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Category Archives: Crime Scene

Q&A with Expanded Audio Discussions Now on the Suspense Magazine Website

Q&A with Expanded Audio Discussions Now on the Suspense Magazine Website

Check out the new posts John Raab of Suspense Magazine and I put together. Read the Q&As and listen to the expanded discussions. Hope each proves helpful for your crime fiction.

Can DNA Be Used To Identify Multiple Assailants In a Three Decade Old Rape?

http://suspensemagazine.com/blog2/2016/12/20/d-p-lyles-forensic-file-episode-1/

In 1863, Could An Autopsy Accurately Determine the Cause of Death?

http://suspensemagazine.com/blog2/2017/01/09/in-1863-could-an-autopsy-accurately-determine-the-cause-of-death-d-p-lyle-answers-this/

Can My Female Character Cause Her Pregnancy To Become “Stone Baby” By Shear Will?

http://suspensemagazine.com/blog2/2016/12/31/can-my-female-character-cause-her-pregnancy-to-become-stone-baby-by-sheer-will/

More to come.

Want more cool questions from crime writers? Check out my three Q&A books.

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More Info and List of Included Questions

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More Info and List of Included Questions

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More Info and List of Included Questions

 

The Black Dahlia: The Cold Case That Even 70 Years Later Won’t Go Away

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Elizabeth Short

The shocking and graphic murder of Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia) has never been solved and likely never will be. Seventy years ago yesterday, on January 15, 1947, the nude body of a young woman was found in a vacant lot on Norton Avenue in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. She had been bisected (cut in half) and her two body parts displayed in a spread eagle fashion.

The victim was identified as Elizabeth Short and she soon became known by the moniker The Black Dahlia. Her death has remained one of the truly iconic American crimes. It’s hard to believe that after 70 years little progress has been made in solving her murder.

During the initial investigation, the police were at a loss as to who could have and would have killed Elizabeth, and since then many theories about the killer’s identity have been postulated. But none have ever been proven. Still many are intriguing.

An excellent article from Crime Magazine by Stephen Karadjis was published in 2014. It summarizes the case, its investigation, and the various theories that have circulated about this murder.

 

 

Crime and Science Radio: Car Crashes and “Crime Hot Spots” — Studying Patterns To Prevent Crime

Join Jan Burke and me on Crime and Science Radio Saturday 1-7-17 as we welcome Greg Collins and Dr. Kevin M. Bryant to discuss Car Crashes and “Crime Hot Spots.”

Planning & Research Manager

Greg Collins

Greg Collins is the Research and Analysis Manager for the Shawnee, KS Police Department.  He is primarily responsible for CALEA accreditation, policy review and updating, grant management, overseeing the Crime Analysis function, and managing police department volunteers.

Greg joined the Shawnee Police Department as a sworn officer in 1991.  In addition to road patrol duties, Greg has worked as a D.A.R.E. officer, detective, patrol sergeant, training sergeant, and traffic safety unit supervisor.  Greg has also been a member of the department’s Special Tactics and Response team, and a field training officer. Greg transitioned to his current civilian position in June 2008.

Greg holds a B.A. in Management and Human Relations from MidAmerica Nazarene University and is an IACP Associate member.

Dr. Kevin M Bryant is a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas. Bryant completed training and was certified in advanced crime mapping by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in 2011 and is currently working toward recertification.

LISTEN: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2017/01/07/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guests-greg-collins-and-dr-kevin-bryant

Link Goes Live Saturday March 4, 2017 at 10 a.m. Pacific

LINKS:

National Institute of Justice: http://www.nij.gov/Pages/welcome.aspx

Hot Spots Policing: https://www.crimesolutions.gov/PracticeDetails.aspx?ID=8

Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety: https://www.crimesolutions.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?ID=479&utm_source=Eblast-GovDelivery&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=LawEnforcement&utm_content=CSprog479-07112016&utm_campaign=CSreleases

Smart Policing Initiative: http://www.smartpolicinginitiative.com

Evidence Technology Magazine: http://www.evidencemagazine.com

 

Stagger Lee: A Most Famous Christmas Killing

A Most Famous Christmas Killing: Stagger Lee Shoots Billy and an Iconic Song is Born

The night was clear and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down


I was standing on the corner when I heard my bulldog bark
He was barkin’ at the two men who were gamblin’ in the dark
It was Stagger Lee and Billy, two men who gambled late
Stagger Lee threw seven, Billy swore that he threw eight
Stagger Lee told Billy, “I can’t let you go with that”
“You have won all my money and my brand new stetson hat”
Stagger Lee started off goin’ down that railroad track
He said “I can’t get you Billy but don’t be here when I come back”
Stagger Lee went home and he got his fourty-four
Said “I’m goin’ to the barroom just to pay that debt I owe”
Stagger Lee went to the barroom and he stood across the barroom door
He said “Nobody move” and he pulled his fourty-four
Stagger Lee shot Billy, oh he shot that poor boy so bad
Till the bullet came through Billy and it broke the bartender’s glass.

 

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Lordy, what a great song. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve listen to it or played it on the guitar. It just never gets old.

You have to admit, the words are intriguing. Who the heck is Stagger Lee? And Billy? And did Lee kill Billy over a hat and some cash? Does this song have any basis in reality?

You bet.

Some say it was Christmas Eve, others say Christmas Day, but most all agree it was 1895, that the events that spawned an iconic American song went down. So did young Billy Lyon who was shot and killed by Lee Shelton, a cab driver and pimp who went by the moniker Stag Lee, or Stack Lee, the story has many iterations. Apparently they had been drinking, gambling, and arguing politics, and of course the money on the table and the turn of the dice. Alcohol, gambling, and guns make a toxic mix.

Stag Lee apparently shot Billy in the stomach, took his hat, and walked away. He was quickly arrested, and then tried, convicted, and sent to prison where he died in 1912. There was nothing special about this murder, just another shooting on the mean streets of St. Louis’s tenderloin district, but it was the stimulus for many songs that recounted the events of that day. A song that is truly iconic in the history of the blues and rock and roll.

I bet you can hear it in your head right now.

The song has been recorded under many names: Stagger Lee, Stagolee, Stackerlee, Stack O’Lee, Stack-a-Lee, and the list goes on. It is estimated that over 400 versions have been recorded over the last century, each with its own take on the story.

The version that most people know is the 1959 recording by Lloyd Price, which contrasts starkly with the version recorded by the great Mississippi John Hurt in 1928. It has also been recorded by The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Otis, The Grateful Dead, RL Burnside, Keb Mo, and many others.

 

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Mississippi John Hurt

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Lloyd Price

Want to know more? Here are a few links:

Lee Shelton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Shelton

Stagger Lee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagger_Lee

Lloyd Price: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Price

 

Listen to two great versions of this song. You will all remember the Lloyd Price version for sure:

Mississippi John Hurt’s Version: http://www.staggerlee.com

Lloyd Price’s Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxv4m7oiuvQ

 

Originally Posted on Le Coeur De l’Artiste: http://www.djadamson.com/lartiste/-doug-lyle-a-most-famous-christmas-killing

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 19, 2016 in Crime Scene

 

Sonny Liston: Cause and Manner of Death

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Former Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston is best remembered from his two losses—first to Cassius Clay, then Muhammad Ali. Ali changed his name between the two fights. But Sonny was a tough guy. He ruled the heavyweight division with an iron hand. Until Ali burst of the scene anyway.

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But Sonny was no match for the needle. The cause of his death is easy—-a heroin OD. But, the manner of death isn’t so apparent. A situation not uncommon in drug OD deaths.

The cause of death is what actually killed the person while then manner of death is the by whom and why. It basically comes down to—-by whose hand and for what purpose did the death occur?

The four (plus one) manners of death are: Natural, Accidental, Suicidal, Homicidal, and Undertermined—-the latter a fancy way of saying “I don’t have a clue.”

A heroin OD is not natural but can it be accidental, or suicidal, or homicidal? You bet. And it’s not always possible to determine the manner in heroin-related deaths.

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FROM FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES:

Uncovering the four manners of death

The manner of death is the root cause of the sequence of events that leads to death. In other words, it answers these questions:

# How and why did these events take place?

# Who or what initiated the events and with what intention?

# Was the death caused by the victim, another person, an unfortunate occurrence, or Mother Nature?

The four manners of death are

Natural: Natural deaths are the workings of Mother Nature in that death results from a natural disease process. Heart attacks, cancers, pneumonias, and strokes are common natural causes of death. Natural death is by far the largest category of death that the ME sees, making up over half of the cases investigated.

Accidental: Accidental deaths result from an unplanned and unforeseeable sequence of events. Falls, automobile accidents, and in‐home electrocutions are examples of accidental deaths.

Suicidal: Suicides are deaths caused by the dead person’s own hand. Intentional, self‐inflicted gunshot wounds, drug overdoses, and self‐ hangings are suicidal deaths.

Homicidal: Homicides are deaths that occur by the hand of someone other than the dead person.

Undetermined or unclassified: These are deaths in which the ME can’t accurately determine the appropriate category.

Just as causes of death can lead to many different mechanisms of death, any cause of death can have several different manners of death. A gunshot wound to the head can’t be a natural death, but it can be deemed homicidal, suicidal, or accidental.

Though the ME can usually determine the manner of death, it’s not always easy, or even possible. For example, the manner of death of a drug abuser who overdoses is most likely to be either accidental or suicidal (it also could be homicidal, but it’s never natural). When the cause of death is a drug overdose, autopsy and laboratory findings are the same regardless of the victim’s or another’s intent. That is, the ME’s findings are the same whether the victim miscalculated the dose (accidental), intentionally took too much (suicidal), or was given a lethal dose (homicidal). For example, perhaps the victim’s dealer, thinking the user had snitched to the police, gave the victim a purer form of heroin than he was accustomed to receiving, so that his “usual” injection contained four or five times more drug than the unfortunate soul expected. Simply put, no certain way exists for determining whether the person overdosed accidentally, purposefully, or as the result of another’s actions. For these reasons, such deaths are often listed as Undetermined.

So was Sonny’s death an accident? A suicide? Or did the hand of another intervene and murder Sonny? We may never know.

Was Sonny Liston Murdered?: http://theundefeated.com/features/was-sonny-liston-murdered/

 

Crime and Science Radio: Meet Iris, the FBI’s Only Electronic-sniffing Dog: An Interview with Jeffrey Calandra

Criminals and terrorists often hide data on electronic devices and then hide these devices—-and are often very clever about doing so. In such search situations, many subjects hide flash drives, hard drives, and other electronic components so if the police come, the instruments of their crimes may not be found. Take the example of a child pornography case where a subject will put pictures of innocent children on a thumb drive and hide it in the yard, behind walls, and all sorts of other places. In a normal search, a human investigator may not find the media

What’s the FBI to do? Enter Iris, a young, eager, lab who is the FBI’s only canine capable of sniffing out these devices. And she’s one of only seven in the world. How does she do it? How was she trained for such specialized work?

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In this episode Jan Burke and I talk with Jeffrey Chandra about how all this accomplished, as well as how dogs are used in other criminal detection activities.

BIO: Jeffrey Calandra possesses a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Masters in Criminal Justice with concentration in Computer Forensics. He spent 6-1/2 years as a special agent working child pornography, criminal computer intrusions, fraud, and bomb threat cases. HE has also assisted on Counter Intelligence, Counter-Terrorism, Drug, and Gang cases and has served as a member of the Hostage Negotiator team. He is currently a K9 handler for the FBI Electronic Scent Detection K9 Iris.

iris-and-handler

Iris, a 20 month-old black lab, is the first of her type in the FBI and one of 5 in the world. She will be the future of law enforcement. Already we are getting requests from across the country for her assistance. For a little background, Iris was trained as a seeing eye dog for a year and then was selected to be a law enforcement dog.

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LISTEN: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2016/10/01/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-jeff-calandra

Link will go live Saturday 10-1-16 at 10 a.m. Pacific

LINKS:

Video link from WNBC:

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/New-Jersey-FBI-Dog-Electronics-Sniffing-Dog-NJ-Police-380560881.html

http://nj1015.com/how-this-dog-will-help-fbi-take-bite-out-of-cyber-crime-in-new-jersey/

http://www.northjersey.com/photo-galleries/photos-iris-fbi-s-electronic-sniffing-dog-1.1604524

http://www.fox5ny.com/news/164540928-story

 

Crime and Science Radio: Crime Scenes, Criminalistics, and the Cutting Edge

Crime and Science Radio: Crime Scenes, Criminalistics, and the Cutting Edge in Los Angeles: An Interview with Former LASD Criminalist Professor Donald Johnson of California State University, Los Angeles

BIO: Professor Donald James Johnson is an expert on criminalistics, with emphasis on crime scene investigation and reconstruction (homicides and sexual assaults), and forensic biology. His research interests include the application of new technologies to the field of criminalistics. He was formerly a senior criminalist at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he was involved in the scientific investigation of violent crimes.

NOTE: This show was recorded live at the MWA-LA Chapter meeting in Los Angels, CA

LISTEN: LISTEN: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2016/09/10/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-dr-donald-james-johnson

Link will go live Saturday 9-10-16 at 10 a.m. Pacific

LINKS:

California Forensic Science Institute: http://www.calstatela.edu/hhs/cfsi

School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at CSULA: http://www.calstatela.edu/hhs/crim

CSULA Masters in Criminalistics http://ecatalog.calstatela.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=11&poid=3452

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Scientific Services video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SboLJ7WwnXQ

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department: http://sheriff.lacounty.gov

American Academy of Forensic Sciences http://www.aafs.org

 
 
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