Every Contact Leaves a Trace: Crime Scene Experts Talk About Their Work from Discovery Through Verdict

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Real crime scene investigation is vastly more complicated, arduous, bizarre, and fascinating than TV's streamlined versions. Most people who work actual investigations will tell you that the science never lies -- but people can. They may also contaminate evidence, or not know what to look for in crime scenes that typically are far more chaotic and confusing, whether inside or outside, than on TV.
Forensic experts will tell you that the most important person entering a scene is the very first responding officer – the chain of evidence starts with this officer and holds or breaks according to what gets stepped on, or over, collected or contaminated, looked past, or looked over, from every person who enters or interprets the scene, all the way through the crime lab and trial. And forensic experts will tell you the success of a case can depend on any one expert's knowledge of quirky things, such as:
"The Rule of the First Victim": (the first victim of a criminal usually lives near the criminal's home) Criminals' snacking habits at the scene"Nature's Evidence Technicians," the birds and rodents that hide bits of bone, jewelry, and fabric in their nestsThe botanical evidence found in criminals' pants cuffs Baseball caps as prime DNA repositoriesThe tales told by the application of physics to falling blood drops. Forensic experts talk about their expertise and their cases here. They also talk about themselves, their reactions to the horrors they witness, and their love of the work. For example, a DNA analyst talks about how she drives her family crazy by buccal-swabbing them all at Thanksgiving dinner. A latent print examiner talks about how he examines cubes of Jell-O at any buffet he goes to for tell-tale prints. A crime scene investigator gives his tips on clearing a scene of cops: he slaps "Bio-hazard" and "Cancer Causing Agent" stickers on his equipment. And an evidence technician talks about how hard it is to go to sleep after processing a scene, re-living what you've just witnessed, your mind going a hundred miles an hour.
This is a world that TV crime shows can't touch. Here are eighty experts – including beat cops, evidence technicians, detectives, forensic anthropologists, blood spatter experts, DNA analysts, latent print examiners, firearms experts, trace analysts, crime lab directors, and prosecution and defense attorneys – speaking in their own words about what they've seen and what they've learned to journalist Connie Fletcher, who has gotten cops to talk freely in her bestsellers What Cops Know, Pure Cop, and Breaking and Entering. Every Contact Leaves A Trace presents the science, the human drama, and even the black comedy of crime scene investigation.
Let the experts take you into their world. This is their book – their words, their knowledge, their stories. Through it all, one Sherlock Holmesian premise unites what they do and what it does to them: Every contact leaves a trace.
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About the author

CONNIE FLETCHER is an associate professor of Journalism at Loyola University in Chicago, and is the author of the bestsellers What Cops Know, Pure Cop, and Breaking and Entering.

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Additional Information

Publisher
St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Jul 25, 2006
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9781429985253
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Language
English
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Genres
True Crime / Forensics
True Crime / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Using the latest modern technology available to forensic science, crime scene investigators answer questions others never even thought to ask. Here are over 30 fascinating modern cases of forensic detective work. Genetic fingerprinting, blood splatter analysis, laser ablation, toxicology, ballistics analysis - the whole range of forensic techniques is featured. The investigators trust only the evidence to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves: the victims. The cases featured include: Tommie Lee Andrews, the first person to be convicted as a result of DNA evidence, for raping a woman during a burglary; Jeffrey Gafoor, convicted of murder in 2003 when crime scene evidence collected twelve years previously resulted in a match with his nephew; Richard W. Rogers, convicted of the murder of two of his numerous gay male victims, through vacuum metal deposition, technology which saves fingerprints from plastic bags; Dr. Sam Sheppard, the murder trial based on blood evidence that inspired the TV series "The Fugitive"; Edwin Bush, the first murderer in Britain to be brought to book thanks to an identikit picture; Derrick Todd Lee, the Baton Rouge Serial Killer, only nailed by DNA evidence, after a flawed FBI profile led big-shot investigators astray.

It also includes: The Mormon Forgery Murders, an outstanding case of forensic techniques used to solve a horrifying bombing case; Albert T. Patrick, the Texan attorney tried for the murder of a millionaire businessman and convicted on handwriting evidence. These cases, usually successful - but also sometimes dangerously flawed - offer a remarkable insight into real-life scene-of-crime investigation.

If you are accused of a crime you did not commit, do you believe that justice will prevail in a court of law? Perhaps you should think again... An innocent woman is almost sent to prison for eight years because of a mistaken fingerprint identification by so-called forensic experts; a chicken farmer is hanged for a brutal murder he did not commit due to incorrect analysis of post-mortem bruising; and a mother is sent to prison for murdering her baby daughter when a substance is falsely identified as blood ... These are just some of the major forensic disasters that have occurred over the past 100 years, and which are exposed in Justice Denied. Contrary to what television series like CSI and NCIS would have one believe, forensic science does not provide instant answers to impenetrable crimes; in reality, forensic science is neither clear-cut nor easy to interpret, and practitioners are not all competent - as renowned forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow proves in this book. In Justice Denied, he exposes the miscarriages of justice resulting from the faulty courtroom testimony of corrupt or incompetent forensic pathologists and unscrupulous public prosecutors who seek convictions at all costs. From the infamous Dr Crippen case in 19th-century England to the dingo–baby trial in Australia and the unsolved murder of Inge Lotz, Justice Denied reveals the incalculable damage done both to people's lives and to justice across the globe. Justice, while age-old, is not always served when bad science plays a hand.
Now a New York Times bestseller and a major docuseries

The 2017 American Book Award Winner from the Before Columbus Foundation

A Washington Post notable nonfiction book for 2016

A Goodreads Best of 2016 Nonfiction Finalist

A Kobo Best Book of 2016

Includes an update from Rabia on Adnan's vacated murder conviction in summer 2016

Serial only told part of the story...

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig's investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State's case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence -- among many other points -- and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan's Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.

The true story of Theresa Knorr, the twisted child abuser who murdered her daughters—with the help of her sons—told by a former New York Times reporter.
 
In June 1985, Theresa Cross Knorr dumped her daughter Sheila’s body in California’s desolate High Sierra. She had beaten Sheila unconscious in their Sacramento apartment days earlier, then locked her in a closet to die. But this wasn’t the first horrific crime she’d committed against her own children.
 
The previous summer, Knorr had shot Sheila’s sister Suesan, then ordered her son to dig the bullet out of the girl’s back with a knife to hide the evidence. The infection that resulted led to delirium—at which point Knorr and her two sons drove Suesan into the mountains, doused her with gasoline, and set her on fire.
 
It would be almost a decade before her youngest daughter, Terry Knorr Graves, revealed her mother’s history of unfathomable violence. At first, she was met with disbelief by law enforcement and even her own therapist. But eventually, the truth about her monstrous abuse emerged—and here, an award-winning journalist details the jealousy, rage, and domineering behavior that escalated into homicide and shattered a family. 
 
A former reporter for the New York Times and Los AngelesTimes and the author of true-crime classics including Angel of Darkness, about serial killer Randy Kroft, and Blood Cold, about Robert Blake and Bonny Lee Bakley, Dennis McDougal reveals the shocking depths of depravity behind a case that made headlines across the nation.
 
***With an exclusive behind-the-scenes conversation between Billy Jensen and retired detective Paul Holes on the Golden State Killer, their favorite cold cases, and more***

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common—they didn't have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You'll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You'll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara's pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools—and the rules—to help solve murders yourself.

Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you've read before.

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