Shattered Lives and the Cyber Age….

President Obama has declared that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and that “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security.”

Cyberspace touches nearly every part of our daily lives.  It’s the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and the massive grids that power our nation.  It’s the classified military and intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history.  We must secure our cyberspace to ensure that we can continue to grow the nation’s economy and protect our way of life. http://www.whitehouse.gov/cybersecurity

Al Dressler, a seasoned investigator, and expert consultant with Colucci Investigations spends his days assisting individuals, corporations and law enforcement in the fight against invasion of privacy, in the areas of cyber crime, computer and cell phone forensics, e-mail tracing and network audits.

Facechecks.com, features facial recognition software to assist in the identification of those perpetrating crime… at their forensics lab in conjunction with professionals at the University of Bridgeport. http://www.facechecks.com/   They offer:

* Background Checks and Employment Screening

* Automated In-Bound Employment Confirmation

* Immigration Compliance and Form I9 Management

* Occupational Medical Testing and Drug Screening

* Human Resource Document Retention

* Electronic New Hire and Benefits Form Management

* FBI Fingerprint Background Check Service

Al joined host LadyJustice for a conversation concerning the modern day “Mission Impossible technologies”.  CLICK HERE to listen…

  • Intro for Al Dressler…;
  • Al’s tribute to Susan Murphy Milano;
  • Two year waiting list with State and Federal computer forensics… Kudos to the FBI and  the Connecticut State Police computer labs in New Haven focusing on sexual predators- dealing with over 200 cases;
  • Facecheck and Colucci Investigations’ value is to get the information needed and act as an intermediary between victims, prosecutors  and law enforcement;
  • Example of cyber harassment – Explaining the process prior to bringing it to the police department;
  • Definition of Cyber security via a story about President Dwight D. Eisenhower  contrasted with today;
  • “Bully on the block” versus bullies hiding behind computers
  • What it takes…. Taking hard drives, making images, giving a report to an attorney or police department, locating e-mails or IP addresses etc.;
  • Example of a Cyber bully– Are the “Evil Doers” winning?   A three year process….
  • A person’s reality and paranoia…. The aftermath;
  • Delilah asks about cyber security tips…..
  • Al’s advice re – Children’s security- The main precaution – Parental Vigilance at the elementary school level;  Website recommended-
  • (Software- Spector soft )   Recording everything they do on line and sending a report covertly to what they are doing;
  • Adult tips – Common sense and using the recommended website – www.webroot.com.    It scans your computer for hackers, bugs. etc…  
  • Economical aspect of such security precautions….
  • Face Recognition Technology- on the edge of innovation –                      Uses-High end security rooms;  At a hospital holding radioactive drugs – replacing  cameras to alert security; On line security – banks, brokers and to keep kids safe on line;
  • Challenges of Facial Recognition – The speed and accuracy  being worked on;
  • Ladyjustice asks about the problems encountered with the ever changing features of growing children – How the facial recognition can match the growth patterns;
  • Using facial recognition technology to help identify missing persons…;
  • The expansion and implementation – Private level versus the Federal Government …. A pilot test rolled out in 2014 combined with fingerprinting  (Adam Walsh Act);
  • Challenges combining fingerprinting with facial recognition and new algorithms;
  • Crime Victim expectations – and use of technologies….  On the Cyber end –CSI shows have accuracy…. But,  the amount of time to process results  and time to solve a case  is inaccurate;
  • Sorting through data – an arduous process   – Making a forensic image of a hard drive, looking for that “needle in the haystack” piece of data takes a long time… 
  • Example –Hedge Fund Company in Westport, CT = Pequot Capital – Insider Trading….  After many years….  One e-mail made the difference and yielded a million dollar whistleblower settlement and arrest of the husband;
  • Whistleblower cases…;
  • Work on many cases simultaneously…; 
  • Traditional investigation and the cyber investigation enhances…
  • Solving cases…Al’s opinion of using traditional methods versus cyber tools…;
  • Delilah asks about the types of clients Al works wit hand how to approach their organization?
  • Response: Al’s company works on three sectors – computer forensics, cell phone forensics, training at the law enforcement, corporate level and work on domestic situations;
  • Training programs teach how to be a computer or cell phone forensics examiners;
  • Ladyjustice asks if there is a hierarchy of case selection?   Depends on the time factor and a missing person’s case may get priority….. Won’t take perpetrator  cases of “kiddie porn;”
  • The importance of background checks prior to taking a case;
  • Ladyjustice asks if Al voluntarily  assists non-profits organizations?
  • Cases in the tri-state area and beyond;
  • Services/resources available in different sectors and the ability to pay…;
  • Cyber crime units…and the rich man vs. poor man’s court;
  • Which of the emerging technologies hold the most promise in cold cases…. Facial Recognition could be very helpful when the Federal Government has the system in place;
  • Delilah –“Science Fiction coming true…” a new reality….  Discussion regarding  the fact that  these technologies are very tough to grasp;
  • Is the media your friend with regard to reporting emerging technologies?
  • Lack of awareness on the part of media in the change- shift in technologies;
  • The team at Colucci Investigations; 
  • A “typical day” in the life of a cyber security investigator….;
  • Grunt work vs. field work;
  • Connecticut Innovations Grant – Advantages;
  • What should crime victim families know about what they do?
  • Al’s response-The importance of counseling for domestic cases…dealing with their stress and the limitations of their services;
  • Delilah relates that many professionals have a very limited understanding of how to deal with domestic issues;  Susan’s legacy with live on with others being trained!
  • Al’s contact information: aldressler@facechecks.com; Tel: 203-650-3722;   
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“There’s Something Wrong Here”… The Legend of Dr. Henry C. Lee

Dr_Lee_Official_State_Photo

Dr. Henry C. Lee

“I always go in with an open mind… I don’t even believe what the police tell me.  They always try to tell you a story.  I let the evidence speak for itself; otherwise, you can overlook exculpatory evidence.”

(Quote Dr. Henry C. Lee – September 2010)

Crime based TV shows and crime scene investigation dramas are so engrained into our collective psyches these days, that we accept them as reality.  But in truth, they represent a severe breach with reality, a distortion of time that is totally nonsensical.

We are well aware from listening to the real life commentaries of Susan Murphy Milano, Denny Griffin and Vito Collucci of Crime-Wire, that actual crime cases are not so neat and tidy.  Crime is not investigated one case at a time; a murder trial is not solved in an hour as portrayed on Law and Order.  Real hysterical, but remorseful defendants do not abruptly stand and confess at the end of the trial, as they did on episodes of “Perry Mason”.  (Ahhh…. childhood memories.  Even then I was fascinated by the motivations of crime).  And, heaven help us, DNA samples are very, very seldom sent for immediate processing after the request rolls off a police officer’s lips…..

So, why do we expect such unrealistic standards in real life?  Some may say, TV and movie land has brainwashed us and heightened our expectations beyond all reasonableness.  My theory is that it has something to do with the rapid growth in forensic science and technology combined with the lengthy examination and processing time required for all such tests.  These realities, can never match with the relatively limited attention spans of the average viewer.

Therefore the entertainment industry is compelled to speed it up, keep it exciting, “Presto Chango”- here are your results on a silver platter.  The TV audience barely has enough time to go into the kitchen and get a snack before the DNA results are ready! Who cares if a few corners are cut in the name of flash and gimmicks – It’s TV.  All of the survivors of crime care, as well as the crime victims to be – that’s who!  False expectations are dangerous!

Who is there to dispel the myths of crime as entertainment?  Enter, center stage, the person, the legend of Dr. Henry C. Lee, Criminologist.  With his seemingly unassuming demeanor and his no-nonsense way of going about his work, he is the poster boy for crime busting, public safety and forensic science.  He is certainly a Connecticut celebrity and a world renowned expert.

Dr. Lee was born in China (the same day as the assassination date of JFK), in 1938 and grew up in Taiwan, beginning a career as a police officer and achieving the role of Captain before travelling to the U.S; where he earned a B.S. degree in Forensic Science in 1972 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from NYU.   Dr. Lee is Chief Emeritus of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory.

He is fond of telling the story of his childhood aspirations by saying,

“I wanted to be a basketball star.  I went to talk to my coach and he said, ‘You grow two feet and then come see me.’  I realized it was an impossible dream.”

Over the years, he has authored hundreds of articles, 25 textbooks and a compilation of real crime cases using crime scene analysis, DNA analysis, fingerprinting methods etc.  Dr. Lee is perhaps the world’s most famous expert in blood spatter pattern and analysis.

His repertoire of high profile cases are household names including the notorious “Wood Chipper murder” of Hellie Crafts in Connecticut, Jon Benet Ramsey, Phil Spector, OJ Simpson, Scott Peterson, Elizabeth Smart, Michael Peterson  and the re-investigation of President John F. Kennedy to name only a handful.

This writer has had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Lee lecture at a number of crime victim conferences.  He is modest when speaking of his exhaustive achievements, possesses a good sense of humor and never fails to be thought provoking.  His standard refrain when introducing a case,   articulated in his heavy Taiwanese dialect typically is “Some sing wrong here”   for “Something’s wrong here.”  (No disrespect meant whatsoever…you have to listen carefully, that’s all). Dr. Lee skillfully guides the listener about the crime scene, the basic principles of forensics and evidence gathering as well as the overall puzzle presented.  You instinctively know that he will present many more questions than answers…..  Very rarely is a case a “slam dunk.”  The evidence may point in a particular direction or hypothesis or may prove conclusively that “no one else could have done it….”  Or, more likely not provide enough evidence and remain unsolved for extended periods …even years.

With 40 years of experience and offering assistance to law enforcement with 6,000 cases to date, Dr. Lee has developed his own style of teaching.  He doesn’t hesitate to offer “teaching moments” and simulates elements of the crime.  Whether using red ink or ketchup, Dr. Lee gets into his work!

(A good example of this is featured in the six hour docu-drama “The Staircase,” featuring the Michael Peterson case.)

Dr. Lee has also dabbled in non-fiction crime books.  One that has gotten much publicity was with a co-author Dr. Jerry Labriola, a professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut.  This book is entitled, “Famous Crimes Revisited: From Sacco-Vanzetti to O. J. Simpson.”  Dr. Labriola creates the fictional character of “Sam Constant, ”a travelling companion who expresses the sentiment of the time, while Dr. Lee intersperses modern-day comments (in bold print) using the latest scientific knowledge.  This is a unique concept for sure, but a confusing read and not much actual participation from Dr. Lee.  Critics have been luke-warm on this offering.

Book review aside, it may be that Dr. Henry Lee, at 73, still has too many important things on his plate to indulge in such pursuits.  In a local article September, 2010, he stated, “I’ve retired four times and still work a 16 hour day.  I have the energy of a 20 year old.”

It is this drive and workaholic nature that has launched a pre-eminent mind to ever increasing heights.  Dr. Lee joined the faculty of the University of New Haven in 1975.  UNH retains the reputation as one of the best, leading the pack in criminal justice and forensic academic programs.

The 14 million dollar Henry C. Lee Institute opened on October 15, 2010 and specializes in interdisciplinary research, training, testing case consulting and education in the field of forensic science.  A first hand account that appeared in a recent Hartford Courant article described the personal experience as follows:

First you touch a handprint on a wall that launches a video of Lee explaining that your fingerprints will now be checked with a database. Then the police sirens wail and you hear officers barking orders over a scanner.

On your left is a virtual crime scene laboratory where images and pertinent evidence from Connecticut’s notorious “wood-chipper” murder case are projected on the walls. Farther in are exhibits showing how various types of light reveal bloodstains on a screwdriver; a chance to match bullets; and a look at the differences between male and female skeletal remains.

Around a corner is a room where a body —- a dummy —- lies in a recliner, apparently strangled, with evidence marked by numbers around the room; a bottle of beer to his left, a powder that looks like cocaine on a coffee table, a bureau with clothes spilling out.

There are high-tech classrooms and advanced technologies for research and for consultations with police.

“The case consultation takes advantage of Dr. Lee’s expertise and his ability to see things when no one else can, and the expertise of others members of the department,” said grant coordinator, Elaine Pagliaro. She said the institute won’t duplicate services in the community, but will enhance services, in some cases by providing technology that isn’t readily available.

For example, she said, the institute will be buying an infrared camera to examine human remains. “You wouldn’t use an infrared camera a lot and it’s a relatively expensive piece of equipment,” she said.

The institute also has a cutting edge forensic crisis command center where UNH experts can connect by satellite with police and other governmental agencies to examine evidence that is beamed to them — thus providing help as if they were physically at the crime scene.

Tim Palmbach, executive director of the institute, said the goal is also to show the public that forensic science “is not necessarily what they’ve come to know and believe after watching ‘CSI.’ “

The missions of the institute, which officially opened its new building last week, include educating the public and students and training police, lawyers and investigators in the latest forensic practices.

For more information about the consulting services of The Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, please call (203) 932-7460, or contact us through our web site.
HC Lee Institute • University of New Haven • 300 Boston Post Rd • West Haven, CT 06516 • (203) 932-7460