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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Crime and Science Radio: Watching the Detectives: Investigative Journalism and Forensic Science: An Interview with Douglas Starr

Killer of Shepards

BIO: Douglas Starr is co-director of the graduate Program in Science and Medical Journalism at Boston University.

His most recent book, The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science, tells the story of the 19th century pioneers of forensic science and the notorious serial killer who was caught and convicted with their new scientific techniques. Published in several languages, the book won Gold Dagger award in the U.K., was a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe award in the U.S., and was an “Editor’s Choice” in the New York Times Book Review.

Starr’s previous book, BLOOD: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce, tells the four-century saga of how human blood became a commodity -– from the first experimental transfusions in the 17th century, through the collection and mobilization of blood in modern wars, to a tragic denouement during the AIDS epidemic. The book was published in seven languages, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (science and technology category) and was named to the “Best Books of the Year” lists of Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal. A PBS series based on the book, Red Gold, aired on more than 300 PBS stations in the U.S. and internationally.

Starr’s writings about science, medicine, public health and the environment have appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Discover, The New Republic, Science, Smithsonian, Public Television, National Public Radio, The Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Sunday Globe Magazine and other media outlets.

Prof. Starr lectures on the subjects of his books and on broader questions of science in the mass media, science and ethics, and the history of science. He has appeared as a commentator on ABC’s Nightline, the BBC, CNN and NPR.  He has lectured at venues as diverse as Harvard Medical School, Yale Medical School, the Royal College of Physicians in London, the U.S. Department of Justice; and at book festivals, corporate functions and scientific and public health colloquia in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/12/14/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-douglas-starr

LINKS:

Douglas Starr Website: http://douglasstarr.com

Articles by Douglas Starr: http://douglasstarr.com/writing-articles/

The Interview by Douglas Starr: http://douglasstarr.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/THE-INTERVIEW.pdf

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Murder Solved By Clever DNA Testing of an Old Stamp

DNA PROFILE

DNA PROFILE

Here is an amazing and convoluted story that involves good police work and clever DNA testing, including the use of old and very small samples and familial DNA techniques (instrumental in identifying the serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper). More proof that criminals can run but they can’t hide. Not for long anyway.

 

Human Head and Leg Found Inside Tiger Shark

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Back in November, 2014, fishermen in the Philippines hooked a large tiger shark. Not all that uncommon. But what they found inside was very unusual. A human head and leg. Some believe the victim had been a passenger on the MV Maharlika 2 ferry that sank near Leyte a few weeks earlier on September 13th.

It was a tiger shark that took the arm of surfer Bethany Hamilton several years ago. But the attack didn’t run this brave young woman out of the water though as she continues to be an active, competitive surfer.

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This incident reminded me of the famous and fascinating 1935 Shark Arm Case in Australia. One that involved, forgery, blackmail, and murder and one where the shark was another innocent victim. The case was convoluted and confusing and raised many questions—-not the least of which was ”what constitutes a body?” Is an arm enough to say that a person was indeed dead?

I used this case as an example of corpse identification in my book Howdunnit: Forensics

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From Howdunnit: Forensics:

FORENSIC CASE FILES: JAMES SMITH—THE SHARK ARM CASE

In April 1935, two fishermen caught a large tiger shark off the coast of Sydney, Australia, and donated the creature to a local aquarium. A few days later the shark regurgitated a well-preserved, muscular, Caucasian human arm. The shark was sacrificed and an autopsy was performed, but no more human remains were found.

The arm appeared to have been removed by a knife rather than by the shark’s teeth. Further, the knife wounds appeared to have occurred postmortem. The arm bore a tattoo of two boxers squaring off. Through meticulous work, fingerprints were obtained, and they indicated that the victim was James Smith, an ex-boxer with a criminal past. His wife identified the tattoo.

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Further investigation led the police to Patrick Brady, a known forger and drug-trafficker, who had gone on a fishing trip with the victim just before his disappearance. Police theorized that Brady killed Smith, hacked him to pieces, and stuffed his remains into a trunk that was missing from the fishing shack the two men had shared. Smith’s arm must have slipped free in the water and been swallowed by the shark. Under questioning, Brady implicated another man named Reginald Holmes, who was himself shot to death the day before the inquest into Smith’s death was to begin. Brady’s attorneys obtained an injunction from the court, halting the inquest on the grounds that an arm was not sufficient evidence to bring murder charges. The police charged Brady with murder anyway, but a jury, likely influenced by the court ruling, acquitted him.

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6 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

MWA Announces the 2015 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominees

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CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL:

Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce, as we celebrate the 206th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the Nominees for the 2015 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2014. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 69th Gala Banquet, Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

BEST NOVEL:

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Wolf by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)

The Final Silence by Stuart Neville (Soho Press)

Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown)

Coptown by Karin Slaughter (Penguin Randomhouse – Ballantine Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR:

Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (W.W. Norton)

Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Minotaur Books)

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh (Crown Publishers)

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL:

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Albani (Penguin Randomhouse – Penguin Books)

Stay With Me by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

The Barkeep by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas and Mercer)

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)

The Gone Dead Train by Lisa Turner (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

BEST FACT CRIME:

Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America by Kevin Cook (W.W. Norton)

The Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

The Other Side: A Memoir by Lacy M. Johnson (Tin House Books)

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William Mann (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)

The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter (Amazon Publishing – New Harvest)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL:

The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis by Charles Brownson (McFarland & Company)

James Ellroy: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Jim Mancall (Oxford University Press)

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands: Classic Film Noir by Robert Miklitsch (University of Illinois Press)

Judges & Justice & Lawyers & Law: Exploring the Legal Dimensions of Fiction and Film by Francis M. Nevins (Perfect Crime Books)

Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J.W. Ocker (W.W. Norton – Countryman Press)

BEST SHORT STORY:

“The Snow Angel” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)

“200 Feet” – Strand Magazine by John Floyd (The Strand)

“What Do You Do?” – Rogues by Gillian Flynn (Penguin Randomhouse Publishing – Ballantine Books)

“Red Eye” – Faceoff  by Dennis Lehane vs. Michael Connelly (Simon & Schuster)

“Teddy” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Brian Tobin (Dell Magazines)

BEST JUVENILE:

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith  (Quirk Books)

Saving Kabul Corner by N.H. Senzai (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

BEST YOUNG ADULT:

The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano (Penguin Young Readers Group – Kathy Dawson Books)

Fake ID by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Amistad)

The Art of Secrets by James Klise (Algonquin Young Readers)

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY:

“The Empty Hearse” – Sherlock, Teleplay by Mark Gatiss (Hartswood Films/Masterpiece)

“Unfinished Business” – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS)

“Episode 1” – Happy Valley, Teleplay by Sally Wainwright (Netflix)

“Dream Baby Dream” – The Killing, Teleplay by Sean Whitesell (Netflix)

“Episode 6” – The Game, Teleplay by Toby Whithouse (BBC America)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD:

“Getaway Girl” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine By Zoë Z. Dean (Dell Magazines)

GRAND MASTERS:

Lois Duncan

James Ellroy

RAVEN AWARDS:

Ruth & Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine

Kathryn Kennison, Magna Cum Murder

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD:

Charles Ardai, Editor & Founder, Hard Case Crime

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD:

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Tuesday, April 28, 2015)

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton (Minotaur Books)

The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)

Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Minotaur Books)

Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller (Minotaur Books)

The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

The EDGAR (and logo) are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Writing

 

Crime and Science Radio: What You Did Here Told Me Who You Are: An Interview with former FBI Criminal Profiler Mark Safarik

On Crime and Science Radio  Saturday, January 17th and 10 a.m. Pacific Time, DP Lyle and Jan Burke will welcome special guest criminal profiler Mark Safarik and discuss what makes the bad guys tick. Killer Instinct BIO: Mark Safarik was a senior member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, during which time he established himself as an internationally recognized expert in the analysis and interpretation of violent criminal behavior. Mr. Safarik’s law enforcement career spans over 30 years, during which time he worked in all levels of police work, from working patrol as a beat cop to investigating murders as a detective.  But the defining moments in Mr. Safarik’s professional life came during his 23 years with the FBI, where he spent over half that time as a criminal profiler. Mr. Safarik led the consultation efforts on many high profile national and international violent crime cases and lectured at numerous foreign police forces around the world, sharing his expertise in the analysis of homicide and complex crime scene behavior. Mr. Safarik has a graduate degree from Boston University and is an adjunct faculty member at Boston College. He is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, a faculty member of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and an advisory board member at the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law.  He has conducted internationally renowned research on the sexual assault and homicide of elder females and received the prestigious Jefferson Medal from the University of Virginia for this groundbreaking work. He was presented with the Silver Medal from The Spanish Society of Criminology and Forensic Science, the first non-European to receive this honor. He is a member of the highly respected Vidocq Society, a criminological group that donates its investigative resources to solving cold case homicides. He is well-published in international journals, including the Journal of Forensic Sciences, International Journal of Homicide Studies. He has appeared on Dateline, Court TV, Forensic Files, New Detectives, MSNBC and The Discovery Channel to discuss his cases and analyses. His television series, Killer Instinct, is currently airing on the Biography Channel. Since 2008 he has been a  consultant for the popular television series CSI: Las Vegas and Bones. He has a new Cold Case Homicide show airing in 2015 in Sweden and begins filming a new Unsolved Homicide in Denmark in 2015.

LISTEN:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/12/07/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-mark-safarik

LINKS:

Forensic Behavioral Services International  http://fbsinternational.com

Robert K Ressler Memorial Page http://fbsinternational.com/in-memoriam/

The FBI Investigator Who Coined The Term “Serial Killer” http://www.npr.org/2013/12/29/258160192/the-fbi-investigator-who-coined-the-term-serial-killer

Killer Instinct Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g4asGrGdYE

FBI Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/investigations-and-operations-support/briu

National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/investigations-and-operations-support/investigations-operations-support#cirg_ba

Criminal Profiling: The Reality Behind the Myth http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/criminal.aspx

Frequently asked questions about becoming an employee at the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime https://www.fbijobs.gov/611.asp

 

Hacking Pacemakers For Murder No Longer the Perfect Crime

Pacemakers can be hacked but that’s not news. We’ve known that for a while.

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Newer models are even easier to hack than were the older models. Progress being what it is. Most pacemakers are interrogated and adjusted in the doctor’s office or the Pacemaker Clinic by placing a “wand” over the pacemaker and then using an attached computer to retrieve data stored inside and/or change the parameters of the pacemaker—-changing sensing, pacing thresholds and rates, that sort of thing. Many newer models allow for more remote access—-from several feet away. Think “blue tooth” for a pacemaker.

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This more “remote” access allows for hacking to take place without direct contact with the patient. The pacemaker can be changed, even turned off, which in someone who is “pacemaker dependent” for their heartbeats can be catastrophic, even deadly. Fortunately most pacemaker recipients are NOT pacer dependent so even if the device is turned off they would still do fine. Maybe a bit weak, tired, and dizzy, but not dead from heart stoppage.

Now it seems that, though this can still be done, traces are left behind. Makes getting away with such tampering more difficult.

Guess you crime writers will have to find another way to off your characters who have pacemakers.

 
 

Book Review: Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner

CrashBurn

Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner

Publisher: Dutton Adult

Pub Date: February 3, 2015

ISBN-10: 0525954562

ISBN-13: 978-0525954569

400 pages

Who is Nicole “Nicky” Frank? Is that even her name? Is she crazy? Does she indeed have traumatic brain syndrome from the multiple head injuries she has recently suffered? And who is Vero? A long lost daughter? A figment of Nicki’s imagination? And is her husband Thomas who he says he is? Is he her guardian or her worst enemy? These are the questions Lisa Gardner, the queen of the psychological thriller, poses in Crash and Burn.

And these are the questions Sergeant Wyatt Foster must answer. Brought to the scene of a single car accident, where Nicki rolled her SUV down an embankment, he quickly realizes nothing is at it seems. This disturbing and convoluted thriller will capture readers early and drag them along to the final page. Highly recommended.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Book Review, Writing

 
 
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