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With the help of forensic science most crimes can be solved. But most criminals never approach their crimes scientifically. If you thought like a forensic scientist, could you commit the perfect murder? Horizon: How to Commit the Perfect Murder, BBC 2007
Spotting a suspicious death is a race against time. As a body begins to decompose the information the pathologist relies on starts to disappear. ibid.
No matter how well hidden flies will rapidly pick up on the smell of a dead body. ibid.
Lee’s insect evidence has provided the crucial time of death in murder convictions across the US. ibid.
Calculating the time of death is a complicated business. At any given crime scene there are hundreds of variables. ibid.
Wherever a body is dumped there will be a branch of science that can help catch the criminal. ibid.
It would take around twenty-seven gallons of sulphuric acid and several weeks to dissolve of a human body. And it’s not even foolproof. ibid.
The weapon a murderer uses could easily give him away. But there is a weapon used in fiction which could never be linked to a crime. An icicle would disappear before an investigator could link it to the injuries on a body. But could it actually kill someone? An icicle properly made might be a potentially lethal weapon. It would conveniently disappear after use, and probably wouldn’t leave any marks on the bone. ibid.
Trace evidence is the latest development in the forensic armoury. ibid.
You don’t even need to touch anything to leave your DNA behind. ibid.
DNA and other trace evidence will disappear when mixed with samples left by hundreds of other people. So the cleverest murderers plan to commit the crime in a public place. ibid.
The perfect murder is possible in real life but the killer cannot make the tiniest mistake. ibid.
Two new developments in the fight against crime: there was forensic science and the coming of a new kind of hero – the detective. A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley II: Detection Most Ingenious, BBC 2013
A pioneering artist with a sixth sense. Crime Stories: Head Cases
America’s Most Wanted aired Nauss’s profile. The centrepiece of the profile was Frank Bender’s bust of Nauss. ibid.
Bender doesn’t just help track down fugitives, he also helps identify anonymous murder victims. ibid.
Frank Bender has an uncanny knack for getting it right. ibid.
The first law of forensic science is Locard’s Exchange Principle, and it says, ‘Every contact between a perpetrator and a crime scene leaves a trace’. Terry Hayes, I Am Pilgrim
First used in a small town in Argentina fingerprint identification became one of the most important forensic tools in the world. Bank robber John Dillinger tried to have his fingerprints burnt off with acid in 1934. The Night Stalker, History Channel
Forensic fingerprinting is becoming ever more complicated. ibid.
In the act of murder there is a weapon, a crime scene and a body: all vital evidence in the hunt for the killer. It’s a game of cat and mouse between police and murderer that used to favour the criminal. But then something happened that swung the odds in favour of justice: the arrival of forensic science. Gabriel Weston: Catching History’s Criminals I: A Question of Identity, BBC 2015
Harvard Medical College Boston on November 25th 1849: inside one of the laboratories George Parkman lay dead murdered by Professor John White Webster … Somehow Professor Webster had managed to make the body of his victim simply vanish. ibid.
The 19th century saw the emergence of dentistry as a respected branch of medicine … In a stroke of luck for detectives, George Parkman had bad teeth … This was the legal birth of forensic dentistry. ibid.
More bundles were discovered: each contained decomposing human remains … the remains were mutilated beyond recognition … The knew they were dealing with a murderer who probably had medical training, but who were the victims? … They established there was two victims … It was enough for police to question Buck Ruxton on suspicion of murder … But then Glaister had an idea … he took the original photo and superimposed it over his own macabre recreation. ibid.
It was the first time entomology had been used as part of a murder investigation. ibid.
On February 26th 1949 John Haigh was being questioned by police about the disappearance of a woman … ‘I have destroyed her with acid … How you prove a murder if there is no body?’ … He admitted five further murders … Haigh was a serial killer who murdered for money. ibid.
The body of a small girl Dawn Ashworth … had been raped and strangled … Lynda Mann … semen samples taken from both crime scenes … They decided to call Doctor [Alec] Jeffreys … The entire case would rest on this groundbreaking work … ibid.
If they succeed, the face of a killer could be obtained directly from DNA left at the crime scene. ibid.
The science has to be applied by humans and humans always have been and always will be far from perfect. Gabriel Weston: Catching History’s Criminals II: Traces of Guilt
June 1908 Margarethe Filbert had been strangled and decapitated and her head was nowhere to be found … [Georg] Popp began with some chemical tests … The mud on Schlicher’s shoes was a record of where he’d been on the day of the murder … He collected soil samples … ibid.
Manhattan New York 10th April 1936 Good Friday: Theodore Kruger … delivering reupholstered chair to one of their customers … There had been no answer when they rang the bell … The apartment door was open too … She lay in the bathtub with a piece of clothing tied round her neck … Nancy [Titterton] had been strangled with her own pyjama top … Some of the chord had been delivered the day before the murder to an upholstery company in Manhattan run by Theodore Kruger … After a night in the cells he confessed. ibid.
January 22nd 1955: Paul Kirk arrived in the small town of Bay village near Cleveland Ohio … He was America’s most revered forensic scientist … The crime had taken place on July 4th the previous year … The convicted killer was her husband Sam [Sheppard]. She’d been beaten to death in her bedroom … The prosecution had revealed that Sam Sheppard had had an affair two years before … This was the story the jury chose to believe … He said he’d been woken from his deep sleep on the daybed by strange loud noises … The jury weren’t convinced … The crime scene was not properly secured … He [Kirk] was more and more certain that Marilyn had been struck by a man standing on her right holding the weapon in his left hand: Sam Sheppard was a right-handed man. ibid.
Fingerprints: Thomas and Ann Farrow, an elderly couple, managed a shop selling inks and paints. Two men had gained entry to the shop and attacked the Farrows … The thieves Albert and Alfred Stratton found the shop’s cashbox in the bedroom … They should have been wearing gloves … They left behind a crucial piece of evidence: a thumbprint … ibid.
1235: In a remote part of China a body is discovered in a field. The victim has been hacked to death. Distinctive cuts point to a sickle as the murder weapon … Attracted by invisible traces of blood the flies revealed the murder weapon … The earliest written account we have of forensic science being used to identify the murder weapon and hence the killer. Gabriel Weston: Catching History’s Criminals III: Instruments of Murder
One poison above all: arsenic. Arsenic was sold at most hardware stores as a way to control rats. It was an odourless powder that caused symptoms common to many natural diseases. ibid.
Different isotopes occur in different places. ibid.
One high profile murder case would strip guns of their anonymity for ever … The case of the jockey-cap killer put ballistics on the map. ibid.
The man who swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when he took to the stand as a forensic scientist. The fake forensic expert worked for over twenty years on over 700 cases, all without a qualification to his name. Conmen Case Files: Morrison, 2011
Gene Morrison earned up to ten times the amount he paid the experts. ibid.
He simply started working as a forensic investigator. ibid.
The scale of the con was monumental. ibid.
Gene Morrison was in serious trouble with the police in Manchester. ibid.
The four victims who came forward were aged between 8 years old and 15 years old. ibid.
A gruesome discovery in a shallow grave. But before police can catch the killer they need to identify the victim. Could a unique form of forensic science [reconstructed face] unlock the mystery? Forensics: Catching the Killer I: The Murder of Little Miss Nobody, Sky Crime 2021
Cardiff 1989: A brutal murder ... The bones belonged to a girl aged between fourteen and seventeen … Investigators now had a person of interest … Alan Charlton denied any knowledge of the body found just feet away from where he used to live. ibid.