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Two Cases of Firearm Grip Impressions on the Hands of Suicide Victims

Poulos, Christopher K. MD; Peterson, Brian L. MD

American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181ee3194
Case Reports

Abstract: Many factors are used to help distinguish firearm suicides from homicides and accidents, including range of fire, location of entrance defects, wound path trajectory, backspatter (blowback), and gunshot residue. Specifically, authors have discussed examination of the hands for backspatter, gunshot residue, cylinder gap effects, iron staining, and trauma as means of supporting a person having held a firearm while committing suicide. Here, we discuss 2 cases where suicidal gunshot wounds were accompanied by unique firearm grip impressions on the hands of the decedents. In 1 case, a “negative” impression of a grip pattern was left in a decedent’s hand and in another case a grip pattern was left on the decedent’s hand in dried blood. Such impressions can be used to provide support for establishing suicide as the manner of death.

Author Information

From the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, WI.

Manuscript received September 17, 2009; accepted September 27, 2009.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Christopher K. Poulos, MD, Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, 933 West Highland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.