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Crime and Science Radio: Investigating the Criminal Mind with Author Alan Jacobson

Join Jan Burke and me as we welcome author Alan Jacobson to Crime and Science Radio Saturday 5-23-15 at 10 a.m. PDT

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BIO: Alan Jacobson is the national bestselling author of ten thrillers, including the FBI profiler Karen Vail series and the OPSIG Team Black novels. His books have been translated internationally, they’ve been named to numerous best books of the year lists, and several have been optioned by Hollywood.

Jacobson has spent twenty years working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, SWAT, the NYPD, Scotland Yard, local law enforcement, and the US military. This research and the breadth of his contacts help bring depth and realism to his characters and stories.

For video interviews and a free personal safety eBook co-authored by Alan Jacobson and FBI Profiler Mark Safarik, please visit www.AlanJacobson.com.

Connect with Jacobson on Twitter (@JacobsonAlan) and on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/AlanJacobsonFans).

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/05/01/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-alan-jacobson

LINKS:

Alan’s Website: http://www.alanjacobson.com

FBI Website: http://www.fbi.gov

FBI Investigation & Operations Support: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/investigations-and-operations-support

FBI Behavioral Analysis Jobs: http://www.fbiagentedu.org/careers/intelligence/fbi-behavioral-analyst/

A Look Inside the BAU: http://profilesofmurder.com/2012/04/11/a-look-inside-the-bau/

NSA Website: https://www.nsa.gov

CIA Website: https://www.cia.gov/index.html

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Does “Body Recognition” Compare With DNA?

Does “Body Recognition” Compare With DNA?

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The forensic anatomy researchers at the University of Adelaide think this just might be the case. If so, this technique might be useful in identifying criminals and missing persons from photos and videos where facial features aren’t clearly shown.

Anthropomorphic measurements for identification aren’t new. In fact, they are over 100 years old. One of the pioneers in this endeavor was Alphonse Bertillon who devised a system hat became known as Bertillonage. It was the standard until fingerprints proved more reliable and discriminatory.

Alphonse Bertillon

Alphonse Bertillon

From HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS:

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ANTHROPOMETRY AND BERTILLONAGE

Anthropometry (anthrop means “human”; metry means “to measure”) is defined as the study of human body measurements for use in anthropological classification and comparison. Simply put, it is the making of body measurements in order to compare individuals with each other.

Using anthropometry, French police officer Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914) developed the first truly organized system for identifying individuals in 1882.

Believing that the human skeleton did not change in size from about age twenty until death and that each person’s measurements were unique, he created a system of body measurements that became known as bertillonage.

According to Bertillon, the odds of two people having the same bertillonage

measurements were 286 million to one. This belief led Bertillon to state that all people could be distinguished from one another by key measurements, such as height, seated height from head to seat, length and width of the head, right ear length, left little finger length, and width of the cheeks, among others. His greatest triumph came in February 1883, when he measured a thief named Dupont and compared his profile against his files of known criminals. He found that Dupont’s measurements matched a man named Martin. Dupont ultimately confessed that he was indeed Martin.

For many years, this system was accepted by many jurisdictions, but by the dawn of the twentieth century cracks began to appear. The measurements were inexact and subject to variation, depending upon who made them. And because the measurements in two people who were of the same size, weight, and body type varied by fractions of a centimeter, flaws quickly appeared and the system was soon discontinued. Its death knell tolled with the famous Will West case.

FORENSIC CASE FILES: THE WILL WEST CASE

Though landmark in its importance, this case was an odd comical coincidence.

On May 1, 1903, Will West came to Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas. The records

clerk apparently thought that the man looked familiar, but the new inmate denied ever having been in the prison before. As part of his intake examination, anthropometry was performed and officials were surprised to find that Will’s measurements exactly matched those of William West, another inmate at Leavenworth. The two men even looked eerily similar as if they were twins.

They were brought together into the same room, but each stated that they were not brothers. Fingerprints were then used to distinguish between the two Wills after which Leavenworth immediately dumped anthropometry and switched to a fingerprint-based system for identifying prisoners. New York’s Sing Sing prison followed a month later.

But was the similarity between Will and William West just a bizarre coincidence?

Not really. A report in the Journal of Police Science and Administration in 1980 revealed that the two actually were identical twins. They possessed many fingerprint similarities, nearly identical ear configurations (unusual in any circumstance except with identical twins), and each of the men wrote letters to the same brother, same five sisters, and same Uncle George. So, even though the brothers denied it, it seemed that they were related after all.

In 2010 and also in 2012, I posted on Bertillon’s technique:

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/fingerprints-and-the-forensic-world-part-2/

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/handprints-and-stature-whats-old-is-now-new/

 

Book Review: Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates

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Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN-10: 0802123945

ISBN-13: 978-0802123947

201 pages

Jack of Spades is a quirky and wonderfully written psychological thriller by one of America’s greatest storytellers. Andrew Rush is a best selling author and enjoys all the trappings that go along with his achievements. But he also writes very dark and disturbing fiction under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades.” But is Andy really Andrew or is he Jack? The lines are blurred and when he is sued for plagiarism by a local woman, who herself is an odd character, the pressure mounts and Andrew begins behaving oddly himself. His external struggles with family and friends pale in comparison to his percolating internal struggles. This story will grab you quickly and not let go.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Book Review, Writing

 

Crystal Pattern Mapping: A New Technique For Restoring Obliterated Serial Numbers

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Serial numbers on firearms offer investigators a reliable method for tracing ownership. To avoid this connection, criminals will often attempt to obliterate these by scratching, gouging, and grinding the numbers away. Or at least damaging them so that they become unreadable.

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There are many techniques for restoring such numbers. Things like acid or electrical etching, magnaflux, ultrasonic cavitation. But these techniques don’t often work and some can damage the evidence. (See Below)

Now those clever folks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new method: Crystal Pattern Mapping. This technique employs a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and reads the electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), which reveals the obliterated numbers.

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An intriguing and useful new tool for the forensic scientist.

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From HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS:

RESTORING SERIAL NUMBERS

Sometimes it’s obvious that a particular gun was the murder weapon. It is found at the crime scene, along the perpetrator’s escape route, or where it was discarded, and the forensic fi rearms examiner matches the gun to the bullets removed from the victim. But that information doesn’t identify the gun’s owner or who fi red it. In this situation it is useful to discover if anyone had registered the gun. Even if the registered owner is not the killer, he might have given the gun to someone, or it might have been stolen and the murder and the gun theft can be linked. Comparing the evidence in the two cases would move the investigators closer to identifying the perpetrator.

But criminals are clever. They often attempt to grind or file away the gun’s serial number in the hopes that the weapon can’t be traced. If so, the examiner has a few tricks he can employ in these situations.

The most common are magnaflux, chemical and electrochemical etching, and ultrasonic cavitation. Each relies on the changes in the structure of the gun’s metal that follows the serial number stamping process. When the metal is pressure-stamped, not only is the metal indented with the numbers, but also the metal beneath the numbers is stressed and undergoes structural changes.

MAGNAFLUX: This is only useful if the weapon is composed of iron-containing metals. The gun is placed in a strong electromagnetic fi eld or beneath a strong magnet, which magnetizes the weapon. The lines of magnetic force in a magnetized object usually run parallel to each other, but the disordered metal beneath the stamped numbers disrupt this order. The gun is then sprayed with a special oil in which iron-like particles are suspended. The particles tend to collect in the areas of disordered metal, thus revealing the hidden number. The major advantage of this process is it is nondestructive and doesn’t alter the weapon.

CHEMICAL AND ELECTROCHEMICAL ETCHING: These are destructive processes, which limits their use. They involve the painting of an etching solution over the area in question. The chemical eats the disordered metal faster than the surrounding metal, and thus brings the numbers into view. Adding an electric current (electrochemical etching) hastens the process. Either of these must be done carefully, since over-etching will destroy the evidence forever.

ULTRASONIC CAVITATION: This technique is similar to chemical etching and is also a destructive process. The gun is placed in a special ultrasonic bath and exposed to very high-frequency vibrations. This causes cavitation, a process in which tiny bubbles form along the surface of the metal. With continued exposure, the cavitation begins to eat away the metal. The process is fastest in the areas of disorder and, as with chemical etching, the serial number might be revealed.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Crime and Science Radio: A Fly for the Prosecution: An Interview with Forensic Entomologist Dr. Lee Goff

Join Jan Burke and me as we discuss bugs and bodies with forensic entomologist Dr. M. Lee Goff.

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BIO: Dr. M. Lee Goff is one of the founding members of the American Board of Forensic Entomology, from which he retired in 2013.  Professor Emeritus, in Forensic Sciences at  Chaminade University of Hawaii and Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Hawaii, Manoa,, he received his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1966, M.S. in Biology from California State University, Long Beach in 1974, and Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1977. He was Professor of Entomology and Chair of the Entomology Graduate Program at University of Hawaii at Manoa from 1983 until 2001. He then moved to Chaminade University of Honolulu as Director of the Forensic Sciences Program. Dr. Goff has been involved in forensic entomology for a period of over 25 years. He is currently a consultant in forensic entomology for the Office of the Medical Examiner, City and County of Honolulu and other state and federal agencies throughout the world.  He also serves as a consultant for the crime dramas CSI and Bones. He is curator of a traveling museum exhibition called CSI: Crime Scene Insects.

Additionally Dr. Goff has served as a member of the instructional staff for the FBI Academy course in Detection and Recovery of Human Remains taught at Quantico, Virginia. He has published over 200 papers in scientific journals, authored the popular book, A Fly for the Prosecution, co-edited the recent publication “Advances in Forensic Entomology” and participated in over 350 homicide investigations, consulting on cases worldwide.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/04/30/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-dr-lee-goff

LINKS:

Professor Emeritus Goff’s faculty Page on Chaminade University’s site https://www.chaminade.edu/natural-sciences/faculty/M_Lee_Goff.php

PBS Nature‘s Crime Scene Creatures Interview: Forensic Entomologist Lee Goff http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/crime-scene-creatures-interview-forensic-entomologist-lee-goff/302/

Dr. Goff Interviewed on KHNL-TV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnNe8SNAz08

National Geographic Channel 2004 Interview with Dr. Goff http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/04/0423_040423_tvbugman.html

American Board of Forensic Entomology http://www.forensicentomologist.org

Insects.org  http://www.insects.org

Acarological Society of America https://sites.google.com/site/acarologicalsociety/home

Acarology: The Study of Mites and Ticks (UK’s Natural History Museum) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/acarology/

Entomological Society of America http://www.entsoc.org/home

Insect Collections, Zoos, Museums, and Butterfly Gardens in North America http://www.entsoc.org/resources/links/zoos

Amateur Entomologists’ Society: Forensic Entomology http://www.amentsoc.org/insects/insects-and-man/forensic-entomology.html

How Stuff Works: What do bugs have to do with forensic science? http://science.howstuffworks.com/forensic-entomology2.htm

Smithsonian Channel Catching Killers: Insect Evidence http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/catching-killers/insect-evidence/1003122/141561

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Your Hair Dye Just Might Sink Your Perfect Crime

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Hair and fibers and other trace evidence are often unknowingly left at the crime scene by the perpetrator. And those clever CSI folks can find these tidbits and analyze them. From hair, they can usually determine the species (human, cat, dog?), the color, the thickness and curliness, whether it was cut or yanked out, and other things.

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But what if the hair has been altered with coloring or various chemical treatments? No problem. In fact, such alterations could add another layer of individuality to hair found at a crime scene. Using Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), dyes and chemical treatments can be analyzed and such analysis can lead to the type of treatment and even the manufacturer of the product. This could prove to be critical evidence in connecting a suspect to a crime scene.

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Don’t Miss Master CraftFest

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Master CraftFest is ITW’s one-day writing intensive where a small group of students gather with a single instructor to workshop each student’s manuscript. The goal of this hands-on approach is to improve your writing and storytelling. It’s a long but rewarding day.

Join us and kick up your writing to the next level.

This year our instructors are: Steve Berry, Gayle Lynds, Steven James, Grant Blackwood, Lorenzo Carcaterra, David Corbett, and DP Lyle.

Master CraftFest will be held on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with CraftFest proper beginning Wednesday July 8.

There are only a few seats remaining so sign up now.

http://thrillerfest.com/master-craftfest/

And of course join us for the entire week as ITW presents ThrillerFest, CraftFest, CareerFest (a new program), PitchFest, and the Thriller Awards Banquet. It’s a great week of learning, networking, and having fun.

http://thrillerfest.com

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Writing

 
 
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