Feature Selection and Rapid Characterization of Bloodstains on Different Substrates

Rekha Gautam, Deandra Peoples, Kiana Jansen, Maggie O’Connor, Giju Thomas, Sandeep Vanga, Isaac J. Pence, Anita Mahadevan-Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Establishing the precise timeline of a crime can be challenging as current analytical techniques used suffer from many limitations and are destructive to the body fluids encountered at crime scenes. Raman spectroscopy has demonstrated excellent potential in forensic science as it provides direct information about the structural and molecular changes without the need for processing or extracting samples. However, its current applicability is limited to pure body fluids, as signals from the substrate underlying these fluids greatly influence the current models used for age estimation. In this study, we utilized Raman spectroscopy to identify selective spectral markers that delineate the bloodstain age in the presence of interfering signals from the substrate. The pure bloodstains and the bloodstains on the substrate were aged for two weeks at 21 ± 2 ℃ in the dark. Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression was employed to guide the feature selection in the presence of interference from substrates to accurately predict the bloodstain age. Substrate-specific regression models guided by an automated feature selection algorithm yielded low values of predictive root mean square error (0.207, 0.204, 0.222 h in logarithmic scale) and high R2 (0.924, 0.926, 0.913) on test data consisting of blood spectra on floor tile, facial tissue, and linoleum-polymer substrates, respectively. This framework for an automated feature selection algorithm relies entirely on pure bloodstain spectra to train substrate-specific models for estimating the age of composite (blood on substrate) spectra. The model can thus be easily applied to any new composite spectra and is highly scalable to new environments. This study demonstrates that Raman spectroscopy coupled with LASSO could serve as a reliable and nondestructive technique to determine the age of bloodstains on any surface while aiding forensic investigations in real-world scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1251
Number of pages14
JournalApplied spectroscopy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Forensic
  • least absolute shrinkage and selection operator
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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