Summer cruelest season for forensic expert

Chen Huizhi
Wu Xia's work can make a major contribution to solving cases but she says the summer's heat can pose problems in gathering vital evidence from crime scenes. 
Chen Huizhi

Wu Xia, a 36-year-old forensic expert working for the police in Yangpu District, says summer is the cruelest season for her.

“High temperatures easily ruin biological evidence and make it harder for us to work on it,” she said.

Wu studied forensic science at Sichuan University and joined Shanghai police in 2009. A Shanghai native, she is the mother of a 3-year-old but ready 24/7 to rush to crime scenes all year round.

Forensic experts play a key role in solving crimes by gathering biological evidence from the scene and sharing their insights.

“In summer, we have to be more careful not to compromise the potential evidence with our sweat or something else,” Wu said.

She said that she sometimes has to examine over 30 potential pieces of evidence a day from crime scenes.

Over the years, she has learned to keep a calm mind when working in stifling rooms filled with stink of decaying corpses. Even if every inch of her body is covered in a protective suit, she can’t escape the smell.

“The hardest part, in some cases, is to move around the corpses with our sheer strength, because we have to examine all parts of a corpse,” she said.

Some of the biological evidence taken – from scenes of thefts, burglaries, murders or other cases – are then analyzed in an air-conditioned lab where the temperature is kept at 20 degrees Celsius.

In hot summer, heading into the lab from outside, Wu said, is like opening a refrigerator after taking a sauna.

Over the past 11 years, Wu has taken part in over 500 cases and won several awards for her contributions to police work.

Wu said the police try their best to keep anything that could be potential evidence for as long as they can until the cases are solved. So some objects can be examined years later when new clues emerge.

“Two decades ago, for example, only blood types were analyzed from blood samples, but with the advance of forensic technologies, we’re now able to mine more evidence from objects from crime scenes,” she said.

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