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Composite Sketches

MSN.com had an interesting article this morning about suspect sketches that helped make an arrest in a case.  I was lucky to have access to good artists that drew very good sketches, many of which, once the suspect was arrested, looked like they posed for the sketch.  Many I see put out by agencies are a joke and don’t even look like a real person.

I hate how they depict them on television.  The witness sits in a chair and says, “He had a large nose,” etc.  In reality, the artist has a book of different facial features, each with a code.  The witness looks through the book and tried to point out features they think looked like the person.  Once all those are picked out, the artist draws the sketch based on those pieces, (hence the term composite).  When the sketch is done, the artist sits down with the witness again and makes any changes the witness wants.  At that point, the witness scores the drawing from 1 t0 10, with 10 being best.  Most witnesses score then between 7 and 9.

The artist I used the most was Betty Kincaid.  She had been a civilian employee at SPD, but after she retired, she contracted for sketch work. (I mention her a couple times in my book).

Aside from being a great artist, she was a great interviewer of the victim or witness.  She was able to draw out the victim’s memory with an almost hypnotic style.

A woman had been attacked in the middle of the night in her South Lake Union condo while she slept.  The suspect had crawled up the outside patios to her unit, which I think was on the seventh floor.  It was dark, and she had 20/400 vision with her glasses off.

I had Betty work on a sketch with her.  The victim was very pessimistic about her ability to do a sketch, but we tried anyway.

When the sketch was done, she scored it a 4.  (The lowest score I’d ever seen).  When the suspect was eventually arrested, he could have posed for the sketch.  It was incredible work.

Another time working sex crimes, a victim mailed in a sketch of the suspect.  It was a stick-figure.  I told the other detectives in the unit, “This is obviously the work of the Saint.”

The MSN article is here.

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Kenneth Mains

I was in the middle of a homicide investigation one day in 2014, when my cell phone beeped, informing me that I had an email.  I checked and found it was from Ken Mains.

“Who the hell is Ken Mains?”, I said to myself, and then opened the email.

Ken told me he was the president of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, and wanted to know if I would like to be on a consulting committee for the group.

“Sure”, I wrote back, “but I’m in the middle of something right now.  I’ll get back to you.”

Thus began my association with this great group, where I’ve met many of the friends who I post about here.

Ken recently starred, (along with retired LAPD Homicide Detective Sal Labarbera – also a member of the group) on a limited series on the History Channel, “The Search for the Zodiac Killer”.  Look for it on demand.

Ken also wrote a book about cold case murders.  It can be found here.

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Anthony Meoli

Anthony Meoli is also a friend of mine.  He’s a criminologist and    lives in the Philadelphia area.  He corresponds with several serial killers around the country by mail and phone calls.  He’s written books about some of them.  His books can be found here.

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M-Vac Wet Vacuum DNA Collection System

The M-Vac DNA collection system is a breakthrough in forensic DNA collection.  It allows investigators to find DNA and match it to offenders from places never before possible.  My buddy, Jared Bradley is the President of M-Vac Systems, a technique originally designed to find E-Coli in food.  He was recently interviewed by a television station.  You can view that interview here.

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Great Article about Serial Killers- Katherine Ramsland

Katherine Ramsland is a Forensic Psychologist, a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University, a friend of mine, and an associate at AISOCC.  She is a prolific writer, and author of more than 60 books.  She also writes a blog for Psychology Today, called Shadow Boxing.

She recently wrote an article about myths about serial killers.  You can read it here.

As I said, Katherine’s a prolific author, from True Crime, to Paranormal non-fiction and fiction.  Her books can be found here.

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Rogue Justice, by William Neal

Authors always call me for research into novels they are writing.  I always try to help them out.  One such time, I was called by Bill Neal, who is a producer of documentaries.  He was writing a novel based in Port Townsend, but also included a Seattle detective.

We hung out for a day, and had a great time.  (We’re still friends today).  He decided that his detective wasn’t just going to be any Seattle detective.  It was going to be me!  It’s available here.

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Footsteps in the Snow

Mike Ciesynski and I appear in a book by Charles Lachman, and is available here.

Charles also wrote a couple other books that were very good.  One was about some surprising little-known facts about Grover Cleveland, A Secret Life, and the other traces the Lincoln family from the assassination forward.  It’s called The Last Lincoln.

All these books are available on Charles’ Amazon Author page, here.

 

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