Understanding how a particular bloodstain pattern occurred can be critical physical evidence, because it may help investigators understand the events of the crime. Bloodstain patterns occur in a multitude of crime types—homicide, sexual battery, burglary, hit-and-run accidents—and are commonly present. Bloodstain pattern analysis is employed in crime reconstruction or event reconstruction when a part of the crime scene requires interpretation of these patterns.

However, many sources of variability arise with the production of bloodstain patterns, and their interpretation is not nearly as straightforward as the process implies. Interpreting and integrating bloodstain patterns into a reconstruction requires, at a minimum:

  • an appropriate scientific education;

  • knowledge of the terminology employed (e.g., angle of impact, arterial spurting, back spatter, castoff pattern);

  • an understanding of the limitations of the measurement tools used to make bloodstain pattern measurements (e.g., calculators, software, lasers, protractors);

  • an understanding of applied mathematics and the use of significant figures;

  • an understanding of the physics of fluid transfer;

  • an understanding of pathology of wounds; and

  • an understanding of the general patterns blood makes after leaving the human body.

Sample Data and Collection

Dried blood may be found at crime scenes, deposited either through pooling or via airborne transfer (spatter). The patterns left by blood can suggest the kind of injury that was sustained, the final movements of a victim, the angle of a shooting, and more. Bloodstains on artifacts such as clothing and weapons may be crucial to understanding how the blood was deposited, which can indicate the source of the blood. For example, a stain on a garment, such as a shirt, might indicate contact between the person who wore the shirt and a bloody object, while tiny droplets of blood might suggest proximity to a violent event, such as a beating.


Bloodstain patterns found at scenes can be complex, because although overlapping patterns may appear simple, in many cases their interpreta-

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