The Influence of Fabric Resistance on Experimental Applications of Skeletal Trauma: An Analysis of Sharp Force Trauma by Serrated Knives

Amanda Feldman

Despite the abundance of validation studies in sharp force trauma literature, there is a lack of research that examines the effects of fabric resistance during stabbing events. In this study, experimental knife trauma via a guided-drop impacting device was used to identify toolmark characteristics on clothed and unclothed skeletal remains. Five clothing fabrics [drill, satin, cotton, polyester, and cotton comforter] and two knives [serrated and scalloped] were used to create 180 cut marks on porcine ribs. Kerf marks were macerated in a detergent solution and measured by scoring kerfs using kerf characteristic measurements. Multivariate tests indicated that clothed specimens produced decreased striations and wall projections, kerf width, kerf depth, and altered kerf shape [p<0.05]. This study found that fabric variables altered kerf characteristics and produced distinguishable marks on unclothed and clothed remains. Results revealed that scalloped knives more often produced U-shaped cross-sections as a result of blade skipping and blade snagging on fabric. Standard light microscopy was found to be an effective method for examining characteristics not visible macroscopically.