Impression Evidence Takes a Front Row Seat at Crime Scenes

I receive many questions from authors and writers, as well as curious folks who ask questions about impression evidence–and what falls into this category. This is a previous post that gives you some foundation for what makes up impression evidence and how important it is to searching a crime scene area.

Author Jennifer Chase

There is no branch of detective science that is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps”, simply stated by the fictional detective character, Sherlock Holmes from A Study in Scarlet written in 1881.

How important is impression evidence?

The short answer:  It is extremely important to any crime scene investigation.

I find the various types of impression evidence to be a fascinating study.  This is the one area, with exception to the study of the psychological aspect of a criminal, which really piques my forensic interest and it poses a great opportunity for my crime fiction as well.

Impression evidence comparison is based upon the details of the particular object of interest that can be examined for distinctive and unique details.

Various impression evidence left behind at a crime scene is similar to fingerprint evidence in that it is in two or three-dimensional…

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Film Actress Kim Poirier

Author Jennifer Chase

KimPoirierI have a real treat for readers and blog followers today. I cannot convey how excited I am that actress Kim Poirier is here to answer a few questions. It has been a huge blessing for me to have this awesome and beautiful actress embrace my Emily Stone character. When I was first discussing the possibilities of a “live-action” book trailer about my fictional heroine Emily Stone with director Andy Palmer, I was very adamant about the type of actress I wanted. To be honest, I did not think we would find the right person to fit the role. Appearance, voice, and physical abilities were important to convey this character. I was ecstatic, to say the least, that Kim Poirier would even consider the part! She was perfect to play Emily Stone!

Enough of my rambling and on to the interview.

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JENNIFER CHASE: Please tell us a little bit…

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4 of the World’s Most Reputable Police Forces

Jan. 18, 2011 - Toronto - The RCMP red surge arrives at the Metro Toronto Convention Center for the day's activities surrounding the color funeral for a fallen Toronto Police officer.  Sgt. Ryan Russell  was struck and killed by a stolen snowplow early on

Photo courtesy of prince2.ca.

It is not easy to determine what makes a great police force. Is it raw statistics? Stellar community relations? Job satisfaction? Maybe it is a combination of those, and many other, factors.

Regardless of how you would define a ‘top’ police department, the fact remains – some police forces consistently get the job done, and get it done right. These highly trained and disciplined men and women operate with one central mission, and that is – keeping us safe from those who wish us harm.

Here’s four police departments from the across the globe which meet that criteria.

Austrian Federal Police

 Austria has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. And, with a force of approximately 20,000 people, the Austrian Federal Police is well-prepared to keep the peace. Formed in 2005, as a result of the merger of the nation’s various police and security forces, the Federal Police provide their officers with a standard issued Glock in order to protect and serve.

Equipped with some of the world’s most technologically advanced police equipment, the Austrian police proudly maintain peace and order in their relatively small slice of the globe. Austria has a reputation for being a clean, orderly and safe nation. And their federal police force ensures that these admirable distinctions remain in-tact.

New York Police Department

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest municipal police force in the United States. Employing over 51,000 people, the NYPD is responsible for policing five counties with a total population of 8.4 million people.

Founded in 1845, the NYPD has been a model police department for many years. This department is consistently at the forefront of the development of cutting-edge police tactics, and is known to invest a great deal of time and energy into building and improving community relations. New York’s police force maintains over 25,000 “vehicles,” which includes cars, boats and helicopters.

New York is consistently ranked as one America’s safest large cities, and the NYPD is proud of their accomplishments in maintaining that distinction.

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Photo courtesy of generalmichaelcollins.com.

 Garda Síochána – Ireland

The Garda Síochána, or “Guardians of the Peace”, was established in 1922 and is Ireland’s central police force. Commonly referred to as the Gardaí, or “Guardians”, the Irish police force exists for the central purpose of protecting and serving the citizens of Ireland through community outreach.

Although Ireland is a relatively small nation, the Guardians employ over 16,000 people, and have a budget of over €1.4 billion. Shockingly, only a quarter of the Gardaí are trained in the use of firearms. Rather than packing heat, most Irish police officers are equipped with pepper spray and extendable batons. Despite this fact, Ireland has a low crime rate compared to most Western nations.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Royal Mounted Police, or “Mounties”, are well-known in popular culture for their regal red uniforms, and their old school horseback mode of transportation. Formed in 1921 with the merger of Canada’s primary three police departments, the Mounties are known in Canada as “the force.”

The Mounties are responsible for law enforcement on both a federal level, as well as a contract basis with Canada’s three territories, eight of its provinces, 190 municipalities and 184 native communities.

With over 28,000 employees, the Mounties are well-equipped to protect and serve Canada’s population which is spread over a massive amount of land; some of it a frozen tundra.

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There are many more notable police departments across the globe. I’d love to hear your opinion as to what other police forces should be included in this distinguished list.

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Is Crime Fiction Going to the Dogs?

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It’s no secret that I’m a dog lover. In fact, I cannot imagine my life without at least one canine buddy in my household. The toughest part of having a dog, or any pet for that matter, is that their life is relatively short. The sadness of losing any pet is great, but the benefits and happiness of their lifespan together with us offers so much more.

My first dog, when I was two-years-old, was a rescued two-year-old Golden Retriever named Gina. We grew up together and were the same age, which made it a bit more special. I took to animals almost immediately and dogs were no different. I’ve had many dogs in my life, some rescued, some stray, and some from reputable breeders. I love all dogs, but I seem to gravitate to larger dog breeds like retrievers and shepherds, or some combination of sporting or hunting dog.

I’ve trained my dogs in all sorts of areas: advanced obedience, agility, dock diving, trailing and tracking, and scent detection. It’s been quite an experience with each dog. I’ve primarily have had Labradors Retrievers and they have been very different in personalities, but all had extremely high play drives. My latest training adventure is with a rescued German shepherd named Odin. He has proven to be my biggest challenge yet, but it’s a challenge I love.

My experience with dog training got me thinking. Every dog has a different personality just like people. What a great way to incorporate another element into a fictional story.

Here are some of the reasons I have incorporated dogs into my crime fiction stories:

  • Dogs add a more personal element to any fictional character
  • Dogs are relatable by many people
  • Dogs give more depth to a fictional story
  • Dogs remind us of love, honesty, and loyalty
  • Dogs are a great way to relieve tension in a suspenseful story

My award-winning Emily Stone Thriller Series has a black Lab companion for the heroine. The dog isn’t a main driving character, but adds to the main character’s depth.

My latest crime series is a California Police K9 Series, which highlights K9 police officers. I’ve received recently many emails and social media comments about the silver award winning series.

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Recent reviews and comments for Silent Partner:

“The use of a K9 partner is what sets this book apart from other crime thrillers.”

“The inclusion of the K9 unit was very interesting; the author seemed rather knowledgeable about the subject, which I appreciated.”

“I think the K9 influence is very clever and adds a great deal of substance to the read; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book that focuses on the perspective of a police K9 unit so I give the author points for originality in that regard.”

If you’re writing any kind of story, try incorporating a dog or any kind of animal for that matter and see what positive changes it can have on your storyline.

Some of my inspirations:

T&Jen

Trucker had an extreme intelligence and was trained in scent detection.

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Sarge loved the water and excelled at dock diving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odin

My new rescue dog Odin. He’s quite a handful, but we’re still a work in progress:)

I would love to hear your thoughts on dogs in fictional stories.

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GUEST POST: Understanding Mitochondrial DNA with D.P. Lyle

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I’m absolutely delighted to have D.P. Lyle on my blog today! He’s an amazing writer, doctor, and forensic expert. I had the honor and opportunity to serve with him on a panel at Bouchercon 2014 to talk about forensics and the real CSI. I highly recommend that any writer, or anyone for that matter, who wants to incorporate anything about crime scene investigation and forensics into their stories to check out: Forensics for Dummies 2nd Edition

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Understanding Mitochondrial DNA

by D.P. Lyle

Writers ask me all sorts of questions about medical and forensic issues. Many deal with DNA, which is now widely understood by most writers. But the special type of DNA that we call mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) still stumps many authors. It’s actually quite simple.

The DNA used for standard DNA testing is nuclear DNA, which resides only within the cell’s nucleus. It is the DNA that determines your genetic make-up, that makes you, you. Half of this comes from mom and half from dad. But, cells also contain non-nuclear DNA, which is found within the mitochondria. Mitochondria are small structures that reside within the cytoplasm (the soup) of the cell and serve as the cell’s energy production center. A small amount of DNA is found within the mitochondria and each cell has many mitochondria.

So, why is mtDNA important? Several reasons.

The most important characteristics of mtDNA are that it is passed from generation to generation by the maternal linage, mutates rarely, is exceptionally hardy, and is found in places where nuclear DNA doesn’t exist.

Your mtDNA is inherited unchanged from your mother and only from your mother. And she received hers from her mother, and her mother from her mother, and so on. Why is this? At fertilization, the egg supplies the cell and half the DNA while the sperm supplies only half the DNA. The sperm cell itself breaks down and disintegrates after passing its genetic material into the nucleus of the egg cell. This means that all the cell components
of the developing zygote come from the mother. This includes the mitochondria. As the cell divides and multiplies, these mitochondria are copied and passed on, generation after generation. This means that all the cells of the body contain identical mtDNA.

Also, mtDNA rarely mutates. It is thought to undergo a significant mutation approximately once every 6500 years. Thus, it is very stable. This means that your mtDNA is virtually identical to your mother’s, your great-great grandmother, and your maternal ancestors from 1000 years ago. Thus, your maternal linage can be accurately traced over many generations. This is true of both males and females. Sons have the same mtDNA as their mother, grandmother, and so on. The difference is that
daughters will then pass this mtDNA on to their children through their eggs, but sons will not—they only donate sperm to future off spring.

Let’s say a skeleton is found. It could be recent or centuries old. Nuclear DNA may not be present, but mtDNA, which is hardier, may be. Particularly within the cells of the bones or the pulp of the teeth, where mtDNA can survive for centuries. The matching of the mtDNA from the skeletal remains with a living person reveals that the two shared the same maternal ancestry. They may be sisters, mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, or a remote maternal ancestor from 1000 years ago. This connection may be the clue needed to identify who the skeleton was. In forensics, the identity of a skeletal remains is crucial to solving any homicide. Why? Ninety plus percent of murders occur between people who know or are related to one another.

Lastly, mtDNA is found where nuclear DNA isn’t. Like in hair. Hair is made up of dead cells from the hair follicle. Follicle cells have nuclei and thus nuclear DNA, but when the cells die and are pushed outward as hair, the nuclei are lost. If the hair found at a crime scene has follicle tissue attached (as is often the case if it has been pulled out) then great. The ME has nuclear DNA to work with. But if it doesn’t have follicle tissue (which is the case if it simply falls out as happens every minute of every day) then there is no nuclear DNA. But the dead cells that make up the hair do contain mtDNA. So, if a murder victim is found and hair from the perpetrator is present, and the mtDNA from this hair can be matched to a person, then that person and the perpetrator must share a common maternal linage. This narrows the list of possible suspects considerably. Sometimes to one—the person the crime scene hair mtDNA was matched to.

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NOTE: Learn more about mtDNA, DNA analysis, and the entire field of forensic science in my updated 2nd Edition of FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES, coming from Wiley February, 2016

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Website: http://www.dplylemd.com

Blog: http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com

Crime and Science Radio: http://www.dplylemd.com/crime–science-radio.html

D.P.Lyle Bio:

DPLyle3D. P. Lyle is the Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winning and Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Scribe, Silver Falchion, and USA Best Book Award nominated author of both non-fiction and fiction (the Samantha Cody, Dub Walker, and Jake Longly thriller series and the Royal Pains media tie-in series). Along with Jan Burke, he is the co-host of Crime and Science Radio. He has served as story consultant to many novelists and the screenwriters of shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.

 

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Getting Away with Murder: 4 Infamous Cases

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Photo courtesy of www.123rf.com.

With murder, comes the inevitable feeling of tragedy and outrage. But, sometimes, the tragedy of the actual heinous act is overshadowed by the outrage of a great injustice. That is, when a murderer is not held accountable for their actions, and is set free to wreak havoc once again.

How does a murderer escape the hands of justice, even when the evidence against them is overwhelming? Well, the methods and stories vary, but here’s four people who managed to get away with murder.

Don King

Although Don King has played a huge role in some of the most prominent boxing matches in modern history, one cannot escape the truth – he has gotten away with murder. Twice.

In 1954, King shot Mr. Hillary Brown to death. Mr. Brown was allegedly attempting to rob one of King’s “gambling” houses, so the murder was ruled “justifiable.” Then, in 1967, King stomped Sam Garrett to death outside a Manhattan bar.

In a highly controversial move, the presiding judge in the matter set aside the jury’s second degree murder conviction, and reduced it to manslaughter. King spent less than four years in prison for kicking a man to death.

William S. Burroughs

This iconic author had a rather interesting, and deadly predicament while at a Mexico City party in 1951. He and his wife, Joan Vollmer, engaged in a game of “William Tell.” (You know that common party game – when someone shoots an apple of your head!”)

Rumor has it, the apple was actually a shot glass, but the outcome was tragic regardless. Shooting his wife to death during this “game” led to Burroughs spending only 13 days in a Mexican jail. Then, the beat poet’s affluent parents bribed his freedom back to the US.

Although later found guilty of culpable homicide, Burroughs never spent a day in prison for the murder, except for less than two weeks in that Mexican jail.

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Photo courtesy of www.express.co.uk.

Lizzie Borden, the Axe Murderer

The infamous story of Lizzie Borden, the axe murderer who hacked her parents to death, is a legendary tale. Except, this tale is a true story. Ms. Borden and her sister, both in their 30s and unmarried, stood to inherit a fortune if their notoriously frugal father, and his second wife, were out of the picture.

Ms. Borden, with overwhelming evidence implicating her in the double homicide, was acquitted after a media-frenzied two-week trial. The sensational trial was filled with tension and drama. The defense played the card of “how could a sweet single woman like Ms. Borden commit such a horrible crime?”

At one point during the trial, the chopped-up skulls of the victims were presented as evidence; but, all of the attention was focused on sweet, ol’ Lizzie, who fainted in distress. The legend of Lizzie grows through popular culture, and the case remains technically unsolved.

Vince Neil (of Mötley Crüe)

Back in the heyday of glam rock, the band members of Mötley Crüe were legendary partiers. During one of their booze filled escapades, lead singer Vince Neil and three of his buddies, including Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, went on a liquor store run.

With Vince at the wheel, the car lost control and crashed, resulting in the instant death of Dingley and brain damage to the other two passengers. Vince, essentially emerged from the car wreck unscathed, and although he did eventually pay millions in civil damages, he only spent 15 days in jail for the murder of his good friend, Nicholas Dingley.

It appears that money and fame help in alluding justice, but charisma and theatrics also seem to play a big role. What are your thoughts?

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SILENT PARTNER Kicks Off Virtual Book Tour This Week #K9 #suspense


BookTour

SILENT PARTNER is making rounds on some great book sites this month and next. You can check out all the fun right here.

* A portion of the sales from Silent Partner will be donated to purchase a new ballastic/stab proof police K9 vest*

SilentPartner_2ndEd_Cov

Suspense / Police Procedural / K9
Date Published: December 2016 2nd Edition


One Cop, One Serial Killer, One Witness 
Who Will Survive? 

Northern California’s elite Police K9 Units arrive at an abandoned warehouse after a high-speed chase and apprehend two killers after they have fled a grisly murder scene. This barely scratches the surface of a bloody trail from a prolific serial killer that leads to unlocking the insidious secrets of one family’s history, while tearing a police department apart. 

Jack Davis, a top K9 cop with an unprecedented integrity, finds himself falling for a beautiful murder suspect and struggling with departmental codes. 

Megan O’Connell, suffering from agoraphobia, is the prime murder suspect in her sister’s brutal murder. 

Darrell Brooks, a psychopath who loves to kill, is on a quest to drive Megan insane for profit. 

Everyone is a suspect. Everyone has a secret. Someone else must die to keep the truth buried forever. Silent Partner is a suspense ride along that will keep you guessing until the bitter end.


Virtual Book Tour – February 15 – March 25

February 15 – Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tour – Kick Off
February 16 – Satin’s Bookish Corner – Guest Post
February 17 – Bound 2 Escape – Excerpt
February 18 – Jody’s Book Reviews – Excerpt
February 19 – Mythical Books – Guest Post
February 22 – Us Girls and a Book – Review
February 23 – Nerdy, Dirty, and Flirty – Excerpt
February 24 – A Good Book Can Change Your Life – Excerpt
February 25 – Bless Their Hearts Mom – Review
February 29 – A Life Through Books – Interview
March 1 – Paging Through the Days – Excerpt
March 2 – A Place in the Spotlight – Guest Post
March 3 – My Reading Addiction – Interview
March 4 – Readsalot – Excerpt
March 5 – Texas Book Nook – Review
March 6 – The Writers Ink Well – Interview
March 7 – The Indie Express – Review
March 8 – Queen of All She Reads – Excerpt
March 9 – Perfect at Midnight – Review
March 10 – Novel News Network – Excerpt
March 12 – Steamy Side – Excerpt
March 14 – Illuminate Callignosus – Excerpt
March 15 – On a Reading Bender – Review
March 16 – The Dragon Slayer – Excerpt
March 17 – Around the World in Books – Excerpt
March 18 – Coffee Book Mom – Excerpt
March 20 – Travelogue of a Book Addict – Review
March 22 – Books Are Love – Review
March 23 – Christina Loves Writing – Excerpt
March 24 – Author B.L. Blair – Excerpt
March 25 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up

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