What really happened?

Forensic science helps law enforcement officials reconstruct crimes--it enables them find out what really happened.

Animal investigators : how the world's first wildlife forensics lab is solving crimes and saving endangered species
Laurel A. Neme ; foreword by Richard Leakey.
Gainesville, FL : University Press of Florida, 2010.
In Animal investigators, acclaimed environmental journalist Laurel Neme goes behind the scenes at the only wildlife forensics crime lab in the world. Using physical evidence such as fingerprints, tire tracks, bullets, gunshot residues, poisons, and DNA to reveal what might have happened to its animal victims, the scientists and agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to investigate wildlife crimes, protect endangered species, and stem illegal wildlife trafficking-the third largest illegal trade worldwide. Book jacket.
Vampire forensics : uncovering the origins of an enduring legend
Mark Collins Jenkins.
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2010.
Stories of immortal, night-crawling creatures who feed on victims' blood have frightened and entertained people worldwide since ancient times. In this book, historian Jenkins examines millennia of vampire legends to see what elements of truth (if any) lay behind them. While the author's recounting of folklore and history outweigh the scientific and forensic explanations that he provides for the persistence of vampire legends, this is nonetheless a very entertaining account of vampirism from ancient Persia through to the present day. The discussion of how the Black Plague and other diseases might be at the root of vampirism is alone worth the price of the book, and the excellent bibliography is especially welcome. Given the increased fascination with vampires since the 1990s, this book should have wide appeal. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Hacking exposed computer forensics : [secrets and solutions]
Aaron Philipp, David Cowen, Chris Davis.
New York : McGraw-Hill, c2010.
"Provides the right mix of practical how-to knowledge in a straightforward, informative fashion that ties it all the complex pieces together with real-world case studies. ...Delivers the most valuable insight on the market. The authors cut to the chase of what people must understand to effectively perform computer forensic investigations." --Brian H. Karney, COO, AccessData CorporationThe latest strategies for investigating cyber-crimeIdentify and investigate computer criminals of all stripes with help from this fully updated. real-world resource. Hacking Exposed Computer Forensics, Second Edition explains how to construct a high-tech forensic lab, collect prosecutable evidence, discover e-mail and system file clues, track wireless activity, and recover obscured documents. Learn how to re-create an attacker's footsteps, communicate with council, prepare court-ready reports, and work through legal and organizational challenges. Case studies straight from today's headlines cover IP theft, mortgage fraud, employee misconduct, securities fraud, embezzlement, organized crime, and consumer fraud cases. Effectively uncover, capture, and prepare evidence for investigation Store and process collected data in a highly secure digital forensic lab Restore deleted documents, partitions, user activities, and file systems Analyze evidence gathered from Windows, Linux, and Macintosh systems Use the latest Web and client-based e-mail tools to extract relevant artifacts Overcome the hacker's anti-forensic, encryption, and obscurity techniques Unlock clues stored in cell phones, PDAs, and Windows Mobile devices Prepare legal documents that will hold up to judicial and defense scrutiny
The poisoner's handbook : murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York
Deborah Blum.
New York : Penguin Press, 2010.
Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Deborah Blum follows New York City's first forensic scientists to discover a fascinating Jazz Age story of chemistry and detection, poison and murder. Deborah Blum, writing with the high style and skill for suspense that is characteristic of the very best mystery fiction, shares the untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. In The Poisoner's Handbook Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Drama unfolds case by case as the heroes of The Poisoner's Handbook-chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler-investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, Barnum and Bailey's Famous Blue Man, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler work with a creativity that rivals that of the most imaginative murderer, creating revolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. Yet in the tricky game of toxins, even science can't always be trusted, as proven when one of Gettler's experiments erroneously sets free a suburban housewife later nicknamed "America's Lucretia Borgia" to continue her nefarious work. From the vantage of Norris and Gettler's laboratory in the infamous Bellevue Hospital it becomes clear that killers aren't the only toxic threat to New Yorkers. Modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner. Automobiles choke the city streets with carbon monoxide; potent compounds, such as morphine, can be found on store shelves in products ranging from pesticides to cosmetics. Prohibition incites a chemist's war between bootleggers and government chemists while in Gotham's crowded speakeasies each round of cocktails becomes a game of Russian roulette. Norris and Gettler triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice during a remarkably deadly time. A beguiling concoction that is equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten New York.
Jumped, fell, or pushed? : how forensics solved 50 "perfect" murders
Steven A. Koehler with Pete Moore and David Owen.
Pleasantville, N.Y. : Reader's Digest Association, c2009.
It takes more than a knife, a pair of gloves, and a fabricated motive to get away with murder today; and more than a pot of ink and a steady hand to forge a document. Thanks to advances in the science of forensics, many of the world's most dangerous, psychotic, violent, and cunning criminals can now be brought to justice. This case-packed book shows you how each unit of forensic science specialists works by highlighting 50 carefully selected crimes around the world and describing how scientific methods have been used to solve them. Included are sections such as: * Trace Elements: examining elements such as hairs, fibers, and paint traces * DNA Analysis: investigating the importance and mechanics of DNA inspection * Serology: examining blood and bodily fluids for clues * Toxicology and Drugs: identifying poisons and drugs to snare the non- confrontational killer * Criminal Markers: finding the suspect through marks at the scene * Document Identification: analyzing documents in fraud investigation * Electronic Forensics: investigating technological snaring methods REVIEW
Hidden evidence : the story of forensic science and how it helped to solve 50 of the world's toughest crimes
David Owen.
Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, Ltd., 2009.
The Lindbergh kidnapping. The downing of PanAm 103. The disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The real-life investigations into these cases and many more-all collected in one volume-cast a fascinating light on the science of forensics.

Evidence resulting from forensic scientists' use of technology and scientific knowledge are crucial to court proceedings or for other purposes of law. The forensic scientist seeks to determine the facts in the pursuit of truth.

Forensic scientists can choose to specialize in disciplines like:

  • Forensic art -- Drawings and artistic reconstructions of suspects and victims help provide descriptions, image modification to depict ageing, and multi-dimensional facial reconstrution for identification.
  • Forensic entomology -- Studying insects helps forensic pathologists accurately set the time of death.
  • Crime scene processing -- Criminalists analyze evidence found at crime scenes seeking to identify evidence that relates to the crime. Attention to detail from a lingering smell or a partial footprint can help support a victim's account of the crime.

"There's nothing so important as trifles." (Sherlock Holmes)

Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, is credited with conceiving the idea of a crime lab to solve mysteries.

Forensic scientists are curious and enjoy putting pieces of puzzles together using their interest in science, communication, and technology. It is a good career for those who enjoy solving intriguing cases such as these:

Television programs and novels offer views of crime science investigations (CSI), forensic labs, and court proceedings.  The methods used by actual forensic scientists may be a bit different, but the results are the same--providing answers to what really happened.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff