Segments in this Video

Instruments of Murder: Introduction (02:09)


This segment orients viewers to the topic of forensic science that uses the murder weapon to catch the killer.

First Case of Written Forensic Science (02:25)

In 1235, a body discovered in a field revealed cut marks associated with a sickle. The investigator identified the murder weapon with the help of flies.

Unhappy Marriage (03:40)

Marie Lafarge accepted marriage as a business deal; she later found her husband was in serious debt. In December 1839, Charles Lafarge became suddenly ill.

Arsenic Poisoning (03:43)

Anna Brun saw Marie Lafarge stir white powder into Charles Lafarge's eggnog; Charles died two days later. In 1836, James Marsh created a test to detect arsenic; Mathieu Orfila tested Charles' organs. Marie was sentenced to life in prison.

Forensic Chemistry (04:49)

Dr. Stewart Black reveals what he found in the host's hair sample. Isotopes can reveal where someone has been. Today, toxicology is routine in murder cases.

Gun Anonymity (03:11)

In the 20th century, guns became a popular weapon of choice. In 1928, police arrested Frederic Brown and discovered a Webley revolver; a Webley was used in a constable's murder a few months prior.

PC Gutteridge's Murder (02:25)

Authorities determined Gutteridge flagged down a car. They located a stolen car with damage, blood, and a bullet casing; Robert Churchill examined the casing.

National Ballistics Intelligence Service (04:08)

An expert explains ballistics testing. Gabriel Weston compares two cartridges using a comparison microscope. Churchill identified Brown's gun as the murder weapon; Brown and Kennedy were hanged for murder.

Fire as a Weapon (03:20)

People use arson to destroy property and sometimes kill. Fire investigator John Lentini discusses a 1990 case in Jacksonville, Florida.

Murder Suspect: Gerald Lewis (02:28)

Lewis claimed the fire was accidental. Experts used a test fire to confirm or disprove the fire was arson.

Fire Simulation (03:35)

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service members produce a controlled burn to simulate the fire at Lewis' home; they watch for flashover. Experts discuss the point of flashover and accelerants.

Fire Interpretation (02:14)

Dr. Rory Hadden discusses the evidence in a flashover fire without accelerant. Lentini's simulation changed lead to the prosecution dropping charges against Gerald Lewis.

Murder Weapon (02:29)

Knives are the most commonly used weapon. In 1942, Pvt. Brown found a knife; pathologist Keith Simpson knew it was a murder weapon. Hear details of a murder scene.

Murder Victim: Joan Pearl Wolfe (03:23)

Simpson examined the victim's body and identified her as a missing girl. Weston discusses Wolfe's skull which was found in 38 pieces. Police brought August Sangret in for questioning.

Murder Suspect: August Sangret (02:34)

Simpson focused on the penetrating wounds in Wolfe's skull; the weapon was a knife with a hooked tip. The jury convicted Sangret of murder and he was hanged.

Identifying Knife Use (03:26)

Professor Sarah Hainsworth tests the suspects account of what happened. Her tests indicate blade sharpness and force. Hear final thoughts on modern forensics.

Credits: Instruments of Murder: Catching History's Criminals—The Forensics Story (00:45)

Credits: Instruments of Murder: Catching History's Criminals—The Forensics Story

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Instruments of Murder: Catching History's Criminals—The Forensics Story

Part of the Series : Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story
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Most murderers use a weapon. One of the top-priority tasks for detectives is to find that weapon. It can lead to the killer but it can also reveal so much more. Using cutting-edge forensic techniques, the murder weapon can now give us an insight into the mind of the killer. This program examines the murder weapon that until 150 years ago left no trace, how 3D crime-scene modelling is revolutionising gun crime investigations, and why, until recently, much of what we knew about fire analysis and arson was wrong. A BBC Production.

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL95049

ISBN: 978-1-68272-271-8

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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