This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Detection Of Crime. Perhaps the most important branch of photography, as applied to law and the courts, is its use in the detection of crime. It is possible for the lens to detect and pick out imperfections and minute detail that the eye would fail to observe. Then, too, it is possible to enlarge a picture to sufficient size to enable one to detect minute detail, and thus make a very careful study of whatever has been photographed. To illustrate this application of photography to the detection of crime, we might cite an instance which recently occurred:
An Example. An aged lady, who was quite miserly and lived alone in a house, was frequently visited by a neighboring girl, about twenty years old. The elderly lady was very much attached to the girl. After a visit from her young friend one afternoon the lady died, and was found the following morning by a neighbor. The case was, of course, immediately reported to the authorities, who, in turn, made a very rigid examination, and without disturbing anything, other than to remove the body, sealed the house.
617. The case was a very mysterious one, as it was impossible to ascertain any direct motive for murder, nor was there any definite clue to be found upon which the detectives might work. The young lady was rigidly questioned, but her story was given in a very frank manner. She admitted having been with the lady during the day, but knew absolutely nothing of the crime until the following morning. Detectives, however, kept a close watch of the girl, and finally one, more skilled, perhaps, than the others, decided to photograph one of the foot-prints in the blood, which had been left on the floor at each step of the murderer. The foot-print was measured and the rule included in the photograph, at one side of the foot-print, to give exact measurement. The photograph revealed the fact that the murderer wore high-heeled slippers; that the left one had a hole, the shape of a cartridge, on the outer side of the sole; and that the slipper was an old one, as the side of the foot forced the cloth over the edge of the sole and left its imprint in the blood.
618. Further than this, it revealed that there was a small piece of felt in the center of the hole and that the stocking worn by the murderer was of very coarse material, as the threads were shown through the hole. The detective at once informed his confederates that the murderer was a lady, who wore high-heeled slippers, the left one having a hole in the center of the sole the shape of a cartridge; that there was a small piece of felt in or near the center of the hole, and that she wore a pair of coarse stockings.
619. Immediately a detective and one of the police officers went to the home of the young lady, as she was the person who had been most strongly suspected, though no direct evidence had been secured which could in any way lead to her arrest, and asked her what dress she wore on the day she visited the old lady. She immediately showed them all of the garments she had worn, revealing that her stockings were of coarse material, the weave corresponding exactly to that represented in the photograph through the hole in the sole of the slipper. Then they asked her to see the shoes, which she unhesitatingly brought out, and although they were clean and showed no traces of blood, the left one answered the description perfectly of the photograph which the detective had secured of the foot-print. The girl was immediately arrested, and when her case was brought to trial and the photograph produced, together with the slipper, the evidence was considered sufficient and she was sentenced to life imprisonment.