Meet Iris, the FBI’s Only Electronic-Sniffing Dog: An Interview with Jeffrey Calandra



Criminals and terrorists often hide data on electronic devices and then hide these devices. And they re often very clever about doing so. In such search situations, many subjects hide flash drives, hard drives, and other electronic components so if the police come, the instruments of their crimes may not be found. Take the example of a child pornography case where a subject will put pictures of innocent children on a thumb drive and hide it in the yard, behind walls, and all sorts of other places. In a normal search, a human investigator may not find the media.

What’s the FBI to do? Enter Iris, a young, eager, lab who is the FBI’s only canine capable of sniffing out these devices. And she’s one of only five in the world. How does she do it? How was she trained for such specialized work?

In this episode we talk with Jeffrey Chandra and he can tell us how all this accomplished, as well as how dogs are used in other criminal detection activities.


BIO: Jeffrey Calandra possesses a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Masters in Criminal Justice with concentration in Computer Forensics. He spent 6-1/2 years as a special agent working child pornography, criminal computer intrusions, fraud, and bomb threat cases. HE has also assisted on Counter Intelligence, Counter-Terrorism, Drug, and Gang cases and has served as a member of the Hostage Negotiator team. He is currently a K9 handler for the FBI Electronic Scent Detection K9 Iris.

Iris, a 20 month-old black lab, is the first of her type in the FBI and one of 5 in the world. She will be the future of law enforcement. Already we are getting requests from across the country for her assistance. For a little background, Iris was trained as a seeing eye dog for a year and then was selected to be a law enforcement dog.

To Learn and Die in LA: Crime Scenes, Criminalistics, and the Cutting Edge in Los Angeles: An Interview with Former LASD Criminalist Professor Donald Johnson of CSULA

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This episode brought about a first for us. We recorded this program before a live audience — a meeting of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, at the Tam O’Shanter Restaurant.

Professor Johnson provided many insights on the work of those who scientifically examine crime scenes and the evidence gathered from them. He talked about changes in forensic science, new frontiers, and forensic science education. We know our listeners will love this episode!


Professor Donald James Johnson is an expert on criminalistics, with emphasis on crime scene investigation and reconstruction (homicides and sexual assaults), and forensic biology. His research interests include the application of new technologies to the field of criminalistics. He was formerly a senior criminalist at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he was involved in the scientific investigation of violent crimes.

California Forensic Science Institute:
School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at CSULA:
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Scientific Services video:
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:
American Academy of Forensic Sciences

We’d like to thank Craig Faustus Buck, president of the So Cal Chapter of MWA, for his kind invitation to record a live program at a meeting, and Timothy Burke for his technical assistance.

The BTK Killer and Other Serial Murderers: An Interview with Psychologist and Author Dr. Katherine Ramsland



Dr. Katherine Ramsland, director of the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program at DeSales University, also teaches the forensic psychology track. She has published over 1,000 articles, stories, and reviews, and 59 books, including The Mind of a Murderer, The Forensic Science of CSI, Inside the Minds of Serial KillersThe Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, The Ivy League Killer, and The Murder Game.

Her book Psychopath was a #1 bestseller on the Wall Street Journal’s list. With former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary, she co-authored a book on his cases, The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators Among Us; with Dr. Henry C. Lee, The Real Life of a Forensic Scientist; and with Professor James E. Starrs, A Voice for the Dead. She presents workshops to law enforcement, psychologists, coroners, judges, and attorneys, and has consulted for several television series, including CSI and Bones.

She also writes a regular blog for Psychology Today called “Shadow-boxing” and consults for numerous crime documentary production companies.

Her most recent book (August 2016) is with serial killer Dennis Rader, called Confessions of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer. She will also publish The Ripper Letter, a supernatural thriller based on Jack the Ripper lore, and a textbook, Forensic Investigation: Methods from Experts (2017).

She talks to us about the experience of working with Rader, the conditions under which she took on the project, about the psychology of serial killers, and more.




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Forensic Science Then and Now: an Interview with Jay Jarvis

Jarvis headshot


Jay Jarvis is a native of Long Island, New York. While a student in high school, his chemistry class went on a tour of the New York City Police Crime Lab. It was on that trip that Jay decided that his interest in chemistry could be best used in the field of forensic science. After his family relocated to Georgia, Jay earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Georgia College. To better prepare himself for a career in forensic science, Jay applied for and was accepted into the graduate program in Forensic Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and received his Master of Science degree in 1979. Immediately after graduate school, he was hired at the Georgia State Crime Laboratory in Atlanta.

During his 32-plus year career, Jay either performed casework in or was a supervisor for most of the forensic disciplines. Between 1982 and 1997, he wore a multitude of hats, performing casework in firearms and tool marks, hair, fiber and glass comparisons, footwear and tire tread examinations, fire debris and explosives analysis, latent fingerprint processing, marijuana identification, presumptive blood testing and crime scene analysis for a large area of central Georgia. He has testified as an expert in Federal Court and the courts of Georgia and several other states over 750 times.

Jay also has extensive experience in crime laboratory accreditation, having served as an accreditation assessor and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), including one year as the Board Chair. He has been invited to speak at seminars and training sessions on topics related to forensic science. Jay currently lives in northwest Georgia just outside the metropolitan Atlanta area, which allows him easy access to most destinations via Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.



test fire rifle Kaleidoscope 2_1 jay witness Jay on range

Georgia’s Crime Doctor


National Commission on Forensic Science Recommendations on Accreditation

“Real-Life Not Like CSI on Television,” Macon Telegraph article on Jay Jarvis

“Alumnus carries microscope into career,” Georgia College Alumnus article on Jay Jarvis

Arma Forensics


Personal Violence: Sex and Domestic Crimes: An Interview with Former Federal Prosecutor and Author Allison Leotta

AllisonLeotta Web


For twelve years, Allison Leotta was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children. Drawing on this experience, she now writes legal thrillers, for which she has been dubbed  “the female John Grisham.” Her goal is for John Grisham to be dubbed “the male Allison Leotta.”

After publishing her debut, LAW OF ATTRACTION, Simon & Schuster asked Allison to continue writing about her fictional sex-crimes prosecutor, Anna Curtis.  A series was born! There are now four books in the Anna Curtis series, and a fifth is in the works.

LAW OF ATTRACTION earned a starred review in Library Journal, which said, “In this riveting debut, Leotta joins the big league with pros like Linda Fairstein and Lisa Scottoline.” Allison’s second novel, DISCRETION, was named one of the Top Ten Books of 2012 by Strand Magazine and Best Suspense Novel of 2012 by Romance Reviews Today. Her third novel, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, was named a Best Book of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.  The fourth book in the Anna Curtis series, A GOOD KILLING, will be released this May.

USA Today says Allison’s writing is “as real as it gets.”

Allison is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, where she reality-checks TV crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU. Her own blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review, was named one of the best legal blogs in America by the American Bar Association. Allison has provided legal commentary for outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and Reuters TV.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America.

A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School, Allison lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, Michael Leotta, and their two sons.




Allison’s Website:

Allison’s Blog:

Allison on Facebook:

Allison on Twitter:

Huffington Post:

Things That Go Boom in the Night: An Interview with Weapons and Explosives Expert and Author John Gilstrap


John GIlstrap


John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of Friendly Fire, Nick of Time, Against All Enemies, End Game, Soft Targets, High Treason, Damage Control, Threat WarningHostage Zero, No Mercy, Nathan’s Run, At All Costs, Even Steven, Scott Free and Six Minutes to Freedom.  Four of his books have been purchased or optioned for the Big Screen.  In addition, John has written four screenplays for Hollywood, adapting the works of Nelson DeMille, Norman McLean and Thomas Harris.  He will co-produce the film adaptation of his book, Six Minutes to Freedom, which should begin filming in the spring of 2016 for a 2017 release.

A frequent speaker at literary events, John also teaches seminars on suspense writing techniques at a wide variety of venues, from local libraries to The Smithsonian Institution.  Outside of his writing life, John is a renowned safety expert with extensive knowledge of explosives, weapons systems, hazardous materials, and fire behavior.  John lives in Fairfax, VA.

Friendly Fire

NICK OF TIME MM (print) (1)


John’s Website:

Weapons Resource: (a great 40,000-foot resource for writers who write about weapons)

Weapons Used in Movies: (This site allows you to pull up a movie title and see all of the weapons used.)