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With the skyrocketing popularity of TV crime shows like CSI and CSI-Miami, interest in forensic science has reached unprecedented levels. However compelling these programs are as dramas, they spread many misconceptions about the real world of the forensic scientist. Students who wish to pursue a career in this field are often unaware of the many diverse career choices available or have superficial notions of the rigors involved.

In this in-depth insider's guide to this crucial area of criminal investigation, renowned forensic scientist Henry C. Lee, along with veteran forensic experts Elaine M. Pagliaro and Katherine Ramsland, provides a realistic picture of the education, skills, challenges, and rewards involved in the many specialties that encompass forensic science. All are used to unravel seemingly baffling crimes.

The first part of the book highlights Dr. Lee's personal story and forty-year career to demonstrate how forensic science developed in the twentieth century and came to be recognized by the courts and law enforcement as a crucial approach to investigating crimes. Dr. Lee shares many interesting stories about his experiences and those of his colleagues, who were instrumental in developing forensic science laboratories in the United States.

The second part focuses on careers in forensic science, illustrated by descriptions of high profile cases that required different forensic disciplines, including engineering, accounting, psychology, crime scene investigation, and DNA analysis. These cases also underscore the importance of forensic evidence in criminal and civil cases, national security, environmental protection, and public safety.

The third part presents the various specialties in forensic science created by the American Academy of Forensic Science; describes the types of evidence generally analyzed in each area; and lays out the steps one should take to prepare for a career in a particular specialty. Also included is useful information about professional organizations, certification programs and requirements, laboratory opportunities, and university forensic science programs.

For those who wish to pursue a career in forensic science or for anyone who is interested in how criminal investigation is really done, this book is a must read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591027294
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Dr. Henry C. Lee (Branford, CT), professor of forensic science at the University of New Haven and chief emeritus in the Department of Public Safety in Meriden, CT, is a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is the author (with Jerry Labriola, M.D.) of Dr. Henry Lee’s Forensic Files and The Budapest Connection, and (with Thomas W. O’Neil) Cracking Cases and Cracking More Cases, among other works. Dr. Lee appeared in Trace Evidence on Court TV (now TruTV). He has also been a special news analyst on Court TV and a frequent guest on Larry King Live, Fox TV shows, and numerous other national television programs.

Elaine M. Pagliaro, MS, JD (Wallingford, CT), is a forensic science consultant and the former assistant director of the Forensic Science Laboratory, where she worked with Dr. Lee for many years. She is an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University and the University of New Haven. Ms. Pagliaro has published widely in professional journals and her book, Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice (edited with Drs. Rita Hammer and Barbara Moynihan), recently received a book-of-the-year award from the American Journal of Nursing.

Katherine Ramsland, PhD (Bethlehem, PA), has published thirty-four books and over 800 articles about forensic science, serial murder, and forensic psychology. She holds graduate degrees in forensic and clinical psychology, and philosophy. Currently she is chair of the social sciences at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice. Her latest books are Beating the Devil's Game: A History of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation, and The Devil’s Dozen: How Cutting-edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers.

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Prometheus Books

Copyright © 2009 Henry C. Lee, Elaine M. Pagliaro, and Katherine Ramsland
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59102-729-4

Chapter One


The growth of the discipline of forensic science over the last fifty years has been stunning. Once a small subdiscipline of applied science, forensic science has emerged as one of the most popular career choices today. No one has had a more pronounced effect on the popularity of this field than Dr. Henry C. Lee. The story of Lee and his contributions to this field is in many ways inseparable from the history and development of forensic science itself.

Among the many insights Lee has shared about the day-to-day work of a real forensic scientist is that a key aspect of effective investigation is good teamwork. Among the thousands of cases Lee has investigated, one of the great examples of the type of teamwork that is crucial to the real life of a forensic scientist is the case of Helle Crafts.

The case began when Helle Crafts, a flight attendant for Pan American World Airways, seemed to vanish. Keith Mayo, a private investigator from Newtown, Connecticut, called the local police department on December 1, 1986, to report that Helle Crafts had been missing for the past ten days. Mayo, whom Helle had hired to help her make a case for divorce, surmised that her husband, Richard, might be involved with her disappearance. He learned that Helle had arrived home just before a major snowstorm hit the area. Richard Crafts had told police his wife had driven to the home of her sister-in-law in Westport, Connecticut, on the following day, November 19. She never arrived and had called no one. Her car was found at Kennedy Airport, in the Pan Am employee parking lot. She was not scheduled to fly on the 19th, but since then had missed two assignments. Friends who generally spoke to her daily had not heard from her, and most people who knew her were aware that her ten-year marriage had been contentious, even abusive.

Richard B. Crafts was a commercial pilot for Eastern Air Lines. When he first met Helle in 1969, he was engaged to someone else, but they dated anyway. They married six years later, after she realized she was pregnant. She quit her job and they moved to Newtown where, over the years, they had three children. Then Helle returned to work at Pan Am. Richard often left without notice for days at a time, and Helle bore bruises from their fights over his extramarital affairs. In fact, Mayo had photographed Richard carrying on with another woman.

Newtown police were acquainted with Richard because, despite his full-time job with the airline, he also worked as an auxiliary police officer and was a prodigious gun hobbyist. He owned several shotguns, handguns, and high-powered rifles. When questioned, he readily confirmed that Helle had disappeared the day after the snowstorm, but he said he had no reason to believe she was upset when she left or that she would not be back. Yet investigators were concerned about several aspects of this case. Helle was a devoted mother who would not have abandoned her young children. One of her friends reported that she had earlier indicated that if something happened to her, it would not be an accident. On an even more disturbing note, in the days following Helle's disappearance, Richard gave several conflicting stories about Helle's absence, including that she had gone to Denmark to visit her ailing mother. The police discovered that Helle's mother was not ill and that she had not seen or heard from her daughter in months.

An interview with the Crafts' au pair, Dawn Marie Thomas, revealed that during a power outage on November 19, Richard had woken her and the children early and taken them to his sister's house. He said that Helle had left earlier, but she was not at his sister's as expected. When Richard picked them up that evening, he told Thomas that Helle had gone to Denmark, although he had initially said he did not know where she was. When she returned to the house in Newtown, Thomas noticed that a piece of carpet was missing from the master bedroom, precisely where she had seen a dark spot the size of a grapefruit the night of the storm. She also thought she saw blood on a mattress and on some towels.

The police asked Richard to submit to a polygraph, which he passed, but when more time went by without any sign of Helle, he was invited in for another interview. He admitted he was embarrassed that he did not know where his wife was. When asked about the rug, he said he had pulled it up to replace it as a surprise for Helle. Earlier, however, he had told Thomas that he had spilled kerosene on it.

For local police, this was the end of the investigation. Pressure from Mayo and concerned friends to solve the case led State's Attorney Walter Flanagan to assign the case to the State Police Western District Major Crime Squad. Mayo went to the dump with the Major Crime Squad and found what he believed was the right piece of carpet. He and the crime squad sergeant took the portion of carpet to the state police laboratory in Meriden, Connecticut, where Henry Lee was the chief criminalist and lab director, and supervising criminalist Elaine Pagliaro was his assistant. The forensic scientists ran tests on the rug, but, to Mayo's disappointment, none of the stains was positive for blood.

The Western District Major Crime Squad continued the investigation on other fronts. When they examined Crafts's credit card records prior to November 19, they learned he had purchased a large freezer and had paid $900 to rent a piece of machinery. He had also purchased a new Ford truck with a special trailer hitch. While Richard had a habit of buying expensive equipment and leaving it to rust on his two-acre property, these multiple large purchases during such a narrow time frame were enough to create suspicion.

They got a warrant to search the Crafts' L-shaped ranch home, breaking in through a back window on Christmas Day while Richard and the children were away. Lee and Pagliaro supervised the evidence collection. While they did find a freezer, there was no indication it had ever contained a body. Carpets in the bedrooms had been pulled up and discarded, and mattresses from the beds had been placed in different rooms. The investigators realized that Crafts, as an auxiliary officer, knew police work and perhaps had studied it more avidly than most, which could make the investigation difficult. A number of guns were seized, along with fiber samples, towels, and a mattress with apparent bloodstains. In all, Lee's team collected 113 items of potential evidence.

In addition to seizing potential evidence, the lab scientists performed presumptive blood tests throughout the house with the enhancement reagent ortho-tolidine. Some spots tested positive, including those on the mattress Richard had shared with Helle. Several towels in the bathtub also tested positive. Back at the lab, the blood type on the mattress proved to be O-positive, the same as Helle's. But her whereabouts remained a mystery.

There were still more leads to check out. Calling Darien Rentals —a nearby company that had appeared on his credit card statement —detectives learned that Richard had rented an Asplundh Badger Brush Bandit 100—a commercial-grade woodchipper. The thought of what he might have done with it was chilling. They recalled a story from the year before about a man who had put a German shepherd through a woodchipper. They knew that it was of supreme importance to find the actual machine Crafts had rented. If what they feared was true, they faced the possibility that a body could not be recovered.

In the meantime, Detectives Patrick McCafferty and T. K. Brown, checking records, heard a strange story from Joseph Hine, an employee of Connecticut Public Works in Southbury, who had worked on November 20, one of the nights of the storm. Around 3:30 a.m., he had seen a U-Haul truck and a large woodchipper parked along the side of the road near the riverbank. The driver waved him to move on. Hines later returned to the area and saw that the man had been chipping wood. Hines took the detectives to the spot on Lake Zoar, a bulge of water on the Housatonic River.

Fortunately, snow covered the ground, so the detectives could clearly see wood chips scattered along the riverbank, mingled with other substances. A closer inspection revealed light blue fibers and several scraps of paper. When McCafferty and Brown carefully picked up a piece of shredded envelope, they saw a name and address still intact through a cellophane window: Helle Crafts. They immediately called for a search team.

Despite the bitter December cold in Connecticut and the hindrance of sticks and leaves along the riverbank, the search team melted the snow, inch by inch, and found more envelopes addressed to Helle, as well as strands of blonde hair, bone fragments, pieces of cloth, and other items. The painstaking search lasted two weeks and covered two miles, as items were carefully packaged into two dozen bags for the crime lab.

Meanwhile, another team seized the woodchipper Crafts had rented and recovered copies of the rental agreement signed by Crafts. They also collected a record of transactions involving problems with his new truck that had culminated in his rental of the U-Haul vehicle.

Diving teams dressed for extreme cold went into the river, because it was believed that Richard had aimed the woodchipper toward the water, but it proved too cold for even the most experienced to spend long periods of time searching for evidence. One diver soon found a STIHL chain saw with the serial number filed off. The lack of rust indicated that it had not been in the water very long. Scientists examined the various parts of the chain saw for physical evidence, finding fragments of tissue that was later found to be human, as well as several small fragments of blue-green fiber and human hair fragments. As crime scene personnel continued to search the riverbank, several bones (later identified as human) turned up, followed by a tooth fragment, a porcelain dental cap attached to a small chip from a jawbone, part of a finger, and a fingernail with red polish. In the end, the search team recovered 2,660 strands of hair, sixty bone fragments, five droplets of human blood, three ounces of human tissue, a tooth fragment, a dental cap, part of a human skull, one fingernail, one toenail, and part of a finger. In the trunk of Crafts's car, mingled with wood chips, were more hair strands, blue fibers, and a piece of flesh.

The Crafts case epitomizes how forensic science—the study of applying science to legal questions—has progressed from a general investigative discipline to a field with many areas of specialization. Today, there are at least thirty-six specialties and subdisciplines in forensics. (Some of these areas will be discussed in the following chapters.) The subdisciplines include odontology (teeth identification), anthropology (bone and human individual identification), and serology (blood and body fluid typing), among others.

In the Crafts case, crime scene detectives and forensic scientists collected a variety of evidence. Lee assembled a team of top-notch forensic experts to handle the diverse categories of evidence. The team consisted of the following scientists and specialties: Lee, criminalistics; Pagliaro, forensic biology and trace evidence; Dr. Albert Harper, forensic anthropology; Dr. Bruno Frohlich, forensic anthropology; Dr. Gus Karazulas, odontology; Dr. Lowell Levine, odontology; Dr. Alan Reskin, radiology; Dr. Ferdinand Ruszala, forensic chemistry; Dr. Robert Gaensslen, forensic biology; Dr. Bruce Hoadley, wood expert; Dr. John Reffner, forensic microscopy; and Dr. Harold Deadman, forensic hair examination. In addition, experts in the areas of tool marks and fingerprints from the forensic science laboratory also examined evidence and assisted with crime scene searches.

Karazulas and Reskin used X-rays and a detailed dental comparison to prove that the tooth fragment and cap were from Helle's lower jaw. Levine, from the New York State Police Forensic Center, supported this finding using X-rays to analyze the bone chip attached to the partial tooth. To confirm that putting a person through this type of woodchipper would result in pieces of the sizes that were found, the team put a pig's carcass through it. The resulting fragments were similar in size.

On January 11, 1987, the Danbury Court issued an arrest warrant for Richard Crafts. Following an intense standoff, he finally surrendered, and bail was set at $750,000. The working hypothesis was that Richard killed his wife during an argument in the bedroom (where blood was found), had frozen her body, and had dismembered it with the STIHL chain saw. He wrapped the parts in plastic garbage bags, refroze them, and then ran the parts through the woodchipper under the cover of night. He included the blue T-shirt she was wearing the night she was killed and some of her belongings and mail. While it hindered some of his plans, the storm had facilitated others, notably getting the au pair and the children out of the house.

But despite the abundance of evidence, the legal proceedings were complicated. During Crafts's trial, State's Attorney Walter Flanagan put all the detectives, crime scene processors, and forensic scientists on the stand to re-create the incident from the evidence and circumstances—the sequence of events, purchase and rental records, and so on—to establish proof. Forensic scientists went carefully through hundreds of pieces of evidence. They demonstrated that the majority of bone pieces had been cut with a heavy-type cutting edge from a machine with a crushing force, and that the same machine had cut them all. They had found human tissue on one part of the chain saw, and blonde hair fragments and blue fibers in the chain's teeth. Restoring the serial number, they testified that the saw could be traced to Richard Crafts. The fibers were consistent with pieces of T-shirt that looked like Helle's favorite sleepwear. In addition, investigators discovered the purchase of a new freezer that had then been discarded at a dump.

Even with one hundred witnesses and 650 exhibits presented over the course of fifty-three days, it was difficult for the jury to arrive at a consensus. They deliberated for two weeks, but because one juror would not change his mind, they could not render a verdict. This resulted in a mistrial.

The second trial opened on September 7, 1989, with the same expert witnesses and testimony. This jury took only eight hours to return a guilty verdict. For first-degree murder, Richard Crafts received a sentence of ninety-nine years in state prison, and he is currently serving that sentence.


When an incident call—such as the call Keith Mayo made—comes in to 911 or a police dispatcher, patrol officers are sent to investigate. Sometimes there is a crime scene; other times there are only suspicious circumstances. If necessary, the officers protect the scene and alert their supervisor to send backup personnel. The first responders make sure the scene is safe for police personnel and the public. They note the time of their arrival and record other pertinent observations, such as whether doors or windows were open when they arrived, what they heard, and if there were any odors. Unless they encounter a victim or other injured person at the scene who is in need of assistance, they refrain from touching or moving anything. Paramedics may already be on the way, but detectives, the state's designated death investigator (a coroner or medical examiner), laboratory scientists, and even someone from the office of the state's prosecuting attorney might also be needed. Figure 1.1 outlines the steps in the investigative process.

Modern crime scene response and analysis is a combination of criminalistics and criminology, or analyzing physical and behavioral evidence. Criminalistics is the application of scientific methods to physical evidence such as bloodstains, fingerprints, firearms, DNA, computers, and poison. Criminology involves examining crime scenes for evidence of motive, perpetrator traits, and patterns of behavior that will help in interpreting the evidence and reconstructing the incident. Together these disciplines make accurate reconstruction possible. "Success," Lee likes to say, "lies in how you interpret the results."

Investigators must assume that whoever was at the scene has left something there or taken something from the scene, and probably both. This is Locard's exchange principle. Dr. Edmond Locard, an early forensic scientist in France, was convinced that "every contact leaves a trace," and he relied on this principle when he began his forensic laboratory in Lyon in 1910—one of the first in the world. A devotee of Sherlock Holmes, he relied on logic and careful analysis to connect crimes with perpetrators. His principle postulates that during the perpetration of a crime there is a cross-transference of trace substances between a perpetrator and a victim or crime scene. Locard's principle is still the foundation of criminal investigation. In 1980 Lee further expanded this theory to a four-way linkage theory, as shown in figure 1.2.


Excerpted from THE REAL WORLD OF A FORENSIC SCIENTIST by HENRY C. LEE ELAINE M. PAGLIARO KATHERINE RAMSLAND Copyright © 2009 by Henry C. Lee, Elaine M. Pagliaro, and Katherine Ramsland. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 The Crime Scene and the Scientist....................11
Chapter 2 Forensic Science in Historical Perspective....................35
Chapter 3 The Scientific Method in Forensic Evidence Examinations....................53
Chapter 4 Death Investigators....................83
Chapter 5 Fingerprint Evidence....................107
Chapter 6 Firearms Evidence....................127
Chapter 7 Trace Evidence and Chemical Analysis....................153
Chapter 8 DNA Evidence....................171
Chapter 9 Forensic Drug Analysis and Toxicology....................193
Chapter 10 Forensic Odontology....................213
Chapter 11 Questioned Documents....................233
Chapter 12 Emerging Forensic Disciplines....................257
Chapter 13 Forensic Scientists on Trial....................283
Chapter 14 The Future of Forensic Science....................301

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