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Session 4, Abstract 22

THE USE OF BLOODHOUNDS IN ARSON INVESTIGATIONS

Trey Brooks*, Kerstin Saruwatari*, Thea McCleign*, Alex Menjivar*, Jason Filice and Tahnee Score (Lisa Harvey), Victor Valley College, 18422 Bear Valley Rd, Victorville, CA 92345

Arson is a serious crime, which destroys property and takes human lives. It’s also an extremely difficult type of crime to solve since much of the evidence is destroyed in the fire. Arson investigators are often left in a quandary as to how to find a suspect because of lack of evidence. One piece of evidence often overlooked is scent evidence. In this study, a participant handled a piece of paper or wood, which was burned both with and without accelerant. Bloodhounds were then used to search out the person who touched the object prior to burning. This study showed that bloodhounds were able to correctly identify trail layers with scent taken from burned paper and burned wood. However, when scent was burned with an accelerant, it decreased the amount of correct tags. Even after being burned, human scent is a powerful investigative tool for the arson investigator. However, arson investigators must be careful when a suspect is identified if the arson was started using an accelerant. Despite this caution, scent may be the only clue left at an arson scene to find the perpetrator.