Bite Mark Evidence – Indented Dental Depressions

Bite marks can be a very critical piece of evidence. Careful extraction of such evidential aspects of the investigation, allude to the inner psyche of the perpetrator. Motives, intent and proclivities surface from the surreal to the reality of human inclinations. To psychologically consume another person’s flesh, by biting, tasting and swallowing their presence, the criminal enacts the potency of his power. In very profound and horrific ways, the perpetrator strikes at another for hedonistic gain. From rapes, strangulations and beatings, to the consumption of human flesh, criminals pursue others out of their own self-glorification. The conquest of another person becomes consummated through the performance of such destructive behaviors. In the case of Ted Bundy, for example, the bite mark became the first piece of linking evidence. As such, the bite mark becomes an important yet complicated evidentiary aspect. A forensic odontologist provides credible, critical and competent testimony with respect to the evidence presented. From a scientific perspective, they offer the real-world association between the victim and the suspect. Impressions made upon the victim are linked to the dental structure of the perpetrator. As such, teeth become a way of showing a similar relationship much like tool marks. And, that’s an important point of such evidence, showing a relationship that may or may not exist. One that is subject to professional analysis and explanation. Yet, not necessarily foolproof, perfect and absolute.

Flawless, infallible and fail-safe techniques of prediction and identification remain elusive with respect to the actions of human beings. Some aspects, like fingerprints, have an established history. Newer techniques are still undergoing the test of criminological evaluation. In the meantime, sufficient quantities of quality physical evidence are essential in criminal investigations. However, on many occasions such realities are non-existent. Evidence may be lacking at the crime scene, or from the people involved. Evidentiary artifacts could be contaminated, destroyed or contrived. Testimony might be skewed by traumatic experiences. As such, a bite mark could be the only piece of evidence linking the suspect with the victim. In addition, among forensic practitioners, the validity of whether or not there are unique characteristics of dental impressions remains controversial. In the courtroom both sides may disagree as to whether or not a particular impression is in fact a bite mark. As evidence, bite marks concern the reaction of the skin to the pressure applied by biting during a conflict. The strength of an impression is generally associated with the teeth in the front of the mouth. This applies to those teeth located in both the upper and lower levels. As such, there have been cases of false interpretations leading to wrongful convictions. With some degree of subjectivity, bite mark evidence may not be a perfect form of identification. Detail of the infliction may vary from one case to the next. Regardless, it’s still an important piece of evidence. When it comes to violence among people, biting is a weapon and a tactic of offense as well as defense. And, attackers, like rapists and murderers, bite their victims as an expression of sexual proclivity symbolic of power, control and domination.

While bite mark evidence is somewhat new as a forensic technique, such aspects of the criminal event can be crucial to an investigation. Thorough processing of the crime scene is important, followed by comprehensive documentation. A diversity of situations exists in which dental impressions may be discovered. Proper assessment, processing and identification remain essential to the calculated efforts of the criminal investigation. From food to flesh, people bite other people for individual reasons. The rationality behind such actions is always subject to speculation, theory and statistical abstraction. Nonetheless, teeth differ in terms of size and shape, spatial alignment and growth process. And, over time, teeth show wear and tear. In addition, a tooth might break, need repair, suffer decay or be replaced. In some cases, not every tooth might be intact, as some might be mission. Then again, a clever criminal could have his or her teeth filed down or completely removed. As such, a person’s dental work could be extremely valuable to a particular case in question. Early analysis, assessment and assemblage of such evidence track a critical timeline. As a result, there could be a strong correlation between the criminal and the victim, in regard to those dental impressions found at the scene.

Aside from human tissue, dental impressions can be found in an array of objects, from paper to pastries. Chewing gum, for instance, could’ve been left behind by the perpetrator. This range of possibilities suggests careful study of the crime scene, the victims and other attendant relationships. Bite marks sometimes appear in things one could not possibly imagine. For some people, biting another person seems out of the realm of possibility. While others, see this as a normal process of interpersonal interaction. Yet, in a combative situation, where personal survival is the reality, biting may be the only alternative. Teeth impressions have been found in a variety of cases, circumstances and situations. Such evidence, left by both perpetrator and victim, has included burglaries, domestic violence, murders and assaults. Photographing and casting bite mark evidence has a significant timeline attached. Deterioration, decomposition and perishable nature of surface areas require immediate forensic attention.

As teeth change from birth to adult life, they become, in a sense, somewhat unique to the user. Cosmetic applications, such as fillings and reconstruction, leave alterations. For these reasons, and others, dental configuration represents another vital form of identification for law enforcement. This necessitates the organizational prerequisite of working with competent professionals. Forensic odontologist provide police criminalistics with a valuable service in the cause of justice. As expert opinion evidence, the forensic dentist potentially provides strong evidence against a suspect. Providing of course, a suspect is known and impressions can be obtained for comparison purposes. Analysis of tooth surfaces allows for the development of a grid system, referred to as an odontogram. As a nearly unique identifier to the individual person, the grid work contains the probability of distinctive identification. Abnormalities discovered in the course of examination heighten the investigative conclusions. However, at the same time, investigative processes have to consider the possibility of mistaken impressions. There are occasions where skin bruising might be misinterpreted as a bite mark. Care and caution is always warranted in a good investigation.

When evidence is available, every effort must be executed to ensure its survivability for eventual prosecution. Proper, planning prevents poor performance. That applies to a lot of things. With bite marks, there are possibilities of inconclusive results and potential non-admissibility. Careful assessment of the crime scene, in addition to comprehensive diligence in collecting evidence, is vital to any crime scene investigation process. We cannot afford to discount, overlook or ignore the opportunities for encountering bite mark evidence. With food and other soft surface areas, dental evidence provides options for three-dimensional depictions later on in the forensic preparation of the case. By contrast, bites on the skin may only leave us with surface bruising and two-dimensional representations. Regardless, all aspects are important to the analytical procedures involved.

The object, food product or the person influences the nature of the bite mark left behind. A person’s physical nature and the location of the mark influence the type of dentition that occurs. And, as with other types of aggression towards another person, bite marks suggest a highly sexual motive on the part of the perpetrator. Dominance, power and control, remain at the core of sexual fantasy expressions. In fact, criminality in general shares a linkage to the criminal’s personal sexual proclivities. This interpersonal relationship may aid in further behavioral assessment of the persons involved. Whether sexual battery or murder, biting symbolizes sexual aggression reflection a person’s various modes of ideation. As such, when encountered, recording the details is of the essence. Measuring, photographing and conducting other relevant evidentiary processes work to ensure the viability of the investigative process. Effective crime scene protocols insist upon the artful skill of crime scene personnel.