Super Sleuth Challenge Answer – New Forensics Beats Cold Case

Photo by gerard79

Photo by gerard79

Thanks for trying out the Super Sleuth Challenge. This week we reviewed a cold case that was solved 15 years after the original crime.

A Review of Our Case:

The murder took place in Minneapolis on Christmas Eve, 1998. The young couple was killed in their apartment. Drugs and cash were found at the scene, but no motive was forthcoming.

Now the Police have a suspect who they believe is guilty of the crime. Preston is serving time in California for a violent home invasion for another 20+ years.

Police Officials are still trying to determine motive and place him at the scene of the crime, but since he has several years left to serve in California they aren’t in a hurry.

Turning Point In The Case:

Although cold cases are often reevaluated in light of new forensic methodology, this case specifically gained new traction in 2007 when Sgt. Chris Karakostas started working it.

Trying the new forensic processes available that were not used at the time of the murders allowed them to solve the case.

How was the suspect identified?

A. A single drop of blood found at the scene did not match the victims’. With new DNA tests, law enforcement officials were able to match the DNA to the criminal database, identifying the killer.

B. Fingerprint analysis on the skin of the victim allowed law enforcement officials to match the fingerprints to the criminal database, identifying the killer.

C. Handwriting analysis on a napkin left at the scene allowed law enforcement officials to match the handwriting to a sample of the original suspects in the case.

D. Striations on the bullets used in the crime allowed law enforcement officials to link the weapon to that used in another crime where the criminal was convicted.

E. The killer’s MO of both crimes was identical, even down to the business card left at the scene, allowing officials to match the suspect to the crime.

To read more about this cold case click here or here.

What cold case solution you’ve read about in the past surprised you the most?

Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge – Cold Case Solved

Photo by Gastonmag

Photo by Gastonmag

Happy Wednesday Super Sleuths! Today’s Super Sleuth Challenge is a recently solved murder that remained a cold case for 15 years before the true perpetrator was discovered.

To be entered in the Monthly Super Sleuth Challenge leave a comment with your best guess for the answer to the question below. At the end of the month, the sleuth with the most correct answers will be our winner.

Our Case:

The murder took place on Christmas Eve, 1998. A man and woman were killed in their apartment. The young couple worked at a glass factory. They were in love and planning to spend their life together. Their family discovered them when they didn’t show up for holiday festivities.

Drugs and cash were found at the scene, but no motive was forthcoming. Now the Police have a suspect who they believe is guilty of the crime. He is serving time in California for a violent home invasion.

How was the suspect identified?

A. A single drop of blood found at the scene did not match the victims’. With new DNA tests, law enforcement officials were able to match the DNA to the criminal database, identifying the killer.

B. Fingerprint analysis on the skin of the victim allowed law enforcement officials to match the fingerprints to the criminal database, identifying the killer.

C. Handwriting analysis on a napkin left at the scene allowed law enforcement officials to match the handwriting to a sample of the original suspects in the case.

D. Striations on the bullets used in the crime allowed law enforcement officials to link the weapon to that used in another crime where the criminal was convicted.

E. The killer’s MO of both crimes was identical, even down to the business card left at the scene, allowing officials to match the suspect to the crime.

How do you think the suspect was identified?

How To Add Humor To Action – A Tip From The TV Show “Leverage”

Photo by TALUDA

Photo by TALUDA

Humor has the habit of showing up in the middle of action in everyday life. Like that all so-simple-seeming direction manual for your child’s Christmas toys… in Chinese or French. Or the overflowing washing machine that your puppy is scared of.

Yes, humor is often present right smack dab in the middle of action. Why? Because action often has unexpected reactions and everyone responds to a variety of experiences differently. The woman afraid of spiders may react completely different than the boy who collects them.

When two completely different types of people or animals are in the same situation the responses can be quite humorous.

Humor in the middle of action happens in real life, but how do we make it happen in our stories? That is a bit more tricky. Watching the TV Show Leverage  gave me a couple practical applications to try in my novel.

How To Add Humor To Action:

1. Ignoring common sense. In the following clip one of the characters does something completely in opposition to common sense.

2. Stating the obvious in reaction. In the same clip we see Eliot having to instruct Parker in common sense and then seeing her be snarky back.

3. Give something the opposite attention than it deserves. For example, getting hit by a car. (Check out the following clip.)

This also works when you over dramatize something silly. Seinfeld often uses that kind of humor.

4. Make the voice of reason be reasonable and dramatic in the same exchange. In the same clip as above, we see this with Hardison saying, “Nobody is going to kill anybody, except, girl Nate is going to kill you.”

What are some of your favorite examples of humor in the midst of action from your life, fiction, television, or movies?

 

How To Add Unexpected Conflict From The Show “Leverage”

Picture 029Some ordinary things seem so benign. For example, a trip through a raspberry patch in September. My family absolutely loves to hit the orchards and pick-your-own berry patches. A few years back something happened that makes me ever vigilent when I go to the raspberry patch with my kids.

The picture above is a banded garden spider we saw at the raspberry patch five years ago. The hand is my husbands. I love orchards, but

I HATE SPIDERS!!!!!!!!

In fact, I hate spiders so much that my boys come running with shoes to help me when I see them. Tiny or big, either way I am ready to climb a chair, the wall, the window treatments just to get away from them.

This is a bit of unexpected conflict in our day. It simply comes from something I hate, making an ordinary trip to the orchard a bit extraordinary. 

I must admit that I wasn’t all that thrilled to see that spider at my favorite orchard. For the longest time I picked on the outside row so I could always see what was coming into contact with my skin. Anyone watching me probably thinks I’m a bit neurotic. All I have to say is, “WE ARE TALKING ABOUT SPIDERS HERE!”

How can we use this experience to find unexpected conflict in our novels? Let’s take a peak at this clip to get some ideas.

Did you notice in this clip that something unexpected about Elliot’s character adds a dose of conflict? He hates baseball. Now Hardison is less than impressed with him. It could add a bit of a rift in their relationship if he follows it very far, especially if Elliot didn’t appreciate the 13 hours Hardison spent creating the TV add.

A few different types of conflict can also cause problems because Elliot doesn’t like baseball. He is trying to pretend to be a baseball player so they can get the inside scoop on a job. It makes it much harder to convince people if you don’t even like the sport.

Think of your story. How could you add character likes, dislikes, and fears to create unexpected conflict? Even in an ordinary place, conflict can be lurking if you find a way to connect your character to an unexpected result.

What are some of your likes, dislikes, and fears that cause conflict in your life?

Super Sleuth Challenge Answer – Historic Crime Solving Forensics

Photo by dimitri c

Photo by dimitri c

There are some amazing super sleuths among this crowd! Your comments show your knowledge. I love to learn quirky pieces of crime history. It helps me to understand the trend of criminal investigations and how long it takes things to be perfected.

Enter our Super Sleuth Challenge. Each of you had sound reasoning for thinking your idea was the first forensic method to be used in an official manner. Here is the answer:

Which of the following forensic methods do you think was used first in an official manner?

A. Autopsies used to determine cause of death- The ancient Greeks called autopsies “eye-witnessings” or “seeing for oneself.” But we see that autopsies were used by the ancient world from Egyptians, to Romans, to Chinese as early as 3000 BCE. 

B. Dental analysis and bite patterns used to identify a victim- The first case of dental analysis to identify a victim was in 1447, when a unidentifiable victim was recognized by one of the servants due to his master’s missing teeth. But using it to connect a victim to their killer didn’t occur until later. Dental analysis was used in the Salem Witch trials in 1692.

C. Fingerprinting used as evidence in a crime- The Qin Dynast(206 BC) in ancient China first used fingerprinting to solve crimes. They even had a manual for crime solving that showed how to use hand prints to identify criminals.

D. Footwear evidence used to identify the perpetrator- Although doctors have always been aware of the difference in size and shape of individuals and their feet, the first footwear evidence was used in a case in Scotland in 1786.

E. Handwriting Analysis- Aristotle and Confuscius from the ancient world thought there was a connection between a persons handwriting and their character. There was even a lecture about it at Bologna University in 1692. But as a study related to crime, graphology was not pursued until the 1870s.

To learn more about the history of forensic science in solving crimes click here.

What surprised you most about these forensic facts?

Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge – The History Of Evidence

Photo by dimitri c

Photo by dimitri c

Hi, Super Sleuths! Before we do our Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge, we must start by recognizing last month’s Super Sleuth of the month. This super sleuth answered our challenges 100% correct last month!

And the Super Sleuth of the month is...

 Jessica Patch

Want to learn more about our super sleuth of the month? Check out her blog at: http://www.jessicarpatch.com/

***

Our Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge this week will count towards our August sleuth of the month. The person with the most correct answers this month will be sent the following gifts:

*A $10 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris:

Years ago it was much more common for individuals to be convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, or no perpetrator to be caught at all. Now, we have a wide range of forensic processes that focus on catching the right criminals as quickly as possible. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like all of those years ago before science played a role in crime stopping.

Forensics have come a long way throughout the history of crime solving and criminal trials. Just how much do you know about the history of forensics? How long have experts been solving crime with our current day methods? And where did they come up with these ideas to start with?

Let’s take a look back at the history books and see where it all began.

Which of the following forensic methods do you think was used first in an official manner?

A. Autopsies used to determine cause of death

B. Dental analysis and bite patterns used to identify a victim

C. Fingerprinting used as evidence in a crime

D. Footwear evidence used to identify the perpetrator

E. Handwriting Analysis

What is your answer? What forensic science do you find the most interesting?

3 Tips To Add Humor To Your Novel From The TV Show “Leverage”

Photo by andrewatla

Photo by andrewatla

Humor adds richness to our favorite novels and movies.

Some of the best moments of humor catch us unexpectedly. For this very reason we love characters with dry humor because we often don’t see it coming.

Think of some of your favorite humor clips of all time. To discover the secrets of humor let’s analyze an example in action.

The following clip is from the television show Leverage. Parker is the female character that plays the flight attendant in the following clip. She struggles to connect with people and often is a bit cold, but this particular episode required her to stretch herself and here is the outcome.

3 Tips To Add Humor To Your Novel From The TV Show “Leverage”:

*Select an unexpected source. Parker is the deadpan, antisocial character of this series. This is the humor everyone except the character delivering the punch lines recognizes. Parker appears non-pulsed. The other flight attendant is trying to keep the shock off of her face. The passengers are even more afraid that someone knows their greatest fears and is reiterating the possibility of them coming true.

*Cast a character in a role opposite of their personality. Parker is not the one you would usually look to for humor, but in showcasing this character in a role her personality would rarely play, you get humor. Parker would never take a job working with people. When we cast her in the role of flight attendant, her unusual dialogue seems in character.

*State the obviously neurotic. The humor in this segment is brought out by stating what everyone is really thinking, or at least someone who is terrified of flying is thinking. It sounds neurotic, but said in Parker’s flat tone of voice it makes us laugh.

What are your favorite humor lines or shows of all time?