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Lacassagne, Alexandre

Lacassagne, Alexandre


Alexandre Lacassagne devoted his life to the study, teaching, and advancement of forensic science . He worked for decades as a professor at the University of Lyons, France, participated in numerous forensic investigations, and served as a consultant and expert at many criminal trials. Lacassagne is also known as one of the first people known to conduct bloodstain pattern analysis and was the first scientist to study bullet markings and their relation to specific weapons.

For much of his life, Lacassagne worked as a professor of forensic medicine at the University of Lyons, France. Many up and coming forensic scientists had the opportunity to study under him, including Edmund Locard, the founder of the world's first forensic laboratory. At the same time, Lacassagne regularly participated in forensic investigations for crimes committed across the country. Along with forensic investigation, he also served as a consultant and expert in many high profile criminal trials in France. He played a significant role in the 1895 trial of Joseph Vacher, a man charged with the rape and murder of a local woman. At the trial Lacassagne testified that Vacher's behavior didn't indicate insanity but antisocial sadism, a concept not used previously in French courts. Vacher was found guilty of the crime.

Lacassagne is also known as being the first scientist to try to match an individual bullet to a gun barrel. He did this by examining the bullet's striations, counting and comparing the number of lands and grooves. In 1889, Lacassagne published the article La Deformation des Balles de Revolver, in the Archive de Antropologie Criminelle et des Sciences Penales, outlining his findings regarding bullet markings. While he didn't come up with a system to classify these markings, Lacassagne's research and study is considered the beginning of the science of ballistics .

Lacassagne also was one of the first scientists to study and report on the significance of bloodstains left at a crime scene, and what they could indicate about the nature of the crime committed. In particular, he conducted research on the relation between the shape of blood spots and the position of the victim.

see also Ballistic fingerprints; Bloodstain evidence.

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