Forensic Cases

Forensic Engineering International has determined cause and origin in many of the nation’s most high-profile incidents and disasters.

Gain Confidence With Unparalleled Experience

The diverse experience of Forensic Engineering International professionals encompasses a wide- spectrum of metallurgical, statistical, and failure analysis endeavors.

Forensic Engineering International professionals include the former head of forensic metallurgy operations chief forensic metallurgist, NTSB aviation, railroad, marine, and pipeline accident investigators.

We also provide expertise in ballistics, firearms, and tool marks, as well as mainstream scientific expertise provided by distinguished professors from respected U.S. and foreign Universities in metallurgy, materials, science, corrosion, physics, statistics, law, psychology, forensic science, biomedical, and mechanical engineering.

Sample Cases

TWA Flight 800

Mid-air explosion of flight TWA 800 en route from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Paris, France, on July 17, 1996.

The metallurgical investigation of Flight TWA 800 explosion concluded that mechanical failure, not a missile or bomb, was the cause of the catastrophic event.

Most likely cause of the disaster was an explosion of flammable fuel/air vapor in the center fuel tank from short-circuiting in the wiring. As a result of the joint NTSB-FBI investigation, new requirements were developed for commercial aircraft to prevent future fuel tank explosions.

Mid-air Breakup F-15C

The crash of Missouri National Guard F-15C aircraft attributable to longeron fatigue failure resulting in the nationwide grounding of all F-15A/B/C/D aircraft.

Sago Coal Mine Disaster

Complex materials interaction issues relating to methane gas explosion, Sago, W.V. Thirteen trapped miners; one survivor.

U.S. v. Aafia Siddiqui

The trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui for attempted murder with an M4 rifle; trial in NYC, NY, from Guantanamo. Terminal ballistics issue from shooting reconstruction: evaluation of wall damage claimed to be bullet holes from a high-velocity impact of M855 (SS109) projectiles (bullets).

Olympic Park Bombing

A Pipe bomb explosion at Centennial Park, Atlanta, GA, during 1996 Olympics. The domestic terrorist event killed two people and injured another 111.

Charles Stuart

National notoriety and local racial strife in Massachusetts resulting from the incident where Stuart and his pregnant wife were shot in their vehicle.

Stuart called “911” from his vehicle while wounded. Notoriety resulted in the TV movie “Good Night, Sweet Wife” (CBS) and several books.

Scaffold Collapse – Willow Island Disaster

Wire rope failure that caused the collapse of scaffold used in the construction of a nuclear facility, resulting in 51 deaths.

USS Iowa Explosion

An explosion resulting in numerous 47 sailor fatalities during a training operation.

Train Derailment – Sunset Limited

The Sunset Limited train derailment is the most deadly in Amtrak’s history and the worst train disaster since 1958. In total, 47 passengers were killed and another 103 injured.

Unabomber – Ted Kaczynski

Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski mailed or hand-delivered a series of increasingly sophisticated bombs that ultimately killed 3 people and injured 23. He took extreme care during the preparation of the bombs to avoid leaving fingerprints and purposefully left misleading clues in the bombs.

Oklahoma City Bombing

The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States.

The bombing killed 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed one-third of the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.

U.S. v.[Blackwater Worldwide Personnel]

An incident involving Blackwater Personal Security Detail (PSD) escorting a convoy of US State Department vehicles en route to meeting in western Baghdad with USAID officials, resulting in 17 Iraqi civilian fatalities in Nisour Square, Baghdad.

> Read more about the incident on Wikipedia

U.S. v Walter Leroy Moody
Defendant sentenced to 7 life terms plus 400 years for mailing package bombs that killed U.S. Appellate Court Judge Robert S. Vance and civil rights attorney Edward Robinson.

> Read more about the case and Judge Robert Smith Vance on Wikipedia

Susan B. Anthony Siver Dollar Recovery

Developed technique for U.S. Mint to recover thousands of improperly minted silver dollars embedded in lucite for collectors.

Product Tampering: U.S. v Joseph Earl Meling

Product tampering of Sudafed capsules; defendant convicted of contaminating capsules with sodium cyanide in an attempt to murder his wife, and of causing the deaths of several consumers purchasing Sudafed.

> Read more about the case in the NY Times

Product Tampering: Girl Scout Cookies
Pins, needles and other foreign objects were found in boxes of Girl Scout cookies in at least 17 states, resulting in reports of pierced gums and injured lips.

> Read more about the case in the Washington Post

Train Derailment : Panama City, FL.
A 129 car derailment releasing chlorine gas which killed eight people. Incident featured in Newsweek and numerous other news periodicals.
Explosion in Wilberg Coal Mine
Coal mine explosion of such severity that it took approximately two years to recover bodies of 27 miners who died in the mine.
U.S. v. Buck Walker & U.S. v. Stephanie Stearns

A “hippie” couple alleged to have murdered Malcolm (“Mac”) and Eleanor (“Muff”) Graham on Palmyra Island in the South Seas. Skull found by

A skull found by a beachcomber on a deserted beach in the South Seas 12 years later, depicted on the cover of And The Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi (author of Helter Skelter and prosecutor of Charles Manson); also subject of popular TV movie “And The Sea Will Tell” (CBS).

> Read more about the case on Wikipedia

Lt. Colonel William Higgins - Kidnapping and Murder

A colonel in the United States Marine Corps was captured while serving on a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. He was held hostage, tortured and eventually murdered by his captors.

> More about Lt. Colonel Higgins and the case on Wikipedia 

Achille Lauro Cruise Ship Hijacking


A hijacking of the Italian cruise ship the MS Achille Lauro by four Palestinian militants. The hijacking resulting in one hostage death.

> More about the hijacking on Wikipedia

Judge Alcee Hastings: Impeachment

An impeached Federal judge accused of misconduct and obstruction of justice. The forensics case involved tensile testing and failure analysis of purse strap of Judge Hastings’ purse.

> More about the judge and impeachment case on Wikipedia

> U.S. Senate: The Impeachment of Trial of Alcee L. Hastings

Environmental Disaster: Morris J. Berman Oil Spill

An oil spill in, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on January 7, 1994, involving a motorized vessel (M/V) Emily S. (tug) and a barge Morris J. Berman, with 662,000 gallons of #6 fuel oil.

> More about the oil spill on Wikipedia

> NOAA report and findings

Patent Infringement Litigation: Brunswick v. U.S. Army

A materials design of radar-scattering camouflage netting used by U.S. Army in Kuwait-Iraq conflict was the center of the litigation. We devised a unique testing technique for this forensic case to determine the spatial relationship of critical component fibers for U.S. Justice Department.

Weldment ( Welding) Failure

The failure resulted in a tragic auto accident due to roadway debris from 50-lb. steel plate falling from a commercial truck under tow, nearly decapitating victim driver in the vehicle behind tow. The accident caused a massive I-95 traffic stoppage.

Based on our investigation, the cause was determined to be poor maintenance and defective weldment on battery compartment of the truck under tow.

Fire at Dogwood Elementart School

An elementary school fire in Reston, Virginia that resulted in total destruction of school ($17 million loss).

The forensic case went unsolved by fire investigators for months. We provided forensic metallurgical assistance provided to Fairfax County Fire & Rescue and attributed the fire to a defective ceiling-hung clock.

> Read more about the fire on the Washington Post

> FEMA report on the school fire

Weldment (Welding) Failure: Collapse of Bucket Truck Boom Arm

A bucket truck boom arm used to trim and clear tree limbs from the vicinity of electrical power lines in Warrenton, Virginia, collapsed during operation. The failure was attributable to defective manufacturing technique (weldment).

Bicycle Fatality

A moped conversion bike, with caliper hand brakes, became uncontrollable when brakes were applied, causing the rider to be ejected over handlebars. The accident resulted in the rider fatality. The loss of control attributable to improper bicycle modification.

Vehiclar Fatality

A driver stopped on Interstate 95 with mechanical problems and was killed by a commercial truck while awaiting roadside assistance.

Metallurgical forensic examinations confirmed that the disabled vehicle’s lights, including emergency flashers, were incandescent and visible at the time of the truck’s impact.

Corrosion: Premature Condenser Tubing Failures

A well-known construction contractor experienced through-wall corrosion of stainless steel condenser tubing within just one year of construction for a utility client in Colombia, South America.

Three metallurgical entities disagreed as to cause, with the majority concluding microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC). We were able to determine the final, indisputable determination of cause: improper heat treatment of tubing, not MIC.

Corrosion: Metal Building

The forensic case resulted in the determination of cause and fault for metal building roof corrosion, installed just one year earlier; Wilmington, NC.

Corrosion: Metal Building & Roof

Determination of cause & fault for metal building roof corrosion, Annandale, VA.

Explosion Failure

The forensic case involved an explosion failure of a chamber structure used for demilitarization processes at Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG), Aberdeen, MD.

Trajectory Analysis

The forensic cases involved a terminal ballistics reconstruction analysis of a military engagement (shooting) in a jungle/rain forest by Philippine Army near Kananga, Leyte, P.R. More than 245 military bullets (5.56 mm M193 in M-16 rifles) were expended.

Victims of mistaken identity were unarmed and engaged in scientific research, including the renowned botanist, Dr. Leonardo Co.

Fastener Failure on Yacht

Fatigue failure of a fastener on the “Destiny” yacht. The failure was attributable to deficient design, manufacturing, construction and installation practice.