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.
Category Archives: Interesting Cases
How did a valuable gold bowl and three skeletons end up at the bottom of a refuse shaft in the ancient Iranian citadel of Hasanlu? It just might have been a building collapse that did in the unlucky thieves. Interesting historical forensics.
A new book titled Naming Jack The Ripper by Russell Edwards presents information that the author feels solves the famous Jack The Ripper case. The five murder-mutilations that occurred in London’s East End during 1888 have baffled criminologists for over a century. Several suspects have been identified but none have been proven to be the real Ripper. So who is Jack? According to Edwards, it’s Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant who had “mental issues,” was 23 years old at the time of the killings, and who ultimately died in an insane asylum many years later at the age of 53. He never confessed or anything convenient like that, but he has long been one to the prime suspects.
So is he really Jack? Maybe. Here are some articles. Make up your own mind.
Daily Mail UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746321/Jack-Ripper-unmasked-How-amateur-sleuth-used-DNA-breakthrough-identify-Britains-notorious-criminal-126-years-string-terrible-murders.html
Mark 16:17-18 (King James Version):
17: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18: They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Many snake handlers refer to this, and other, Biblical quotes to justify the taking up of snakes. Rattlesnakes and copperheads seem to be the creatures of choice and these deadly serpents are an integral part of their church services. As is ranting non-sense syllables—-the speaking in tongues part. Not to mention that they typically avoid medical help when such help is needed. Sometimes taking strychnine in the belief that this will add another layer of protection against the venom. After all . . . any deadly thing . . . shall not hurt them . . .
Don’t think that snake handling is a thing of the past or is relegated to the backwoods of the South. Though most still thrive in Appalachia, there are over a hundred such churches and they stretch from coast to coast.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, actually, a lot. Snake handlers have died from bites, when a visit to the ER could have saved them. But religion is a powerful motivator and often over-rides common sense.
Jamie Coots, the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky: http://abcnews.go.com/US/snake-handling-pentecostal-pastor-dies-snake-bite/story?id=22551754
And one Glen Summerford, pastor of the Church of Jesus with Signs Following, attempted to murder his wife with a rattlesnake. The story in chronicled in the wonderful American Book Award winning and National Book Award nominated book SALVATION ON SAND MOUNTAIN by Dennis Covington.
Glen Summerford: https://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?did=1095-hartman
My third Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN deals with such preachers. Sam visits her old friend Tennessee CV Surgeon Lucy Wagner and both find themselves entangled with the patriarch of a snake-handling church. And everything goes wrong.
Dr. Lucy Wagner was on top of her game. The only cardiac surgeon on staff, a new pediatric cardiac unit dedicated to her, and an impeccable reputation not only put her at the apex of the local medical pyramid but also garnered a few powerful enemies. Such is the nature of jealousy and greed. Turf wars can get ugly. Still all was good until the day old John Scully, the spiritual founder and leader of a local snake-handling church, died on her operating table. Fainting spells, nightmarish dreams, and patient after patient succumbing to some violent psychosis followed, putting her career, and her life, in jeopardy. Aided by long time friend and ex-boxer, ex-cop Samantha Cody, Lucy must reach deeply into her family’s past and into her own soul to find the strength to confront old and very powerful forces she never knew existed.
More Info on ORIGINAL SIN: http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/Books-SCody.html
Set your DVRs for the ID Channel show Deadly Affairs Saturday night 8-23-14 at 9 p.m. EDT. I was asked to discuss this horrible crime that took place in Irvine, CA, a very few miles from my home. A chilling crime story.
Watch the promo trailer at the link below—-after an annoying commercial of course.
Program: Deadly Affairs
Episode Title: Swan Song
Air Date: August 23, 2014
Air Time: 9pm EDT/8pm CDT
Channel: Investigation Discovery (ID)
Link to ID Show Schedule: http://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/deadly-affairs/tv-schedule.htm
Recently, James Brady died. He had received a serious head wound during John Hinckley’s failed assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. That was 1981. Now, over three-decades after that event, Brady’s recent death has been deemed a homicide. At Hinckley’s hand.
His death could result in murder charges against Hinckley. After 33 years? How is that possible?
There are five manners of death: natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal, and undetermined—-the waste basket into which deaths that can’t be confidently attributed to one of the other four categories. The Virginia ME determined that the gunshot to the head that Brady received began a cascade of medical issues that ultimately led to his death and thus he was the victim of a homicide. This might seem odd but it’s really not all that uncommon. Whether prosecutors will file charges and take on such a difficult to prove case remains to be seen.
I blogged on this very subject back on 5-5-11.
For a more detailed discussion of the cause and manner of death check out my book Howdunnit: Forensics.
The Skeleton Crew: A Conversation with Deborah Halber on the Amateurs Who Are Finding the Missing and Solving Cold Cases
For decades, all across the United States, tens of thousands of missing persons cases have grown cold. At the same time, a mounting number of unidentified remains have been discovered and have been stored in coroner’s offices or buried in potter’s fields. But the Internet has been changing all of that. We talk to Deborah Halber, about some of the challenges and changes in the world of the unidentified dead and those who try to name them.
BIO: Deborah Halber started out as a daily newspaper reporter, then turned to the dark side to do public relations. She worked as a writer and editor for Tufts and as a science writer for MIT, where she chronicled everything from quantum weirdness (that’s the technical term) to snail slime. A freelance journalist since 2004, her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, Inked, Technology Review, and Symbolia. Her narrative nonfiction book, THE SKELETON CREW: HOW AMATEUR SLEUTHS ARE SOLVING AMERICA’S COLDEST CASES, is just out from Simon & Schuster. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Association of Science Writers, she lives near Boston in a house with a lot of former pets buried out back.
Deborah Halber http://deborahhalber.mit.edu/
NamUs: The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System http://namus.gov
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children http://www.missingkids.com/home
NOKR: The Next of Kin Registry http://www.nokr.org
Black and Missing Foundation http://www.blackandmissinginc.com/cdad
Clark County Nevada Coroner’s Office: Las Vegas Unidentified http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/coroner/unidentified/Pages/default.aspx
Provincetown Site for Lady of the Dunes http://www.provincetown-ma.gov/index.aspx?NID=618
Todd Matthews Tent Girl Site http://www.angelfire.com/tn3/masterdetective2/
Porchlight International http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/index.php?showforum=41
The DOE Network http://www.doenetwork.org
The Charley Project http://www.charleyproject.org
America’s Missing Adults http://americasmissingadults.com/
California State Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit http://oag.ca.gov/missing
Ohio Missing Adults http://www.ohiomissingadults.com/
WDAZ: Remains Found 31 Years Ago in Wyoming Identified as Missing Minnesota Native http://www.wdaz.com/content/remains-found-31-years-ago-wyoming-identified-missing-minnesota-native-0
People Magazine: Murdered Teen’s Remains Given to Her Family 46 Years Later http://www.people.com/article/philadelphia-missing-girls-jane-doe-identified-family
Story About The Skelton Crew by Deborah Halber in Time Magazine: How to Solve a Murder With Just Your Computer http://time.com/2973705/how-to-solve-murder-with-computer/