Fingerprints and Talking Bones: How Real-Life Crimes Are Solved

Overview

Can a skeleton confess? Can a talking parrot actually lead the police to a suspect?

Throughout the twentieth century, important crimes have been solved with unusual clues that have required detectives to go off the beaten track and sometimes to consult with experts from scientific fields. Charlotte Foltz Jones has drawn together numerous actual accounts that illustrate the fascinatingly diverse and often surprising paths to truth. Bugs, dirt, bite marks, and even pets are all ...

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Overview

Can a skeleton confess? Can a talking parrot actually lead the police to a suspect?

Throughout the twentieth century, important crimes have been solved with unusual clues that have required detectives to go off the beaten track and sometimes to consult with experts from scientific fields. Charlotte Foltz Jones has drawn together numerous actual accounts that illustrate the fascinatingly diverse and often surprising paths to truth. Bugs, dirt, bite marks, and even pets are all potential crime-solving clues. This page-turning book is perfect for detectives-to-be, young scientists, and all those interested in a peek at the police work that goes on behind the scenes.

Describes the many different methods used to solves crimes including skeletal and facial reconstruction, botanical or geological information, voiceprints, and hypnosis.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8This fascinating book explains the many ways police and detectives use science and technology to help them solve crimes. Jones describes how things such as fibers from a carpet, shoe prints, fingerprints, and blood type have been used to expose culprits. However, the author goes beyond these familiar detection techniques to include some pretty amazing feats. For example, criminals like the Unabomber have been identified through analysis of the DNA in their saliva taken from envelopes they licked while sending threatening letters. Voice prints, bite marks, and footprints, all of which are as unique as fingerprints, are discussed as clues to help cops crack cases. The many parties that assist in investigations are outlined, such as artists who are trained to draw portraits of suspects from witnesses' descriptions; police dogs; and robots that can walk into dangerous situations and not risk injury. Be forewarnedthis is not a book for the squeamish. Maggots in rotting corpses, analysis of a murder victim's stomach contents, and the way blood splatters are introduced as ways forensic evidence is used to point a finger at the guilty party. While the black-and-white illustrations are not graphic in content, they are exaggerated and some even border on the grotesque. They are uneven in quality and do little to enhance the overall presentation. Nonetheless, like Jones's Mistakes That Worked (Doubleday, 1991) and Accidents May Happen (Delacorte, 1996), Fingerprints is bound to be popular, both for reports and for curious readers wanting to know not only "who done it?" but also how.Cathryn A. Camper, Minneapolis Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Amateur sleuths and aspiring scientists will get a kick out of this police-work primer by Jones (Accidents May Happen, 1996, etc.), who reveals the fascinating science used by detectives and forensic pathologists to solve mysteries.

In an upbeat, frank approach, Jones shows how even minuscule clues—microscopic bits of fiber, paint, or glass chips—are used to prove the guilt or innocence of a suspect, and cites real cases to illustrate her point, e.g., a wife who was charged with her husband's murder when carpet fibers from her car were discovered on his body. Young readers gain familiarity with the field's jargon, learning for example, how a gun's bore, residue samples, and blowback can trace the weapon to an unknown shooter's hand. Those who don't shrink from the mention of a discovered corpse will be rewarded by the discussion of pathology work, which shows how a victim's weight, race, and even occupation can be determined from skeletal remains. Jones stresses the links between science and the everyday world throughout the book; interspersed among the chapters are "Fascinating U.S. Crime Facts," offering a brisk sense of the life of crime in this country. Not just an essential tool for crimebuster wannabes hot on the trail, but a volume that makes plain the importance of critical thinking and careful research for all types of problem-solving.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440413189
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/9/1999
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.57 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Read an Excerpt

In a 1942 case, a man robbed and killed the owner of the Green Parrot Bar in New York City. Police questioned witnesses and looked for clues, but they couldn't solve the murder. The green parrot that lived at the bar kept saving, "Robber, robber, robber!" Everyone assumed the bird was repeating the owner's last words.

The parrot could say the names of the bar's regular customers, so one of the detectives decided to teach the parrot to say his name. He worked with the parrot for weeks before the bird could say his name. Suddenly the detective realized that the bird wouldn't be able to say "robber" after hearing the bar owner say it only once. Maybe the bird hadn't been saying, "Robber, robber, robber." What sounded similar? Perhaps "Robert"?

The detective discovered that one of the regular patrons had left town soon after the murder--and his name was Robert. The man was arrested in Baltimore, Maryland, and convicted of the murder. The story goes that when he was arrested, he said, "I never did like that bird."


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