Folien 1

What became known as “Folien 1” would become a crucial piece of evidence in the trial. Why?

Inge rented a DVD, The Stepford Wives, from a video rental store nearby at around 3 pm on 16 March 2005. Any prints on the DVD cover (other than Inge’s) could therefore implicate a person to possibly have been on the scene of the crime in that window period between 3 pm and time-of-death.

The police claims that Folien 1 contains the prints they lifted off the DVD cover that was found on a coffee table next to Inge’s body. The left index finger and right thumb print on Folien 1 were matched to those of Fred van der Vyver’s exclusion prints which were taken 28 days later. Therefore if Folien 1 was indeed lifted from the DVD case, as the police claims, it would put Fred in Stellenbosch in the company of Inge after 3 pm that afternoon and would therefore make him a strong suspect in Inge’s murder.

Fred denied that he was anywhere near Inge or her flat that afternoon. He claims that he was at work in Mutualpark in Pinelands and that he did not the leave the building before about 6:10 pm and that he has witnesses to verify his alibi.

The defence argued that Folien 1 was rather lifted from a drinking glass (which Fred could have touched at any time) and that the police intentionally mislabelled it as being from a DVD cover. Although the fingerprints on Folien 1 were not disputed as being those of Fred, they argued that the police intentionally framed him by labelling a glass lift as a DVD lift. They ruled out the possibility of a mistake because none of the other 10 lifts that were taken that day were from a DVD cover.

If this is true, it implies that the police must have known instinctively that the prints on the glass was Fred’s, and that if his prints were on the DVD cover it would implicate him, even before they took his fingerprints or investigated his alibi.

In our investigation we do not entertain speculation, theories, and testimonies from any party. We took a strict scientific approach to determine whether it is scientifically possible for Folien 1 to have been taken from the surface of a round conical drinking glass, as was claimed by the defence’s experts. We also looked for reasons to exclude the DVD cover as substrate.

In short our conclusions are:

– Because a drinking glass is round, it will record only a part of your normal full size print. In other words, when compared to a flat print a print on a drinking glass will inevitably be shorter – i.e. it will be “foreshortened”. On Folien 1 the length of the first phalanx of the left index finger is the same length as the corresponding flat print. There was no foreshortening as one would expect if the print was from a round drinking glass.

– Because a glass has weight, the friction between the glass and finger will drag on the finger cushion, deforming it. This will cause certain key points in the print (e.g. the core and delta) to change positions relative to each other and relative to other defining features of the print. When the prints on Folien 1 are compared to the known flat print there is no evidence of significant distortion and can one therefore conclude with confidence that the Folien 1 prints were deposited on a surface which was not influenced by downward pull (such as by a weighted drinking glass). (Read more here and see Prof Visser’s report here).

– For Folien 1 to be from a round conical drinking glass, both the top and bottom lines need to be perfect circular curves. Neither the top or bottom lines are perfect circular curves. The bottom “line” is not even a curve at all. This we determined this scientifically and with great accuracy by using magnification, electronic measurement tools and regression analysis. (Read more here)

– Drops of water that dry on a vertical and curved surface, such as on the side of a drinking glass, are unlikely to maintain such perfectly elliptical shapes, nor would they leave such perfectly symmetrical contact line deposits (the “white rims”). If Folien 1 were from a drinking glass one would expect the white rims to be thicker towards the bottom due to the influence of gravity during the evaporation process. The symmetrical white rims of the dry drops on Folien 1 are more consistent with drops that dried on a flat horisontal surface. (Read more here)

– The size, the shape, the texture and the alignment of the “lip print” are not consistent with a normal lip print on a round drinking glass. A lip print on a round glass will have creases, be shorter, more bulb-like, and will stretch from rim to rim and not just suddenly stop in the middle of nowhere like the “lip print” on Folien 1 does. In fact, the features of the “lip print” are rather more consistent as having been made by a finger in a slightly wet latex glove – the type that finger printing officers wore. (Read more here)

– Digital filtering and enhancement shows us that there are more to Folien 1 than meets the eye. Since we did not work with the “fresh” Folien 1 it is impossible to explain and claim all marks, but it shows us that technology could have told us much more. There are also debris of other prints on Folien 1 – which would refute the claim that there where “no other prints” on Folien 1. (Read more here)

Please read: Constable Elton Swartz and Folien 1

Expert reviews:

Franswa Stassen

Professor Kobus Visser