I had the opportunity to attend a writers workshop this weekend with D.P. Lyle and Katherine Ramsland as the two keynote speakers, plus Kathy Flynn and Rhiannon Davis, one a former homicide detective and the latter a forensic analyst. My head is stuffed full of so much information! It was a small conference and there were a lot of opportunities to ask questions, which was phenomenal. I learned so much cool stuff that my head wants to explode.
I have pages and pages of notes and I’m going to have to sort through them. Before I say anything about what I learned, I want to say that all the presenters were amazing. They were knowledgeable, engaging, passionate, kind, and generous in sharing their time and attention.
Right now I’m dragging. So very tired. I wanted to mention a few things that I learned, and I apologize if this comes out haphazardly and randomly.
- DRT is cop talk for Dead Right There (the person was dead at the scene)
- Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer, believed he was a kind of James Bond
- paper is the best material to pick up prints from
- There’s a guy using MRI scans to prove that serial killers have specific brain structures and he may be able to convince juries that serial killers can’t help what they are (think of the ramifications of that)
- Arsenic is still very popular for murder because it imitates so many other conditions and isn’t noticed
- only the primary detective and coroner/ME are allowed on the actual crime scene
- The coroner/ME doesn’t need to have any medical or scientific background (I knew this, but wanted to say it)
- The coroner/ME has the final say on cause and manner of death, and only a judge can ask him to open up a case again
- Luminol requires complete darkness to fluoresce and the light fades very quickly. It does not require any alternative light source, and you have to have the camera set up and ready because the light fades so fast
- most security cameras record at a slow rate of speed so that when they are played back, they can make the situation look very different from what actually happened
- there are dogs who can smell out electronic media (seven dogs in the world and one in the United States. They smell the adhesive used in electronics. Only two adhesives are used in the world for electronics like flash drives, circuit boards, and that sort of thing)
- Putting Lye or Lime in the grave can preserve the body even though you mean to destroy it
- You can revive mummified hands by cutting them off, dipping them in boiling water and massaging them, dipping and massaging until they plump up and the forensics person can take prints
- There are no BA/BS degrees in forensic science, but there are MAs.
- Crime labs have to be accredited
I’ll be reporting more next time. One day I hope to write a romantic suspense. I have it plotted out, but now I have more grain for the grist-mill.