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For over a dozen years the Writers’ Police Academy has delivered sensational hands-on training, as well as the extremely popular Virtual MurderCon event that took place in August, 2020.

During those twelve-plus years, many writers, fans, readers, and law enforcement professionals requested that we develop online courses since many people would love to attend our in-person events but are unable to do so for various reasons.

A few years ago I asked our website guru, Shelly Haffly, to create an online teaching platform that would run in conjunction with this blog. Unfortunately, it has sat dormant since that day. My reason for not launching the program was that some of the pre-designed, built-in functions were a bit too complicated for my “tech-less” mind. However, with the rise of Zoom and other video conferencing and teaching programs, well, the time is now right.

So, without further delay, I’m pleased to announce that “Writers’ Police Academy Online” will officially open its virtual doors in October, 2020. The all new website is currently under construction and registration will soon be available for the first daylong seminar called “Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction.”

This first session is live and interactive, meaning that instructors will deliver their presentations and respond to questions in real time. By the way, the instructors for this first seminar are fantastic!

Registration for this fabulous and unique online event is coming soon!


Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction

When: October 24, 2020


Classes and Instructors:

 

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am  

How to take all your newfound knowledge of police and forensic work and carefully weave it into the tapestry of your story.

Instructor, #1 International Bestselling Author Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag is the #1 International bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, with more than forty million books in print. Renown for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, crackling dialogue and well-research police procedure, Hoag first hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1996 with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller, including her latest, THE BOY. She lives in the greater Los Angeles area.

Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides 

Death scenes have been staged in a variety of ways, and it takes an observant investigator to spot the signs. It might be a 911 call, an inconsistency between the scene and the narrative, an uncharacteristic suicide note, or a distinctive signature that signals something not quite right. Some set-ups have been ingenious! Ramsland uses cases to illustrate actual staged scenes, and describes the types of skills investigators need to be able to spot and reconstruct staged incidents.

Instructor, Katherine Ramsland

Katherine Ramsland is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she also teaches criminal justice and serves as the assistant provost. She holds a master’s in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a master’s in clinical psychology from Duquesne University, a master’s in criminal justice from DeSales University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers. She has been a therapist and a consultant. Dr. Ramsland has published over 1,000 articles and 66 books.

Dr. Ramsland’s background in forensics positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects, and to co-write a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist.

For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on investigative forensics for The Forensic Examiner and a column on character psychology for Sisters in Crime; offers trainings for law enforcement and attorneys; and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder.


The Call You Get is Not Always the Call You Get: When a Routine Death Investigation Crosses State Lines and Multiple Jurisdictions

Case Study – On Valentine’s Day, 2014, the staff of a local dialysis clinic were worried. One of their elderly patients had missed three appointments. They called 911 and asked if officers could check on their patient, wondering if maybe he’d fallen and needed assistance. When officers arrived on scene, they found the elderly patient deceased from an apparent medical apparatus failure. At least that’s what it looked like at first; however, they’d uncovered a homicide. This convoluted investigation took Lisa Provost and members of her CSI team two states away during their investigation.

Instructor – Lisa Provost, Aurora Colorado Police Department Forensic Supervisor

Lisa Provost began studying Forensic Biology at Guilford College, in Greensboro, N.C., where she received a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Biology. In December 2012, she joined the Fayetteville Police Department as a Forensic Technician. 

During her time as a Forensic Technician trainee, Lisa completed a six-month instruction program with the Fayetteville Police Department which culminated with a one-week exam and oral review board. With the training and testing behind her, Lisa began working the road. Her passion for learning and for her work were the catalysts that pushed her to attend advanced training courses, in earnest. In May 2015, she was promoted to Forensic Supervisor overseeing Fayetteville PD’s Forensic Unit. 

Four years later, Lisa accepted a position with the Aurora Colorado Police Department as a Forensic Supervisor. So, she and her husband, an Air Force veteran, packed their belongings and moved to Colorado.

 In 2016. Lisa attended the Management Development Program at the N.C. Carolina Justice Academy. In its twenty-eight-year history, at the time the program was held, Lisa was the only civilian accepted into the program and, of the nineteen attendees in the program, Lisa was the only female. The five-hundred-hour leadership training program was completed over an eleven-month period and, besides the completion of her bachelor’s degree, is one of her proudest achievements.

In addition, Lisa has completed over five-hundred-hours of forensic training that includes basic death investigation, child death investigation, advanced child death investigation, and officer-involved shooting investigations.

Lisa Provost was was born and raised in NY state where she started dating the man who would later become her husband. The couple married in 1998, the time when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. In 2003, when her husband’s enlistment was complete, they moved to North Carolina.


Little Known Facts About Crime Scenes 

An in-depth look at the problems and challenges with crime scene evidence such as fingerprints, arson, bite marks, and more. Instructor, Lisa Black

Lisa Black is the NYT bestselling author of 14 suspense novels, including works that have been translated into six languages, optioned for film, and shortlisted for the inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award. She is also a certified Crime Scene Analyst and certified Latent Print Examiner, beginning her forensics career at the Coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and then the police department in Cape Coral, Florida. She has spoken to readers and writers at numerous conferences and will be a Guest of Honor at 2021 Killer Nashville.

In her August release, Every Kind of Wicked, forensic scientist Maggie Gardiner and homicide detective Jack Renner track down a nest of scammers. www.lisa-black.com


More spectacular online workshops, seminars, and webinars are on the way!! Details TBA.

 

Officer Willie Findem was hot on the trail of two armed robbers, running s fast as his flat feet could carry him, when he heard a woman screaming for help as he raced past a row of shotgun houses in a section of town the locals call Murder Alley.

Despite the fact that his heart thumped against the inside of his chest (felt like his sternum was on the receiving end of a fast flurry of jabs and right hooks delivered by top heavyweight boxer), and that his lungs sucked at the atmosphere like a kid going after the last drop at the bottom of a fast-food milkshake cup, he turned and ran up the wooden steps, taking them two at a time, responding to “who knows what’s behind the front door of house number 1313,” the source of the yelping and squalling and screeching.

A quick twist of a slightly-dented steel doorknob, worn slick after many years and many turns by greasy, dirty hands, revealed a visibly shaken Ms. Patty Cakes, a petite blonde wearing a black bathrobe and a fresh coat of gleaming fire-engine-red polish on the nails of each of her ten stubby toes.

“Hurry, over here!” she said, pointing to an open doorway with one hand, clutching the robe tightly to her chest with the other. “It’s in the basement.”

Well, the officer’s mama didn’t raise no fool. “Ma’am, what’s in the basement?” he asked before taking a single step toward the entrance to the bowels of the home.

“The body! The dead body! That’s what’s in the basement! I heard a loud crash, and … I don’t know …  looked … and … he’s dead. And there’s blood, and a knife … and please, hurry! Come on, I’ll show you, but you’ll need a flashlight. The batteries mine are as dead as he is.”

Officer Findem clicked on his light, placed a hand on the butt of his gun, stepped in front of the nervous woman who detected a pleasant hint of Old Spice as he passed, and headed down the creaky, wood plank steps.

“See, it’s there. Right there … by the furnace.  told you, it’s a dead body!”

An hour later, Evelyn E. Dense (“Ev” for short), and her crackerjack team of crime scene  techs were hard at work collecting and packaging blood samples, the murder weapon, and hairs and fibers. “Ev” E. Dense is good at what she does. The best in the business, actually.

Findem was confident that he’d soon have his man, or woman.

Finding clues (evidence) is important, sure, but the manner in which those items are packaged can sometimes make, or break, a case. Common sense tells us to not pour the contents of a half-full wine glass into a cardboard box, right? So what are the proper containers for the many kinds of evidence encountered by crime scene techs and detectives?

Well, for starters, here’s “Ev” E. Dense’s handy guide to collecting and packaging items found at crime scenes.

Powders – clear plastic bags, paper (druggist folds), envelopes. Always separate by suspect, meaning don’t lump all things found at a scene in one package (powder found in Suspect A’s bedroom is packaged separately from the powder found in Suspect B’s bedroom).

Pills and tablets – clear plastic bags

Vegetation (weeds and other plant material retrieved from outdoor crime scene) – air dry and seal in paper container.

Plants – seal in paper container (bags, etc.) Never use plastic.

Needles and other sharps – always seal inside safety tubes with appropriate bio-hazard warning labels attached.

Urine – clean, leak-proof containers. Urine should be refrigerated, and may also be frozen.

Blood (liquid form)- vials containing appropriate anticoagulant. Refrigerate.

Blood-stains (dry) – collect sample using sterile swabs moistened with distilled water. Air dry and package (paper).

Blood-stained clothing – air-dry entire article, package in paper.

Wet evidence drying lockers

Blood-stained objects (guns, carpet, knives, furniture, etc) – deliver the entire object to the lab, if possible. For carpeting, isolate and remove stained area for transport and testing.

Seminal (semen) stains (dry) – collect sample using sterile swabs moistened with distilled water. Air dry and package (paper). For wet stains, collect using sterile swab and then air dry and package (paper). If needed, use alternate light source to detect seminal stains. For large items (mattresses, etc.), collect the entire piece and deliver to lab for testing.

Condoms – collect liquid using cotton swabs. Air dry both the swabs and entire condom. Package in paper.

Saliva – (dry) – collect sample using sterile swabs moistened with distilled water. Air dry and package (paper). For wet stains, collect using sterile swab and then air dry and package (paper). If needed, use alternate light source to detect seminal stains. For large items (mattresses, etc.), collect the entire piece and deliver to lab for testing. Cigarette butts, masks, chewing gum, etc., air dry and package in paper.

Fingernail area – swab between the nail and fingertip using sterile swab moistened with distilled water. Use separate swab for each hand. Package in paper and label appropriately (right hand and left).

Hairs and fibers – small boxes or paper (druggist fold). Do not bend hair. Do not mix samples.

Rope – preserve and protect cut ends for possible sharps identification. Plastic or paper container.

Ammunition (discharged) – package each piece separately (paper, such as envelopes, etc.).

Weapons – make each weapon safe, if possible (no ammunition, magazine removed, etc.). Package in cardboard box appropriately labeled “FIREARM,” etc.

*Plastic containers, such as Ziploc bags, can act as a mini-incubator, encouraging bacteria growth. Bacteria can decompose and/or destroy DNA.

*Policy and procedure may vary depending upon the individual department and/or lab.

“Hey, Sarge,” said Officer Trevor “Curly” Barnes. “Would you do me a favor and see if you can get a clear set of prints from this guy? I’ve tried three times and all I get are smudges. I must be out of practice, or something.”

“You rookies are all alike,” said Sergeant Imin Charge. “Always wanting somebody to do the dirty work for you.”

“But—”

Sgt. Charge dropped his fat, leaky ballpoint pen on a mound of open file folders. “But nothing,” he said. “All you “boots” want to do is bust up fights and harass the whores.”

The portly “three-striper” pushed his lopsided rolling chair away from his desk and placed a bear-paw-size hand on each knee. Then with a push and a grunt, he stood. The sounds of bone-on-bone poppings and cracklings coming from his arthritic knees were louder than the Buck Owens song—I‘ve Got a Tiger by the Tail—that spewed from the portable radio on his desk.

“Well,” said the sergeant. “Paperwork and processing evidence, including fingerprinting people, comes with the job too. You might as well get it in your head right now that police work is not all about flashy blue lights, driving fast cars, and badge bunnies. Not all ”

“I’m serious, Sarge. I can’t get a good print. I think the guy’s messing with me, or something.”

Charge sighed and rolled his deep-set eyes. Everyone in he department knew the eye roll as Charge’s trademark “I don’t want to, but will” expression.

“All right,” said Charge. “Go finish up the paperwork and I’ll take care of the prints and mugshots.” Then he pointed a meaty finger at the young officer. “But hurry up and get your ass back down to booking. I get off in thirty minutes and I’ve got plans. There’s a behind the scenes documentary on tonight about how they made the Smoky and the Bandit movies, and I don’t aim to miss it.”

“That’s right, it’s Thursday night, huh? What was it last week, The Best of Swamp People?”

“Bingo. And me and the little woman never miss. So, if you ever want to see day shift again, you’d better be back here in ten minutes to take this slimeball off my hands.”

Twenty minutes later, Sergeant Charge was on the phone with Captain Gruffntuff, the shift commander. “That’s right, Captain. The guy doesn’t have any prints. Not a single ridge or whorl. Nothing.”

A pause while Charge listened. Officer Barnes leaned toward his boss, trying to hear the other side of the conversation. The sergeant waved him away as if swatting away an annoying fly or mosquito. “No, sir. Not even a freckle.”

Another pause.

“Nope, not on either finger.” Charge leaned back in his chair. “All as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Beats everything I’ve ever seen.”

“Yes, sir. I checked his toes, too. Nothing there either. Slick as a freshly waxed floor.”

Sergeant Charge opened a pouch of Redman and dug out a golfball-size hunk of shredded black tobacco leaves.

“Nope. He’s not from around here. Says he’s from Sweden. Says his whole family’s like that. Not a one of them has any prints.”

“Says it’s a condition called adermatoglyphia.”

Charge shoved the “chew” inside of his mouth, maneuvering it with his tongue until it came to rest between his teeth and cheek.

“Looks like a hamster with a mouth full of sunflower seeds,” Barnes mumbled to himself.

“Yes, sir. Beats everything I’ve ever seen,” Sergeant Charge said into the phone’s mouthpiece. “Will do, sir.

A beat passed, then he said, “Yes, sir. I’ll stay to see it through.”

Another beat.

“Right, sir.”

Sergeant Charge placed the phone receiver back in its cradle without saying goodbye. His typical pinkish cheeks were the color of a shiny new fire truck. He sat silent for a second, thinking.

“Won’t be watching the Bandit tonight, I guess,” he said.

The man from Sweden, the prisoner, sighed, knowing it was going to be a long night. He’d been through this many times.

“Better call the little woman,” said Sergeant Imin Charge as he reached for the phone to give her the bad news. “And she ain’t going to be happy. No, sir. I’d bet a dollar to a doughnut that she’s already made a dozen or so of those little meatball sandwiches that I like so much. Probably has an ice cold can of Blue Ribbon waiting for me too.”

After a few “Sorry, dears,” Cgarge returned the receiver back to its resting spot and then turned to the prisoner who sat handcuffed to a wooden bench with the back of his head against the mint green wall. Another grease stain added to the collection, thought Charge.

“Okay,” he said to the man who’d been arrested for breaking into home of an Hazel Lucas, an elderly woman who’d whacked the intruder on the head with a rolling pin while he was climbing through a kitchen window. “Lemme see those fingers, again.”

The burglar held up his hands and said to the sergeant, “Good luck.”

Photo Credit: Nousbeck et al., The American Journal of Human Genetics (2011)

Adermatoglyphia, or “immigration delay disease” as it’s also known, is an extremely rare and unique condition found in members of only four Swiss families. What’s so unique about the condition? Well, for starters, people with adermatoglyphia produce far less hand sweat than the average person. But, perhaps the most startling characteristic is that people with adermatoglyphia do not have fingerprints.

In one instance, a female member of one of the affected families traveled to the U.S. but was delayed by border agents because they couldn’t confirm her identity. Why? No prints to compare.

The cause of adermatoglyphia has, until recently, been a mystery. Now, however, scientists have learned that the affected members of the Swiss families all had a mutation in the gene called Smarcad1. And this mutation is in a version of the gene that is only expressed in skin.

So, all you mystery writers out there…yes, there are people who do not have fingerprints.


A Tiger by the Tail


There’s still time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

 

We all know how the story goes. A sly, blowhardish and extremely hungry wolf arrives at the front doors of the recently created homes of three very handy pigs, a trio of walking porkchops who’d built their individual abodes on prime pieces of suburban real estate.

The first pudgy, and not so construction-savvy pig fashioned his home from straw, and if you’ve watched HGTV lately you’ll recall that while inexpensive straw homes are susceptible to rot due to high moisture content, fire, and to the difficulty of obtaining homeowner insurance.

I imagine our first little porker thumbed his flat little nose at the rules, and safety, and bypassed the permitting process. I also believe he overlooked the possibility of wind damage and quickly learned of his error shortly after the wolf announced his presence on the front stoop.

“Little pig, little pig won’t you let me come in?” the mangy wolf cried out to pig number one.

“No, no, no, by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin,” said the worried hog.

Well, you know what happened next. The wolf, of course, huffed and puffed and in a matter of seconds enjoyed a tasty pulled pork appetizer.

The twisted and curly “tail” continues with the wolf’s forceful exhalations destroying pig number two’s stick-built home. As a result … pork roast for the entire Wolf family. And, as before, he’d gotten away without leaving a clue. Not even a paw print.

Then the murdering wolf, now deemed a serial killer by the local media, moved on to his next intended victim, the pig who lived in the brick rancher at the corner of Garlic and Rosemary Avenues.

Exasperated police almost captured the wolf thanks to a 911 call from the couple next door, Porky and Petunia, who’d seen the sneaky canine approaching pig number three’s doorstep. But, as bad luck would have it, the wolf escaped on foot, well, on four feet, actually.

The wolf was careless, though, during his third attempt at pig-killing. He’d forgotten it was the time of year when his species sheds their winter coats. Yep, you guessed it. Cops collected a few discarded hairs and subsequently rushed them to the lab where scientists immediately began testing them using an astonishing new process. They ‘d know the identity of the killer very soon. But this is fiction …

The Real Meat of the Story

Okay, the tale above is a bit stupid, I know. But I wrote it as a prelude to the true subject matter of the day—identifying a criminal suspect using his or her shed hairs found at a crime scene.

It’s fairly common knowledge that scientists and other lab experts, as well as law enforcement investigators and writers, are already familiar with the use of human hair from the head as a source used to identify people through DNA testing, etc. Suppose, though, that any hair from any part of the body could be used to identify the person who shed it, not just hairs from the head. To have this capability would be HUGE in the real world of crime-solving.

Sure, writers make up stuff like this all the time to help tie up loose ends in their books. After all, Jack Reacher, Bosch, DD Warren, and Tami Hoag’s Detectives Fourcade and Broussard, well, they’re unstoppable because their creators make it so. But actual cops must use actual evidence and actual crime-fighting tools and equipment to locate killers, such as the extensive catalog of items developed and manufactured by Sirchie.

But here in the world of genuine cops and murderers, the use of wishful thinking and fictional methods and procedures is not an option that’s available to local, state, and federal law enforcement.

However, thanks to a group of researchers, fiction is now a reality.

Yes, a groundbreaking technique of human identification using hairs from ANY part of the body is now possible. It’s the result of a yearlong study by researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Forensic Science Center and Michigan State University.

The process interprets hair protein chemistry and how it effects protein marker identification.

Chemist Fanny Chu, a graduate student and researcher at MSU, along with other researchers involved in the Lawrence Livermore/Michigan State University study, took the hair testing process a step further by studying and comparing arm and pubic hair with head hair. The result—the hairs fundamentally presented the same data as head hair.

Additionally, the protein content of the hairs indicate whether a single hair is from a person’s head, arm, or pubic area, etc.

The team also learned that the protein content of pubic hair is appreciably greater than head and arm hair.

A single one-inch strand of hair has a unique pattern, much like DNA or fingerprints, that distinguish a person from among a population of 10 million people.

Fun Fact: Human hair proteins are chemically more stout than nuclear DNA. In fact, scientists have detected protein markers in human hair that’s more than 250 years old.


SIRCHIE

Sirchie products (mentioned above) are used by law enforcement professional worldwide. Additionally, they’re often seen in use by CSIs and detectives on popular television show/series.

In August, just a few weeks from today, writers, fans, and readers will have the opportunity to attend hands-on homicide investigation training sessions at Sirchie’s elite compound near Raleight, N.C. The event, MurderCON, is brought to you by the Writers’ Police Academy and Sirchie. It’s a rare opportunity to learn at a world-renowned facility in classes taught by some of the best instructors in the world. I cannot stress enough how extremely valuable attending MurderCon could be to the knowledge base of crime fiction writers.

The material offered at MurderCON is the identical material taught to top investigators from around the globe. Not only that, classes are scheduled at Sirchie’s facility, the source of crime scene investigation tools and equipment. It’s where ideas are conceived by researchers and are then brought to life by developers and scientists. Next, a team of experts fabricate assemble everything from fingerprint brushes and powders to fuming chambers, alternate light sources and even surveillance vehicles.

The subject material offered at MurderCon has never before been made available to the public.

Again, this is a RARE chance to go behind the scenes, affording you, the writer, to add better realism to your work by experiencing the touch, sight, smells, sounds, and even tastes associated with crime scene investigations. This is the key to activating the senses of your readers!!

We’ve nearly reached maximum capacity for the 2019 MurderCON event; therefore, registration will soon close. So again, I urge you to consider taking advantage of this unique opportunity. It’s a KILLER event!

Sign up today at:

MurderCON

See you in August!

Writers sometimes fail to capture what really goes on beyond the yellow tape at crime scenes. The reasons vary for these unfortunate omissions of solid information, but one theme is common … the use TV or film as research tools. How awful, right?

The little things often go unsaid, even though those details are often quite important!

 

So what are authors missing when they use television as their sole source of cop-type information?

Well, here’s a six-pack of helpful hints for those characters whose duty is to investigate a crime scene.

1. Death Scene Documentation, Evidence Collection, and Chain of Custody of the Body

Before the medical examiner enters the scene, be sure to preserve any evidence that may be altered, contaminated, or destroyed. You certainly wouldn’t want the M.E.’s footsteps to wipe out the suspect’s shoe prints, alter blood stain evidence, or mar tire impressions. Document the M.E.’s time of arrival, who called him and when, and what time the body was removed from the scene. Also, make note of the seal number placed on the body bag, if a seal was used. If not, note that the M.E. did not seal the bag and have an officer escort the body to the morgue, if possible. This simple act keeps the chain of custody intact.

2. Water Scenes: What’s Important? – Always document the water type (pond, river, lake, creek, etc.). Record the water temperature and the depth of the water where the body was found, if possible. Make note of and photograph the surroundings. It’s possible that the victim had been swinging from the rope hanging from the limb in that large oak tree, slipped, and then fell onto that large rock jutting out of the water. Everything is a clue. Record the position of the body in the water. Was it face down, or face up? Totally underwater, or floating? That could help determine how long the body had been in the water. Follow the clues!

3. Shoes – Everyone entering a crime scene should wear shoe covers. If not, pay particular attention to their shoes. Yours included. Photograph the bottoms of everyone’s shoes so you’ll be able to recognize the tread patterns when comparing impression evidence back at the office or lab.

4. Photograph Impressed Evidence – Always take a picture of impressed evidence (tire tracks, footprints, etc.). If something were to go wrong while you’re processing evidence and you hadn’t photographed before you started … well, you’re, as they say … SOL.

5. Fingerprinting Wet Surfaces – Don’t let a little rain stop you from lifting fingerprints. There are a couple of ways to obtain a good set of prints from wet surfaces—Wet Print, a spray on mixture that develops black prints instantly, and SPR, another spray on product that requires a little mixing before applying.

6. Gloves – Use a different pair of gloves when handling each piece of evidence. This is an important step that prevents cross-contamination. You certainly don’t want to transfer someone’s DNA from room to room, especially if that makes an innocent person appear to have been somewhere he hasn’t! And, it is possible to leave your prints on a surface even while wearing thin, latex gloves. Cotton gloves eliminate this problem.

Angry DNA says, “Wearing gloves helps prevent contamination of evidence.”

Welcome to the first issue of The Graveyard Shift online mini magazine. This is a test issue. If all goes well and, if you guys like it, there will be more to come. Please have a look and let me know your thoughts about the concept. To read, simply click the arrows below each page. The right arrow allows you to continue reading. The left, of course, allows you to return to previous pages. As always, thanks for supporting The Graveyard Shift!

*For an even better viewing experience, click (at the bottom of the page) on “The Graveyard Shift Magazine Cover by Lee Lofland”” and the link will take you to a place where you can view the entire piece one page at a time without having to scroll at all. Click on the the little icon that resembles a TV scree for an even better view/experience. I’m learning, too, don’t worry. Thanks!

The Graveyard Shift Magazine Cover by Lee Lofland by Lee Lofland

 

Ambient Light – Light that occurs naturally (sunlight, moonlight, etc.).

Angle of Impact – The angle at which a blood drop strikes a surface.

Associative evidence – Evidence that links a person or an item to the scene of a crime.

Ballistics – Study of the motion of projectiles, such as the motion/travel of bullets from the time they leave a firearm until they strike a target.

Binary Explosive – Two chemicals/material/compounds which are not explosive until they are mixed.

Bubble Ring – An outline within a bloodstain caused by air in the blood.

Cartridge – An unfired round of ammunition.

Chain of custody – ensuring evidence is safe and trackable at all times.

Double Base – Smokeless powder containing both nitroglycerine and nitrocellulose.

DOT number − Department of Transportation serial number assigned to every tire sold in the U.S. The ID also provides information regarding the manufacturer, date of manufacture, and tire size.

Furrow – A valley or depression between fingerprint friction ridges.

Homogenization – preparing tissue for analysis by grinding it in water.

Ion mobility spectrometer (IMS) – Handheld chemical detection device used to identify blast material at a bombing site.

Latent − A fingerprint that’s not visible to the naked eye.

Lift − Recovering fingerprints from a crime scene.

Locard’s Exchange Principle – the theory that every person who enters or exits an area deposits and/or removes physical material from the scene.

Loupe – magnifier used for examining fingerprint details.

Magazine – A container for cartridges. Magazines feature a spring to feed individual cartridges into the chamber of a firearm.

Medico-legal death investigation (MDLI) – A medical investigation conducted by trained forensic medical practitioners for the purpose of determining the cause and manner of death.

Plastic Bonded Explosives (PBX) – A high explosive in a pliable plastic form, such s C4.

Post-mortem redistribution – Toxicological phenomenon where drug concentration increases after death.

Report – A loud sound produced by an explosion, such as a gunshot.

Rifling – Grooves carved/imprinted in the interior of a gun barrel. Grooves/rifling cause bullets to spin, an action needed for accuracy and to aid in the flight of the round.

Toxicity – the biological effect of a substance.

Trace evidence – Small quantities of physical evidence.

  • Three classifications of fibers: 1) Natural (animal or plant fibers). 2) Synthetic (manmade materials such as polyester). 3) Manufactured (made from natural materials that are reorganized to create fibers, such as rayon).