What Does Forensic Science, Charles Manson, and a Black Labrador Retriever Have in Common?

No, this isn’t the silly punch line for a joke.  I found a very interesting article that immediately captured my interest about three things that I study on a regular basis: forensics, serial killers, and Labrador retrievers. 

Undisputed, Labrador retrievers are one of my favorite dog breeds.  It’s not a secret that I share my life with these intelligent, energetic canines.  Labs are trained in assistance, police work, and are loyal family dogs.  I was intrigued about a black Labrador that had been trained as a human remains detector and used from the forensic science perspective to locate buried murder victims.


In October of 1969, the Barker Ranch located in a rural part of Death Valley, California was the last hideout for the Charles Manson Family after their brutal murder spree.  There have been rumors that has lingered on for decades that there are buried bodies of other Manson victims located around that famous property.  Despite other attempts to recover bodies in the past, they have not been successful.

A police detective from Mammoth Lakes, California with his human remains detector, a black Labrador, was allowed to search the vast area in hopes of picking up the scent of possible victims.  His dog alerted to several potential burial areas.  Later, other human remains detection dogs alerted on one of the spots that was previously hit on by the first dog.  

These amazing dogs are trained to alert and pinpoint the largest scent source, which may not necessarily near where the body is buried.  The odor of decomposing remains doesn’t always migrate upwards especially in the desolate environment of the Ranch.  The heaviest scent source could be as far as 10 meters away. 

Scientists also used instruments to detect the chemical evidence of decomposing bodies.  These instruments did confirm the molecular profiles that the dogs alerted to finding – not all but some of them.  That’s truly amazing indeed.

However, there were four sites that were carefully excavated, but no human remains were found.  This doesn’t automatically mean that the dogs and scientific instruments were wrong.  There seems to be a scent of human remains out in that area that was confirmed by both sources – dog and machine.  The question is not whether or not scientists and law enforcement can find human remains, but when and who were the victims.

There seems to be no limit to what a Labrador retriever can be trained to find.  For me, I know that these incredible canines are worthy of their abilities.

* * *

Blog: www.authorjenniferchase.com/
Website: www.jenniferchase.vpweb.com/
Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
Book & Crime Talk: www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase/
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting

About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
This entry was posted in Forensic, Serial Killers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s