Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Death Detective

Portrait of General The Hon. Robert Monckton,

Benjamin West,


While purging the files I found another old clipping: one about James Starrs, who is considered the grandfather of forensic sciences, who formed the first program at George Washington University at the request of the FBI, and who is, I suppose, in a way responsible for all the CSI series I like to watch.

According to the clip, Starrs has a personal penchance for historical mysteries and takes leave every couple of years to investigate them. (Had/took -- he may be dead now -- I didn't google.)

He solved the question of whether Jesse James was really in his grave (yes), as well as the case of the Colorado Cannibal, Alfred Packer (yes).

Starrs seems the perfect person on which to base a series of historical crimes and mysteries -- either real or imaginary -- solved by today's science.

Lizzie Borden is, apparently, out though. Descendents of Ma and Pa prevented Starrs from digging them up.

I don't think either Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs have exhausted the anthropological possibilities, and I didn't want to toss the clipping without putting the idea out there for extrapolation. (The idea is probably already out there, but nevertheless...)

More Cabin Fever Quips:

Visa la France: Paris on a credit card.

Veni, vedi, vice: CSI Sunglasses.

Cogito, eggo sum: I think, therefore I waffle.


raine said...

I've heard of this guy. Not by name, but by the Jesse James investigation.
I believe he is still alive--and what a great way to spend a little time off!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I've never been able to get into the whole CSI phenom. I think it's my aversion to all things science. I blame my 7th grade science teacher who YELLED at us constantly and had a toilet seat for a hall pass so all of us were too embarrassed to leave his class for any reason at all.

Ever since then I hear anything sciencey and I start to drift off.

laughingwolf said...

as in: moncton, new brunswick?

word verif: bionst

Bernita said...

Yes, indeed, Raine!
I liked the way he approaches a mystery,gathering technicians for soil testing, geology, genealogy thermal imaging, even lichen-testing biology, as well as the usual DNA, blood-spatter stuff.

I think it's the logic, not the science, that attracts me, Betsy.

Named after him, I believe, LW.

Natasha Fondren said...

Wow! That is REALLY neat! I never thought about that. Glenn would love that. He's crazy about those shows.

Anonymous said...

Oh, interesting!

I think there *may* been some series in the UK based on an English or Scottish historical forensic scientist or physician. Unfortunately, I've just got back from a leaving do at work so I'm unlikely to remember who it's actually about :) And I might just be thinking of the CJ Sansoms about monks...

Whirlochre said...

I've never really been drawn to CSI.

Pseudoparochial mustacheoid twaddle a la Midsomer Murders has obviously rendered me incapable of deciphering any and all acronyms,let alone being in any hope of possessing Cop Show Taste.

Help me!

I'm rumbled by all known hunches!

Steve Malley said...

Neat idea, and those Cabin Fever Quips cracked me up! :)

Shauna Roberts said...

I wonder whether he had any influence on the similar investigations in archaeology, such as the news about King Tutankamon in today's paper. Using genetic and physical evidence, scientists figured out what killed him at age 19 and identified three mystery mummies as his father, grandmother, and likely mother.

Bernita said...

Hope Glenn's recovery is going well, Natasha!

Wouldn't be surprised if there were, Alex. No one does crime better than the Brits.

Whirl, I suspect you're beyond help...

Harlez vous francais? ( Do you drive a French motorcycle?)

One cannot help but believe that he must have hasd some influence, Shauna.Unless, of course, similar programs and approaches were already in existence in other countries.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the truth gets foggy after only a handful of decades get thrown in. We have this drive to dig back and sort it all out again.

Bernita said...

Jason, I don't think we have to wait decades for the truth to be foggy.
But mystery does attract us and science now provides tools that weren't available not that many years ago.

BernardL said...

I hope the 'cabin fever' breaks soon for you. It could make for a new 'Lillie' adventure.

Demon Hunter said...

Love CSI. I've never heard of the guy. Thanks for sharing, Bernita. Now I'll go research him. ;-)

Bernita said...

He is an exceedingly interesting guy, dear Demon.

Bernita said...

I do need a spring thaw, Bernard.

Gabriele C. said...

Not into CSI and Kathy Reichs, I'm afraid, so I can't really comment. ;)

writtenwyrdd said...

You can have our spring thaw. It was 40 today and rained. Now it's freezing up and snowing. Bleh. One or the other, that's all I ask.

Bernita said...

I know that's not because you are delicate about blood 'n guts, Gabriele!

Written, for me, it's not a spring thaw until it stays thawed.

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