In our modern, CSI-obsessed world, it's surprising to think that DNA - the genetic building block for all life on earth - is a new forensic tool. But it wasn't until the mid 1980s when a serial murderer terrorized the population of a small English town that DNA came to the forefront as a crime-solving tool. In the past 25 years, DNA profiling has revolutionized the way police investigate crimes and helped put some of the world's most notorious killers behind bars.
Suspecting murder by poison is one thing, proving it is another. Until the birth of forensic toxicology, many murders went undetected. Centuries later, forensic toxicology has evolved into a high tech player in investigative police work, finding new toxins and catching killers.
Bones can tell us a lot about a person, but this information had little application in the world of crime fighting until 1897, when bones became the chief evidence in a sensational criminal trial that rocked Chicago. Eighty years later, forensic anthropology took the stage again when bones revealed the story of one of the most shocking serial killer cases in American history-John Wayne Gacy. Today, the application of forensic anthropology has expanded from local crime scenes to some of the largest crime scenes in the world: from South America to the World Trade Center bone detectives work to provide evidence, answers, and closure to the families...
Hair may change color or disappear completely, weight may fluctuate, and faces may wrinkle, but throughout our lives, our fingerprints will always stay the same-and distinctly our own. Even identical twins, who share the same DNA profile, don't have matching fingerprints. Long recognized as unique and pressed into clay tablets or inked onto papyrus to seal business transactions in ancient times, it wasn't until the late 19th century that investigators in rural Argentina realized that the distinctive pattern of a single fingerprint could help solve the shocking murder of two young children. Less than a century later, a single fingerprint helped...
Writhing maggots on a decomposed corpse and dead insects found on the grill of a suspect's car are often the best evidence police have to solve baffling murders. This episode of Forensic Firsts, documents the history of entomology as a crime fighting tool. From the use of maggots as an aid in determining time of death, to insect identification as a way of placing suspects at a crime scene, forensic entomology is a science that has solved murders around the globe. This fascinating show documents two shocking cases were insect evidence helped put a cold-blooded killer behind bars, tells the history of entomology as a crime fighting tool, and illustrates...
Every time a bullet explodes from the barrel of a gun, the gun leaves a unique set of markings behind. Even if the bullet fragments, trained ballistic experts can piece together the unique signature imprinted by the weapon. This episode of Forensic Firsts documents the fascinating history of ballistics and illustrates the stunning state-of-the-art abilities of this ever-changing science. We see how ballistics evolved from a tool used in autopsies to an exacting science that can pinpoint a murder weapon beyond a shadow of a doubt. The show tells the gripping story of two major murder cases where justice was served with the help of ballistic evidence....