In early 2008, police in Clark County, Nevada, received an anonymous letter that included maps of the area around US 93 & Boulder Highway. Police conducted a search and on January 23 discovered a woman’s skull.
Two brothers–Artie and Jim Mitchell–had created a booming porn business in 1970s LA. But success came with problems, and on February 27, 1991, Jim shot Artie after an argument. A computer simulation video, breakthrough technology at the time, helped sway the jury to convict Jim.
Police in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, are investigating the death of Danny Vanzandt, 66, who died strangely on February 18, 2013, in his home — not because he may have been murdered, investigators ruled out homicide, but because he might have spontaneously combusted.
Kevin Neal called 911 to report his children missing. Neal said he was inside cleaning in the house, when he no longer heard the children playing outside. His wife was sure he was had hurt them saying, “What the have you done with my kids!” Their bodies weren’t found for months. Even so, forensic experts were able to use insect activity to catch a sexual predator.
In each of these three remarkable cases, a missing child was found alive years after disappearing. Compare the age progression images created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children with photographs of these missing kids as adults today.
On January 23, 1992, a jury sentenced Brown to 25 years for the murder of Sabina Kulakowski. Despite the evidence against him, Brown maintained his innocence for fifteen long years from his prison cell.
The investigation into the violent murder of up-and-coming Hollywood photographer Roland Kuster reached a dead end when detectives’ only suspect was eliminated by DNA evidence. Ultimately a mysterious backpack left at the murder scene would tie the real killer to the crime. On December 1, 1997, DNA testing of that suspect began.
A man stabs his wife to death while sleepwalking; a girl claims she was held captive inside a box for seven years; a mother stones her children to death on God’s command. These are only some examples of the types of cases into which a forensic psychologist may be brought, for anything from assessment to testimony to treatment.
Prolific serial killer Ted Bundy’s undoing was a bite mark he left on the buttocks of one of his victims, Lisa Levy. Levy and her sorority sister Martha Bowman had been strangled and beaten to death, but their killer did not leave much evidence in the Chi Omega sorority house, except for the bite mark, which later matched impressions taken of Bundy’s teeth and became a central piece of evidence at his trial.
Before DNA testing, the solving of crimes allowed much room for error — error that could mean conviction of the innocent and freedom for the guilty. Read about how DNA revolutionized criminal justice forever.