Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals
Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray is a forensic anthropologist and also Professor of Biology at Mount St. Joseph University, where she teaches doctoral-level human gross anatomy and undergraduate-level anatomy and physiology, as well as forensic science. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Mount St. Joseph University and her master's degree in anthropology and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Biology from the University of Cincinnati.
Most of Professor Murray's forensic casework has been in Ohio and Kentucky, where she has participated in hundreds of investigations. She is one of fewer than 100 anthropologists certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Professor Murray has been honored with the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, and she twice earned the Clifford Excellence in Teaching Award. She has served as an instructor for numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and the International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners. Her television appearances include National Geographic's Buried Secrets, Discovery Health's Skeleton Stories, The New Detectives, and Forensic Files. Her book Death: Corpses, Cadavers, and Other Grave Matters was named one of the top ten summer titles for students by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her 2012 book, Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death, was selected as one of the outstanding books of 2012 by the prestigious National Science Teacher's Association.
01: The Infamous Jack the Ripper
Much of our forensic knowledge comes from the media. Start your journey through forensic history with what's considered the landmark case for crime reporting: the Jack the Ripper murders from the late 1880s. Along the way, you'll investigate the continuous interplay between forensic advances and larger societal changes.
02: Analyzing the Black Dahlia Murder
Explore the special forensic category known as lust murder with the 1947 murder-mutilation of the Black Dahlia. How did law enforcement ultimately uncover this young woman's true identity? What makes her case different from other lust murders? Could there be a link to the infamous Lipstick Murders that occurred two years earlier?
03: Dissecting Hollywood Deaths
Travel to Hollywood for an intriguing look at how crime scene investigation and autopsy results are crucial in assessing-and hopefully solving-suicidal, homicidal, accidental, and natural deaths. Your examples are three of Tinseltown's most mysterious deaths: TV Superman George Reeves, Hogan's Heroes actor Bob Crane, and kung fu legend Bruce Lee.
04: Decomposition and Confusing Interpretations
How can cutting-edge research and technology be applied to old cases and result in fresh conclusions? Find out in Professor Murray's illuminating lecture on the case of seven-year-old Dalbert Aposhian and several other mysteries, which illustrate the importance of taphonomy: the study of what happens to living organisms once they die and are deposited in the environment.
05: Lizzie Borden and the Menendez Brothers
Turn to a couple of intriguing aspects of forensic science: how a relatively unknown person becomes infamous, and how someone can plead not guilty at trial despite an overwhelming mountain of evidence. Here, you'll contrast two "family feuds": the 1880s murder of Lizzie Borden's parents and the case of the Menendez brothers a little over 100 years later.
06: The Tylenol Murders
In just three days in 1982, seven people in the Chicago area were killed with cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. Follow forensic scientists and investigators as they mobilized in a massive test for product tampering, using sophisticated chemical analysis and a rapid test method to keep other consumers safe from harm-while also searching for a culprit.
07: Copycats and Hoaxes
In this lecture, plunge into the world of copycats, hoaxes, and false claims. As you learn how forensic analysts approach these issues, you'll relive some terrifying (and bizarre) true-life cases, including copycat Tylenol poisonings, syringes hidden in soda bottles, and the discovery of a confounding "missing link" between humans and apes.
08: Frauds and Forgeries
Delve into the fascinating stories behind history's many art and document forgeries-creative efforts of con artists to make money by deceiving others. How do the authorities determine which Matisse painting is fake and which one is real? What technology and skill goes into authenticating a piece of writing or art? Find out here.
09: Blood Doping and Other Sports Scandals
Not even the wide world of sports is immune from misdeeds. Here, learn more about some of the most infamous events in modern athletics, including doping scandals involving superstar athletes like Lance Armstrong; fraud and illegal gambling in baseball history; and Tonya Harding's deliberate attack on fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan.
10: Bad Boys of U.S. Politics
Who was America's most corrupt president? Decide for yourself in this eye-opening lecture that illustrates a range of political scandals: extramarital affairs, hush money, favoritism, and more. Examine the misconduct of Warren Harding, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, and others. Also, learn how modern forensic technologies, including paternity testing and digital evidence tracking, help unc...
11: Criminals of the Wild, Wild West
Follow the stories of three legendary 19th-century outlaws from the golden age of the American West: Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, and Alfred Packer. It's a lecture packed with prospectors, cowboys, bad boys, lawmen, and impostors-all of whom help shed light on the past (and present) of forensic science.
12: Investigating Incredible Bank Heists
What does it take to successfully pull off a bank burglary, such as the 1972 United California Bank heist that, in its day, was the largest in U.S. history? How do law enforcement officials go about following the clues left behind to bring the robbers to justice? Professor Murray provides the (sometimes startling) answers right here.
13: How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony?
Faulty eyewitness identification is the most common source of wrongful convictions in the legal system. Here, take a closer look at some real-world instances of wrongful identification; discover how DNA testing has helped exonerate hundreds; and learn what specific reforms can help prevent these horrible mistakes in the future.
14: The Truth behind False Confessions
Mentally handicapped suspects; corrupt officials; misleading interrogation methods-these are some of the factors involved in false confessions that can destroy the innocent and allow the guilty to escape. Learn how this happens by examining several cases, including two in which innocent teenagers were forced into admitting guilt for killing family members.
15: Crooked Cops and Bad Convictions
Planted evidence in a murder mystery in rural New Zealand. The torture of a Haitian immigrant in police custody. A government cover-up of police shootings on a mountaintop in Puerto Rico. These three unsettling cases are your windows into the terrifying world of police corruption-and how justice is finally served.
16: Guilty until Proven Innocent
For two decades, a forensic scientist with the Oklahoma City Police Department helped send thousands to prison before it was realized that she lied in the lab and courtroom. In 2004, a mistake in one of the world's most sophisticated forensic labs led to the wrongful identification of an innocent U.S. citizen as a suspect in Madrid's terrorist train bombings. What happens when forensic science goe...
17: Political Assassinations
Professor Murray reveals how forensics has shed light on the ways political assassins try to get away with murder. Along with the ricin poisoning of anti-Communist Georgi Markov and the shooting of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, consider the lingering forensic mystery of PLO leader Yasser Arafat's death in 2004.
18: Mysteries of the Romanov Family
Continue exploring the forensics of political assassinations with the murder of Russia's ruling Romanov family in 1918-and the stories of what became of their corpses. Did Anastasia or any of the other children actually survive? Then, fast-forward to the 1990s and follow anthropologists and others as they identify human remains, recreate that violent night, and finally lay the Romanovs to rest.
19: Forensics of Genocide
Genocide is arguably the most horrible of crimes in human history. How do human rights groups locate evidence of genocide? How do they use this evidence to understand critical details about the atrocities and prosecute those responsible? And what insights did Professor Murray learn first-hand from victims of genocide in Guatemala?
20: The Nazis and the Witch of Buchenwald
Focus on forensic evidence found at the Nazis' Buchenwald concentration camp, and how it was used at trial. Professor Murray discusses medical experimentation involving prisoners; introduces you to the allegations against the "Witch of Buchenwald"; and investigates claims of Nazi objects made of human tissue.
21: The Spies Have It
Meet some of the last century's infamous spies and learn how they were eventually uncovered. Fascinating cases here include those of William Sebold, a German spy for America during World War II; Mata Hari, one of history's most notorious female spies; and the recent case of Robert Hanssen, an FBI mole working for the KGB.
22: Motive and Kidnapping
How do police use motive to track down kidnappers? What happens when kidnappings go wrong? Get the answers with historical examples including the Black September kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and recent cases that illustrate how today's technology is helping thwart infant abductions.
23: Identification Matters
Professor Murray introduces you to six of her cold cases from Hamilton County, Ohio. The stories of these unknown persons help highlight some of the remarkable developments in forensic science during her nearly 30 years of practice. It's a personal and up-close look at how forensic scientists and law enforcement handle the mysteries of unidentified remains.
24: The Past, Present, and Future of Forensics
The motives behind crimes haven't changed, but the methods and technologies used to solve them have. Conclude the course with a look at the history of three essential tools of forensic science that have revolutionized our ability to analyze and compare evidence and help bring criminals to well-deserved justice.