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NJ Trace Evidence


NJ Trace Evidence

Trace evidence refers to small physical clues left at a crime scene that can help prove a connection between a suspect, victim, and location. Trace evidence types commonly used in New Jersey criminal cases include fibers, hair, gunshot residue, soil samples, and fingerprints. Proper collection and forensic analysis of trace evidence by crime scene investigators can make or break a case.

Fiber Evidence

Fibers from clothing, carpets, ropes, and other fabric items are a useful form of trace evidence. Fiber samples can be matched to specific garments owned by suspects or victims, placing them at the scene[1]. Things to analyze include color, dye composition, and microscopic characteristics matching the fiber’s origins.

Hair Evidence

Shed hairs with intact roots can provide DNA matching through nuclear or mitochondrial DNA analysis. Visual characteristics of hair like pigment, damage, length, and texture can also suggest who the hair may have come from[2]. However, hair evidence has limitations and risks of subjective interpretation.

Gunshot Residue

Gunshot residue (GSR) can indicate a suspect recently fired a gun or was in close proximity. GSR consists of microscopic particles deposited on skin and clothing when firing. Chemical tests detect lead, barium, and antimony – the unique chemical signature of GSR[3].

Soil Evidence

The composition of soil and minerals found on shoes, vehicles, and tools can be traced back to crime scenes based on visual, chemical, and geological analysis. This can link suspects or items to a specific location[4].

Fingerprint Evidence

Fingerprints are the gold standard of trace evidence due to their uniqueness. Analyzing prints left at crime scenes can definitively place a suspect at the location. AFIS databases allow matching to known offenders[5].

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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Brendan huisman
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Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
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Bee L
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divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

DNA Evidence

Touch DNA from skin cells can also connect suspects to crime scenes or victims. PCR amplification techniques can generate DNA profiles from just a few cells. However, DNA transfer and contamination risks mean DNA alone may not be conclusive.

Importance of Collection

Careful collection of trace evidence is crucial to preserve integrity for analysis. Steps include[6]:

  • Photographing evidence relationships before collection.
  • Wearing gloves and changing between samples.
  • Using clean tweezers, scalpels, and containers.
  • Properly storing, labeling, and documenting each sample.

Following protocols avoids cross-contamination and maintains the chain of custody.


Trace evidence has limitations including:

  • Transfer and contamination risks from indirect contact.
  • Subjective interpretations of visual characteristics.
  • Lack of statistical data on how common features are.
  • Challenges proving when trace evidence was deposited.

Thus, trace evidence alone is rarely conclusive without corroborating case information.

Role in Cases

When used responsibly, trace evidence plays an important role in criminal prosecutions by:

  • Linking suspects or victims to crime scenes.
  • Supporting or questioning alibis.
  • Confirming victim and suspect had contact.
  • Corroborating other evidence like eyewitness testimony.

But trace evidence should not be viewed as infallible or in isolation from the broader case context.

Famous Examples

Famous cases involving trace evidence include:

  • Wayne Williams linked to Atlanta child murders by fibers and dog hair.
  • Bruno Hauptmann convicted of Lindbergh kidnapping through wood analysis.
  • Ted Bundy case involved bite mark impressions and hair matches.

But some convictions based heavily on trace evidence have proven unreliable in hindsight.

Future Directions

The future of trace evidence involves:

  • New chemical and optical analysis methods.
  • Expanded DNA databases to match more samples.
  • Statistical validation of comparisons and probabilities.
  • Automated evidence imaging and classification.

But care will be needed to keep subjective interpretations in check as capabilities improve.


Trace evidence provides a powerful investigative tool when properly collected and analyzed. But the limitations of trace evidence highlight why it should not be relied upon in isolation. Trace evidence is most valuable when integrated with comprehensive case information to reconstruct events.


[1] Trace Evidence – Crime Scene Investigator Network

[2] The Identification of Human Hair – NIST

[3] The Role of Gunshot Residue in Crime Scene Investigation

[4] Soil Evidence – National Forensic Science Technology Center

[5] Latent Fingerprints – Crime Scene Investigator Network

[6] Collecting Trace Evidence – Crime Scene Investigator Network

Problems of Forensic Science – NIST

The Role of Trace Evidence in Criminal Investigations

Wayne Williams Atlanta Child Murders Fiber Evidence

Bruno Hauptmann Trial and Lindbergh Kidnapping

Forensic Evidence in Ted Bundy Case

Trace Evidence – NIST

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