The prevalence of intact spermatozoa on intimate smear and extract slides: a retrospective case review and re-evaluation of time since intercourse estimation
Rogers, Caitlin Eileen
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Literature concerning the time frames for detection of various seminal components commonly tested for in forensic laboratories in sexual assault cases is limited in quantity and in scope. Determining a more accurate time since intercourse (TSI) interval based on an extensive review of forensic case work would provide investigators with a tool for estimating the time elapsed between the occurrence of a sexual assault and the collection of a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit (SAECK) which could be vital information in certain cases. This study demonstrates that the presence of intact spermatozoa is a significant finding on microscope slides prepared from vaginal, anorectal, and oral swabs and that the percentage of intact sperm cells decreases over time. This study also proved that sperm tails are lost during the preparation of microscope slides from SAECK swabs by directly comparing medical personnel-prepared smear slides and analyst-prepared extract slides from 95 Boston Police Department (BPD) Crime Laboratory Unit cases. Additionally, this study presents maximum TSI values for the persistence of sperm heads, intact spermatozoa, and prostate specific antigen (P30) through a retrospective examination of 355 cases processed by the BPD Crime Laboratory Unit over 5 years. The maximum persistence values for P30 in the vaginal, anorectal, and oral cavities were 19 hours, 17 hours, and 20 hours, respectively. In the vaginal cavity, maximum persistence values for intact spermatozoa were 43 hours for smear slides and 41.5 hours for extract slides. The maximum persistence of sperm heads was equivalent for vaginal smear and extract slides at 105 hours. In the anorectal cavity, maximum persistence values for intact spermatozoa were 43 hours for smear slides and 13 hours for extract slides. The maximum persistence of sperm heads was equivalent for anorectal smear and extract slides at 43 hours. In the oral cavity, maximum persistence values for intact spermatozoa were 3.75 hours for smear slides and 5 hours for extract slides. The maximum persistence of sperm heads were equivalent for oral smear and extract slides at 24 hours.