Forensic Files Episode Guide
Alibi, the: The Crystal Todd Case
examination of the Crystal Faye Todd case. In 1991, the 17-year-old was
brutally murdered in
All Charged Up
woman’s death in
Bad Blood: The Case of Dr. John Schneeberger
A young rural doctor is accused of sedating and sexually assaulting two of his female patients. DNA testing reveals that the doctor is innocent, but the women still insist that he sedated and raped them. On three occasions blood was taken from the doctors arm for DNA testing and each time came back as a "No Match." Seven years later, a private investigator hired by one of the women, takes a chap stick from the Doctor's car - has it tested for DNA, and finds that it MATCHES the semen from the alleged rapes. The doctor had successfully fooled DNA experts and police by inserting a tube of another man's blood into his arm.
Badge of Deceit: The Randy Comeaux Case
the 1980S and 1990s, a rapist stalked women in
Bagging A Killer: The Valiree Jackson Case
A little girl is reported missing in a neighborhood where, police records show, 92 other sex crimes had been committed in the past decade. Police had few leads, no evidence and only a handful of suspects. But a global positioning device placed underneath one of the suspects cars - helped break the case - as did the ability of forensic experts to use a new technique to lift a badly degraded fingerprint from a garbage found near the girls remains.
Bag of Evidence, A
When nine-year-old Jessica Knott disappears from her home and is later found murdered, all of the tools in the arsenal of forensic scientists are brought to bear. Painstaking analysis of hairs, tiny fibers, and a plastic garbage covering her body leads police to a suspect – a suspect who turns out to be the same person who made what he thought was an anonymous 911-call, reporting where Jessica’s body could be found.
Big Chill, the
(2003) A woman visited the hospital emergency room 31 times and doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, until she died. Family and friends suspected murder. Authorities weren’t sure, since the victim had been depressed and suicidal. Forensic experts solved this case in a very unusual way, you’ll be surprised by the outcome.
For months, a woman suffered from what appeared to be the unpleasant side effects of lithium, a drug prescribed to treat bipolar disorder. Her search for help led her to numerous doctors and hospitals, and resulted in a 4,000-page medical file. When she died, investigators had to determine if her death was due to natural causes, suicide, or murder.
1984, hundreds of people in
Bite Out of Crime, A: The
1995, a rapist was on the loose in
Bitter Pill to Swallow, A
Bound for Jail
(2003) The investigation into the 1986 slaying of a female jogger in a suburban Lansing, Mich., park by someone who used a set of police handcuffs to subdue her is recounted. For 15 years, the case went unsolved, until some luck and a tiny piece of metal almost too small to see brought the perpetrator to justice. The police identified a suspect and charged him with the murder in April 2001. It’s a great story of perseverance on the part of the victim’s family and the police.
Breaking the Mold
healthy three-year-old boy suddenly develops respiratory and neurological
problems, and doctors can’t explain why. Then his father begins to exhibit
signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. His mother becomes ill while traveling in an
airplane; fortunately, the passenger seated next to her makes his living by
removing toxic mold from buildings. When she tells him about her family’s
health problems, he suspects their home might be making them sick. By all
accounts, Melinda Ballard had it all: A loving husband, Ron, who was a
successful investment banker; a three-year-old son, Reese; and a beautiful home
When a popular gym teacher is found dead of what appears to be an accidental gunshot wound, his family is suspicious. They think his wife may have planned his murder. When police find that her previous husband died in questionable circumstances, they re-examine the crime scene and find evidence that the death was no accident. But it is a tape recorded by the victim just before his death that tells the true story of his strange marriage and his wife’s insatiable greed.
Bump and Run
(2002) The case of a murdered college coed is related. The young woman's body was found soiled and with unusual grease markings on it. Forensic investigators used those clues to find the killer.
Burning Ambition: The Bachmeier Case
Cats, Flies and Snapshots: The Lori Auker Case
Cheater, the: The Walter Scott Case
Walter Notheis, Jr. was better known to the American public as entertainer Walter Scott, lead singer of the band, “Bob Kuban and the In-Men.” Their most popular single was the 1966 hit, “The Cheater.” Little did Walter know that the song would foreshadow the events that would lead to his demise.
A young suburban couple was murdered during what appeared to be a drug deal gone awry. But police found no drugs in the home of the victims – and there were no traces of the victims’ blood on the clothing of the suspects. The victims’ dog, Chief, eventually led police to the killer.
Church Disappearance: The Cassie Hansen Case
When a six year old girl disappears from church during a Sunday service, investigators fear a stalker is preying on children in the church shadows. A psychological profile of the perpetrator lead investigators to taxi cab driver who was in the vicinity of the church at the time of the disappearance. His 'masseuse' revealed that the cab driver liked to discuss his fantasies during his weekly massages. One fantasy closely resembled the church abduction.
Clutch of Witnesses, A: The Erik Schrieffer Case
Two witnesses watch in horror as the driver of a truck intentionally runs over an unconscious man in an alley, outside of a “biker” bar. When the witnesses return to the scene after summoning help, both the truck and the body are gone. When the truck is finally located, a forensic lab cannot find a single speck of blood anywhere on it. And the body doesn’t turn up either.
While standing outside of a motorcycle gang’s clubhouse, two witnesses watched in horror as a truck intentionally ran over an unconscious man – not once, but twice. Fearing for their safety, the witnesses ran into the clubhouse; when they looked outside, both the truck and the victim were gone. The truck was finally located, but the forensics lab could not find a single speck of evidence in it. And the body didn’t turn up either.
Jo Shine grew up in a middle-class home in
When a well-respected young woman goes missing, her boyfriend and family fear she has been murdered. A police investigation reveals details about her past that no one -- not even her closest friends -- suspected: She was a student by day and a $200-an-hour call-girl by night. Her many clients were all suspects in her disappearance, as was her boyfriend. But when her body is discovered, police obtain evidence that reveals her killer and more details about a bizarre double life and its tragic consequences.
Deadly Neighborhoods: The Cancer Cluster Case
clusters of deadly cancer cases strike concerned communities across the
country. In a
Death Play: The Marie Robards Case
Marie Robards suffered the devastating loss of her father while she was still in high school. The death was ruled the result of cardiac arrest. One year later, she won a part in her high school production of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The lines she was required to recite onstage were more than the thoughts and feelings of her character; they struck a chord, and hinted at her own inner turmoil, from the secret she had been hiding.
Dessert Served Cold
Dew Process: The Glenn Wolseiffer Case
wife of a well-known dentist was found strangled inside her home in the quiet
Disappearance of Helle Crafts, the: The Helle Craft Case
Double Trouble: The Melissa Padilla Case
a Maine State Trooper is attacked during a routine stop it triggers a chain of
events which jump starts a stalled murder case hundreds of miles away. The
Dressed to Kill
When six year-old Michelle Door disappeared without a trace, her father, Carl, became the prime suspect. Carl failed a polygraph test, and even confessed to the murder of his daughter. But the confession was rooted in exhaustion, guilt, and mental illness, and was later discounted. Years later, police learned that a man who had been convicted of another murder lived just two doors away from Michelle at the time of her disappearance. This discovery, and tiny drops of blood shed a decade earlier, enabled police to solve the crime.
An elderly couple was bludgeoned to death in their home, but the crime went unsolved. Two years later, the owner of a pawn shop was looking through a stack of old newspapers and came across an article about the murders. There was a photograph of the victims, and the woman pictured was wearing an unusual elephant pendant necklace – a necklace which the owner realized was in her shop. Not only that, she still had the pawn ticket, identifying who had sold the jewelry.
1992, residents in and around
Fire.Com: The Terri Hinson Case
When a federal agency rules that a fire was intentionally set, the mother of the child killed in the suspicious fire was charged with murder. But are government scientists, with all of their resources, always right? The accused in this case undertook her own arson investigation, and was able to poke enough holes in the governments scientific conclusions - to raise serious questions about whether the fire was intentionally set, or was an accident.
Footpath Murders, the: The Colin Pitchfork Case
English detectives team up with a pioneering scientist to crack a case of sexual assault and serial murder. In 1983, a quiet country village is gripped with fear as authorities search for the killer of 15-year-old Lynda Mann. Clueless, they start again when Dawn Ashworth is killed three years later. They enlist the help of Dr. Alec Jeffreys, a molecular biologist who uses his breakthrough technique of genetic fingerprinting to rule out one suspect by comparing his DNA with that of semen found on the victims' bodies. Police set up a DNA dragnet to trap and convict the real killer. This 1986 murder case is the first to use DNA as evidence in a criminal case.
Forever Hold your Peace:
When a young man confessed to the rape and murder of a woman in a Pizza Hut restaurant, police are convinced the case has been solved. Eight years later, another man imprisoned for an unrelated crime, admits HE committed the Pizza Hut murder. But authorities viewed that admission as unfounded. They could not understand why an innocent man would confess to a crime he did not commit, and if he was innocent, why had he said nothing during his eight years in prison?
Foundation of Lies: The Noreen Boyle Case
Frozen Evidence: Ontario Shoe Print
If a perpetrator leaves a shoe print in the mud, investigators use established techniques to made a mold of the shoe impression for later identification. But what happens if the impression is left in the snow? Here's the story of one Canadian investigator, whose quick thinking and knowledge of science enabled him to capture a shoe impression made in snow, before the evidence melted away.
Frozen In Time
A beautiful 23-year-old girl was driving home after a rock concert when her tire blew out. Investigators found her car, but no trace of her. At first there were hundreds of leads, but after three years, the trail turned cold. Police got a break when someone called to report a suspicious truck in a neighbor’s driveway; something inside that truck was plugged into an electrical outlet, allowing the device to run 24?hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. Suddenly, the cold trail turned even colder.
Ghost in the Machine
In May of 1999, a Presbyterian minister in South Dakota called 9-1-1. His wife was unconscious in the bathtub. Emergency medical crews could not revive her, and she died. She had ingested large doses of several medications, a behavior common in suicide. The minister said his wife had been distraught, but bits of deleted computer files suggested a murder plot. Bizarre tales of infidelity and the courtroom revelation of what could be a suicide note, challenge an array of forensic experts to find the truth: suicide, or murder?
Hair of the Dog
(2003) The police are forced to rely on a murder victim's canine for help when their investigation turns up little evidence in the case.
Hand Delivered: The Don Hardin Case
Anonymous letters sent through the United States mail aren't always untraceable. One such letter, an anonymous "tip" to police about a murder, mentioned information about the crime that had been withheld from the press. It was information only the killer would know. Laser technology helped to identify the state, city, street address and even the office number from where the anonymous letter was mailed. This narrowed the list of suspects significantly.
Horse Play: The Shannon Mohr Case
A young, happily married woman dies tragically in what looks to be a horseback riding accident. Her husband seems far from grief-stricken, and investigators discover a web of lies and a proficiency with pharmaceuticals in his background, that provide an alternative explanation for the woman's "accidental" death.
The murder of a well respected surgeon in an upscale waterfront apartment community left police in St. Petersburg, Florida baffled. Cell phone mapping, wiretapping and a host of other forensic evidence would uncover a twisted conspiracy, and bring the doctor’s killers to justice.
House That Roared, the: The Caren Campano Case
Caren Campano disappears, and her husband's story doesn't hold up. Police find a large stain on the Campano's bedroom carpet. They perform an eerie chemical test that reveals a room spattered with blood which, when cleaned off, could not be seen by the naked eye. Complex "reverse paternity" tests of Caren's relatives match her blood type to the blood on the carpet. The evidence convicts Chris Campano of murder. The body isn't found until a year later.
Insect Clues: The Sandra Cwik Case
Drifter Sandra Cwik was murdered in southern California in July 1988. Abandoned in a remote area, her body was discovered several days later -- decomposing with the aid of maggots. By analyzing the species of fly discovered at the recovery site, forensic entomologist David Faulkner provides the compelling time-of-death evidence that convicted serial rapist Ronald Porter.
Journey to Justice
What does a prosecutor do when he has evidence linking a habitual drunk driver to a hit-and-run in which a child is killed, and he needs to make the crash clear to jurors? In this case, he combines the talents of an accident reconstruction expert with a video specialist to create graphic demonstration of the moment of impact. This case was the first in which video in the courtroom withstood an appeal, and helped make “video testimony” viable in other cases.
Killer's 'Cattle'log: The Copeland Killings
When police in the Great Plains are called to retrieve a dead body, they do a background check on the victim. The trail leads them into a bizarre web of homeless drifters, cattle auctions and bad checks - all fronted by an elderly couple with a penchant for money and murder.
“Kill”igraphy: The Alvin Ridley Case
In 1997, a man in Ringgold, Georgia considered mentally unstable by his neighbors, was accused of killing his wife. Marks on the body seemed to clearly indicate his guilt. But then a medical detective took a fresh look at the case. To him, the marks on the body told a different story - one that had very little to do with murder. By using his knowledge in forensics and logic, he discovered the actual cause of death and saved the life of the accused in the process.
Seventeen-year-old Shari Faye Smith was abducted in broad daylight, in front of her own home. The kidnapper tormented her family with phone calls, leading them to believe Shari was alive – and then they received a letter he’d forced Shari to write, her “last will and testament.” This document would lead investigators to Shari’s killer, a fitting postscript to a heinous crime.
When the decomposed body of a young girl is discovered, police have no clues to her identity. But days earlier, a stabbing victim told them she thought she might have witnessed a murder. Police think the cases might be related, and to prove it, turn to bug larvae found on the body and a surprise piece of evidence: a tiny wad of chewing gum found near the victim’s body.
Legionaires’ Disease: The Legionaires Convention Case
This disease is one of the most famous medical detective stories, especially irritating for its missteps and frustrations. When 180 Legionnaires contract pneumonia-like symptoms after a Philadelphia Convention, and 29 of them die, doctors are mystified. Bureaucratic tie-ups and medical mistakes make matters worse. Twenty years later, all that we know about Legionnaires' Disease is that it breaks out every few years somewhere in the world.
Leg to Stand On, A
Late one night in June of 1992, a trash collector in Phoenix made a gruesome discovery. A severed human leg, cut at the thigh and adorned with jeans shorts, was found in a dumpster behind a local grocery store. The startled man immediately called the authorities. The police arrived on the scene, and proceeded to take numerous pictures and search the area for more clues. However, they had little else to go on. All they found was a bloody saw used to cut the leg. The police had a seemingly impossible task. There was a murderer-mutilator on the loose, and all they had to track him down was a leg.
Line of Fire: The Phineas Priests
When a fundamentalist group starts attacking and robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest, authorities know immediately that they are dealing with experienced criminals. A tip leads them to the alleged perpetrators and the evidence found at their homes is extensive and incriminating. But in court, this wealth of evidence must withstand a well-funded defense. Finally, two juries -- in an extraordinarily high profile case -- are presented with a combination of old fashioned forensic science and the latest in crime technology in order to render a verdict.
List Murders, the: The John List Case
In 1971, John List left a note with the bodies of his mother, wife, and three children in his mansion ballroom, funeral organ music blaring from a central sound system, and disappeared. Eighteen years later, all detectives had to work from was an outdated photograph of List. In 1989, the popular television series America's Most Wanted commissioned an age-scaled bust of List to aid viewers in identifying the confessed murderer. Dr. Frank Bender, nationally-recognized artist and sculptor, worked with forensic psychologist Richard Walter to develop a profile of the aging List. The final bust was so keenly accurate that 350 viewers called with tips, one of which led to List's arrest.
Magic Bullet, the: The Trey Cooley Case
Fifteen-year-old Trey Cooley dies from a mysterious gunshot wound to the head while he sits in the lobby of his father's gun club. Gumshoe investigation, ballistics, laser technology, made-to-scale models and the latest in forensic animation determine that the bullet that killed him followed a tragic course after a misfire at the outdoor range.
Man's Best Friend?: The John Miller/Debbie Loveless Case
The case of John Miller and Debbie Loveless is related. In 1989, they reported to police the death of their 4-year-old daughter, who they claimed was attacked by dogs. The authorities, however, believed the girl died from knife wounds and charged them with murder. Five years after their convictions, forensic evidence proved that their initial story was the truth.
When a young girl was found dead in her back yard, her parents told police that she was attacked and killed by the family dogs. Investigators did not agree and believed that the girl's wounds were not dog bites at all, but a slashing injury, consistent with a knife wound. The parents were found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Five years later, the parent's prayers were answered when a forensic scientist saw something in the crime scene photographs that had been missed the first time around.
On February 14, 2000, Bob Dorotik’s body was found on a mountain road near his family’s horse ranch. His wife told police that Bob had gone jogging and never returned, but investigators had their doubts. He had been beaten and strangled, and it appeared that someone else had dressed him. Authorities began tracing the crime back to the family’s ranch, leading them to think Bob Dorotik didn’t leave home alone.
Material Evidence: The Krista Harrison Case
In 1982, a young girl was found dead in Marshallville, Ohio, the victim of an apparent sex-killer. There was little evidence of the killer's identity, but authorities focused on the unusual orange fibers embedded in clothing found near the victim. Months passed and the case went cold, until a van turned up with what appeared to be the same orange fibers. With many inconsistencies in the case, the police had to turn to the latest in forensic technology to prove a definite correlation between the crime and their suspect.
Memories: The Kevin Green Case
In 1979, a pregnant woman was brutally raped and attacked in her home in Tustin, California. Her unborn child was killed during the savage act. After awaking from her coma, and regaining her memory, she identified her husband as the perpetrator. The semen that was found at the crime scene also matched her husband's blood type. Her husband was convicted and spent 16 years in jail, during which time he proclaimed his innocence and protested his sentence. During the time of the murder investigation, DNA testing was in its infancy and not completely conclusive. Many years later, a new DNA test and an innovative computer program would lead investigators to question just how accurate the wife's "recovered memory" really was.
Metal Business, the
It looked like sixty-two-year-old Phillip Rouss, Jr. had it all: family, friends, and a new business which was the culmination of a life-long dream. Then his health began to deteriorate. Doctors couldn’t pinpoint the cause of the illness and Phil began to suspect his condition was no accident. Toxicologists and investigators identified the real problem just in time to save Phil’s life.
Missing in Time: The Carolyn Killaby Case
A young woman was reported missing after a fight with her husband. She was presumed to be dead and her husband was the prime suspect. Police were suspicious of a secondary suspect when he reported a suspicious fire in his car. Two tiny drops of blood were found in the burned interior. Traditional DNA testing was difficult, since there was no body for DNA comparison. But a tiny clue inside the suspect's watchband, and a popular television show, helped solve the case.
Missing Pearl: The Pearl Bruns Case
A woman does not return home and, despite pleas from her family, police insist on treating it as a routine missing person's case. But when an investigation turns up a blood trail that leads to the couple's basement, police are sure they'll find the victim's body. But they find nothing. The case stalls until new forensic technology leads investigators to the body.
Mistaken for Dead: The Hanson/Hawkins Scam
The death of a patient at the office of Glendale, Cal., doctor Richard Boggs leads investigators to a bizarre scheme involving an insurance scam, switched identities and murder.
When a man dies unexpectedly in the office of a noted California doctor, police begin what they think will be a routine investigation. What they find throws doubt on the identity of the dead man and raises questions about the doctor's role in his death. Soon they uncover a bizarre story of corpse stealing, faked identities, and sexual perversion -- all part of an elaborate insurance case that will center on what actually caused the victim's death: a sex act gone wrong, or premeditated murder.
Music Case, the
When 12-year-old Cally Jo Larson was found dead in her own home, it shattered the sense of security residents usually associated with Waseca, Minnesota. Despite a meticulous search of the Larson home and an exhaustive investigation, police had no suspects. Then a string of burglaries several months after the murder led police to a cache of stolen goods, which included CD cases similar to those belonging to Cally Jo. That evidence would “make the case,” and bring a killer to justice.
Naked Justice: The Leann Fletcher Case
The 29-year-old, pregnant wife of a young, successful attorney is found dead in her Michigan home of a gunshot wound to the head. Was the wound self-inflicted, and if it was, why would this young woman kill herself? Blood spatter analysis and a painstaking investigation led police to the truth.
Nursery Crimes: The Genene Jones Case
Why did children in a Texas hospital seem to be dying at a higher rate than at any other hospital in the country? Medical investigators had no immediate answers until they discovered that one nurse seemed to be on duty in almost all of the fatal cases. But proving the connection seemed impossible until an international team of doctors uncovered an unlikely murder weapon.
During the early morning hours of December 29, 1991, a woman is murdered in a Phoenix bar. At the crime scene, investigators find a shoe-print, several foreign hairs, and unknown fingerprints. But they believe the most telling piece of evidence is the bite mark on the victim’s chest. Based on his bite pattern, a local postman is charged, tried and convicted of murder, but he maintains his innocence. Ten years into his sentence, improved technology yields new information about old evidence, and earns him another trial.
Outbreak: The Thyrotoxicosis Case
Alarmingly high levels of thyroid hormones pump through the systems of South Dakota residents. Investigators study one large family whose 12-year-old son did not get sick. The tip-off: he's a vegetarian. It seems that when drug companies started manufacturing synthetic thyroid hormones, they stopped buying thyroid tissue from butchers who did not trim these parts, but rather sold them as "extra lean beef." The outcome: the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture bans meat plants from using meat in or near the gullet for beef and pork products.
In 1962, the people of the small town of Hanford, California lost their sense of peace when one of their own, 15-year-old Marlene Miller, was murdered. It would take 24 years and countless retrials before forensic scientists discovered the microscopic evidence that brought the killer to justice.
Palm Print Conviction
The discovery of a woman's naked body, covered with bruises, leaves no doubt that she was the victim of foul play. Quick-thinking investigators erected a makeshift tent around the body and used Super Glue fumes to lift the killer’s palm print from the victim’s skin. With this technique, they were able to determine who had a hand in the murder.
Partners in Crime
It takes a long time and a very hot fire to cremate a human body, and thus destroy all evidence of foul play. But the coroner who performed the autopsy on the badly burned body of Charles “Jack” Lynch found telltale clues. Not only had the victim been burned, he’d also been stabbed -- 24 times, with two different knives. Police knew that a person, acting alone, would probably use only one weapon. So investigators were on the lookout for a couple of killers.
Pastoral Care: The Donna Payant Case
When the body of a female prison guard shows up in a landfill, investigators immediately view hundreds of prisoners as suspects. The medical examiner not only identified the cause of death, he found an important clue. It was a "signature" element to the crime, and was similar to a murder the medical examiner investigated ten years earlier. When he checked further, he discovered that the same perpetrator was an inmate at the same prison. Was it possible that the inmate committed this crime, too?
Photo Finish: The Linda Sobek Case
A beautiful model goes missing and no one has a clue to her whereabouts until a park employee discovers photographs in a trash dumpster. With the photos are some vital pieces of information which eventually lead to a professional photographer. He claims the woman died during a consensual sexual encounter gone wrong, but the woman's corpse and some high tech digital imagery tell a more sinister story.
Planted Evidence: The Seed Pod DNA Case
Police in Arizona ask a molecular geneticist to pick out a tree in a "lineup" when unidentified seed pods are found in a suspect's truck. The judge rules into evidence DNA profiles linking the pods to a tree near where the body was found. Increasingly, non-human DNA is making its way into the court system.
Sheila Bryan was convicted of killing her own mother in a car fire, and sentenced to life in prison. She was set free after appealing to the Georgia Supreme Court, but retried a few months later. Her chances of winning seemed slim – until an expert witness advanced a different theory of how the fire started.
Punchline: The Rhoda Nathan Case
When an ER patient said he cut his hand on a dumpster, one doctor recognized the injury as something else- and became the chief witness for the prosecution in a crime involving the murder of a 67-year-old grandmother.
Pure Evil: Jason Massey Case
Creating a 'profile' of a serial killer, is part science and part intuition. The science involves studying criminals who have committed similar crimes, to see what characteristics they all have in common. One common trait among serial killers, is a past history of abusing animals. In a search for the killer of two teenagers in Texas, a behavioral profile led to a possible suspect - and hard science proved the profile was correct.
Purr-fect Murder: The Shirley Duguay Case
A woman vanished from her home on Prince Edward Island. Her abandoned car was found in a field; inside, the windows were spattered with blood. During the search for her body, police found a plastic bag containing a pair of sneakers and a bloody leather jacket. On the jacket were white hairs… hairs that investigators discovered had come from a cat. Forensic testing on a cat had never been done before – anywhere in the world. This case made history: It was the first time that animal DNA was used to solve a crime.
Raw Terror: The E-Coli Bacteria Case
The E-Coli bacteria live in our meat supply, in our milk and in water. When food is properly prepared and stored, E-Coli is harmless. But in the absence of these simple precautions, E-Coli can have deadly consequences. Raw Terror tells the story of Damion Heersink, an eleven-year-old boy who almost died after eating an improperly cooked hamburger teeming with E-Coli, and the people who saved his life.
Reel Danger: The Stenger Farm Pond Case
When two boys are viciously attacked while fishing in a nearby pond, authorities spring into action. They suspect a group of teenage thugs, but lack solid evidence. It would take the murky waters of a fishing hole to provide clear evidence, and help authorities reel in the boy’s attackers.
Root of All Evil: The Charlotte Grabbe Case
For three years, investigators searched for the wife of a prominent farmer, who disappeared from her home without a trace. Eventually, a former lover of the missing woman's estranged husband came forward with a fantastic tale of rage, murder, mutilation and cremation, but there was no way to test the validity of her story. That is, until a plant pathologist and a dendrochronologist conducted some tests on the plant life on the farm, which lead to a surprising revelation.
Police determine that the human remains found in a discarded box belong to one Edna Posey. But to find out when the murder took place, and whether the man accused of the crime is guilty, investigators turn to insects and the forensic entomologist who can interpret their behavior.
Scratching the Surface
In Miami, Florida, a sniper opened fire from the rooftop of a manufacturing plant, killing one employee and injuring two others in the parking lot below. Police discovered spent shell casings on the roof, and the gun was found in the yard of a nearby home. The shooter had scratched the serial number off of the gun, hoping to make it untraceable. But forensic scientists had a way to make the number reappear. Aircraft Modular, a manufacturer of airplane seats, was located in Miami, Florida. Five employees, who were on the fast-track for advancement, were attending evening computer classes at the company’s request. They had formed a carpool, with one person driving and the others leaving their cars in the company parking lot.
Second Shot at Love
When a respected heart surgeon is found dead in the basement of his upscale Cincinnati home, police assume he committed suicide. Friends and family indicate that the man suffered prolonged bouts of depression and had spoken of killing himself. But a further investigation reveals that his new wife has a history of violence and an insatiable desire for money. The story of how he died is finally decided in court, as teams of forensic scientists face-off to see if the good doctor died at his own hand or was killed by his gold-digging wife.
Shadow of a Doubt
A woman is shot to death in her store just one day before she is to testify against the man accused of robbing her. The robber becomes the prime suspect, but he has a solid alibi: a time-stamped videotape of his outdoor fishing expedition on the day of the murder. Police asked a local physics professor to help them authenticate the videotape; he enabled them to find the killer who was hiding in the shadows.
Shopping Spree: Lisa Manderach Case
A mother and her daughter leave home for a day of shopping - but are never seen or heard from again. The little girl's body is found dumped off a roadside - but there was no sign of her mother. The suspects included the mother, the girl's father - as well as anyone that came into contact with the two, during their full day of shopping. It took forensic science as well as deductive reasoning - to find out whether the baby's mother was a suspect or victim. Once that was determined - the other forensic clues found revealed more, than it would have otherwise.
Shot In the Dark, A: The Martin Frias Case
When a woman is found dead of a gunshot wound, police conclude that she was murdered by her husband. Investigators theorized the couple had argued, and during the ensuing struggle, the husband shot his wife in the back, and then staged the scene to make it look like a suicide. Forensic scientists were able to piece together the clues and determine what really happened. In doing so, they proved once again that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Shot of Vengeance
A 34-year-old nurse experiences a variety of flu-like symptoms. None of her doctors are able to discover the cause, until she visits the gynecologist for a routine check-up. She then learns it’s something far worse than the flu. She is HIV-positive. Being a nurse, she could have contracted the HIV virus in any number of ways. In the end, science was able to determine not only how she had been infected, but also by whom. The worst part: it wasn’t an accident.
Sibling Rivalry: The Mitchell Brothers Case
Two of America's premier pornographers happen to be brothers. When one turns up dead, his brother confesses to shooting him. The question for investigators is whether the shooting was pre-meditated. A 911 call in which the fatal shots can be heard, and a computer reconstruction of the crime scene, provide the answer.
A mother of two vanishes after a shopping trip. Her body is discovered a month later. Witnesses say they saw the victim being forced into a car by an unknown person. Police later learned that car had been rented, but the signature on the rental agreement did not match that of their prime suspect. A forensic handwriting expert showed investigators the signs that clearly pointed to the murderer.
Sign of the Crime
(2003) There were a series of murders a few years back in New York City. Each victim had a different astrological sign. How did the killer know his victims’ birthdays beforehand? A forensic handwriting expert uncovered the answer.
Sip of Sins
To the people of Olney, Texas, 39-year-old Faryion Wardrip was a model citizen: happily married, a valued employee and a respected Sunday school teacher. Faryion Wardrip was also a brutal serial killer who, for years, eluded police without suspicion. But smart police work and DNA from a discarded paper cup proved to be Wardrip’s undoing.
Skin of Her Teeth: The Tina Mott Case
A human skull retrieved from a watery grave reveals a ghastly crime. Markings on the skull indicate deep knife wounds. The teeth had been removed from the skull, apparently so the killer could keep the victim's identity a secret. But the killer can't out-fox authorities who identify the remains as a young mother who disappeared two months earlier. Scientific tests indicate the killer used 19 knives, a hacksaw and needle-nosed pliers to skin his victim to the bone.
Sleight of Hand
A rich elderly woman is murdered and her home ransacked. A trail of blood was visible down one side of the stairs. Though investigators were able to lift prints from the crime scene, they failed to find a match and the crime went unsolved. Sixteen years later, advances in the science of fingerprint identification, and the development of DNA profiling, enable police to identify the print – and the killer.
Smoke in Your Eyes
(2003) An interesting example of how forensic science helped determine whether a fire was arson. Investigators also discovered that the perpetrator ignited the fire accidentally, long before he intended.
A wealthy, middle-aged woman dies suddenly and unexpectedly at home. An autopsy finds no signs of foul play and investigators are unable to determine the cause of death until they receive a call from the ex-wife of the dead woman’s husband. Her claims initiate an investigation, during which the sensitive nose of a toxicologist sniffs out murder.
Sniper’s Trail, the
(2003) In the fall of 2002, the eyes of the world were on Virginia and Maryland. A serial sniper was on the loose, killing innocent, unsuspecting citizens as they went about their normal activities. By the time it was over, 13 people had been shot, and 11 died. This program examines the behind-the-scenes forensic tests which led to the capture of the killers, including geographic and behavioral profiling, ballistics, crime scene animation, handwriting analysis, DNA testing and fingerprinting. Viewers will also see an exact replica of the car – the mobile bunker the alleged killers called home.
Soft Touch: The Dawn Bruce Case
When we think of looking for fingerprints at a crime scene, we generally think of hard objects that a perpetrator may have touched a doorknob, a drinking glass - but a fabric? Is it possible that a piece of cloth could contain a fingerprint that would identify a killer? There now exists the technology to do just that - and in this case, it meant justice for the parents of a young woman, who was killed in a senseless act of revenge.
Southside Strangler: The Timothy Spencer Case
FBI psychological profiling and a DNA fingerprinting track identify the man who raped and strangled five young women in Virginia. The U.S. criminal justice system's first use of DNA profiling in a serial murder case frees an innocent man after he spent two years in prison, and convicts a real killer.
An abandoned car was found on a busy Philadelphia highway; the engine was running, the radio was blaring and the driver’s door was wide open. Investigators suspected the driver had been the victim of a car-jacking. The next day, police found the body of the driver: Aimee Willard, a young college co-ed, home for summer vacation. There were unusual marks on her body… marks which eventually led to her killer.
Time Will Tell: The Walker Case
In this international case of extortion, murder, and stolen identities, a Canadian financier assumed the name of a co-worker as part of a money-laundering scheme. Later, in 1996 off the coast of England, the man turned up dead in the ocean with an anchor tied around his torso. The only clues to his real identity were a Rolex watch and a maple leaf tattoo. Once the police believed that they had discovered the man's identity, they were led to a friend of his to ask about the victim's disappearance, only to find that someone else had assumed the identity of the dead man. No clue proved more helpful in cracking the case than the 10-lb. anchor to which he was attached.
Tooth or Consequences
The investigation of the disappearance of a young woman leads police to a suspect who has a history of sexual assault, rape, and kidnapping. But police could not find the victim’s body, making it more difficult to connect their suspect to the crime. Finally, police discover the remains of a charred tooth. Superimposed images and an analysis of the elements of a dental filling give investigators the proof they need to bring the perpetrator to justice.
Touching Recollection, A
After an eighteen-year-old girl is kidnapped in the small town of Jackson, Ohio, the only clue police had was a tire impression left in some soft mud. But the victim in this case knew something about forensic evidence. She made sure to leave her fingerprints in some dirt on the outside panel of the truck. These two small impressions led police directly to the front door of a career criminal.
In 1993, the state of Florida was known for more than just swimsuits, sun, and Disneyworld. Worldwide attention focused on a rash of robberies, which targeted tourists. Some vacationers were killed in these attacks, but some fought and survived, despite severe injuries. One of those injuries, a bite mark, would be the key piece of evidence used to convict a determinedly uncooperative suspect, who ran into an even more determined detective.
Trail of Truth: The Nancy Newman Case
One morning in Anchorage, Alaska in 1987, a mother and her two daughters were found brutally murdered and sexually violated. Despite the fact that the crime scene had no shortage of evidence - fingerprints, bodily fluids and blood - investigators could not find a conclusive link to their prime suspect. In order to establish not only that the perpetrator was in the home, but that he was there when the crime was committed, a FBI analyst designed an unique experiment relying on pubic hair.
Treading Not So Lightly: The Vicki Lyons Case
When a 4 year old girl is found unconscious in a parking lot - police were satisfied it was a hit and run vehicle accident, and left it at that. But the girls mother was determined to find out what exactly what happened and what vehicle was involved. She was a fan of murder mysteries and forensic science shows - and used much of what she knew to find the perpetrator of the accident that severely injured her daughter.
Treads and Threads: The John Randall Murders
For 15 months, a serial killer was strangling prostitutes in Florida, then taunting police by leaving the bodies in plain sight. The only clues were a tire impression and some threads. By the time scientists identify the source of these treads and the threads, police discover the killer was right under their noses the entire time.
Unholy Vows: The Trifa Case
The flood of World War II refugees that came to the U.S after the war included those who covered up their involvement in war crimes in order to gain entry. Exposing the truth in these cases was extremely difficult given the passage of time and the destruction of evidence during the war. But in 1957, witnesses from Bucharest accused a high ranking religious figure of partaking in the horrific crimes. Years later, this accusation was supported by the very latest in forensics and laser technology when an incriminating postcard with genetic material was deciphered.
When a gas station/convenience store employee is found shot at point blank range, investigators find the entire murder has been caught on the store’s videotape security camera. But the image of the killer is so degraded it seems impossible to positively identify him, until old fashioned forensic science and space age technology come together to reveal his identity.
Voice From Beyond, A: The Elkins Case
In 1999, a decomposed body was found in a barrel. An address book found along with the body proved that the body had been in place for at least thirty years. Despite the fact that years of moisture in the barrel had completely washed away the ink, scientists searched for a way to reveal the information written on the pages of the address book for possible clues. When a suspect in the investigation killed himself, the police turned to science and the clarity of DNA to help them solve the case.
Vow of Silence, A
In 1987, Emelita Villa came to Arlington, Texas from the Philippines as a shy, impoverished, 18-year-old mail order bride. Six and a half years later, Emelita disappeared. During their investigation, detectives learned that both Reeves’ second and third wives had died amid mysterious circumstances. The death of Reeves’ second wife, Sharon, had been ruled a suicide, but blood spatter evidence in a photo indicated she might have been murdered. An autopsy, performed on Sharon’s body 14 years after her death, revealed even more.
Where the Blood Drops: The Susie Mowbray Case
When someone dies under mysterious circumstances, the spouse almost always is a suspect - especially if they are in bed, sleeping beside the individual at the time of their death. This is the story of a woman convicted of her husband's murder, whose son was so convinced of her innocence that he enrolled in law school, studied all of the evidence and, eventually, discovered the truth of what really happened that fateful night between his mother and father.
Whodunit: The Steven Hricko Case
An evening out to a 'murder mystery' theater performance turns into a real life whodunit when a badly burned body is discovered after the performance ends. But even good 'acting' can't mask the true culprit. Lies, greed and medical trickery can't match the skills of forensic scientists, who bring the curtain down on the real killer.The case of Kimberly Hricko is presented. Hricko's husband, Stephen, was discovered dead in their cabin, badly burned from the waist up. Investigators zeroed in on the wife, who stood to collect $400,000 in life insurance.
Who's Your Daddy: The Margie Coffey Case
The body of a young woman was found in an icy Ohio waterway. She had been strangled to death, and most of the evidence had been washed away by the rushing water. Investigators conducted a painstaking examination of the victim’s body and clothing, and discovered a tiny clue – hardly bigger than a human hair. That clue would enable police to determine where the victim had been just before she died; it would also lead them to her killer.
Wilson Murder, the: The Wilson Twins’ Case
A wealthy Southern doctor is murdered, bashed in the head and found lying in a pool of blood, a baseball bat nearby. Police arrest an itinerant painter/handyman who is found with the doctor's credit cards. He accuses the doctor's unfaithful wife and her twin sister of hiring him to commit the murder. The wife is sent to prison, but at her sister's trial, attorneys finally bring in a forensic expert who testifies that the crime could not have been committed the way the painter said. The sister is acquitted. But the wife remains in prison, and the mystery goes unsolved.
Within a Hair
In the summer of 1996, in the River Park section of South Bend, Indiana, four women had been sexually assaulted and the perpetrator was still at large. After a few months, police arrested a suspect; he was identified by some – but not all -- of the victims, and subsequently convicted of the crimes. But the story doesn’t end there. Six years later, new developments in forensic science would uncover startling facts about the case – and change the lives of three men and the women who were attacked.
Without a Prayer: The Madalyn Murray O'Hair Case
Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the head of the American Atheists group – and she was once called “America’s most hated woman.” When she and her two top lieutenants disappeared, there was no shortage of suspects. The full story of her abduction and the hatred and revenge which fueled it might never have been told, had it not been for the discovery of a headless, handless body, and the serial number on an artificial hip.
Woman Scorned, A: The Katriniak Case
In Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, a young mother and her infant son were missing. Months later, when they were found dead in a cornfield, the obvious suspect was the husband and father of the victims. However, a forensic entomologist's findings -- insects on the bodies of the victims and a long, blonde hair -- revealed a vital clue. The blonde hair had something uniquely in common with the brunette hair of the husband's former love interest and this would prove to be the link in the story of a twisted love triangle.
Wrong Foot, A
Police were puzzled by an obscure print found at a crime scene in Peoria, Illinois where one man had been killed and two teenage girls were seriously injured. Neither of the girls could identify their attacker. But one simple, yet rarely found, clue helped track the footsteps of a killer.
“X” Marks the Spot
The St. Louis police and the FBI didn’t need bloodhounds, lab tests, fingerprints or other standard tools of criminal investigation to help them track down a serial killer. To put an end to the string of murders, police needed only a computer – and the knowledge of how it worked.