Immerse yourself in the dark world of forensics as the pros share their insiders’ knowledge. Forensic professionals carry out their work in a variety of different areas: crime-scene investigators sleuth for details and trace evidence, autopsy doctors look for tales that bodies tell, and physical anthropologists coax amazing findings from bones. Criminal profilers, firearms and ballistics experts, and even entomologists are part of the mix.
In this day-long program, members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences tackle some fascinating cases and report on what they’ve learned, wish they’d known, and why they do what they do.
9:30 to 11:00 a.m. The Famous and Infamous Case Files of Henry C. Lee
Henry C. Lee worked on headline-making cases including the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the DC snipers shootings, the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Laci Peterson, and the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, as well as on post-9/11 investigations. Lee, who holds a PhD in biochemistry, talks about the most vexing questions and challenging moments in his case files.
11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Forensic Tests in the Courtroom
High-profile defense attorneys Linda Kenney Baden and Barry Scheck discuss how experts move from the crime scene, autopsy table, and crime lab into the courtroom. Which tests and testimonies work? Which don’t? Are there tests forensic scientists would like to have permitted in court that are not currently allowed? They’ll draw answers from their time on cases involving Phil Spector, Jayson Williams, Casey Anthony, and the Innocence Project.
12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lunch
Participants provide their own lunch
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Cold Cases: Breakthroughs
Warren Tewes, chief forensic odontologist for the State of Maryland, and Richard Walter, a former forensic psychologist and a founding member of the crime-solving Vidocq Society, examine cold cases and pinpoint roadblocks that may have prevented investigators from finding the answers—and whether hope for resolution might remain. Breakthroughs that cracked cold cases are covered.
2:45 to 4 p.m. Research and Assessment of Unresolved Homicides
National information databases, DNA evidence, and tech tools like GPS systems and other emerging forensic science techniques have combined to change both crime solving and the expectations of the public, law enforcement, and the judicial system. And yet, there are still thousands of unresolved cases out there. With forensic experts Jim Adcock and Rob Davis.
Explore Forensic Firsts from the Smithsonian Channel to find out why it’s harder than ever to get away with murder.
Fossil Forensics can tell us how early humans lived—and died.
Learn more about murder mysteries, listen to clips from Smithsonian Folkways recordings>>