100 Years of Unsolved Murders
|We asked Stacy Horn, author of The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad (she's also an NPR contributor and founder of Echo), and moderator of a panel this Wednesday called "100 Years of Unsolved Murder" (see below for details) to give us a preview of the discussion. Here's what she told us:
Since 1985, the killers of 8,894 New Yorkers remain free. That's 8,894murderers among us. Even if you want to say some of these murders werecommitted by the same people, as if attributing the crimes to serialkillers were a better way of looking at this, that's still a lot ofmurderers walking around."100 Years of Unsolved Murder in New York" takes place this Wednesday, November 16, 7pm at CUNY's Graduate Center, 365 5th [34th/35th], $15. The panel consists of Vito Spano, former Cold Case Squad Commanding Officer. Dr. Robert C. Shaler, former head of Forensic Biology, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, NYC and author of WhoThey Were: Inside the World Trade Center DNA Story (Free Press). W. Mark Dale, former Director of the NY State Police LaboratorySystem and the NYC Police Department Laboratory. David Feige, on thefaculty of the National Criminal Defense College, and currently atwork on the forthcoming book, Indefensible (Little, Brown, 2006). Ms. Horn moderates.
In the NYPD there's a unit called the Cold Case and Apprehension Squad.Working with scientists at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner andthe Police Laboratory, the Cold Case Squad reaches into our worst past andyanks these victims back from oblivion. Who were they? What happened tothem? Who did this to them?
If you think you know how murders are solved by watching TV, think again:DNA was used in less than 2% of the cases the Cold Case Squad cleared.DNA has solved a lot of sex crimes, but not murders.
One technique used to locate a body is to bring a cadaver dog. In one cold case investigation a cadaver dog found a body that was wrapped in plastic and buried under concrete four years earlier. To train a dog to find dead bodies they construct something called a scent tube. It's made from PVC and sealed at both ends after inserting a piece of gauze that's been doused with one of the following perfumes: Pseudo Corpse I or II (II is a corpse further along), Pseudo Drowned Victim, or Cadaverine. They get the stuff from the Sigma Chemical Company in St. Louis and it's expensive. In comparison, 1.5 ounces of the famously expensive perfume, Joy, by Jean Patou, which requires the blossoms of 10,600 jasmine flowers and 336 May roses, retails for $100 . The same amount of Pseudo Corpse II would run you $276.75.
Find out what really can and cannot be done to solve all these murders. On November 16th, some of the top forensic professionals in New York willaddress that fact that the number of unsolved murders is always going up,never down. All over America, more than a third of all murder cases gocold. In New York, it's 40%.
You can register in advance for "100 Years of Unsolved Murder" by calling: 212.817.8215. The program number is 6048.
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In an email, a Times editor took us gently to task for our implication last week (Radar section) that the Times was slow on the uptake regarding the congestion charge plan. The Times has, in fact, written on several occasions about the subject.
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