CSI: Not!

- by Elaine Isaak

Taking a little break before the night owl sessions & I thought I would share some of the highlights of today’s Ninc Does Forensics events. 

One of our experts, Dr. D. P. Lyle was unable to attend at the last moment, so novelist and former trauma nurse Eileen Dreyer stepped up to present his power point–with a few fun riffs of her own.  One of her great pieces of advice for would-be mystery or suspense writers was to attend their local citizen’s Police Academy to learn more about many aspects of police work.  I just noticed one mentioned on the billboard in the next town over, and I might have to give that a try.  She also noted that LSD isn’t toxic–“unless you think you can fly, and. . . you can’t.”

After that, decisions had to be made and I’m sure I missed many good things going on in other rooms. Perhaps when I can clone myself, I won’t have this trouble. I did overhear a couple of fellow novelists talking about swapping notes, except that each doubted the other would be able to read her handwriting!  Mary Fran Ernst, a local Death Investigator, explained the differences between coroner systems and medical examiners, and shared the bad news:  “for those of you over 50, you’re now a presumed natural (death)” and went on to talk about how they decide which cases warrant further investigation.  She also shared the statistic that 70% of murder victims know their assailant, and 50% are related.  What surprised me about this was the number of people in the room who *were* surprised by this sad fact. I have to say, though, that we laughed a lot, given the subject matter.

One of the fun things about today’s talks was learning some of the lingo, like the phrase “DRT” which recurred with a couple of the presenters.  It means “Dead Right There.”  Don’t need an expert opinion for some victims.  Major Mike Copeland of the Franklin County CSI set up a pseudo-crime scene for us to snoop around and theorize about, and a thunder storm rolled in to add to the atmosphere.

At the end of the day, all the experts came together to field questions from crazy writers about the dreadful things we could imagine our characters doing to one another.  We got some great tips on covering up our crimes, though some of us had our hopes of becoming criminal masterminds dashed by discovering that our nefarious schemes just won’t cut the mustard with local law enforcement.  No doubt just as many left the room with new ideas about dastardly deeds.  Fiction only, I’m sure.

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