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Speech Patterns in Messages Betray a Killer

On June 7, 2005, Julie Turner of Sheffield, England, told her partner, Darren Akers, that she was heading out to do some shopping. But as the clock inched toward midnight and Ms. Turner, 40, failed to return, Mr. Akers began to panic. Two days later, on June 9, he received a cryptic text message: “Stopping at jills, back later need to sort my head out.” He was baffled — he...

The Truth, Revealed by Bugs: The Case of Brookey Lee West

When Brookey Lee West’s mother, Christine Smith, disappeared from her Las Vegas apartment in 1998, Ms. West had a convincing explanation: She had sent Ms. Smith to stay with her son, Ms. West’s brother, in California. The story seemed to hold up at first, but by February 2001, when the police found Ms. Smith’s body stuffed into a garbage can in a Las Vegas storage unit, the...

Cold Case Is Closed by DNA Match: Green River Killer

In the 1980s and 1990s, a faceless killer stalked young women in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Dozens of women, mostly prostitutes, eventually disappeared, sometimes only a few days apart, sometimes only once or twice a year. The killer had a consistent modus operandi: he would rape the women, strangle them with his hands or a ligature, and then discard their bodies near the Green River. The police...

The Early Days of Toxicology: Poisonous Powder

Life seemed to be coasting along smoothly for Mary Blandy. The daughter of Francis Blandy, a well-known lawyer in Oxfordshire, England, Mary was all grown up by the mid-1740s and preparing to marry the love of her life, Capt. William Henry Cranstoun, who was descended from Scottish nobility. But the relationship hit a snag when Mary’s father discovered that Cranstoun had concealed his...

Audio Analysis: Getting a Jump on Gun Violence

Around 2 a.m. on March 8, 2008, officers at the East Palo Alto, Calif., Police Department received a computer alert. Barrages of gunshots had just been fired in the 2100 block of Capitol Avenue and nearby at the corner of University Avenue and Bell Street. Driving down Bay Road toward University Avenue, the sergeant who responded spotted a dark sedan pulling away at breakneck speed....

Don't shoot the scientists

Any hyperbole about swine flu was created by the media, not by virologists, says Tom SheldonSimon Jenkins is right to say that obsessive media coverage of swine flu, ever thirsty for hyperbole and impatient for new developments, can be misleading (Sophie's sniffle mocks the peddlers of swine flu panic, 6 May). And advice issued by government should rightly be debated.But the suggestion that...