Forensic Specialist Describes How Investigators Will Uncover 'Toxic And Painted-Over' Materials at Crime Scene for Journalist's Murder

The chemical Luminol could prove incredibly important for investigators probing the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Forensic specialist Karen Smith (Screengrab)

Turkish police have concluded an intensive nine-hour inspection of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, searching for possible clues in the disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Postcolumnist Jamal Khashoggi—who was last seen entering the Consulate two weeks ago on Tuesday, October 2. The Turkish authorities were searching for evidence of foul play, and after the inspection concluded, forensic specialist Karen Smith offered her insights during an October 16 interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
Turkish authorities have alleged that they have video and audio recordings proving that Saudi agents murdered Khashoggi inside the Consulate before dismembering his body. And the police in Istanbul were reported to have used the chemical Luminol during their inspection.

According to Smith—a retired sheriff’s detective from Jacksonville, Florida who has handled 500 death investigations—Luminol can show evidence of foul play no matter how thoroughly one tries to cover up evidence.

“There have been scientific studies with painted surfaces where blood has been removed—seven layers of paint, and they have still detected it with a chemical called Luminol,” Smith told CNN’s Baldwin.

Luminol, Smith noted, is typically used to inspect cleaned up crime scenes. And in the type of “atrocious, horrendous crime scene” being alleged in Istanbul, Smith said, Luminol could easily turn up evidence that foul play occurred.

“Even if they painted the surfaces, even if they used bleach, there’s still going to be something left,” Smith told Baldwin.   

Asked if Luminol could offer specifics on the type of crime committed, Smith responded, “zol has some drawbacks. It’s mixed in water. That dilutes what you’re spraying it on.”

“Minute details,” according to Smith, “may not be readily available. However, shoe prints might still be there….So what we’re looking for here is basically just evidence that a violent crime occurred, see if they can extract some DNA, and then do comparisons in the lab later.”

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.