Everyone knows TV cop dramas are a load of Hollywood hooey. Only in the imagination of some hacky writer could the police solve crimes by, say, pulling fingerprints from hyper-enhanced digital photos, or doing DNA tests on trees, or- wait, what's that? Those things actually happened, and we wrote an article about them? Well damn. And as it turns out, those aren't the only times real-life cops used techniques that made CSI look restrained and realistic. For instance ...
The police in Las Vegas aren't really as lenient toward misbehavior as the city's motto and tourism campaign might imply. This is especially true when you make it a habit to murder homeless people while they sleep, which was precisely what some human-shaped turd was doing in early 2017. After two deaths-by-hammer-bludgeoning were discovered to have taken place in the wee hours on the mean streets of Sin City, the LVPD decided to halt any further attacks in a way befitting the land of dog acts and magic shows: by getting creative.
The cops wanted to catch the villain in the act, but apparently were unwilling to stand by and watch as another homeless person got beaten to death (or to dress some hapless cadet up as a hobo and plant them as hammer bait). So they did the next best thing: They put a mannequin under a blanket as a decoy, and set it up to look like it was sleeping on the sidewalk. The unorthodox tactic paid off when one Shane Schindler approached the polymer-based victim-to-be and "took out a hammer and bashed the mannequin 'several times' on the head."
Police then swooped in and made the arrest, as Schindler presumably marveled at his own strength after his plastic prey's appendages went flying in every direction.
While obviously this act made Schindler a prime suspect in the earlier murders, police couldn't prove conclusively that he was the one responsible. So they charged him with carrying a concealed weapon and attempted murder ... of a mannequin. Schindler played his cards wisely, if dubiously, when he claimed that he was aware that it was just a mannequin all along when he decided to pummel it into oblivion. The end result was a plea deal whereby he now faces 8-20 years in prison for attacking a mannequin, but will avoid getting charged with actual murder. On the bright side, at least we'll all be spared the spectacle of a defense attorney trying to argue that he was merely acting on a longstanding grudge against J. Crew displays.
Solving crimes with glitter sounds like something a coked-up TBS executive might come up with during a midseason replacement pitch meeting (something involving strippers who fight crime by ... day, we guess?), but it's a real thing. For decades, the sparkly stuff has been used to bring down everything from rapists to murderers. You're probably picturing tactical teams armed with glitter-shooting cannons to confound criminals, but it's a lot more sophisticated than that.
Glitter might look all the same to you while you're trying to get that shit off your sweater, but there's reportedly "tremendous variation" in the stuff. Bulk glitter conglomerates can boast of having tens of thousands of different types to decorate your belongings, nether regions, and disgruntled pets as you see fit. Knowing this, one can see how leaving even one fleck behind after committing a foul deed can lead investigators right back to the exact Frederick's of Hollywood where you bought your sparkly apple-flavored nipple balm.
The first recorded instance of glitter being used as trace evidence happened at the end of the Cold War in Germany, when the U.S. Army's crime lab used it to solve a sexual assault case during a local celebration. Specific glitter from the victims' Mardi-Gras-like costumes was found on the clothing of the suspects. Another time, a killer in Alaska was nabbed in part because his estranged wife had dropped glitter in his car at some point, and some of it stuck to his victim. More recently, this method was used to bust a deadly hit and run driver who denied being at the wheel, but had a hard time explaining how the exact same cosmetic glitter she wore on her face wound up plastered to the airbag.
It's yet one more example of how, unless you wrap yourself in cellophane / coat yourself in lacquer in preparation for your malfeasance, there's always going to be something left behind that detectives will capitalize on to send your silly novelty-toenail-polish-loving ass up the river.
It's the little things that often wind up causing even the cleverest crooks to face the cold light of justice. Case in point: In a scenario straight out of the files of Sesame Street: Special Victims Unit, we bring you a heinous crime that was solved by the letter "H."
Back in 1998, Australian Police Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rod Miller were staking out a restaurant to put a stop to a string of armed robberies which were inexplicably called "The Pigout Series." Silk and Miller succeeded in their goal when they pulled over a car that contained the two robbers ... only for said robbers to shoot them down.
The newly minted cop killers immediately sped off, leaving homicide detectives with few leads to go on besides a bunch of broken glass. Which, as it turned out, was all they needed.
The investigators knew that the glass came from the windshield of the murderers' vehicle, but not the type of car it came from (or, you know, who was driving it). When one of the fragments was found to have an eensy-weensy letter "H" imprinted on it, they called the local windshield expert, who said it probably came from a Korean vehicle -- either a Hyundai or a Kia. Hmmm, which one could it be?
A forensic scientist flew the glass all the way over to South Korea, where it was learned that it came from the rear windscreen of a 1997 Hyundai (*gasp!*) Excel X3. Armed with this information, the police initiated a massive search for anyone who had or was currently trying to replace a rear Hyundai windscreen (along with any Excel X3s that might have a shitty tape and tarp situation where a windshield should be).
This led to a young woman who stated her father had "broken it at work," and finally they had a culprit: a "sexual predator and a thrill killer" named Bandali Debs. He, along with his daughter's boyfriend (who was believed to be his accomplice, although the evidence is a little shaky), were arrested for the murders of Silk and Miller after further analysis proved a positive match. As a bonus, 38 robbery cases in The Pigout Series were also cleared, and Debs was revealed to be a sociopath of the first order, as he was later found to be responsible for murdering prostitutes. We have no idea what goofy name they came up with for those crimes.
For most people, mosquitoes are proof that Mother Nature hates us. Why else would she produce a creature that seems specifically designed to get on our nerves? For police in Finland, however, one such annoying pest became an unlikely hero when it helped them crack a case and bring a joyrider to justice.
When police in a town just north of Helsinki discovered an abandoned vehicle on the side of the road, they came to find it had been stolen, but didn't have much to go on in terms of possible suspects. One thing they did notice was a mosquito in the interior, looking plump and satisfied from a recent meal of human blood. As Finnish police sergeants seemingly don't yell at their subordinates for using expensive resources on relatively minor crimes, the mosquito was sent to a lab for analysis. A subsequent DNA test resulted in a positive match for a man who was already well-known to authorities, who denied being the thief. According to him, he was merely a hitchhiker who got picked up by "a man." Somehow, this explanation didn't seem to fly.
The crime and/or investigation of the century this was not. But according to the investigator heading up the caper, it was "the first time Finnish police had used an insect to solve a crime." He also noted how "It is not easy to find a small mosquito in a car, this just shows how thorough the crime scene investigation was." Unless, you know, the guy they arrested really was hitchhiking, and the real thief is the cleverest bug-based supervillain in Scandinavia.
Many child predators feel a pressing need to share images of their horrible "work" far and wide, which clashes with their also-pressing need to not be in jail for the rest of their lives. Thanks to technology, they now have the tools to do both those things. All they have to do is open their favorite image editing software, cover their own face in the photos, and share away. Fortunately, law enforcement is evolving right along with them, even when they pull such ingenious stunts as, um ... performing the digital equivalent of spinning your finger around in some finger paint.
As simple as altering a picture with Photoshop tools is, it's not such an easy task to get it back to its original state. This was presumably what the man in the above image, who could be seen abusing young Asian boys in about 200 internet photos, was counting on. What he didn't foresee was the ingenuity of intrepid Interpol agents, who, with the assistance of German police computer experts, managed to unscramble the smeared, shirtless selfie to reveal a somewhat human face underneath. Within days, the man was identified as Christopher Neil, a Canadian schoolteacher living in Thailand. It turned out he'd also worked as a chaplain and youth counselor in Canada before deciding to go on the sadly common Gary Glitter pilgrimage.
Interpol didn't reveal precisely how they were able to unscramble Mr. Whirlyjerk's face, but they were pleased that it sent "a quite clear message" to internet child molesters worldwide. A spokesman for the agency also reminded any deviant malefactors who might be paying attention that "Techniques are always developing. What is impossible today is possible tomorrow." It's a lesson that we're sure Neil will take to heart, now that he's chilling back in Canada after having served only five years for multiple instances of "sexual offending behavior against both pre and early pubescent boys." Which seems to demonstrate that un-whirling photographs isn't the only "technique" that needs developing.
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