Analysis of a Snuff Video

I had been asked several times to evaluate a short video segment which has been distributed on the internet. The video appears to show an actual homicide in which a woman is shot at close range. While the video segment was produced with some skill, there are several significant flaws which I believe, indicate that this was not an actual homicide but a staged scene which has also been digitally altered. (Note: this fact was subsequently confirmed by the creators of this dramatic video who contacted me recently.)

To see the entire video segment click HERE

Frames From "Kidnap.mpg"

Apparent Flaws

1.  At the moment of shooting, smoke is shown apparently coming from the muzzle but there is no smoke from the cylinder gap.

Discussion

When a revolver discharges, there is a small open gap between the cylinder which holds the cartridges and the barrel. Although modern ammunition does not produce much visible smoke, hot gasses are expelled both out the muzzle and out of the cylinder gap.

2.  As the revolver is fired there is no apparent effect upon the woman's hair.

Discussion

When a firearm is discharged, hot gasses come out of the muzzle preceding, accompanying, and following  the bullet. These gasses act as something of a wind which should cause movement in the woman's hair strands. See the high speed images below

3. Bullet hole is not "attached" to the head

Discussion

After the shot in frame 1, the head appears to rotate backward and down. The "bullet hole" on the woman's forehead does not follow the movement of the head -- it appears to be stationary in the frame which is consistent with a carelessly applied digitally created "hole." Click on the image below for a two frame animation which shows this defect clearly.

4. "Blood" projection is too slow 

Blood first appears four frames after the shot was fired. If this video was created at the standard 30 frames per second rate, there was an interval of .05 seconds between the shot and the blood projection. This is much too long an interval as the blood projection in a real shooting occurs within hundreds of thousands of a second -- not tenths of a second.

Discussion

The image below shows a bullet perforating an egg. This image was taken approximately .0004 sec after the bullet struck the egg. When a human head is perforated by a bullet, blood will be projected out the exit hole "immediately".  A video camera records images at a rate of 30 frames per second. In an actual shooting, the projected blood would appear in the same frame as the fired shot -- not several frames later.

5. "Blood" -- Wrong Form and Volume

The "blood" which is projected against the wall appears to have contacted the wall intact -- perhaps in a frangible container such as a balloon. The blood shown spreads out after it strikes the wall -- not in the air. The volume of blood is much greater than would be consistent with head wound from a small caliber handgun wound.

Discussion

The energy of a bullet perforating a human head will cause blood to disintegrate, i.e, to break up into small droplets. Blood will not exit the wound intact as "one big drop" as shown in the video but as a spray of small droplets in a variety of sizes.

The amount of blood projected out an exit wound (forward spatter) would be much less in volume than the relatively enormous amount shown in the video.

The video also shows the blood projected upwards which is not consistent with the essentially horizontal bullet trajectory

6. Head Rotates Backwards

A perforating bullet wound of the head with a great amount of projected blood and tissue will most likely cause a head to rotate forward, not backwards as shown. 

Discussion

A wound ballistics phenomenon not generally understood is that when a bullet perforates a filled container, the "jet" of projected material (blood and soft tissue) out of the exit hole can be sufficient in momentum to push the container (the head) towards -- not away from -- the shooter.  This was demonstrated in a famous experiment by the Nobel Physicist Louis Alvarez who recorded it on 8mm film. Click on the images to see a video of the film.

Conclusion

There are several other defects in the video all of which indicate that this was a staged scene, not a real homicide. With the increasing availability of high tech video production and editing and digital enhancement tools I believe we will see more (and better) such staged homicide scenes on the internet.

Alexander Jason

Senior Certified Crime Scene Analyst