Soil analysis



Andrew Needham, FTEE
Jackson Laboratory
Jackson, MS 39205
601-987-XXXX (FAX 601-987-XXXX)

Analysis: Trace Evidence Examination

Case #: 003369-14G-2019

Case Description: Monica Drum homicide

Investigative Agency: Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department

Investigating Officer(s): Det. S. Murphy, Det. E. Parker

Summary of Follow-up Soil Evidence Analysis

Follow-up investigation of the soil components yielded several pieces of information. The soil samples taken from the crime scene were comprised of two distinct layers. The layer furthest away from the shoe sole (the newest layer) yielded no discriminating characteristics. However, layer closest to the sole (oldest layer) contained several components which were analyzed by several scientists.


Dr. Melvin McCoy, a palynologist at the Univeristy of Mississippi, found three distinct types of pollen found in the oldest soil sample:
  1. Flattened, trilobal, tricolpate grains with three furrows. Identified as belonging to Quercus nigra, the Water Oak.
  2. Spherical grains with rough exine. No furrows or pores. Identified as belonging to Taxodium distichum, the Bald Cypress.
  3. Elongated, monocolpate grains with a single, deep furrow. Identified as belonging to Sabal minor, the Dwarf Palmetto.

Feathers & Animal Hairs

Dr. John Trott, an ornithologist at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, identified the feathers as belonging to Anhinga anhinga or "snakebird," which is commonly found near freshwater ponds and swamps in the south, especially in areas containing cypress trees.

Dr. Linda Wayne, a microscopist in the biology department at the University of Southern Mississippi, identified three major animal hairs present in the soil samples:
  1. Sylvilagus aquaticus, "Swamp rabbit"
  2. Sciurus carolinensis, "Gray Squirrel"
  3. Myocastor coypus, "Nutria"


Dr. Avril Warner, a wetlands ecologist at Tulane University, reviewed the above findings and concluded that the oldest soil sample likely originated in a swampy, wetland area in the south, possibly southern Alabama, Louisiana, or Mississippi. Dr. Warner further noted that all three animals are common game for hunters.



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