Understanding DNA and Other Topics Covered at Forensic Science Conference

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What does a body look like if it has been left in a shallow grave for three years -- or three days? What are signs of cyanide poisoning? What do police really do when they are called to a crime scene? Can a forensic scientist tell what kind of gun was used in a crime just by looking at a body? These are just a few of the questions authors may have while writing crime fiction. Now Sisters in Crime (SinC) offers a way to get answers.

Sisters in Crime, an international organization of mystery authors and enthusiasts, is sponsoring Forensic University of St. Louis: 50 Ways to Catch a Killer, a conference offering education in all aspects of forensic science. The program is scheduled for November 1-4, 2007, at the St. Louis Airport Hilton, St. Louis, Missouri. The conference is open to the public.

The Forensic University of St. Louis's (ForU STL) class schedule spans two and a half days. Planned topics include an overview of forensic science and police procedure; how to make forensic science work in a book; crime scene basics; overview of crime labs; death investigation basics; autopsies; psychology of crime; poisons and their detection; understanding DNA evidence; fingerprints; firearms evidence; the role of photography and videography in forensic work; interpretation of blood spatter; trace evidence; forgery; the role of jurisdiction in forensic procedures; entomology; science and the courtroom; and using warrants and searches.

"Shows like CSI have made the public more aware of the role of forensic science in law enforcement. Our goal is to provide an educational experience which will allow those who attend to write with greater credibility and accuracy," explained Michelle Becker, who founded the ForU STL with Joanna Campbell Slan.

"Whatever type of crime fiction you are writing--historical cozy, thriller, hard-boiled detective--you should know the basics of forensic science. Whether your victim died in the 13th century or in the 21st century, death is still death, the same physical processes would occur," says best-selling author and conference keynote speaker Jan Burke.

Key faculty will include Dr. D.P. Lyle, author of Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers: Jan Burke, author of the Irene Kelly series; Eileen Dreyer, RN, BS, best-selling author of more than eight medico-legal mysteries; and Detective Lee Lofland (retired), author of Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers (July 2007).

Conference participants can select to attend A Muddy Brew-Ha-Ha Party and Auction to raise money for the Crime Lab Project, a non-profit organization working to increase awareness of problems facing public forensic science agencies. Tickets for A Muddy Brew-Ha-Ha Party and Auction are $40.

For more information or to register, go to the Sisters in Crime website http://www.sistersincrime.org/ForensicU For updates, please visit the blog at http://forustl.blogspot.com?

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DYANA FLANIGAN

Dyana Flanigan
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