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Lecture Outline

Definition of Forensic Toxicology

Forensic Science in Canada
Modernization of forensic toxicology
Recent history

Forensic Toxicology
The study and practice of the
application of toxicology to the
purposes of the law

Quincy, M.E. (1976-1983)

Jack Klugman as Quincy

Robert Ito as Sam Fujiyama

John S. Ragin as Dr. Robert Asten

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Ancient Toxicologists
Herbalists of the
ancient past developed
a broad knowledge of
the benefits and
detriments of plants,
animal and insect bites
and metals

Ancient Toxicologists
Ancient poisons discovered early
Cyanide in peach pits known to Egyptians
Hemlock a popular means of execution in
Belladona of ancient Sumeria

Ancient Toxicologists
Dioscorides (c. 40-90 AD) described over 600
plants and plant extracts in his writings
Author of De Materia Medica On Medical

Foundation of Toxicology
(c. 1493-1541)

What is there that is not poison?

All things are poison and nothing without
Solely the dose determines that a thing is not

Definition - Poison
Since poisons were typically slipped into a beverage,
the term was initially applied to a drink prepared with
poison and then became more broad to include all
poisons, regardless of route of administration.
Any substance which, when ingested, inhaled
absorbed or when applied to injected into or developed
within the body in relatively small amounts, by its
chemical action causes damage to structure or
disturbance to function

Cowards weapon
administered by stealth
may be chronically administered
carefully planned means of murder

Toxicologic Forensic
Forensic Toxicology evolved with the
advent of criminal investigation
Prior to the advent of modern prescribed
medicines, toxicology was primarily
concerned with poisonings
Many poisoners throughout history were
caught usually after failing at their
poisoning attempt

Italian woman of the 17th century, Toffana
Invented Aqua della Toffanina a
poisonous liquid containing arsenic
Sold to would be murderers along with
instructions as to its poisonous properties
Toffana reputed to have been responsible
for as many as 600 killings
Executed in Naples in 1709

Inheritance Powder
Odourless, tasteless and readily available
Symptoms of poisoning non-descript
Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains
Middle Ages Cholera
Present day Guillian Barr Syndrome

A technique for detecting arsenic became a

necessity Marsh Test (1836)

Foundation of Modern Forensic

Understanding of Chemistry, Pharmacology,
and Toxicology arise in 1800s
Isolation of morphine from opium by
Serturner in 1805
Precipitation tests for alkaloids Winckler
Reinsch test for arsenic in 1841

First Successful Toxicologic

The father of forensic toxicology
Professor Orfila (Chair of Legal Medicine
at Sorbonne)
Traite des Poisons ou Toxicologie Generale
(1814) translated to English 1816
Identified arsenic & other poisons
Evidence sent Madame LaFarge to the
guillotine in 1840.

Marie Lafarge
Aspiring aristocrat married to failed businessman
Murder by chronic arsenic poisoning
- Arsenic-laced cake while husband away on business
- Continous pampering with arsenic-laced truffles
- Charles Lafarge diagnosed with cholera death

Mathieu Orfila
Using technique of Marsh, detected arsenic in a pill
box, a sample of eggnog and stomach and other
organs of C. Lafarge

Growth of Forensic Toxicology

Treatise on Poisons in Relation to Medical
Jurisprudence, Physiology, and the practice
of Physic
-Robert Christison M.D. Edinburgh, 1829
Manual of Practical Toxicology (condensed
version by Taylor in the US) 1845

Canadian Forensic Toxicology

First recorded case
Prof Henry Holmes
Croft, Kings College

Canadian Forensic Toxicology

analyses the stomach contents of a
decedent, Sarah King which contained 11
grains of arsenic
Husband Dr. Henry King of Coburg, On is
convicted due to testimony of Prof. Croft.

William Hodson Ellis

1867 Became an
assistant to Prof. Croft
1877 Testified in a rapemurder trial regarding the
detection of blood stains
on trousers
1897 Microscopic
examination of hair
1904 Serological tests
for blood

L. Joslyn Rogers
1908 assistant to Ellis
Professor of Analytical
Chemistry at U of T (19141954)
Introduced alcohol to courts
in Ontario - 1932
+ expanded toxicology, fire
investigations, firearms
Worked at the CFS until his
death in 1967

William Derme
Studied legal medicine in France in 1909
In 1914, spearheaded the opening of the
first forensic laboratory in all of N.
America, the Laboratoire de Recherches
Would later become the Laboratoire de
sciences judiciares et de mdecin lgale in
Montreal, PQ

Forensic Pathology
In 1923 a small group of surgeons at the
Old Grace Hospital in Toronto perform
most of the medico-legal autopsies for the
province of Ontario
Physicians include Drs. C. Noble Sharpe
and E.R. Frankish
All work without remuneration

Dr. E. R. Frankish
Studied under Derome
Formed the Attorney Generals
Medico-Legal laboratory in
Ontario in 1932 (5 staff)
This lab would later become
the Centre of Forensic

Forensic Toxicology in Canada

1941 16 pathologists make up the regional
pathologist system
1942 RCMP crime lab is opened in
Ottawa, Ontario.

H. Ward Smith
1951 the Attorney
Generals lab in
Ontario is reorganized. Smith is
appointed director of
the laboratory
The modern era of
forensic science in
Ontario begins

Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) is
formed on 16 October 1953 with members from the
RCMP, Health and Welfare Canada, the Montreal
Lab and H. Ward Smith
Became a corporate body in 1963 with the purpose
and objective of promoting the study of, raising the
standards of and enhancing the stature of forensic
science as a distinct discipline


Participants in the October 16, 1953 meeting in Ottawa

L to R: L. Byrnes, G.H.W. Lucas, L. Levi. R.A.H. McKeen, B. Peclet, L.J. Rogers,
B.B. Coldwell, C.G. Farmilo, J.A. Churchman, J.M. Roussel, G. Nadeau, R.
McDougall, H.W. Smith, Unknown, D. Graham.

Centre of Forensic Sciences

1966 the lab is renamed the Centre of
Forensic Sciences
1967 D.M. Lucas is appointed Director of
the CFS. The toxicology section is
expanded to include breath testing and
alcohol testing.

Canadian Forensic Toxicology

Mr. Doug Lucas,
originally a chemist,
oversaw the formation
of the current
Toxicology Section of
CFS by combining
Alcohol analysis and
Drugs into one

Canadian Forensic Toxicology

1972, the CFS was transferred to the
Ministry of the Solicitor General in order to
separate the investigative aspect of justice
from the administration of justice
Forensic Pathology became a separate
entity within the Public Safety Division
1975, CFS moved to its present location at
25 Grosvenor St.

Canadian Forensic Toxicology

Centre of Forensic Sciences

1992 the Centre of
Forensic Sciences
opens a second
laboratory in Sault Ste.
Marie the Northern
Regional Lab
Provides most of the
services that CFS
Toronto provides

Forensic Labs in Canada

Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina,
Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax
Centre of Forensic Sciences Toronto
and Sault Ste. Marie
Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciares et de
Mdecin Lgale- Montreal

Modernization of Toxicology
Professional societies, certification boards,
advanced training of forensic scientists ensure that
the role of the forensic toxicologist is more than a
coroners chemist
Forensic toxicologists more frequently have
advanced degrees, involved in scientific research
and teaching

Modernization of Toxicology
High tech methods
have replaced low tech
methods of our past
Gas chromatography
Mass spectrometry

Modernization of Toxicology
Improvements in instrumentation
Allows for the detection of smaller and smaller
quantities of substances (ng)
Allows for smaller sample size (1970 15+ mL blood
required, 2003 25uL IA, 0.5mL MS, 2mL GC,LC)

New Challenges
Increased interest in all things forensic results in
increased public scrutiny
pressure to produce results quickly, with untested
methods and insufficient time

Miscarriages of justice have placed new pressure

on laboratory operations and expert witnesses
Increasing role as a guardian of public health
determining drug abuse potentials, trends and dangers
e.g. PMA disguised as Ecstasy
e.g. Percocet abuse in the U.S.A.

Notorious Forensic Tox Cases

Jonestown Massacre
November 18, 1978
The Peoples Temple
founded by Jim Jones
Guyana, South America
914 followers die after
obeying orders to drink
grape kool-aid laced with

Notorious Forensic Tox Cases

Chicago, Illinois, 1982
Seven people collapse suddenly and die
after taking Tylenol capsules
Analysis reveals the capsules were laced
with cyanide
The case remains unsolved
Copy cat cases

Notorious Forensic Tox Cases

Dr. Harold Shipman
Manchester, England
Convicted of murder of 15
women by lethal injection
with morphine
Suspected of killing up to
265 patients