Hal’s answers 3

WARNING: this post contains graphic photography!
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Bluedog89 asked about lifting fingerprints from an eye and also can an eye capture an image at the time of death. Wow… interesting questions! Frankly, I am no fingerprint expert.  Richard Case or Joe Giacalone could speak with far greater authority on this topic, then myself.

I am not actually aware of anyone successfully lifting a fingerprint from an eye, but that’s not to say it has never been done.  I will have to inquire of my colleagues!  A few factors to consider;  anything wet is typically not a very good medium for a print, however fingerprints have been successfully located on submerged items.  I would imagine that an eye in the early stages of drying due to fluid evaporation would provide a better surface for a latent print that a fluid covered eye.  But, there is probably little call for development of a latent print deposited post-mortem (versus deposited anti-mortem) upon a dried, decedent’s eye.

The scenario is further complicated by the nature of our curvi-linear bodily surfaces and the softness of our skin.  Body surfaces are problematic for many reasons;  we are “shredding creatures” and constantly casting off bits of the body (hair, skin cells, etc). which does not suggest a good location for obtaining  for fingerprints.

The softness of the eye (and skin) also distorts.  For example, draw a small straight line on the back of your hand with a pen;  twist the skin just a tiny bit and notice the rapid distortion.  Next, lightly grab your right forearm with the fingers of your left hand and notice the rapid distortion of the surface.  Add to that environmental conditions such as rain, sweating and in our death cases, temperature change and decomposition wherein skin can slough, or stretches under gravitational pressure in decomposition fluid filled cavities called bullae (see attached image).  While experts have successfully developed prints from skin many, many times, it is more often than not, an ominous prospect.

Regarding “can the human eye to capture an image at the time of death”, the fact remains that exactly how our brain and memory actually works is still very mysterious and unanswered.  The “murderers photo developed and waiting to be uploaded from  the homicide victim’s eye” or so-called optogram, has been a topic of fiction writers and scientists alike for many, many years.  Despite media depictions, to the contrary there is no-known reliable science behind the hypothesis.   ~Hal

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