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Category Archives: Corpse Location

Forensics For Dummies, 2nd Edition Coming Soon

 

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Just got the new cover for Forensics For Dummies, 2nd Edition.

It will be released from Wiley on 2-29-16

Pre-Order now

 

Crime and Science Radio: Bones Tell the Tale: An Interview With Forensic Anthropologist and Best-selling Author Kathy Reichs

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BIO: Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan novels include Death du Jour, Deadly Décisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones Are Forever, and Bones of the Lost, and the Temperance Brennan e-short, Bones In Her Pocket. In addition, Kathy co-authors the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. The best-selling titles are: Virals, Seizure, Code, and Exposure, along with two Virals e-novellas, Shift and Swipe. These books follow the adventures of Temperance Brennan’s great niece, Tory Brennan.  Dr. Reichs is also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only eighty-two forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/12/05/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-bestselling-author-kathy-reichs

LINKS:

Kathy Reich’s Website: http://kathyreichs.com

Kathy Reich’s Blog: http://kathyreichs.com/category/blog/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kathy-Reichs/e/B000APED9E

Kathy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathyreichs

Kathy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathyreichsbooks

 

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Getting Rid Of A Body Isn’t Easy

Killers often think that disposing of a corpse is easy. And important. If there is no body surely they can’t be charged with murder. Right? Fortunately, they’re wrong on both counts.

A case in point: 23 year-old French art history student Eva Bourseau.

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Seems that three of her classmates killed her over a dispute about a drug debt. Drug debts are never good things.

So okay, now they have a body. What are the going to do about it? As good students of Breaking Bad, they decided to dissolve the corpse in acid. At least they did use plastic rather than a metal tub, as, yes, acid loves to eat up metal.

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But they also discovered that acid doesn’t always do the trick. Jeffrey Dahmer discovered the same thing.

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Hell, even Dexter tried it.

Dexter

 

Crime and Science Radio: When Disaster Hits: Naming The Dead: An Interview With NTSB’s Paul Sledzik

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How does forensic science help us in the aftermath of disasters such as plane crashes, floods, hurricanes and other events that result in mass fatalities?  We find some answers in this episode, when D.P. Lyle and Jan Burke interview Paul Sledzik.

In this episode, he tells us about historical responses to mass disasters, such as the General Slocum disaster of 1904, which caused the loss of over one thousand lives.  He’ll also talk to us about today’s processes for dealing with mass fatality events, the role of forensic scientists in processing mass fatality incidents, and the work done on these sites by forensic anthropologists and other specialists.

Near the end of the interview, we were also able to talk to him a little bit about his work on historical remains belonging to “New England Vampires.”

Bio: Trained as a forensic anthropologist, Paul Sledzik began his career at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, DC, as a museum technician. By the time he departed the museum in 2004, he had become a curator with responsibilities over the museum’s unique and historic anatomical and pathological collections. From 1998 to 2004, he served as the team commander for the Region 3 Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services. In the response to the events of September 11, 2001, he led the DMORT team in the identification of the victims from the crash of United flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Paul joined the National Transportation Safety Board’s Transportation Disaster Assistance Division in 2004 as a medicolegal specialist and in 2010 became the division director. The division coordinates access to information and services to support victim and family members impacted by aviation accidents and accidents in other transportation modes.

He has served as a consultant and advisor to federal and non-governmental agencies on issues of human identification and disaster response. A Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, his scientific articles have appeared in professional journals and textbooks. He has participated in the response to over 30 mass fatality events and transportation accidents.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/02/14/crime-and-science-radio-with-paul-sledzik

LINKS:

National Transportation Safety Board https://www.ntsb.gov

NTSB: Information for Families, Friends, and Survivors https://www.ntsb.gov/tda/family.html

NTSD: Family Assistance Operations: Planning and Policy http://www.ntsb.gov/tda/ops.html

The National Museum of Health and Medicine http://www.medicalmuseum.mil/index.cfm?p=about.index

Federal Emergency Management Agency http://www.fema.gov

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Public Health Emergency/DMORTs: http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/responders/ndms/teams/Pages/dmort.aspx

New story on study of preservation of DNA in mass disasters http://phys.org/news/2013-09-team-dna-mass-disasters.html

The General Slocum Disaster, New York, June 15 1904 — over 1000 lives lost

General Slocum Disaster information at New York Public Library http://www.nypl.org/blog/2011/06/13/great-slocum-disaster-june-15-1904

“Sinking of the General Slocum” information at The Mariners Museum http://www.marinersmuseum.org/content/sinking-steamboat-general-slocum

General Slocum Disaster information at New York History.Info  http://www.newyorkhistory.info/Hell-Gate/General-Slocum.html

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, New York, March 25, 1911 — over 140 lives lost

Documentary on YouTube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCB4SgXRgKg 

History Channel site http://www.history.com/news/100-years-ago-the-triangle-shirtwaist-fire

Centennial program on NPR’s “All Things Considered” http://www.npr.org/2011/03/24/134766737/a-somber-centennial-for-the-triangle-factory-fire 

The Eastland Disaster, Chicago, July 24, 1915 — over 800 lives lost, including all members of 22 families

Eastland Disaster Historical Society description of the disaster http://www.eastlanddisaster.org/disaster.htm

Montage of newspaper photographs of the event on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Qxy5yAXb4

Eastland Disaster documentary on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZp0kW3O6Uc

“Brief communication: bioarcheological and biocultural evidence for the New England vampire folk belief.” (American Journal of Physical Anthropology)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8085617

The Great New England Vampire Panic http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-great-new-england-vampire-panic-36482878/?all

 

 

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.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2013/11/20/crime-and-science-radio–jon-jefferson-and-bill-bass

LINKS:

The Body Farm-Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_farm

Tour The Body Farm: http://www.jeffersonbass.com/videos.html

Video Tour of The Body Farm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSDCiOW81mk

WBIR Interview: http://www.wbir.com/news/article/139066/190/Your-Stories-Dr-Bill

JeffersonBass Website: http://www.jeffersonbass.com/index.php

Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales: http://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Acre-Inside-Legendary-Forensic/dp/0425198324

Metro Pulse: The Cult of Forensics Expert Dr. Bill Bass: http://www.metropulse.com/news/2009/feb/25/cult-forensics-expert-dr-bill-bass/

Peter Breslow’s 2004 NPR Profile of The Body Farm: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1906569

Taphonomy-Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taphonomy

 

Crime and Science Radio: Jan Burke Interviews Cat Warren, Saturday at 10 a.m. PST

Listen in at 10 a.m. PST this Saturday or catch it later in the archives.

What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs: An Interview with Cat Warren

Cadaver dog handler Cat Warren is the author of What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs, a terrific book on dogs who work in the military, in police departments, and by searching for both contemporary and historical missing remains.  She talks with Jan Burke about how cadaver dogs and their handlers are trained, the environments and conditions they work in, and what we do and don’t yet know about how dogs find the missing dead.

http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/CrIME_%26_SCIENCE_RADIO.html

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine

LINKS:

Cat Warren: catwarren.com

What do we know about dogs noses?: http://www.science20.com/what_dog_knows/science_what_dog_knows-122271

Cadaver Dog (Andy Rebmann and Marcia Koenig’s site): http://cadaverdog.com

National Search Dog Alliance: http://www.n-sda.org

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS): http://namus.gov

FBI Statistics for Missing and Unidentified Persons in the US for 2012: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ncic/ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics-for-2012

RECOMMENDED READING:

What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren

The Cadaver Dog Handbook, by Andrew Rebmann, Edward David, Marcella Sorg

Analysis of Lost Person Behavior by William Syrotuck and Jean Anne Syrotuck

Canine Ergonomics: The Science of Working Dogs by William S. Helton

 

 

Hyperspectral Imaging and Corpse Location

One of the most difficult things criminal investigators can face is locating a corpse that has been dumped in a remote location. Large number of searchers will fan out in any area where the body might be and spend many hours and days searching, often without result. Cadaver dogs can help in that they can detect the odor of decomposition, even in buried corpses. Arial infrared scanning can also be useful since a decomposing corpse tends to produce heat, which the scanner can detect against the cooler background of the surrounding soil. Also, aerial photography can help by indicating areas where the natural vegetation has changed in some way.

A decomposing corpse can initially produce a toxic environment for plant growth and can therefore make the vegetation less lush in that area. As the decomposition process progresses however it often serves as fertilizer and enriches plant growth so that they are greener, more lush, and appear different than the surrounding growth. Aerial photography can often detect this.

A new technique has been developed by scientists at McGill University. It is called Hyperspectral Imaging. It is similar to aerial photography but more sensitive. It also can be useful over a longer period of time.

Initially the chemicals of decay released by the body can inhibit plant growth and alter the way light is absorbed or reflected by the plants near the burial site. Early on they don’t reflect visible and infrared light as well but after several years they tend to reflect light much more readily. This new hyperspectral imaging system can detect these differences and therefore locate the burial site. Burial sites as old as 50 years have been detected using this technique. Exciting stuff and it will be interesting to see how this develops.

For more on locating and then identifying corpses check out my book Howdunnit: Forensics.

 
 
 
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