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Lifestyle Chemistries from Phones for Individual Profiling

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2016
10 pages
This paper introduces the concept of skin-associated lifestyle chemistries found on personal belongings (i.e. phones) as a form of trace evidence.
The authors propose a mass spectrometry-based approach to illuminate chemical traces recovered from personal objects. Using a chemical composite recovered from a swab of a phone, as a representative personal belonging, investigators can provide insights into personal lifestyle profile by predicting the kind of beauty product the individual uses, the food he/she eats, the medications he/she takes, or the places he/she has been. Therefore, the chemical interpretation of traces recovered from objects found on a crime scene can help a criminal investigator to learn about the lifestyle of the individual who used or touched these objects. Personal belongings, such as pens, keys, phones, or handbags, are often found at an investigative site and can provide valuable information to the investigative team that is trying to trace back the belongings to an individual to understand their personal habits, even when DNA evidence is also available. Here, the authors developed an approach to translate chemistries recovered from personal objects, such as phones, into a lifestyle sketch of the owner, using mass spectrometry and informatics approaches. The results show that a phones’ chemistries reflect a personalized lifestyle profile. The collective repertoire of molecules found on these objects provides a sketch of the lifestyle of an individual by highlighting the type of hygiene/beauty products the person uses, diet, medical status, and even the location where this person may have been. These findings introduce an additional form of trace evidence from skin-associated lifestyle chemicals found on personal belongings. Such information could help a criminal investigator narrowing down the owner of an object found at a crime scene, such as a suspect or missing person. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2016