Early in an investigation, conducting microscopical examination of hairs may provide law enforcement officers with crucial leads, such as the occupation or other characteristics of the offender, or whether hairs from a victim were shed from a living or deceased body.
Microscopical examination is particularly relevant if the hair is not suitable for conventional DNA profiling or if the offender is not on a database. We recommend that microscopical examination is carried out first so that trace evidence and other features can be evaluated before they are destroyed.
For example, this approach successfully resulted in the timely apprehension of an offender in relation to the murder of an elderly lady. A minute flake of spray paint on a limb hair, found adhered to the deceased’s exposed chest guided investigators to a roof spray paint contractor, who was employed by the victim some weeks prior to her death.
Subsequently it was found that his reference DNA profile and the genetic profile obtained from the intimate swabs from the deceased were identical. The spray painter was tried and found guilty of murder.