The Scientific Methods…. of the Henry Lee Institute’s Elaine Pagliaro

Elaine Pagliaro,Shattered Lives,Donna R. Gore,

Some people go to work and do their job seemingly by rote… It’s the same thing day after day…. But not so for accomplished forensic scientist Elaine Pagliaro. This woman brings a wealth of information to the table in addition to her laboratory duties.   Elaine admitted that she has to be one part “juggler” as well as her many parts something else….    Elaine was the Acting Director of the Division of Scientific Services for the Connecticut Department of Public Safety (specialization – criminalistics and forensic biology) for nearly 30 years… She is…. an expert witness in forensic biochemistry, collection of sexual assault evidence, forensic DNA analysis, hair examination, crime scene reconstruction, author of numerous journal articles including the American Journal of Nursing, and books. Her latest with Dr. Henry C. Lee – “The Real World of a Forensic Scientist” []

Elaine is a member of the bar in several states and teaches criminal justice and the law as an adjunct faculty at many Universities and Colleges in Connecticut.

Suffice it to say that with her many years of experience and knowledge, she has the background to impart her wisdom to “the newbies” and the foresight of know what will not work in today’s forensic world.

To listen to the Podcast of Shattered Lives:  CLICK HERE


  • Intro and credentials of our guest;
  • Answering: What is the Real World of Forensic Science – objectivity, lack of emotional involvement and definitely not glamorous…..
  • Delilah asks about the paper trail process – Where does the report go from the lab and what do they do with it?
  • Cases worked on – Most are current cases and why….
  • Elaine’s opinion regarding making the most impact in forensics today….  – Forensic Biology  and Crime Scene Experience
  • Cold Cases – Done before DNA and her years of experience; Looking at the big picture…
  • Experience versus protocol with DNA analysis;
  • Cold case analysis and Exoneration – similarities and differences;
  • The Penny Serra Case – A Cold Case example (1973)
  • Fingerprint data bases – “Only as good as the information contained;”
  • A father’s knowledge at the end of his life;
  • Delilah asks questions about rape kit backlogs;
  • The factors that turned the tide with many rape cases;
  • Examining materials in a rape kit;
  • What is the answer to the backlog? -Elaine’s opinion;
  • The cost of DNA backlog… How to increase the productivity;
  • Validation testing with rapid DNA testing;
  • Prioritizing  cases – juggling – “Keeping several balls in the air”
  • The urgency of child sexual assault;
  • Students studying forensic science;
  • Scientifically reasonable versus “I want you to test this too…just because…”
  • Volunteering at labs’
  • Teaching – What academia can do to help forensic labs;
  • Analyzing compromised DNA samples – How methods were created;
  • Courses Elaine currently teaches;
  • Contact Information at the University of New Haven
  • Henry C Lee Institute website inquiries:

Questions you may have about this topic:

  • What is Forensic Biology?
  • What is the percentage of cases that go to trial?
  • What is the process regarding working on an exoneration case?
  • What was the lead that broke the cold case of Penny Serra?
  • Fingerprint databases and DNA data bases-What is the process?
  • What are the reasons for unanalyzed rape kits?
  • What is the statute of limitations for rape in Connecticut?
  • How many cases can realistically be processed re DNA analysis?
  • How does automation figure into the equation?
  • What are the causes of the backlog in labs?
  • What cases are prioritized to “the top of the pile?”
  • How do we educate prosecutors re sexual assault?
  • How can academia prepare students better for work at the lab?

Elaine M. Pagliaro, JD, MS

Elaine Pagliaro Shattered LivesElaine Pagliaro, a member of the staff at the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, is retired from the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Division of Scientific Services, Forensic Science Laboratory, where she was Acting Director and worked in Criminalistics and Forensic Biology for almost 30 years.  During that time, Ms. Pagliaro was involved in most of the major criminal investigations in Connecticut and in cases of national prominence, such as the Penney Serra andMartha Moxley murders, the Michael Ross serial murders, the investigation of the death of Vincent Foster and the infamous “Woodchipper Murder” case.  She has qualified as an expert witness in the areas of forensic biochemistry, forensic DNA analysis, hair examination, and crime scene reconstruction in Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Louisiana and in Federal courts. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Science, a member of several other professional organizations, and served on the Connecticut Commission for the Standardization of the Collection of Sexual Assault Evidence. Ms. Pagliaro has authored numerous publications on forensic science for professional journals and has presented at national and international symposia. A recent book, Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice, which she co-edited with Drs. Rita Hammer and Barbara Moynihan, received a best advanced practice book award from the American Journal of Nursing.  Her most recent book, written with Dr. Henry Lee andKatherine Ramsland, is entitled The Real World of the Forensic Scientist.

The Scientific Methods…. of the Henry Lee Institute’s Elaine Pagliaro

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