A study into evaluating the location of fingermarks on letters given activity level propositions

Anouk de Ronde, Marja van Aken, Christianne J. de Poot, Marcel de Puit

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Abstract

A previous paper published in this journal proposed a model for evaluating the location of fingermarks on two-dimensional items (de Ronde, van Aken, de Puit and de Poot (2019)). In this paper, we apply the proposed model to a dataset consisting of letters to test whether the activity of writing a letter can be distinguished from the alternative activity of reading a letter based on the location of the fingermarks on the letters. An experiment was conducted in which participants were asked to read a letter and write a letter as separate activities on A4- and A5-sized papers. The fingermarks on the letters were visualized, and the resulting images were transformed into grid representations. A binary classification model was used to classify the letters into the activities of reading and writing based on the location of the fingermarks in the grid representations. Furthermore, the limitations of the model were studied by testing the influence of the length of the letter, the right- or left-handedness of the donor and the size of the paper with an additional activity of folding the paper. The results show that the model can predict the activities of reading or writing a letter based on the fingermark locations on A4-sized letters of right-handed donors with 98 % accuracy. Additionally, the length of the written letter and the handedness of the donor did not influence the performance of the classification model. Changing the size of the letters and adding an activity of folding the paper after writing on it decreased the model’s accuracy. Expanding the training set with part of this new set had a positive influence on the model’s accuracy. The results demonstrate that the model proposed by de Ronde, van Aken, de Puit and de Poot (2019) can indeed be applied to other two-dimensional items on which the disputed activities would be expected to lead to different fingermark locations. Moreover, we show that the location of fingermarks on letters provides valuable information about the activity that is carried out.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110443
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International
Volume315
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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