By Kotie Geldenhuys
When crimes are committed, the first thing criminals want to do is to get rid of the evidence that would link them to that crime. That is why some of them will wear gloves or hoodies, they will try to wash off blood and cover their tracks. But, eventually, chances are that they will be caught as there is no such thing as a perfect crime. Sometimes the smallest and seemingly insignificant thing can result in a conviction and prosecution. Knots and ligatures are examples of those common oversights, turned evidence.
The analysis of knots and ligatures can be relevant in civil cases, such as where safety equipment has failed resulting in an accident that led to injury or death. The activity under investigation could either be recreational such as in the case of rock climbing or professional, such as at high construction sites (Chisnall, Nd). Yet, knots and ligatures can be found at crime scenes and death involving strangulation, autoerotic fatalities, murder, rape, robbery or at suicide sites. Knots and ligatures fulfil a variety of roles in criminal acts and may be used to bind, restrain, strangle or hang victims. Investigation and analysis of these knots and ligatures could lead to useful evidence.
Ligatures on a crime scene
Ligatures can be made from rope, electric cables, nylon, clothing, bed sheets, chains, dog leads, washing lines, luggage straps, and various other objects. These can be important physical evidence where the perpetrator may have prepared for an attack and was armed with a ligature, such as a rope, but he or she may also use what is at hand, such as an electric cord. However, a perpetrator may carry traces of the ligature material from the crime scene which can link him or her to the crime scene. This can be used, for example if the perpetrator's clothing is examined (Encyclopedia.com, 2020).
A ligature is generally used by making a knot within the material. The different types of knots which can be identified by the forensic expert may reveal certain characteristics of the person who tied it, such as their knot-tying skills, trade and hobbies. Both the ligature from which the knot is made, as well as the knot could be important physical evidence (Encyclopedia.com, 2020).