Murderous Methods: Using Forensic Science to Solve Lethal Crimes

Author(s): Mark Benecke


How did a piece of wood lead investigators in the Lindbergh kidnapping case to Bruno Hauptmann? Who, besides O. J. Simpson, knows something about the death of his ex-wife? And just who was the "Vampire of Dusseldorf"? These are just some of the questions Mark Benecke explores in this compelling and surprising history of criminal investigative methods and techniques. Benecke, a leading forensic scientist who is frequently called upon to help solve crimes throughout the world, takes the reader through some of the most infamous and intriguing murder investigations in the United States, Germany, and Canada. In discussions of the cases against O. J. Simpson, and others, Benecke carefully explains the ways in which police and forensic scientists gather and analyze evidence. Going beyond the media frenzy that surrounded many of these investigations, Benecke considers how science, intuition, and an occasional lucky break can lead police to the guilty party.
He describes the history of forensic technology as well as forensic scientists' tricks of the trade, including DNA fingerprinting, soil analysis, and the use of facial reconstruction and pollen analysis to learn more about unidentified corpses. Murderous Methods is peppered with other fascinating stories that bring the reader closer into the minds of criminals and the ways in which criminal investigators work. Benecke introduces readers to bizarre and horrifying criminals such as Peter Kurten, "The Vampire of Dusseldorf"; Karl Denke, a cannibal and one of the earliest known serial killers in modern history; and Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, a Canadian couple who committed a series of brutal rapes. Benecke shows that even as scientific scrutiny helps investigators to understand more about crimes and the criminals who commit them, whenever humans are involved events may go in unpredictable directions. In particular, he looks at how unreliable eyewitness accounts and public fears and prejudices have led investigators down the wrong path.


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"Compelling, absorbing from start to finish... a must buy, must have for anyone with an interest in murder most foul." -- Christopher Berry-Dee, New Criminologist " Murderous Methods is the perfect bridge between the solved-in-an-hour world of TV crime and the dense academic journals." -- Jenna Schnuer, Pages

Mark Benecke is an internationally known forensic scientist and the author of The Dream of Eternal Life: Biomedicine, Aging, and Immortality. His work on DNA, forensic entomology, and blood splatter analysis has appeared in a variety of scientific journals and he has hosted shows on forensic science for the National Geographic Channel.

General Fields

  • : 9780231131193
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : January 2009
  • : 229mm X 152mm X 15mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Illustrations, ports
  • : 280
  • : 363.25
  • : Paperback
  • : Mark Benecke