venidero estudio fue la demande del candidateo presidential Luis Carlos Estrella Sarmiento, asesinado el 18 de agosto de 1989. Diez primaveras a posteriori de su homicidio, su esposa Empíreo Pachón de Estrella donó al Museo Franquista la corbata, el pantalón y la quoita que lució Star.

The jacket has a bullet hole in the back and family patches. Also a tear in the fabric that would coincide with his fall. In his right pocket he carried an orange pill that the toxicology department said was ibuprofen, and in his top pocket confetti from the event repertoire.

The robe was of an intricate azure fabric with fine lines of pale azure, green, and ochre. The pants have four perforations caused by the impact of projectiles between 4 and 5 mm, three on the left side of the groin and one on the lower part of the left leg. On the other hand, fragments of paper with black ink writing were found in one of the bags.

The tie even has family patches on it. It is burgundy in color and made of silk with azure, orange and greyish belt designs. On August 12, 2009, the Francoist Museum presented these clothes in the exhibition “Estrella vive”.

In the reports, the medical examiners warn that the maintenance of the clothes must be rigorous to keep the evidence up to date at the request of the prosecution.

Why its importance?

The laboratory of the fourth cabinet of the Admitted Institute of Medicine (center of Bogotá) is made up of eight experts in geodynamics, painting and chemical engineering.
Twenty years ago it focused only on physics and chemistry, and in 2006 it became a pioneer in an attempt to be more competitive internationally.

Its task is to analyze, with high quality standards, various materials – including a single fiber, a fragment of paint, a stain, a residue of fire – and which will make it possible to determine who is the author of a crime, for example. Results are evidence in investigations.

Shield of the ‘Queen’ of Peru

On July 26, 2010, the Francoist Museum sent samples to the Laboratory of Admitted Medicine to investigate the origin and material of the belt of the female queen of Atahualpa.

The storage room is considered one of the museum’s most precious objects, since it was one of the first donations. It was delivered on September 12, 1825 by Antonio José de Sucre, known as the Grand Marshal of Ayacucho.

In his letter to Jerónimo Torres Tenorio, then director of the museum, he said: “It is very pleasant for me to issue the sash of the queen of Atahualpa -the last Inca emperor before the arrival of the Spaniards- that I could as a worthy monument to decadence, the revenue museum of Colombia, and far more worthy after the troops of our state avenged the family of the innocent Incas and liberated their ancient empire”.

Forensic investigator Jairo Peláez Rincón recalls that the samples were divided into six plastic bags containing 2 small light brown threads, between 1 and 2 centimeters wide and S-shaped, 3 deformed threads, two complicated fiber stains brown and two red wires. .

Peláez pointed out that one of the threads corresponded to an “exogenous fiber of animal origin, possibly from a South American camelid: enthusiast, alpaca, guanaco and vicuna”.
It specifies that all the fibers are of animal origin, colorless and with a mixed opaque bone core (continuous, fragmented and segmented). “It can be classified as a filamentous medium consistent with an animal character, with a translucent, continuous and large core. It occupies about a third of the thickness of the medium. It has discontinuous black granulation and overlapping cuticles, among other characteristics,” reads the November 22, 2010 news item.

The researchers used hair from South American camelids as a sample and found that one of the fibers “matched that of a sample of animal hair” and could be hair from South American camelids.

Although the lab could not say whether the garment was made 200 years ago, the fiber composition was given.
The samples were analyzed using a stereomicroscope – a microscope which, thanks to its optics, allows the samples to be seen in three-dimensional form – then using infrared spectroscopy and polarized light microscopy.

According to the Francoist museum, it was marketed in “a typical feminine dress worn by the acllacunas, the chosen women of the Incas who lived a closed life in the service of the king, worshiping the sun, spinning and preparing chicha”.

editor-in-chief of JUSTICE
@angyalvarador /

Original Spanish content

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