If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

FBI Citizens Academy: Week 7

While much of the FBICA consisted of lectures, the seventh class, like the field trip, was largely hands-on…and a ton of fun. The presentation on the Evidence Response Team (ERT) began with a talk. Here are a few of the highlights that interested me, as a mystery writer and fan:

·         We hear the term “latent print” but may not know what it means. A latent print is a print left behind on a surface, as opposed to an “inked print.”
·         The FBI doesn’t have a K9 unit but works with local partners who do.
·         The FBI lab is located in Quantico, Virginia.
·         All FBI divisions have at least one ERT, and all ERTs have the same skill sets so they can work together. The process used is the same across the board.
·         An ERT consists of 8 members. All 56 field offices have one to five teams.
·         The ERTs respond to over 1,000 callouts each year, both domestic and international.
·         The FBI ERT members all wear navy shirts and khaki pants to make identifying each other easier.

After the lecture, we broke into groups to rotate through four stations where we could get our hands dirty. In some cases, literally.

My first station demonstrated how blood evidence is located and collected.
I’ve watched the crime shows on TV and seen them swab a surface and apply a few drops of liquid to turn the swab pink if blood was present. The reality isn’t far off. Some notes: the swabs are kept sterile prior to use. After swabbing a questionable surface, two different types of drops are applied to the cotton tip. If blood is present, the two different chemicals react and turn the swab pink, but a paler shade than the hot pink used on TV.

If blood is detected, they will then collect the item. If the blood is on a wall, they’ll cut out a chunk of that wall. If it’s on a marble floor or counter, they’ll cut out the piece they need. (Keep that in mind the next time you cut your finger and bleed on your expensive kitchen counter!)

My second station involved ALS or Alternate Light Sources. We were shown a number of items with no real discernable staining. After we put on special goggles, the agents turned off the room lights and shined the ALS on the same items. As on TV, all sorts of stains (you don’t want to know what kind) became evident.

In the same station, we had the opportunity to play CSI and collect fiber evidence from each other.
Yes, that's me in the purple gloves.
I got to dress up like a real CSI (not quite as glamorous as on TV) and try to find dog hairs on a fellow student. (Either he used a really good sticky roller before coming to class, or I need new glasses because it wasn’t as easy as I’d expected.)

Next came fingerprint collection. While I’d watched it done before at Writers Police Academy and at other citizens academies, this time I was able to use the powder and brushes and try to lift my own prints from various surfaces.
FYI, those cards with clear tape used on TV shows are called “hinged lifters.”

The final station demonstrated making molds of tire tracks or shoe prints, which is one thing I’d not seen done in any of my previous research. As with much of the crime scene investigation, it wasn’t as easy as it looks on TV or in the movies. (I failed miserably!) Fun fact: they use plain old hair spray to stabilize tire or footprints in dirt.
Preserving tracks in snow is tricky because the material used to make the cast creates heat. The tracks must first be treated with a special spray (like the hair spray trick) to keep the snow from melting.

(Photos courtesy of the FBI)

Next time: Graduation


KM Rockwood said...

This sounds like such a great experience.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Fascinating. I've enjoyed every blog about your time with the FBI.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Thank you for these blogs. I've learned so much from them. They also have given me the desire to see if there is anything similar in my town.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks, Annette, for sharing what you learned in your sessions. It was interesting stuff.

Kait said...

Wow, what a great experience. I love that you were able to have photos, too. Thank you for sharing.

Annette said...

You're all very welcome.

Debra, every FBI Headquarters office offers a citizens academy. Definitely look into it!

Kait, we weren't allowed to take photos (security reasons) but the FBI had a photographer present and at the end of the academy, we all received copies of the photos.