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Category Archives: Interesting Cases

Cat DNA Solves Another Homicide

TINKER

TINKER

 

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.

From HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS:

FORENSIC CASE FILES: SNOWBALL THE CAT

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.

 

Howdunnit200X267

 
 

Nip, Tuck, Jump: An Anesthetic Death?

nip_tuck

 

 

Beverly Hills is famous for plastic surgery. And famous plastic surgeons. Like Dr. Brian Novak, one the surgeons to the stars. But recently, things didn’t go so well with one of his patients. Like something from the TV series Nip/Tuck, where odd happenings were common, the recent suicide of a 53 year old woman was bizarre and unexpected. Seems she and undergone a face lift, after which she recuperated at the North Camden Drive clinic. At some point she became agitated, confused, ripped off her gown, and now naked climbed to the 10th floor roof where she threatened to jump. Ultimately she did, despite the efforts of a crisis negotiation team.

 

BH Clinic

 

How and why did this happen? I would suspect her tragic behavior had to do with drugs. Not those kind. The medical kind. Anesthetics and pain meds, drugs that work on the brain, the former to induce deep sleep and the latter to reduce the perception of pain. But these drugs can also cause confusion, disorientation, and bizarre behavior. Even delusions and hallucinations. These reactions can be part of the drug’s effects or a reaction to withdrawal or “coming down” from the drugs’ effects. These reactions are often unpredictable and come on quickly, as seems to be the case here. Sad.

 

 

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss . . . Until It’s Evidence

red lips isolated in white

 

 

Touch DNA is the new rage in DNA testing. It’s DNA obtained from fingerprints and from objects that have been touched. This contact deposits oils, debris, and skin cells on the surface touched. Cells that contain DNA. These cells can be collected, amplified through PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), and profiled by STR (Short Tandem Repeat) Analysis.

But what of a kiss? Same thing. Lips pressed to a cheek will also deposit skin cells.

Ask “Pierre G,” the as yet unnamed Parisienne jewel thief who gave his victim a peck on the cheek, apparently to “allay her trauma.” Very kind of him. Unfortunately for him, the police swabbed the woman’s cheek and found usable DNA from the thief. Some acts of “kindness” go unrewarded, I guess.

 

Pillow Talk: Post-Sex Confessions Can Sink Your Perfect Murder

Pillow talk can undo your perfect murder. Seems that folks like to confess, or at least tell secrets, after sex. Researchers blame it on Oxytocin—the “love hormone.” Funny, I don’t remember it being called that in med school. Regardless, it just might lower inhibitions and make folks gabby.

 

Pegye Bechler

Pegye Bechler

 

An example can be found in the famous 1997 Pegye Bechler murder here in Orange County, CA. Husband Eric apparently decided to kill his wife and make it look like a boating fatality. His story: he was on a bodyboard, Pegye towing him behind their boat, when a rogue wave knocked him off the board. When he surfaced, the boat was going in circles with no Pegye in sight. The wave had knocked her off the boat and she had drowned. Two problems: Pegye was an excellent swimmer and the water was dead calm that day.

 

Eric Bechler

Eric Bechler

 

Still, even though the police doubted Eric’s story, they had no witnesses, no body, and no real evidence. Eric walked. For a while anyway. He then got a new girlfriend, model and Baywatch actress, Tina New. Seems that one evening after a round of sex and a dose of Ecstasy, Eric confessed to Tina, saying he had killed Pegye with a dumbbell and dumped her body in Newport Bay. At first she dismissed his story but later decided to go to the police. A sting was arranged and she managed to record his confession. Eric was ultimately convicted and given a life sentence.

 

Crime & Science Radio: David Corbett: Private Investigators: Who Are These Guys?

CSR 300x250-72dpi

Join DP Lyle and former PI and gifted writer and teacher David Corbett for a lively trip through the worlds of private investigation and fictional character development. With the irrepressible Corbett this will be a wild ride.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2013/09/25/crime-and-science-radio–interview-david-corbett

LINKS:

David Corbett: http://www.davidcorbett.com

PIs, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_investigator

Detective Fiction, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detective_fiction

List of Fictional PIs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_private_investigators

Top 10 Fictional Detectives: http://listverse.com/2011/01/18/top-10-fictional-detectives/

How PIs Work: http://money.howstuffworks.com/private-investigator.htm

What A PI Cannot Do: http://www.pinow.com/articles/456/what-a-private-investigator-cannot-do

101 Things a PI Can Do: http://www.diligentiagroup.com/legal-investigation/101-things-a-private-investigator-can-do/

PI tactics in the era of corporate espionage: http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/PRIVATE-EYES-Detective-Work-is-Big-Business-in-3304231.php

Anthony Pellicano, “Thug to the Stars” (and Inspiration for Ray Donovan): http://www.latimes.com/news/la-pellicano-sg,0,2662582.storygallery

Palladino & Sutherland: http://www.russianlaw.org/tob-pal-backgr.htm

The PI and Politics: Jack Palladino and Gennifer Flowers: http://www.judicialwatch.org/archive/ois/cases/filegate/Exhibits/EXHIBIT-13.pdf

The PI and Politics: The Paula Jones Case: http://www.wnd.com/2007/11/44416/

PI Jack Palladino Explains Who He Is and What He Does: http://www.sfgate.com/magazine/article/WATCHING-THE-DETECTIVE-3491214.php#page-1

Jack Palladino, PI for Bank of New York: http://www.moscowtelegraph.com/mt070302.htm

Roy Radin and The Cotton Club Murders: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Radin

Jim Jones and The People’s Temple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peoples_Temple

 

Life Imitating Art? Murder or Accident?

It’s been said that art imitates life and that often life imitates art? Is the death of “spy” Gareth Williams a murder or a tragic case of autoerotic asphyxia? Is it a true mystery anticipated by an author’s question?

 

460x

 

The Story:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/police-spy-bag-probably-died-accident

The Question:

http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/q-and-a-can-a-murder-be-staged-to-look-like-an-accidental-death-from-autoerotic-asphyxia/

Two other posts on autoerotic asphyxia:

http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/autoerotic-asphyxia-a-very-bizarre-case/

http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/autoerotic-asphyxia-redux-david-carradine/

 

 

Joseph Rivera: The New Andrew Luster?

Joseph Rivera

Joseph Rivera

 

In a case that seems to echo that of Andrew Luster, Joseph Rivera has been arrested and charged with multiple sexual assaults involving the use of sedative drugs. Exactly like Andrew. Andrew’s drug of choice was GHB and that might also be what Rivera used. No details yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising if that’s the answer.

 

Andrew Luster

Andrew Luster

 

GHB is one of the so-called Date Rape Drugs. Their treachery lies in that, unlike true intoxicants such as alcohol and the various narcotic and sedative drugs out there, the victim appears more or less normal. Maybe a little giddy but certainly not sloppy drunk. But the victim becomes very complaint and suggestable and has no memory of what happens while under the drug’s influence. Scary stuff.

 
 

Albert Did It

Desalvo

 

For years, controversy has surrounded the famous Boston Strangler case. Albert DeSalvo, who was killed in prison in 1973, confessed to around a dozen murders, then recanted. One of the cases at the center of the controversy was the murder of 19-year-old Mary Sullivan. Many felt Albert was responsible; others said no. The controversy can now be put to rest.

 

MSullivan1

 

The Boston Police Crime Lab tested DNA obtained from Mary’s remains and then using Familial DNA techniques compared it with a fraternal nephew of DeSalvo’s. The results suggested that a relative of the nephew’s could be the killer. That is, it could be Albert. This was enough probable cause to obtain an exhumation order to retrieve Albert’s DNA. A match was then made between his DNA and that found in the corpse of Mary Sullivan.

Albert did it.

Familial DNA also played a role in the identification of the Grim Sleeper as Lonnie Franklin

 

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

 

David Stoddard

 

David Stoddard and his buddies apparently thought that home invasion robberies were a slick and low risk way of making a living. After all, who would say no to three armed men?

Turns out the family’s pit bull did.

 

Pit Bull

 

As the thieves fled, the dog attacked and bit Stoddard on his leg and arm. Tragically, the dog was shot and killed. But the investigators realized that the dog had bitten one of the intruders and swabbed the deceased dog’s mouth for DNA.

Very clever.

The profile matched stellar citizen Stoddard who had been arrested for another crime–the shooting of two women, one a pregnant teenager who died. Didn’t I say he was a stellar citizen?

Of course Stoddard has pled not guilty and his defense, as voiced by his attorney John Sinn, seems to be: “My client indicates that he doesn’t have a recollection of those events.”

Really? I guess we would all forget shooting a 16-year-old mother to be and getting bitten by a pit bull. I mean, really, it could happen, don’t you think?

 

Drug Smuggling Gets Creative

Criminals are for the most part not all that bright but sometimes their creativity is amazing. Drug traffickers notoriously go to great lengths to slip their product past inspectors and detection devices at airports and border crossings. Last year I posted about diamond and drug smugglers swallowing their booty in an often misguided attempt to avoid detection. Condoms filled with cocaine are one trick that can result in death if one of the condoms breaks.

 

X-ray of swallowed cocaine-filled balloons

X-ray of swallowed cocaine-filled balloons

 

Now two other clever methods have popped up:

A Panamanian woman was recently arrested in Barcelona, Spain as she attempted to smuggle 3 pounds of cocaine secreted inside her breast implants. I wonder if she got the idea from watching re-runs of NIP/TUCK, where this was one of the story lines in the quirky series.

 

BReast Implants

Breast Implants

 

The other is a very unique pneumatic-powered canon that fires barrels packed with marijuana over the border near Yuma, AZ. It didn’t work, at least this time, but you have to give them an A for creativity.

 

Barrels of marijuana scattered like unexploded mortar shells

Barrels of marijuana scattered like unexploded mortar shells

 
 
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