Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals

Course No. 1174
Professor Elizabeth A. Murray, Ph.D.
Mount St. Joseph University
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Course No. 1174
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What Will You Learn?

  • Meet some of the modern history's most notorious killers, and learn how they inspired infamy.
  • Dig into the world of copycat criminals to understand why and how they strike.
  • See how the science of forensics is used to solve crimes beyond murders.
  • Explore how future technological developments could radically change the field of forensics.

Course Overview

Modern history is filled with terrible crimes, baffling hoaxes, and seedy scandals. The infamous Jack the Ripper slayings. The alleged survival of Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the murdered Tsar. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong’s public fall from grace. The Chicago Tylenol poisonings and the copycat crimes that followed.

These events have the power to captivate us with their mystery and shock us with views into the darkest parts of the human psyche. As a society, we seek resolution of these crimes and scandals, to bring their perpetrators to justice and hopefully prevent such events from occurring again.

Step into the world of forensic science and study the most fascinating historical crimes and mysteries from the last two centuries in Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals. Delivered by acclaimed Professor Elizabeth A. Murray of Mount St. Joseph University, a forensic anthropologist with nearly 30 years of experience in the field, these 24 lectures are a remarkable blend of storytelling and science—a whirlwind tour that takes you from the gas-lit streets of Victorian London to the mountains of Puerto Rico to small-town America. As you journey around the world and into the past, you’ll re-examine modern history’s great crimes and scandals using the tools and insights of forensic science. In doing so, you’ll learn how cutting-edge advancements in science and technology are applied to investigations and how to evaluate evidence and think like a forensic scientist.

Revisit Modern History’s Great Crimes

“If you like mysteries, and thinking about how to solve them, you’re going to love this course,” says Professor Murray. Using her extensive background in the field of forensic science and her skill at weaving riveting stories, Professor Murray invites you peer over the shoulders of criminal investigators as they examine some of the most famous crimes in history.

  • Jack the Ripper Murders: The story of one of modern history’s most infamous serial killers provides a unique window into the early days of forensic science. Between August 31 and November 9, 1888, five prostitutes in East London were brutally murdered and mutilated. The gruesome killings sparked a media frenzy and haunted the London Metropolitan Police, as they frantically searched for the elusive killer.
  • Tylenol Poisonings: In the fall of 1982, several deaths in the Chicago area were linked to bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol deliberately poisoned with potassium cyanide—thousands of times the lethal amount. How did investigators and scientists work to quell a nationwide panic while they searched for a suspect?
  • The Greatest Art Forger of All Time: Elmyr deHory, a Hungarian art forger, made an entire career—and a profitable living—from selling credible imitations of works by Picasso, Matisse, and Renoir.
  • America’s Fatal Intelligence Leak: Robert Hanssen, a wiretapping, surveillance, and computer expert for the FBI doubled as a Soviet and Russian mole for 22 years. During this long career in treachery, Hanssen gave his handlers top-secret information on electronic eavesdropping and detailed lists of U.S. spies working inside Russia—breaches that have been called the worst intelligence disaster in American history.

These and other cases are examined in such detail that you’ll feel like you’re present during the investigations. And you’ll have a unique opportunity to watch as forensic scientists use the unlikeliest of clues to uncover motives, search for culprits, discredit false leads, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Discover Forensic Methodologies—and Mishaps

As with any field, forensic science isn’t perfect. In some instances, things can go very, very wrong. Professor Murray introduces you to several cases that shed light on what happens when the justice system goes awry, including:

  • innocent people pressured into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit,
  • crooked cops who falsify or tamper with evidence to secure convictions, and
  • mistakes and malpractices in forensic labs that have drastic ramifications on cases.

Yet whether they’re controversial or by-the-book, solved or unsolved, hot or cold, these cases are an opportunity to gain deeper insight into the historic and cutting-edge methods and tools forensic scientists use on the job.

  • Taphonomy: This fascinating science involves the study of what happens to organisms once they die and are deposited in different environments. Several research facilities in the United States, known informally as “body farms,” devote themselves specifically to scientifically studying human decomposition.
  • CODIS: DNA analysis has been one of the most important revolutions in forensic science. Today, analysts in crime labs can upload encoded DNA information from criminal cases, as well as unidentified and missing persons investigations, into CODIS, a national DNA registry that automatically searches all of its records against each other.
  • Digital forensics: Computers continue to revolutionize forensic science. Nearly all areas, from GPS technology and photography to drug analysis and forensic art, have been changed and enhanced by computers. Perpetrators have also capitalized on digital technology, however, and investigators now find themselves in an arms race with cybercriminals.

Dive Deep into Mystery

“I’ve been a practicing forensic anthropologist for nearly 30 years,” Professor Murray says. “But I’m also quite a history buff, and love a great story. So this is a wonderful opportunity for me to blend those interests and focus on what I hope you’ll agree are some fascinating cases!”

Praised by Great Courses customers for her introductory course in forensic science, noted author and award-winning professor Elizabeth A. Murray brings that same engagement and insight to her case-oriented look at the fascinating world of forensic science’s past, present, and future. Having participated in hundreds of investigations in America and abroad, Professor Murray intersperses examinations of watershed cases in forensic history with some of her own, equally intriguing, personal experiences.

The result: a well-rounded look at forensic history, from the early days of Jack the Ripper to the highly technological advancements in the 21st century. Prepare for a riveting, at times frightening, and always informative journey into the heart of true mystery with Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Infamous Jack the Ripper
    Much of our forensic knowledge comes from the media. Start your journey through forensic history with what's considered the landmark case for crime reporting: the Jack the Ripper murders from the late 1880s. Along the way, you'll investigate the continuous interplay between forensic advances and larger societal changes. x
  • 2
    Analyzing the Black Dahlia Murder
    Explore the special forensic category known as lust murder with the 1947 murder-mutilation of the Black Dahlia. How did law enforcement ultimately uncover this young woman's true identity? What makes her case different from other lust murders? Could there be a link to the infamous Lipstick Murders that occurred two years earlier? x
  • 3
    Dissecting Hollywood Deaths
    Travel to Hollywood for an intriguing look at how crime scene investigation and autopsy results are crucial in assessing - and hopefully solving - suicidal, homicidal, accidental, and natural deaths. Your examples are three of Tinseltown's most mysterious deaths: TV Superman George Reeves, Hogan's Heroes actor Bob Crane, and kung fu legend Bruce Lee. x
  • 4
    Decomposition and Confusing Interpretations
    How can cutting-edge research and technology be applied to old cases and result in fresh conclusions? Find out in Professor Murray's illuminating lecture on the case of seven-year-old Dalbert Aposhian and several other mysteries, which illustrate the importance of taphonomy: the study of what happens to living organisms once they die and are deposited in the environment. x
  • 5
    Lizzie Borden and the Menendez Brothers
    Turn to a couple of intriguing aspects of forensic science: how a relatively unknown person becomes infamous, and how someone can plead not guilty at trial despite an overwhelming mountain of evidence. Here, you'll contrast two family feuds": the 1880s murder of Lizzie Borden's parents and the case of the Menendez brothers a little over 100 years later." x
  • 6
    The Tylenol Murders
    In just three days in 1982, seven people in the Chicago area were killed with cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. Follow forensic scientists and investigators as they mobilized in a massive test for product tampering, using sophisticated chemical analysis and a rapid test method to keep other consumers safe from harm - while also searching for a culprit. x
  • 7
    Copycats and Hoaxes
    In this lecture, plunge into the world of copycats, hoaxes, and false claims. As you learn how forensic analysts approach these issues, you'll relive some terrifying (and bizarre) true-life cases, including copycat Tylenol poisonings, syringes hidden in soda bottles, and the discovery of a confounding missing link" between humans and apes." x
  • 8
    Frauds and Forgeries
    Delve into the fascinating stories behind history's many art and document forgeries - creative efforts of con artists to make money by deceiving others. How do the authorities determine which Matisse painting is fake and which one is real? What technology and skill goes into authenticating a piece of writing or art? Find out here. x
  • 9
    Blood Doping and Other Sports Scandals
    Not even the wide world of sports is immune from misdeeds. Here, learn more about some of the most infamous events in modern athletics, including doping scandals involving superstar athletes like Lance Armstrong; fraud and illegal gambling in baseball history; and Tonya Harding's deliberate attack on fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. x
  • 10
    Bad Boys of U.S. Politics
    Who was America's most corrupt president? Decide for yourself in this eye-opening lecture that illustrates a range of political scandals: extramarital affairs, hush money, favoritism, and more. Examine the misconduct of Warren Harding, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, and others. Also, learn how modern forensic technologies, including paternity testing and digital evidence tracking, help uncover the truth. x
  • 11
    Criminals of the Wild, Wild West
    Follow the stories of three legendary 19th-century outlaws from the golden age of the American West: Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, and Alfred Packer. It's a lecture packed with prospectors, cowboys, bad boys, lawmen, and impostors - all of whom help shed light on the past (and present) of forensic science. x
  • 12
    Investigating Incredible Bank Heists
    What does it take to successfully pull off a bank burglary, such as the 1972 United California Bank heist that, in its day, was the largest in U.S. history? How do law enforcement officials go about following the clues left behind to bring the robbers to justice? Professor Murray provides the (sometimes startling) answers right here. x
  • 13
    How Reliable Is Eyewitness Testimony?
    Faulty eyewitness identification is the most common source of wrongful convictions in the legal system. Here, take a closer look at some real-world instances of wrongful identification; discover how DNA testing has helped exonerate hundreds; and learn what specific reforms can help prevent these horrible mistakes in the future. x
  • 14
    The Truth behind False Confessions
    Mentally handicapped suspects; corrupt officials; misleading interrogation methods - these are some of the factors involved in false confessions that can destroy the innocent and allow the guilty to escape. Learn how this happens by examining several cases, including two in which innocent teenagers were forced into admitting guilt for killing family members. x
  • 15
    Crooked Cops and Bad Convictions
    Planted evidence in a murder mystery in rural New Zealand. The torture of a Haitian immigrant in police custody. A government cover-up of police shootings on a mountaintop in Puerto Rico. These three unsettling cases are your windows into the terrifying world of police corruption - and how justice is finally served. x
  • 16
    Guilty until Proven Innocent
    For two decades, a forensic scientist with the Oklahoma City Police Department helped send thousands to prison before it was realized that she lied in the lab and courtroom. In 2004, a mistake in one of the world's most sophisticated forensic labs led to the wrongful identification of an innocent U.S. citizen as a suspect in Madrid's terrorist train bombings. What happens when forensic science goes awry? x
  • 17
    Political Assassinations
    Professor Murray reveals how forensics has shed light on the ways political assassins try to get away with murder. Along with the ricin poisoning of anti-Communist Georgi Markov and the shooting of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, consider the lingering forensic mystery of PLO leader Yasser Arafat's death in 2004. x
  • 18
    Mysteries of the Romanov Family
    Continue exploring the forensics of political assassinations with the murder of Russia's ruling Romanov family in 1918 - and the stories of what became of their corpses. Did Anastasia or any of the other children actually survive? Then, fast-forward to the 1990s and follow anthropologists and others as they identify human remains, recreate that violent night, and finally lay the Romanovs to rest. x
  • 19
    Forensics of Genocide
    Genocide is arguably the most horrible of crimes in human history. How do human rights groups locate evidence of genocide? How do they use this evidence to understand critical details about the atrocities and prosecute those responsible? And what insights did Professor Murray learn first-hand from victims of genocide in Guatemala? x
  • 20
    The Nazis and the Witch of Buchenwald
    Focus on forensic evidence found at the Nazis' Buchenwald concentration camp, and how it was used at trial. Professor Murray discusses medical experimentation involving prisoners; introduces you to the allegations against the Witch of Buchenwald"; and investigates claims of Nazi objects made of human tissue." x
  • 21
    The Spies Have It
    Meet some of the last century's infamous spies and learn how they were eventually uncovered. Fascinating cases here include those of William Sebold, a German spy for America during World War II; Mata Hari, one of history's most notorious female spies; and the recent case of Robert Hanssen, an FBI mole working for the KGB. x
  • 22
    Motive and Kidnapping
    How do police use motive to track down kidnappers? What happens when kidnappings go wrong? Get the answers with historical examples including the Black September kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and recent cases that illustrate how today's technology is helping thwart infant abductions. x
  • 23
    Identification Matters
    Professor Murray introduces you to six of her cold cases from Hamilton County, Ohio. The stories of these unknown persons help highlight some of the remarkable developments in forensic science during her nearly 30 years of practice. It's a personal and up-close look at how forensic scientists and law enforcement handle the mysteries of unidentified remains. x
  • 24
    The Past, Present, and Future of Forensics
    The motives behind crimes haven't changed, but the methods and technologies used to solve them have. Conclude the course with a look at the history of three essential tools of forensic science that have revolutionized our ability to analyze and compare evidence and help bring criminals to well-deserved justice. x

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  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 200-page printed course guidebook
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  • 200-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Elizabeth A. Murray

About Your Professor

Elizabeth A. Murray, Ph.D.
Mount St. Joseph University
Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray is a forensic anthropologist and also Professor of Biology at Mount St. Joseph University, where she teaches doctoral-level human gross anatomy and undergraduate-level anatomy and physiology, as well as forensic science. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Mount St. Joseph University and her master's degree in anthropology and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Biology from the...
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Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 86.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you're into CSI... I highly recommend this course if you're into CSI (any locale), true crime stories, or police procedurals. The instructor covers a lot of ground, but the case studies are my favorite part. She has a good presentation style and appears to really know her stuff. I write mystery romance novels, so this course will be one I go back to again and again for information and inspiration.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Companion for Mystery Fans My whole family is into mysteries - I am perhaps less so than my wife and younger daughter, but I still find the science of forensics fascinating. Most of us have at at one time or another served on juries as well and so this subject is interesting to us from that perspective. This course, taught by one of the top forensics professors in the field, provides a background for the understanding of how evidence is collected, analyzed and used in a courtroom. This is to me basic material for serious jury duty (I wish I had access to this before I stepped into a jury box) and in the more enjoyable, but much less important, task of matching wits with mystery writers. I recommend this course for anybody who in curious about how real professional detective work is accomplished.
Date published: 2016-01-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very disappointing Forensic anthropology was the focus of my graduate degree. I bought this course packaged with the second course by this professor and even bought a small portable DVD player to view both. I should have researched the background of this professor more thoroughly however. Her books are marketed to grade school students and I'm sure she does a great job of that. This course certainly appeared to be geared towards that level as well. In addition, even though I bought this on DVD there were really no visuals to make that necessary. I did that mainly because of the second course and being required to get both in the same format. I was not able to even get through this course -- my free time is very limited and I usually do CDs that I can listen to on commutes -- trying to free up enough time to watch a DVD is difficult and after this course I have not even tried to free up enough time to watch the second course and it is still in plastic wrap. This was the most disappointing purchase I have made.
Date published: 2015-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Bounty for Scandal Searchers This course, which I borrowed from a friend, makes a great companion with Professor Murray’s Trails of Evidence. In that course she goes over the elements of forensic science, but here she concentrates on famous cases, such as Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, the Romanovs, and Georgi Markov (Lecture 17). Not everything is about murder; Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, the art frauds of Elmyr de Hory and of John Drewe and John Myatt, and Warren Harding’s supposed illegitimate daughter are here (Lectures 9 and 10). Lecture 4 has the weirdest incidents, including the old woman who hid her mother’s body in a metal locker for four years while collecting her social security checks, and the mysterious bag of powder crashing through someone’s front deck that turned out to be cremated remains thrown out of an airplane (the bag was supposed to open and scatter the powder, but did not). The most sobering lectures, Lectures 13 through 16, discuss cases where the law went wrong. Ronald Cotton went to prison for forced intercourse because the victim was sure he was the perpetrator, but after many years of prison, DNA evidence proved him not guilty. Crooked cops extorted false confessions from innocent people, in one case possibly to cover up for the likely murderer. An incompetent forensic expert named Joyce Gilchrist was responsible for eleven wrongful executions. In a well-known case, the FBI wrongly linked Seattle attorney Brandon Mayfield to the 2005 Madrid train because of a fingerprint. Meanwhile, forensic experts continue to be baffled by John and Jane Does, bodies of people they are unable to identify (Lecture 23). Murray counts six of them in Hamilton County, Ohio. Professor Murray is a good presenter and storyteller, so I have only one minor quibble. In Lecture 22, she refers to the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion), a terrorist group in 1970s West Germany connected to the 1972 Olympics kidnappings and murders, as a “Neo-Nazi” group. On the contrary, it was a left-wing bunch that attacked the Federal Republic as a continuation of the Third Reich. Other than that hiccup, I thoroughly enjoyed this course.
Date published: 2015-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling and Interesting Course I enjoyed the way the Professor presented this course. It was given in a manner where I discovered real life situations that often times get sensationalized in the media. The science behind the crimes were intriguing and I eagerly anticipated each lesson. I recommend this course to all!
Date published: 2015-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating I really enjoyed the way the professor shared the cases and forensics in the form of a narrative--it was easy to follow and stay engaged. As a non-science person, I thought she explained the forensic evidence and scientific processes well. I was especially fascinated with the explanations she gave of how the cops and forensic scientists made/make their deductions. Great range of topics. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2015-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed the Course Very Much I saw that a number of reviewers complained that the course wasn't academic enough. But it was perfect for me, a non-scientist. Dr Murray is a fine lecturer and uses interesting case examples that most of us have heard about. She explains what forensic techniques were used to investigate the cases. Or when dealing with a very old case, she explains what might be done today. While the "science" was not enough for some, it was adequate for me. I would have had no patience for a lecturer who drones on and on about the scientific details of DNA testing or blood typing. As it was, I zipped through the lectures more quickly than I did with probably any other course.
Date published: 2015-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Always impressed with this instructor I love Dr. Murray's courses. She has a great sense of humor. I enjoyed learning about different cases that I had never heard of and of course the ones that are common material. I do wish Dr. Murray would have stepped out of the typical lecture more and used more "role play" or express the different theories of the cases. I would have enjoyed seeing Dr. Murray show the modern (and old) tools used to solve the crimes. None the less, I learned about new cases and was given food for thought. Thanks.
Date published: 2015-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Misrepresented I went back to reread the descriptive blurb of this course, because I thought perhaps I had misread it. No -- The Teaching Company misrepresented it. This is a series of stories about crimes -- a few of them gruesome -- and in some cases there is discussion of forensic science in relation to those crimes, but too often there is nothing or only a little on that topic. It's well narrated and interesting, but I can't say I learned much.
Date published: 2015-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging overview of Forensic Anthropology I listened to the audio version of this course and enjoyed it, I found the presentational skills of Professor Murray to be first rate . The subject matter for the lectures appears to have been carefully organized and Prof. Murray relies (and frequently relates) upon her 30+ years of actual experience as a working forensic anthropologist. I must say I am a bit mystified by the number of recent negative comments presented, but I very much enjoyed the time spent with Professor Murray.
Date published: 2015-05-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Tabloid material I have ordered numerous courses from the “Teaching Company” in order keep learning. When I ordered this course I expected to learn about modern forensic techniques and technologies. Instead I got a tabloid level rehash of “scandals and mysteries” (in the lecturer’s words) with the occasional mentioning of trivial forensics. “The Great Courses Company” considers this a great course. I don’t and I am returning it.
Date published: 2015-04-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Where did this come from?? I have been a long time fan of the Great Courses, and seldom have complaints about a particular class. This course is little more than sensational, true crime trash thinly disguised as a forensics course. There is essentially no scientific information presented. Really disappointing and not even close to Great Courses standards.
Date published: 2015-04-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This is not an academic course This course is just a collection of more or less well known anecdotes. You learn next to nothing about forensics and I seriously doubt that any self-respecting university would offer anything like it. For instance, the professor recounts the stories of Lance Armstrong and Wyatt Earp, and the forensic angel is limited to the observation that blood tests were used to catch Armstrong and that Wyatt Earp made use of an unusual foot print in an investigation. You can not, with a straight face, call this an academic course, and it's certainly not up to the usual standard of The Teaching Company. Still, if you approach the course expecting a series of light anecdotes, the professor tells them well enough.
Date published: 2015-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting, learned a lot I found both the presentation and content very interesting and compelling. I enjoyed how the presentation was balanced and fair to both sides. I picked up several bits of history and the criminal elements that I did not know and found the course very worthwhile.
Date published: 2015-03-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Forensics History The couse material was interesting but not compelling. Some of the details could be upsetting to some listeners. The professor was clearly knowledgeable but presentation style reminded me more of watching a television show than an academic lecture. I would descride this course more like Forensics 101 as opposed to something with more depth.
Date published: 2015-03-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Dr Murray is a good storyteller, but I expected more from this course. Very limited scientific and tech data, Wanted more substance.
Date published: 2015-03-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The first time I was disappointed in a course As I progressed through the lectures of this course, I kept asking myself "Where do the forensics come in?" This course is nothing more than recaps of various crimes throughout modern history. I did not learn anything from these lectures, and considered them less interesting and detailed than the myriad of true crime books on the market. This course was the first time I was truly disappointed. I recommend you take the money you plan to spend on this course (if it can be defined as a course) and spend it on books or audio books covering the same subjects. You will learn nothing new here.
Date published: 2015-03-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not as Advertised I’m sorry to have to rate this course so low. First, the title (Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals) is misleading. Only the subtitle (Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals) loosely describes the actual content of the course. If you’re interested in a description of the current state of forensic science along with how it got there, this is not the course for you. It is merely a somewhat organized description of many crimes that have been committed over history, lightly sprinkled with how forensic science did (or did not) contribute to finding and convicting the felon. Professor Murray’s presentation style shows very little, if any, passion for her subject (in fact it is an effective sedative); the inclusion of her political beliefs in several lectures is distracting. Overall, I’m very disappointed with this offering from The Great Courses. Compared with over 90 other courses I’ve purchased from The Great Courses, it is a disaster.
Date published: 2015-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals I really enjoyed this course. I am not sure I would consider it a "college level" course. But, It was entertaining and informative and the professor was very good. I am glad that I purchased it. Great course for commuting - in my opinion.
Date published: 2015-02-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Forensic History This is like listening to daytime television. There is almost no intellectual content, just a recounting of crimes with no insights, or scientific content. Not worthy of the Teaching company
Date published: 2015-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Academic Version of Crime Shows I love, love, love this course. Every night I was super excited to get home and watch it every evening. I enjoy watching various crime shows: NCIS, Bones, Law & Order, etc. But, I know that stuff is fiction, and no matter how much the science of the prime time episode intrigues me, a bit of skepticism has to be added. Can they really do that? Is it commonplace technology? This series of lectures was the answer to that. Because each case was a true account, I knew the technology used was real, and my amazement was allowed to soar. As a result, I enjoyed these lectures far more than any of those fictional episodes. The historian in me also became downright giddy at some of the cases that were covered. At last I know more of the details of Jack the Ripper, Lizzy Borden, the Romanov massacre, and the Tylenol murders, for all of these were covered not from a sensationalist book pushing its new theory, or a conspiracy website, but from a woman who has contributed to court cases and is laying out the facts. It is true that some of the details of these cases are rather gruesome. I wouldn't recommend watching episodes #1, 2, 16, 19, or 20 right before bed. That said, the lectures are far tamer than, well, any episode I've ever seen of Law & Order: SVU or The Mentalist.
Date published: 2015-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and interesting course I purchased Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works a couple of years ago. I enjoyed it tremendously and learned quite a bit, so I was thrilled to see Dr. Murray come out with another course. Dr. Murray is personable and extremely knowledgeable about her subject matter. She has extensive case history experience. She covered what can be a gruesome topic with delicacy. I highly recommend both courses to anyone interested in the field.
Date published: 2015-02-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from History for a Strong Stomach This course presents details about a number of historical crimes. Because the lectures deal with history there are no new insights or discoveries. Several of the lectures at the beginning (Jack the Ripper) require a strong stomach. My husband declined to listen to the rest of the courses after those.
Date published: 2015-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inside info on truly famous and historic crimes Knowledgable professional with excellent presentation skills
Date published: 2015-01-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Forensic Science While the course started out rather well, it did not hold my attention. Overall, what could have been a fascinating look at some interesting cases, became a boring examination of what has been largely rehashed before. The professor shed very little light on how modern day forensics might have helped in a solution to old mysteries and in bringing about justice. My biggest disappointment was in the lecture dealing with kidnappings. Why wasn't the Jon Benet Ramsey case discussed?
Date published: 2015-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Course delivery It was difficult to listen to this professor. I found myself wishing she would slow down and not use so many words. I have returned this course.
Date published: 2015-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Passionate Lecturer, Interesting Material Dr. Elizabeth Murray is an excellent lecturer, in part because of her presentation style, and in a larger part because of her vast experience in her field. Throughout this course her passion for her subject shines through and this helps to make the course more interesting and thought-provoking. This course is first and foremost a series of history lessons that incorporate interesting crimes as the vehicle for teaching about the practical application of various forensic and evidentiary concepts, methods and procedures. For me I found its value to be not in the what or the how, but in the why. As one might reasonably expect from a course of this nature, the lectures are not for the squeamish. The descriptions of fact patterns in many lectures, especially those about concentration camps, genocide and child murders, are frankly described. The most interesting lectures to me were those about wrongful convictions. It is especially in these lectures that the lecturer's strong, genuine and very principled sense of fairness is most apparent. Although the course may offer little in the way of practical application for those not working in this field, its greatest value for me was how it caused me to reconsider my understanding of the importance of the presumption of innocence and how it strengthened my appreciation of the need for procedural fairness.
Date published: 2015-01-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals,Not I was a little dissapointed. I agree with all the other reviews, but I would have like to have seen more famous cases reviewed thorougly. (ie: The Boston Strangler, OJ Simpson, Green River Killer,Ted Bundy,Gacy) I would buy a course of this nature. I don't think I would buy this course again
Date published: 2015-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Good and The Bad... This is an excellent documentary, but it is not a very substantial course. There is way too little detail about the cases presented; the emphasis is on the what and who, and touches on the how, of the crimes committed. In my opinion, a more in-depth discussion of forensic techniques is needed to call it a course. I'm not sorry I bought it, but I was looking for more information about instances of applied forensics.
Date published: 2015-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Difficult Subject Addressed Well Dealing with what is often a rather gruesome subject, Professor Beth Murray weaves a fascinating analysis of the history of forensic science. She starts with the investigations of the Jack the Ripper murders and brings the listener up to today's far more advanced investigational techniques. She examines mistakes and successes, and shows how both lead research forward. She is a great lecturer, who can be colloquial, when it helps to make a point. Highly recommended. Don't miss this lecture series.
Date published: 2015-01-18
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