BOMBINGS, BRUISES AND BONES

“Be forewarned that some of the photographs may prove disturbing,” keynote speaker Anne Lawrence told her audience. And several of the images projected on the screen at Dole Auditorium—of the mangled bodies of victims in the July 7, 2005 London subway bombings—were just that.

Yet the goal of the detective inspector from New Scotland Yard—one of seven speakers at Norwich’s Annual CSI Symposium—was not to shock. Rather, it was to convey the reality of a terrorist attack. For two hours Lawrence recounted in sometimes sordid detail the pandemonium, rescue efforts, and investigations that began immediately after the attack.

At the height of the morning rush hour, four young Islamic men carrying rucksacks loaded with homemade explosives triggered four bombings—three in the subway and one on a bus. Fifty-six people—including the terrorists—perished, and more than 700 were injured. The first order of business was to cut through the wreckage to help those still alive, said Lawrence, but officials quickly began treating the sites as crime scenes. Without compromising evidence, they had to methodically sort through debris and body parts for clues.

A 28-year veteran with the Metropolitan Police Service, Lawrence enlightened the students, many of whom are enrolled in the criminal justice program, about the teamwork and organization of the ensuing investigation. She not only described the scientific and technological aspects of the probe, but mentioned how tips, hunches, and luck also played a role.

Authorities first relied on physical evidence, including one of the bomber’s ID papers found in the wreckage; then they moved to DNA samples and records of cell phone calls, credit-card use, and closed-circuit TV tapes.

Some of the images on the screen were as intriguing as they were unsettling. There were CCTV photographs from the subways and a gas station showing the perpetrators looking relaxed and confident—not unlike the thousands of other 20-somethings heading into work that day.

The day before, one terrorist played cricket with his brother; another spent time with a girlfriend in a hotel room. One CCTV image shows a conspirator quibbling with a sales clerk over change only hours before blowing himself up. “How do you profile a mass murderer?” Lawrence asked rhetorically. Her implied answer: You probably can’t.

Images, also graphic, augmented the presentations of other speakers at the symposium, whether of the bruised bodies of child-abuse victims or the swollen and sallow faces of methamphetamine addicts.

Students who attended the presentation of Dr. Lowell Levine, DDS, a forensic scientist with the New York State police, caught a glimpse of the exhumed bones of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, executed a century ago at the start of the Russian Revolution. Levine and a team of American researchers helped identify the remains of the Tsar and his family on a visit to Ekaterinberg, Russia, in 1992. Showing images of jawbones and teeth, Levine explained how the porcelain cap on a tooth helped confirm the remains of Nicholas’s wife, Alexandra.

The stellar lineup of presenters also included computer forensics expert Ryan Kubasiak; Gary Kelly, who heads training in the fields of child-abuse investigations; James Kennedy, a video and multi-media specialist; George Maclarty, a specialist in crime scene investigations; and Robert Appleton, a 1992 Norwich graduate, who, among other things, is an expert on hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction.

Appleton has been a major force behind the annual symposium, helping engage speakers and tailoring the two-day programs to meet student needs. He said the symposium’s chief goal is to “broaden minds” and encourage students majoring criminal justice to diversify their education by taking courses in science, math, and foreign language. A rounded education is of “great value,” in the criminal justice world, he said. —D.V.S.

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