Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Eileen checks in

Sorry I haven't been here before. I'm afraid I was on deadline, and when that's going on, nothing else is. So I'm finished, I'm back, and I'm gearing up to extend some more invitations to some of the best and brightest among the forensics community here in St. Louis and wherever I can find them.

The thing that might not be readily obvious about St. Louis is that we are at the forefront of the forensic community. We boast a past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, several of the people responsible for mandating certification and educating death investigators, (not to mention being the first to mandate minimum training for coroners), and a brand new, state-of-the-art crime lab(which Jan can certainly tell you is an aberration in this country). Which is why I'm thrilled that Sisters in Crime let us host the conference. You can't believe the wealth of talent here.

I can, because I trained under many of them. My forensic background is this. My official initials are RN, BS. I spent 20 years working hospitals in St. Louis, 16 in trauma. I trained in death investigation with at least one of our presenters, Dr. Mary Case. More on her later. You should already be salivating. I am a member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. I do not call myself either a death investigator or forensic nurse, because I no longer practice. But I'm trained. And I've been lucky enough to be trained by the best.

So anyway, when Joanna and Jan said something to me about contacting the people I really respect in the industry to ask them to share their knowledge with us, I jumped all over it like flies on a rump roast. And my first introduction should tell you why.

I met Dr. Mary Case when she was just a forensic pathologist working for the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's office. You see, in our jurisdiction, all ER deaths must be cleared by the ME. The nurses were the ones who did the evaluating, so we talked regularly with the office. Anyway, now Mary is the ME for not only St. Louis County, but about six surrounding counties, in addition to being a consultant for several out of state jurisdictions. Her two certifications are in forensic and neuropathology(I'm going to hear her speak on concussions this summer--something pertinent to anybody who's ever had his or her protagonist hit over the head). Her special interest is pediatric situations. Mary made some of the most important discoveries in early infant shaken baby syndrome findings. She helped pass a law in Missouri that set up a panel to review every death under the age of 15 so that the burden wouldn't fall on small county coroners without sufficient funds or resources to do proper justice to these delicate cases. She is a world expert, and one of the finest teachers I've ever had.

Here's the best part. She's a passionate reader. She loves mysteries. In fact, you'll see her name in every one of my acknowledgements, because she is forever helping me with making sure the pathology and procedure in my books is accurate. When I invited her to join us, she didn't even have to think about it. She can't wait. And I can't wait until you meet her.

So that's my first introduction. There will be more later, next being Gwen Haugen....but you'll have to wait just a bit for her. After her, well, I'm making the calls now. But if I can get half of the people we're considering, I know we'll have a conference that will set the standard.
I can't wait.

Eileen Dreyer

Friday, March 9, 2007

Further progress!

I'm just dropping a quick note here on a week that has been a little crazy for all of us, to let you know that we have added a couple of great speakers! More about this next week, but let's just say that you will be hearing from a great forensic anthropologist and...okay, Eileen, I won't steal your thunder re: the other announcement!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Opening and Closing Talks

Now that I've finally figured this blogging deal out I'll address a couple of items from previous posts. At the Forensic U I'll be doing two book-end talks. The opening will be titled something like The ABCs of Forensic Science. What I'll attempt to do in this session is to bring the attendees into the World of Forensics. We will look at: What forensic science does and what it doesn't do. How evidence is identified and how it is used to link individuals to crime scenes, to victims, and to the murder weapon. How evidence can elimate some suspects and point the finger at others. How evidence makes its way to the courtroom. And many other issues. This will serve as a basis for all the following classes that will be given in that this session will provide background and perspective.

The final talk will be titled Plotting the Perfect Murder. Every time I do this session we always have fun. It is highly interactive and attendees will use their new found forenisc knowledge to plot a perfect murder. Afterall, this what you must do to write a mystery novel. The more clever your villain, the better the story. The more clever the crime, the cooler your protagonist is when he solves it and captures the bad guy.

All of us involved in The Forensic University are working to make it a special event. Our goal is to provide a fun three days that will teach writers what they must know about forensic science and police investigation in the modern world. This is essential for writers to make their stories believable. And we're hoping to do all this and have a ton of laughs in the process. Who said forensics isn't fun? Come to St. Louis and it will be.

D.P. Lyle, MD