Advanced Topics in Homicide

December 1-3, 2014
Location: HCSO Training Facility
Time: 9:00am-5:30pm

USF-HCSO is co-hosting a 3-day workshop (24 hour training) for detectives, crime scene personnel, death investigators, prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as other forensic specialists who work in the area of violent crime investigations.

This course will focus on the following themes: long-term unsolved cold cases; clandestine grave search and recovery; child victims from abduction to homicide; and sexual homicide. The Dozier Reform School investigation will be discussed in-depth, as a case study for field methods used for grave search and recovery.

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MAFS Forensic Anthropology Workshop

MAFS is announcing a Forensic Anthropology Workshop hosted by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory in Olathe, Kansas on June 17th – June 19th.

This is a 3-day course instructed by a world-renowned expert in the area of FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY, Dr. Michael Finnegan, Board Certified Forensic Anthropologist and Kansas State University Professor of Physical Anthropology (retired). This class is designed as an introduction to Forensic Anthropology and is geared towards Crime Scene Responders, Medical Examiners, Coroners, Death Investigators, Detectives, Forensic Nurses, Attorneys, and Students seeking a greater understanding of the forensic use of BONES and the contexts by which human remains are found in natural and unnatural settings.

Participating students will be presented information on proper scene documentation (photography and mapping); the use of GPS and GIS for scene scouting/planning and reconstruction of the recovery site; procedural steps in the documentation and recovery of human remains from surface scattered to clandestine burial conditions; the impact of anthropology on criminal investigations; laboratory methods for the identification of human remains; human remains in mass fatality events, and case examples by the instructor. HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES will occupy half of the class, including a “BIG DIG.”

For more information and to register for this workshop, go to http://www.mafs.net/forensic-anthroplogy-workshop

CSI Training

The International Crime Scene Investigators Association will he holding a training conference in Little Rock, AR. May 13-15, 2014.  This is truly an international conference with presenters and attendees from across the US, Caribbean and the UK to name a few.

There is still space available, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

You can find out more on the conference website: http://www.icsia.org/conference

Conducting Successful Interrogations

By David Vessel, J. D.

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Oct. 1998, and appears on the internet at http://www.fbi.gov/library/leb/leb.htm.

SA Vessel

Obtaining information that an individual does not want to provide constitutes the sole purpose of an interrogation. A successful interrogation results in a guilty or involved criminal suspect’s making a confession or admitting participation in an illegal activity. However, interrogators frequently do not acquire information critical to successful case resolution. Often, guilty suspects leave the interrogation environment without making the smallest admission. Many experienced officers leave an interview or interrogation knowingly outwitted by the suspects. When these situations occur, criminals go unpunished and remain free to strike again, causing the entire community to suffer.

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Interview Training Cruise Tentatively Scheduled for 2014

“Lies & Lie Detection; Navigating your way to the Truth within Interviews and Interrogations”

This will be a 5 day/4 night cruise from New York City to St. John in Canada during which there will be 12 training sessions from professionals within the field covering topics such as; Detecting Deception and the Psychology of Deceit, Human Memory and Truthful Recall of Information; Investigative Interviewing Foundation and Key Principles  Obtaining Information through Cognitive Interviewing/MCI; Language and Lying within Statements & Interviews; Statement Analysis Workshops; Micro Expressions & Emotions within Interviews; Body Language and Detecting Deception; Forced-Choice Testing; Persuasive Interviewing – Ethical Tactics and Strategies; False Confessions – Causes and Prevention; Directing and Supervising the Interview Process.

Tentative dates: August 28th through September 1st, 2014.

Click Here to Learn More

Forensic Science Hollywood Style

Just what is the impression of forensic science held by members of the general public (our pool of jurors)? If they believe everything they see on TV or in the movies, they are being sadly misled. Our local attorneys believe that, at the very least they have been generally misinformed about the likelihood of finding fingerprints by exposure to the media. Because of this I will be in court in the coming weeks giving testimony on the difficulties of recovering fingerprints from duct tape… Of course the same attorney moments later mentioned how unusual it is to recover fingerprints from guns- Which he felt had good surfaces for recovering fingerprints. (I re-educated him on this point, as guns have generally lousy surfaces, not to mention all the handling involved in firing/recovering/and making safe prior to processing).

It has been my experience that not only do members of the general public have a lack of understanding of forensic science, but that police officers, detectives, prosecutors and judges are often not much better. I think this trend is likely to continue as long as forensics is misrepresented in the media. People tend to refer to personal experience when assessing the value of new information, and when the personal experience with forensic science is “I was watching Law and Order on TV the other night and they…. ” Continue reading

61st District Court v Heisenberg et. al.

“Wizard’s First Rule: people are stupid…given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true.”
-Terry Goodkind, Wizard’s First Rule,Tor Books, 1994.

“To a jury about to convict a man of a capital crime, any doubt is reasonable.”
-Commentary on the O.J. Simpson trial.

In recent months I have had two different District court judges, lower two different counts of Home Invasion to either Unlawful entry, or Trespassing. Their reasoning? One said that even though we identified the defendant’s fingerprints on an item in the residence which was handled, but not taken. Even though he had no business being in the residence- because there were other fingerprints which we did not identify (we eliminated a number of prints belonging to the owner and his family) we could not show that the defendant had any intent to commit a larceny, one of the “unidentified” persons could have committed the larceny. Continue reading

Magnetic Powder

By Pat A. Wertheim

This article originally appeared in Minutiae, the Lightning Powder Co. Newsletter, #43, July-August 1997.

Even though magnetic powder has been available since the early 1960′s, many latent print examiners and crime scene technicians are still not using it to full advantage. Magnetic powder adds a wide range of flexibility to one’s resources. In general, magnetic powder is used on non-magnetic surfaces, and regular powder on iron-based surfaces. However, regular fingerprint powder is inappropriate for some surfaces, including many plastics and textured surfaces, where magnetic powder develops latent prints very well. Textured surfaces such as vinyl imitation-leather or lightly textured automobile dashboards or door panels often respond well to magnetic powder, where regular powder would pack into the low places in the texturing and make development of a good latent impossible. In addition, using the “hot breath” technique, also known as “huffing” works better with magnetic powder than with regular powder. Continue reading

Trace Evidence: Hair

by Kathy Steck- Flynn

Edmond Locard was the founder of the Institute of Criminalistics at the University of Lyon in France. Locard believed that that when on person came in contact with another person or object a cross transfer of minute particles occurred. This theory became known as the “Locard Exchange Principle”. Locard believed that crimes could be solved by inspecting the “dust particles” carried to and from a scene. This science is known today as criminalistics and has led to the rise of the forensics laboratory (from Mount Royal College background notes FORE 4407 section 3: Unit 4) Francois Goron, head of the French Surete, seems to be one of the first modern investigators who tried to use hair to identify a killer. In his first case hairs found clutched in a dead woman’s hand could not be identified as human simply because there was no information on the subject.

The inability of the scientific community to distinguish between animal and human hair raised interest in the analysis of hair. In the years that followed researchers began to collect information about the structure of human and animal hair (Block, 1979). In 1899, several years after his original failure, in a case known as “L’affaire Gouffe” Francois Goron was able to establish that a murder victim’s hair had been dyed. Establishing this simple fact led to the identification of Gouffe’s body and subsequently to the arrest of his killers (Block 1979). Francios Goron had successfully used forensic hair examination to solve a crime. Continue reading