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Class Characteristics of Serrated Knife Stabs to Cartilage

Pounder, Derrick J. FRCPA; Cormack, Lesley BMSc; Broadbent, Elizabeth BMSc; Millar, John MB

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 157-160
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181db7ee4
Original Articles

A total of 136 stab wounds were made in cartilage with 8 serrated knives and 72 stabs with 4 nonserrated knives. The walls of the stab track were documented by photography, cast with dental impression material, and the casts photographed. Staining the translucent cartilage surface with blue or green food dye improved photography. Serrated blades produced striations on cartilage in all stabbings. Patterns of blade serration beyond the broad categories of coarse and fine were recognizable. The overall pattern of striations was "irregularly regular." The distance between the blade-spine wound end and the first serration striation is a class characteristic of the knife which produced the defect, as are distances to the subsequent serration striations, which become ever close together and eventually merge near the blade-edge wound end. Serrated knives may be ground (scalloped) on either the left side or the right side of the blade and this class characteristic is identifiable from the walls of the wound track, on which the scalloped blade surface produces broad ridges and narrow striation valleys, with a reverse image on the opposing wound wall. A drop point serrated blade consistently produced an additional oblique mark angled from the blade-spine wound end, accurately reflecting the shape of the blade tip, and representing a chatter mark.

From the Centre for Forensic and Legal Medicine, University of Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Manuscript received August 3, 2009; accepted November 16, 2009.

Reprints: Derrick J. Pounder, FRCPA, Centre for Forensic and Legal Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland, United Kingdom. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.