How FBI Trains To Find Kidnapping Victims


The FBI’s Evidence Response Team (ERT) trains in hotel rooms, searching for signs of a kidnapping victim, reports KENS-TV in San Antonio. It is not Hollywood’s “CSI,” but the ERT comes close with high-tech gadgets. “We’re not magicians. We’re here to collect evidence, said agent Mario Villaplana. With the help of a sterile filter and forensic vacuum, the search begins for traces of hair and fibers throughout the hotel room. The use of an alternate light source is crucial for the ERT. Ultraviolet light helps expose fluids from the body that could establish sex crimes.

In the next room, a separate team works the bathtub tiles and finds some fluid. “More than likely blood, so we’ll send this to the lab,” an agent said. Evidence can be anywhere, including the bathroom floor. “It’s very clear that there is a footprint there,” Villaplana said. This time, their tools are a sheet of Mylar and an electrostatic lifter. While clear adhesive tape helps pull up one pattern, a tool called a RUVIS, or Reflective Ultra-Violet Imaging System, enhances the human eye to find invisible oily signatures unique to each finger. A dense fogging spray reflects the path of a laser measuring device. It eliminates the use of bulky tape and provides an exact digital readout where evidence was left behind. Unlike TV dramas, there is no instant gratification for the Evidence Response Team. In 10 years, none of their lab-tested evidence has been thrown out of court.


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