Waste Forensics

by Maggie Zhuohui Cai
LCC MAGD 2015

On 13 May 2015 17:25:55, a crumpled piece of newspaper was found outside Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre. where traders of cheap goods including low-cost clothing, shoes, bags, CDs and even fruits and vegetables, etc. It was a single spread from the Evening Standard, issued on Friday 28 November 2014, which is 7 months ago.There are free copies of Evening Standard given away at the exit of Elephant & Castle tube station, the suspect could be a passenger.

SUBJECT: Analysis of a found piece of crumpled newspaper
DATE: 1 JUN, 2015
LOCATION: Elephant & Castle, London

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Fig.1: Waste scene diagram

It is produced 7 months ago, but it is recently discarded since it is still quite dry and without much dirt on it. Besides, there are cleaners who cleans up the place regularly. So a recently discarded old issue, who could the suspect be? First of all, passengers can be excluded because if there is anything they could and want to get rid off, it should be the day’s newspaper that they picked up at the exit of Elephant & Castle tube station or elsewhere rather than a 7-month old issue. Now the arrow points to another group of people who spend quite a lot of time here everyday-the traders. Considering the fact that they will have to unpackage the goods in the morning and package them back into boxes and bags in the afternoon, assuming this crumpled paper was used to fill in the space between the goods to avoid damage during moving is totally possible.

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Fig.2: Surroundings

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Fig.3: The crumpled piece of newspaper

Every Evening Standard newspaper is saddle stitched, so when seeing a single spread, the question of how it was removed from the original whole comes up. By taking a close look at the stitch hole which appears to not be severely damaged , it can be deducted that the suspect must have removed the stapples gentlely first and then separate all of it to individual spreads.

It is crumpled into a tight sphere, when opened up it is revealed to be torned. It is evident that the tearing happened before the crumpling because after a piece of newsprint being crumpled it cannot be torn.

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Fig.4: Newspaper opened up

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Fig.5: (Close-up) Date of Issue

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Fig.6: (Close-up) Torned and with light brown stains

There are light brown stains in the centre of the spread. It could be stains from spilled tea or coffee, the suspect might be a person who tends to be chaotic and twirly. Relating this fact to the previous analysis, a possible scenario could be (subject)a trader who has a booth outside the Elephant&Castle Shopping Centre, (story)he/she has to unbind lots of free newspaper everyday and crumple them into spheres and use them to fill in the gaps between all the item boxes to avoid damage during moving. Things are always done in a hurry therefore sometimes the newspapers are torn and even with spilled tea stains. The article with stains on happened to be one about book selling in Christmas time(reasonable considering the date of issue), therefore the suspect or someone close to him/her could be a book lover and he/she was planing to buy one as a Christmas gift.

A white item box and some sweet wrappers were found in the exact same location. It is evident that this is an item box according to the text on it. What’s more, the word ‘Frame’ and ‘Lens’ indicates it could be for glasses and spectacles. The sweet wrappers are from Ferrero Raffaello, a kind of candy with mixed flavor of coconut and almond. There were a few of them there, very likely left by our suspect.

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Fig.7: A white box found in the exact same location

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Fig.8: The crumpled piece of newspaper in relation to its surroundings

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Fig.9: Passers-by

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Fig.10: Preservation of evidence