Primary Suitcase Details and Corrections

April 26 2010

Sometimes on this blog I run ahead and make a mistake and have to backtrack. This is one of those times.  I just finished a video and some updated graphics on the Bedford suitcases and the forensic evidence, and the possibility of two brown hardshell Samsonites existing at the blast site, and now find two problems with the case I've made.

First, I had with some reason identified some hard gray plastics, presumed of the IED case, as matching a report of antique copper material bleached to blue-white. However, I learn, the case was not made of solid colored plastic, but solid gray plastic topped with a colored outer layer. Dr. Thomas Hayes' lab notes explain (and other sources confirm) this observations based on control sample labeled DC/90 (shown at left, I believe), read back at trial:
"The suitcase [...] was essentially constructed from rigid grey acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics with the base and lid coated with an exterior surface layer of copper bronze-coloured plastics having a simulated leather surface finish. The base and lid were each strengthened with a circumferential metallic black painted magnesium alloy metal frame which retained a rigid hinged handle, a central combination lock and hasp, recessed left-hand and right-hand lockable lift levers and catches, an address window, a retractable pull strap, and upper and lower brown plastics single-track shock-absorbing bumper strips."
Some of the material may still be bleached as reported by Emerson and Duffy (see link above), but the seven chunks of gray material I listed is likely its original color after all, minus the surface coating. So color is an ambiguous clue at best and we're left with the number and size of fragments - both of which are larger than I previously thought (more than 50 fragments total and up to twenty inches in size). This is a cataloging effort I'm working on and will have an article and PDF up when that's done.

But then, there would be more material than I had first thought. Previously I had estimated the IED suitcase size as 24x16x8 inches, and used that in Visualizing the Bedford story graphics and the attached video (see first link). The suspect case model is only a tad longer at 26 inches, verified in trial transcripts by a Samsonite materials expert, who found numerous clues pinning it as a 26" frame silhouette 4000 model case. Embarrassingly, the 26" dimension is widely published but I didn't stop and clear up the point before proceding with a whole video even...

That's close enough I wouldn't feel a need to update the old graphics again, but the other dimension is even more different. Dr. Hayes measured control sample DC/90 as "660 millimetres (26 inches) in length by 560 millimetres (22 inches) overall width by 225 millimetres (8.9 inches) deep." On his given dimensions, 22 inches seemed too wide for me; suitcases aren't square like that usually. Looking around for photos of Silhouette line cases, most were of a more normal 3:2 or 4:3 proportion until I found one, listed as Silhouette 4000, for sale on some site, that is about the given 13:11 props, (below, left).

Seeing this model open next to the control (above right) it's suddenly clear that area is wider than I had realized and nearly square. Perspective and expectations... Also, the handle and combo-lock assembly seem the same, although the latch levers seem a bit different (see below). From here on then, I'll consider this a model and call the IED case 26x22x9 inches. The graphics will be updated to reflect this, and the implications for arrangement will play into a look at which parts of the case(s) wound up where.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you happen to find the model number of the black Samsonite case?