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Category Archives: Police Procedure

Wildfires and Forensic Science

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Here in Southern California, we are not strangers to wild fires. Other parts of the world are similarly afflicted. Some are natural, from lightning for example, but all too often they are the result of arson.

Forensic wildfire investigators face a difficult problem when analyzing a potential arson scene since often most, if not all, of the evidence is consumed by the fire. But not always. They search for the point, or points, or origin and then apply their knowledge and skill to determine how the fire progressed. This can often lead to crucial evidence in uncovering who started the fire. And why.

Wildfire pattern

 

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/

 

Crime and Science Radio: FROM CRADLE TO COURT: CHILD DEATH INVESTIGATOR LISA MAYHEW

Join Jan Burke and me on Saturday April 11, 2015 as we welcome Lisa Mayhew, child death investigator to the show.

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BIO: With both her bachelor and master degrees in Child Development, Lisa Mayhew has worked as a child development specialist in North Carolina since 1992. She has provided direct therapy services to children, as well as providing consultation and training within North Carolina and across the US in areas related to child development. She specializes in the 0-3 year population, children with special needs and interdisciplinary collaboration. She has served as the Child Death Investigator/Trainer for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner since 2000 conducting investigations of child deaths statewide, and providing assistance in investigations to local and state agencies. In addition, Lisa operates the Child Death Investigation Training Program in conjunction with the North Carolina Justice Academy to agencies statewide involved in the investigation of child fatalities. She provides training to local and state law enforcement agencies across the US, and is the author of  Child Death Investigations: Interdisciplinary Techniques from Cradle to Court available through Carolina Academic Press. She served as a consultant in the development of the Infant/Child Death Investigation Kit with Tri Tech Forensics and is an instructor for their training institute. Her trainings are also offered through the Public Agency Training Council.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/04/08/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-lisa-mayhew

LINKS:

North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner http://www.ocme.dhhs.nc.gov

North Carolina Child Fatality Prevention Program (this page includes links to several reports) http://www.ocme.dhhs.nc.gov/nccfpp/index.shtml

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina http://www.preventchildabusenc.org

CDC Statistics – Child Mortality http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/child-health.htm

CDC 10 leading causes of death by age group (PDF files and charts) http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leadingcauses.html

Reuters story on UNICEF 2012 report on violence against children http://rt.com/news/185256-us-unicef-children-homicide/

PDF of study from Child Welfare Bureau of the Dept of Health and Human Services on Child Abuse Neglect and Abuse Fatalities 2012 https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/fatality.pdf

 

Crime and Science Radio: Forensic Science On Trial: The Honorable Donald Shelton On Forensic Science And The Courts

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Join Jan Burke and me as we welcome Judge Donald Shelton to Crime and Science Radio as he discusses the CSI Effect and many other legal issues.

BIO: Currently the Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the University of Michigan, the Honorable Donald E Shelton served as as the Chief Judge in the 22nd Judicial Court — the Washtenaw County Trial Court, where he had been a circuit court judge from 1990 until his retirement from the bench last year. In addition to his law degree, he has advanced degrees in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Judicial Studies, and has taught at the college level since 1971. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and studies on forensic science evidence and the judicial system — as well as other topics concerning criminal justice. Two of his most recent works are Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty-first Century and Forensic Science Evidence: Can the Law Keep Up With Science?

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/03/06/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-the-honorable-donald-e-shelton

LINKS:

Links to Selected Works of Hon. Donald E. Shelton http://works.bepress.com/donald_shelton/

Selected works on Research Gate http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Donald_Shelton/publications

Curriculum Vitae of Hon. Donald E. Shelton http://works.bepress.com/donald_shelton/cv.pdf

“Forensic Science Evidence and Judicial Bias in Criminal Cases” The Judges’ Journal, American Bar Association 49.3 (2010): 18-24. http://works.bepress.com/donald_shelton/17/

“Juror Expectations for Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases: Perceptions and Reality About the “CSI Effect” Myth” Thomas M. Cooley Law Review 27.1 (2010): 1-35. http://www.npr.org/documents/2011/feb/shelton-CSI-study.pdf

“Criminal Justice System Sees ‘CSI Effect’,” Tell Me More, National Public Radio, August 6, 2007, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12525741

“The ‘CSI Effect': Does It Really Exist?” National Institute of Justice Website, http://www.nij.gov/journals/259/pages/csi-effect.aspx

“Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton will retire in September, ” The Ann Arbor News, April 08, 2014

http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/04/chief_washtenaw_county_judge_w.html

Studying Juror Expectations for Scientific Evidence: A New Model for Looking at the CSI Myth

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1357&context=ajacourtreview

An Indirect-Effects Model of Mediated Adjudication: The CSI Myth, the Tech Effect, and Metropolitan Jurors’ Expectations for Scientific Evidence

http://works.bepress.com/donald_shelton/15/

Forensic Science Evidence and Judicial Bias in Criminal Cases

http://works.bepress.com/donald_shelton/17/

 

Crime and Science Radio: Spy vs Spy vs Spy: An Interview with the Queen of Espionage Gayle Lynds

3-14-15: Crime and Science Radio: Spy vs Spy vs Spy: An Interview with the Queen of Espionage Gayle Lynds This Saturday, 3-14-15 at 10 a.m. PDT, join DP Lyle and Jan Burke in conversation with best-selling author and Queen of Espionage Gayle Lynds and learn about the world of clandestine activity, both real and fictional.   Gayle at BEA   BIO: Gayle began her writing career as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, where her investigative reporting made such an impact that it led to changes in state legislation. Later she was an editor with rare Top Secret security clearance at a government think tank, where assorted shadowy figures passed through silently and not only ideas but people seemed to bounce off the walls. She was inspired. Soon she began writing literary short stories, which were published in literary journals, and at the same time in what some considered schizophrenic, she also wrote male pulp novels in the Nick Carter and Mack Bolan series. She is now a New York Times bestselling author of ten spy novels. Library Journal has called her the Reigning Queen of Espionage. Her latest espionage thriller is The Assassins, which you can preorder now. It will be in stores June 30th.

LISTEN: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/02/16/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-gayle-lynds

LINKS: Gayle Lynd’s Website: http://www.gaylelynds.com

Gayle Lynd’s Spy Files: http://www.gaylelynds.com/spyfiles.html

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

CIA World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

MI5: https://www.mi5.gov.uk

MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service): https://www.sis.gov.uk/index.html

The Assassins-300   Last Spymaster-300             Book of Spies- 300

 

Crime and Science Radio: Small Town Cop; Big Time Police Chief: An Interview with Chief Scott Silverii

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BIO: Scott Silverii, PhD has been in law enforcement for over 22 years and since 2011 has served as chief of police in Thibodaux, LA. He has often challenged the traditions of law enforcement with progressive leadership centered on community service, accountability and an intelligence-led ideology. Having commanded every major criminal division for a nationally accredited agency, he also serves as a national subject matter expert in data-driven approaches to crime and traffic safety. Chief Silverii, having earned a Master of Public Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy was appointed to the IACP’s prestigious Research Advisory Committee. He was awarded NHTSA’s highest honor for public service, and recently invited by the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Director to serve on the national Crime Indicators Working Group for assessing and revising the Uniform Crime Reporting system.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/02/05/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-scott-silverii

LINKS:

Scott’s Website: Bright Blue Line: http://scottsilverii.com

Scott’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CopsWritingCrime

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10-CODE links:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00PR9QWJM

iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/10-code/id955143897?mt=11&uo=4

Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/10-code-l-scott-silverii/1120993714?ean=2940150002203

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Bayou Backslide links:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00Q0ODAZ2

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/bayou-backslide/id944608095?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

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Bayou Roux links:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00R6ZK1YC

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/bayou-roux-season-1/id947465302?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Barnes and Noble: http://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/bayou-roux-l-scott-silverii/1121006219?ean=2940149974276

 

Crime and Science Radio: Chasing Monsters; Running From Monsters: An Interview with Douglas Preston, Best-selling Author of The Monster Of Florence

Join Jan Burke and I on Crime and Science Radio Saturday morning 2-14-15 at 10 a.m. Pacific as we welcome Douglas Preston to the show for a lively discussion of the serial killer known as The Monster of Florence and Doug’s “adventures” while researching this story.

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BIO: Douglas Preston has published twenty-eight books, nonfiction and fiction, several of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. He writes for the New Yorker magazine and taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. His most recent nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a movie starring George Clooney. He is the co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Agent Pendergast series of novels

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/02/04/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-douglas-preston

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LINKS:

Douglas Preston’s Website: http://www.prestonchild.com

Crime Library: The Monster of Florence: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/monster_florence/1.html

Florence Webguide: The Monster of Florence: http://www.florencewebguide.com/monster-of-florence.html

The Atlantic: The Monster of Florence: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/07/the-monster-of-florence/304981/6/

Biography: The Monster of Florence: http://www.biography.com/people/the-monster-of-florence-573530

Biography: Amanda Knox: http://www.biography.com/people/amanda-knox-20663285

Huffington Post: Knox and Sollecito: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-drizin/amanda-knox-and-raffaele-_b_4757435.html

The Coronado Expedition: http://arizonaexperience.org/remember/coronado-expedition

Coronado and the Seven Cities of Cibola: http://basementgeographer.com/coronado-and-the-seven-cities-of-cibola/

 
 
 
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