Category Archives: Forensic History

Cat DNA Solves Another Homicide




Tinker doesn’t look like a snitch. But then again, neither did Snowball. Snowball is a very famous cat. It was Snowball’s DNA that led to the solution of a 1994 murder and it represented the first time cat DNA had been used to solve a crime.



In 1994, Shirley Duguay of Prince Edward Island disappeared. A few days later her corpse was discovered in a shallow grave along with a leather jacket, which was soaked with her blood and dotted with white cat hairs. Her estranged husband, Douglas Beamish, owned a white cat named Snowball. DNA in blood taken from Snowball matched that of the cat hairs found at the burial site, proving that those hairs came from Snowball and no other white cat. Beamish was convicted, marking this case the first time that animal DNA was used to gain a conviction.

Tinker has now followed suit in a very interesting case from Britain.




The Writers Forensics Blog: 100 Top Websites to Bookmark

The crew over at have listed The Writers Forensics Blog as one of their Top 100 Websites to Bookmark, which they describe as a “list of great sites to present practical, real-world information on the subject.” Many great sources here.

Thanks. I’m flattered.



Crime & Science Radio: The Body Tells the Tale: DP Lyle and Jan Burke Interview Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

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The Body Tells the Tale: DP Lyle and Jan Burke Interview Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

Join DP Lyle and Jan Burke as they explore the world of death, corpses, and decay with Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bass is the founder of the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, the so called Body Farm. Jon Jefferson is a journalist, writer, and documentary film maker. Together they write fiction as Jefferson Bass. This will be a lively, or is it deadly, interview.



The Body Farm-Wikipedia:

Tour The Body Farm:

Video Tour of The Body Farm:

WBIR Interview:

JeffersonBass Website:

Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales:

Metro Pulse: The Cult of Forensics Expert Dr. Bill Bass:

Peter Breslow’s 2004 NPR Profile of The Body Farm:



Eyes of the Beholder: An Old Myth Resurfaces, Sort Of.


A century ago it was widely believed that the image of a killer was forever imprinted in the eyes of the victim. Sort of stamped on their retinas. This has been termed Optography and was a fiction staple in the 1800s and early 1900s. Of course, this isn’t the case. Not possible. Not yet, anyway but who knows what the future will hold.

However, in some situations a photo of the victim just might retain the killer’s image and this might be useful in tracking down the bad guy.


Crime and Science Radio: The Infancy of Toxicology: Interview with Deborah Blum, Author of The Poisoner’s Handbook

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DP Lyle and Deborah Blum, author of the critically acclaimed book THE POISONER’S HANDBOOK, discuss poisons, old and new, and the origins of forensic toxicology. Meet Charles Norris, New York City’s first ME, and Alexander Gettler, The Father of Forensic Toxicology, and walk with them through Jazz Age New York and the birth of forensic toxicology. Learn about poisons such as carbon monoxide, chloroform, arsenic, thallium, and many others.



Deborah Blum:



Carbon Monoxide (CO):


5 Classic Poisons and the People Who Used Them:

Famous Poisonings, Real and Fictional:

Deadliest Poisons in History:

Forensic Toxicology:

Crime Library: Forensic Toxicology:

Poison and Progress: WSJ:

Thallium Poisoning:

Facts About Thallium Poisoning:

Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila, The Original Father of Toxicology:

Dancing With Black Widow Spiders:



Ten Most Common Forensic Mistakes in Fiction

Ten Most Common Forensic Mistakes in Fiction: A fun Big Thrill interview with Jan Burke and I:


Crime and Science Radio: The Science of Sherlock Holmes

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Tomorrow, Saturday, 9-21-13, at 10 a.m. Crime and Science Radio presents:

The Science of Sherlock Holmes: Jan Burke and Leslie Klinger

Leslie Klinger is a Holmes expert of the first order. His THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES is one of the most highly regarded studies of Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  What influenced Holmes’s scientific and investigative methods?  And what influence has Holmes had on forensic science and criminal investigation?




Forensic Science and the Microscope

Without the microscope, there would be no forensic science. At least it would look nothing like it does today. When father and son Dutch lens makers Zaccharias and Hans Janssen discovered that lining up several of their spectacle lenses in a hollow tube would magnify any object viewed, they could never have imagined how their discovery would change the world. When Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the Father of Microscopy, perfected this design and incorporated it into his studies of biology and medicine, he too never imagined the invisible world he would enter. Science and medicine would never be the same and the gateway to modern forensic science was opened.




The forensic science disciplines of blood analysis, firearm comparisons, trace evidence (hair, fiber, paint, etc.) examination, took mark interpretation, and even document examination regularly employ various types of microscopy.  HERE are some examples.


Marilyn: Suicide, Accident, or Murder?


In yet another great article titled “Marilyn’s Forensic Legacy” by Dr. Katherine Ramsland in Psychology Today, she addresses the death of Marilyn Monroe, a death that has remained controversial for half a century. Here Katherine addresses the psychological autopsy, an often useful tool in cases like this.


Lizzie Borden Took An Ax—120 Years Ago Today

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one

Everyone is familiar with this little ditty even though the author is unknown. Over the decades since this horrific double homicide there has been great discussion and controversy over whether Lizzie did the deed or not. And if so, what her motives might have been.

Adding to the discussion is this excellent article in Psychology Today by my friend Dr. Katherine Ramsland.


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