Farewell, but feel free to keep listening!

Dear listeners,

After 67 episodes of Crime & Science Radio, Doug Lyle and I are saying farewell to this podcast, with many thanks to our guests and deepest gratitude to our Suspense Magazine podcast producer, John Raab.

We’ve talked to internationally and nationally recognized experts in many forensic science specialities, to the leaders of some of the best labs in the U.S., to members of law enforcement, FBI specialists, educators, journalists, attorneys who have practiced in many areas of criminal justice, a judge who is also a top researcher on forensic science in the courts, an expert Sherlockian, and numerous authors who have either worked in these fields or researched them thoroughly.  We’ve spoken to veterans for whom we feel gratitude and admiration. We’ve talked to those who risked their lives as private investigators and undercover detectives. We’ve talked to those who are working on the cutting edge, and those who have explored the history of forensic science. We’ve heard from those who pursue the guilty and justice for victims, as well as those who seek justice for the wrongly accused.

It’s been one hell of a ride.  We’ve had a lot of fun and feel honored to have met such a great set of guests.

We hope you’ll keep listening — we are keeping our sites and links up.

We didn’t make this decision lightly, and we don’t think that we have said all there is to say about crime and science. But as writers with deadlines, and as people who are also devoted to our families, communities, and organizations that are doing good, we wanted more time for these other pursuits. What seems like an hour’s work to a listener always involves many more in scheduling, booking, preparation, research, and more.

We’ve learned a lot along the way, and hope you have, too. We hope you’ll continue to stay informed about our criminal justice system, forensic science, and other areas we’ve explored here.

Thank you so much for listening!

Jan Burke

Should We Abandon Use of Lie Detector Tests As Junk Science? An Interview With Morton Tavel, M.D.


We know of “lie detectors” — polygraph testing — from the news and from true crime programs. We see suspects take them on television and in movies and books — and we form opinions based on them. But should we? Are polygraph tests scientifically valid?

Listen to our interview with Dr. Morton Tavel to learn more about the realities of polygraph testing.



Now retired, Dr. Tavel MD, FACC, is a physician specialist in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. In addition to managing patients for many years, he held a teaching position (Clinical Professor) at Indiana University School of Medicine. He was consulting cardiologist for the Care Group, Inc., a division of St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis and was the director of the cardiac rehabilitation program. His civic activities include, among others, having been past president of the local and Indiana state divisions of the American Heart Association.
He has presented numerous speeches and lectures before national audiences. His medical research includes over 125 publications, editorials, and book reviews that have appeared in peer-reviewed national medical journals. Dr. Tavel authored a book on cardiology (Clinical Phonocardiography) that persisted through four editions over a period of approximately 20 years, and has been a contributor to several other multi-authored textbooks. He has served on the editorial boards of several national medical journals.

Snake Oil is Alive and Well: The Clash between Myths and Reality. Reflections of Physician. Brighton Publishing, LLC, Mesa, Ariz., 2012
Hell in the Heavens: The Saga of a WW2 Bomber Pilot, by Tavel, ME and Tavel, DE. Brighton Publishing, LLC, Mesa, Ariz. 2013.
Health Tips, Myths and Tricks: A Physician’s Advice. Brighton Publishing, LLC, Mesa, Ariz. 2015.
[Kindle edition: https://www.amazon.com/HEALTH-TIPS-MYTHS-TRICKS-Physicians-ebook/dp/B012BM7DGI/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470439165&sr=1-4&keywords=Morton+Tavel]
Dr. Morton Tavel‘s Website: http://www.mortontavel.com
Tavel, Morton, “The ‘Lie Detector’ Test Revisted: A Great Example of Junk Science” Skeptical Inquirer. 40.1 (January/February 2016). http://www.csicop.org/si/show/the_lie_detector_test_revisited_a_great_example_of_junk_science
Zelicoff, Alan P., “Polygraphs and the national labs: Dangerous ruse undermines national security.” Skeptical Inquirer, (July/August 2001).
Faigman, David L., Stephen E. Fienberg, and Paul C. Stern. “The Limits of the Polygraph.” Issues in Science and Technology 20, no. 1 (Fall 2003).  http://issues.org/20-1/faigman

National Academy of Sciences. 2003. The Polygraph and Lie Detection, Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10420/the-polygraph-and-lie-detection
Zadrozny, Brandy, “The Polygraph Has Been Lying for 80 Years,” The Daily Beast, (February 4, 2015).

Iacono, William G., Forensic “Lie Detection”: Procedures Without Scientific Basis, Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 1 no. 1 (2001). Reproduced with permission on https://antipolygraph.org/articles/article-018.shtml

American Psychological Association: The Truth About Lie Detectors (aka Polygraph Tests) http://www.apa.org/research/action/polygraph.aspx

Vergano, Dan, “Telling the Truth About Lie Detectors,” USA Today, (September 9, 2009)  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-09-09-lie_x.htm

Barber, Nigel, “Do Lie Detectors Work? Should You Ever Take a Polygraph?,” Psychology Today, March 7, 2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201303/do-lie-detectors-work

Letter of Aldrich Ames to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, on polygraph tests, postmarked November 28, 2000, reproduced on Federation of American Scientists Website: http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ames.html

Santos, Fernanda, “Vindicated by DNA, but a Lost Man on the Outside,” New York Times, November 25, 2007. [Story of Jeffrey Deskovic, who at the age of sixteen was arrested and told he “failed” a polygraph during a seven-hour interrogation process, and was wrongfully convicted.] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/us/25jeffrey.html?_r=0

Research, Education, and the Future of Forensic Science: an Interview with Dr. Katherine A. Roberts, Director of the CSULA Graduate Program in Criminalistics


Katherine Roberts


D.P. Lyle, M.D. and Jan Burke talk to Dr. Katherine Roberts of CSULA about current research in forensic science. She tells us what to look for in forensic science educational programs and what students should do to prepare for studying and working in this field. She’ll also talk to us about what new developments are on the horizon for forensic science.




Dr. Roberts is the Director of the California State University, Los Angeles Graduate Program in Criminalistics. She has served as the Director of the Master of Science degree program there since 2002,and played a leading role in the university’s FEPAC accreditation. Her research interests cover a wide array of forensic disciplines, but focus primarily of trace evidence analysis, sexual assault evidence, and mitochondrial DNA analysis. Dr. Roberts was the PI of a National Institute of Justice-funded study to investigate the use of samplematrix™ to stabilize crime scene biological samples for optimized analysis and room temperature storage from 2009-2011. She is the PI for a National Science Foundation grant that was awarded to CSULA in 2015 to establish the Center for Interdisciplinary Forensic Science Research as a research site within the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program. The Center will enhance research training and education in multiple forensic science disciplines, including Forensic Microscopy, Trace Evidence Analysis, Forensic Science Research Methods, Forensic Chemistry, and Applications of Forensic Science.

Dr. Roberts is currently collaborating with a consortium of European universities to develop a portable, inexpensive, and rapid method of dating latent fingerprints. Her publications are on topics related to trace evidence analysis, forensic examination of sexual assault evidence, and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

She was an elected member of the Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED) that was convened by the National Institute of Justice. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) uses the report issued by TWGED in order to evaluate the academic standards of undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs.

Dr. Roberts is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director of the California Forensic Science Institute.



California Forensic Science Institute http://www.calstatela.edu/hhs/cfsi

CSULA School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics http://www.calstatela.edu/hhs/crim

LA Times article, “Cal State L.A. graduate students hone crime scene expertise,”http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/27/local/la-me-cal-state-criminalists-20130728

Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAChttp://www.fepac-edu.org

Working Stiff: An Interview with Forensic Pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek and her co-author and husband T.J. Mitchell

Judy Melinek, M.D. is a graduate of Harvard University. She trained at UCLA in medicine and pathology, graduating in 1996. Her training at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York is the subject of the memoir, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, co-authored with her husband, writer T.J. Mitchell. Currently, Dr. Melinek is CEO of PathologyExpert Inc., and works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland for the Alameda-County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office. She also travels nationally and internationally to lecture on anatomic and forensic pathology and she has been consulted as a forensic expert in many high-profile legal cases, as well as for the television shows E.R. and Mythbusters.
T.J. Mitchell, her husband, graduated with an English degree from Harvard and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their three children. He is currently collaborating with Dr. Melinek in writing First Cut, the inaugural novel in a forensic detective fiction series. Working Stiff is Mitchell’s first book.
Working Stiff:  www.drworkingstiff.com
Pathology Expert Site: http://www.pathologyexpert.com
Scribner Books Video Interview: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner https://youtu.be/TWyvqtFnA1M
Work Stew Podcast Interview: http://www.workstewpodcast.com/?p=1142

Tracking Down the Bad Guys: A Conversation with Retired US Marshal and Novelist Marc Cameron



Marc Cameron Alaska Tracking Unit

Marc Cameron Alaska Tracking Unit


Marc Cameron is a retired Chief Deputy US Marshal and 29-year law enforcement veteran. His short stories have appeared in Boy’s Life Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post. He’s published eleven novels, six of them Westerns.

Brute Force, the sixth in his USA Today bestselling Jericho Quinn thriller series, is available December 2016 from Kensington. A second degree black belt in Ju Jitsu, Marc teaches defensive tactics to law enforcement agencies and civilian groups.

He lives in Alaska with his beautiful bride and BMW motorcycle.


Tracking in AZ

Tracking in Arizona


Marc CamerBrute Force Day Zero n Website: http://www.marccameronbooks.com

Marc Cameron on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarcCameronAuthor

Marc Cameron Blog: http://www.marccameronbooks.com/blog.htm

US Marshals Service: http://www.usmarshals.gov