August 14, 2011 Meeting
Austin Police Department Crime Analysis Supervisor
Putting the Pieces Together – Crime Analysis in Austin
Our Sisters in Crime August 14 speaker is Shelia Hargis,a Crime Analysis Supervisor with the Austin Police Department. Her topics will include:
- identifying patterns: for example, the high crime areas in Austin, types of crimes occurring there, when crimes occur, who commits crimes;
- identifying suspects: for example, identifying a suspect based on physical description, partial name or moniker, or other information;
- and identifying and analyzing crime series: for example, identifying all the bank robberies believed to be committed by the same person, analyzing the temporal and geographic aspects of the series, and attempting to predict when and where the suspect will strike next.
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter meets the second Sunday of each month at 2:00 p.m. at the Westlake Barnes & Noble bookstore, located at the southeast corner of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road, in The Village at Westlake shopping center. Meetings are free and open to all. For more information, check out the Sisters in Crime website at www.hotxsinc.org.
Join Us for Lunch and Dinner
HoTXSinC invites you to join us for lunch about 12:30 p.m. at Hangtown Grill at The Village at Westlake Shopping Center–down the drive from Barnes & Noble Westlake. They have a selection of burgers and sandwiches, and you can usually get a meal for about $10.00. After the meeting we will be taking Crime Trends Analyst Shelia Hargis to dinner at La Madeleinearound the corner from Hangtown Grill, at the opposite end from Barnes & Noble, along the same drive. They have a selection of entrees, and a buffet with salads and quiche and soup, and of course desserts. You can usually get a meal there $10.00-$15.00.
If You Missed the July Meeting
Jennifer Aguierre: Real-Life Crime Scene Investigations
Jennifer Aguierre, Senior Crime Scene Specialist with the Forensic Science Division of the Austin Police Department, presented HoTXSinC’s July 2011 program: Real-life Crime Scene Investigations: Just as Interesting as TV Shows, but Not as Glamorous. The “C.S.I. Effect,” said Aguirre, stems from the glorification of the use of scientific principles to assist in crime solving.
The APD’s Forensic Center is located at the main headquarters, 812 Springdale Road, near E. 7th Street. Completed in 2004, it is a state-of-the-art building of over 50,000 square feet.
The Forensic Science Division offers the following services: crime scene investigation, latent print identification, blood spatter interpretation, firearm and toolmark analysis, narcotic analysis, DNA, polygraph, and multimedia. The Crime Scene Unit operates 24 hours a day, with specialists working 8-hour rotating shifts. They work holidays and weekends. One person is always on call.
The position of crime scene specialist requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in police science or a related discipline, plus two years’ work in crime laboratory, law enforcement, or a related field. A candidate for the job must be detail-oriented, patient, able to withstand adverse working conditions, in excellent physical condition, and strong-stomached.
Crime scene specialists investigate homicides and deaths, robberies, sexual assaults, aggravated assaults, collisions, and any officer-involved incidents. The specialist searches for, collects, and preserves physical evidence at crime scenes and on persons and items related to crimes. They also provide expert testimony in court. They work under the direction of an investigator.
In addition to working crime scenes, specialists attend autopsies; process evidence for latent prints, trace evidence, and DNA; and, pursuant to search warrants or consent to search, investigate homes, vehicles, and people. Specialists are dispatched to a crime scene by police radio, page, or phone call. The scene should be “secure.” Detectives should have been informed and/or be en route. Evidence is found, investigators are briefed on events, and a plan of action is formed.
Specialists photograph the scene, search for, locate, and photograph evidence, collect evidence, and preserve and package it. They document evidence by photograph, videotape, notes, and sketches. Crime scene photography sets forth a visual record of the crime, provide a logical story, and document the crime scene before it is disturbed. Measurement scales are used for comparison photographs.
Evidence must be collected in a specific manner, using fresh gloves, masks, and clean/new containers. It is essential to prevent cross-contamination. Evidence must be protected so it can be transported intact from scene to laboratory. The final decision on what to collect is made by the investigator in collaboration with the specialist. The investigator decides “what.” The specialist decides “how.”
Evidence must be preserved so it will not be altered or changed. Because it may be going to another section or to an outside lab for examination, it must be securely packaged. On the witness stand, a specialist must be able to convey to a judge or jury the actions and findings in reference to a specific incident. Cases can be lost because of bad testimony.
Specialists are required to be available to testify during their own time and during vacations. Crime scene analysis is the most crucial aspect in the successful resolution of a crime. Because crime labs can’t examine evidence that has been improperly handled or collected, proper processing techniques and collection methods are vital.
Crime scene investigation requires training, teamwork, communication, thoroughness, and preparation. There isn’t room for mistakes—you have only one shot at getting it right.
Editor’s note: Information in this section was taken directly from the Power Point presentation Senior Crime Scene Specialist Jennifer Aguierre displayed at HoTXSinC’s July meeting. I appreciate her making the file available.
HoTXSinC member Fred Webster Passes Away
Long-time HoTXSinC member Fred Webster passed away July 16, 2011, at the age of 95. Fred and his wife, Marie, were active members for many years.
Fred was born in Palestine, Texas. He earned two degrees in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin. After a career with the United States Department of Agriculture, Fred took early retirement to pursue birdwatching activities. He edited the South Texas Region column for 25 years and taught a bird-watching class thought UT Informal Classes for 30 years.
His first book The Road to El Cielo (UT Press) was published in 2002. He published five more novels, some of which were mysteries. A book based on his grandfather’s journal describing his service in the Civil War will soon be published.
Services for Fred were held July 20. Fred’s obituary appears at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesman/obituary.aspx?n=fred-webster&pid=152625192, which provided information for this item.
The Omega Theory by Mark Alpert
This is the opening paragraph: It happened on a Tuesday, June 7th, at 4:46 P.M. While Michael Gupta was in his behavioral therapy session. There was a knock on the door and Dr. Parsons went to answer it. Just before he got there, the door opened wide and Michael heard a quick, muffled burst. Dr. Parsons tumbled backward and his head hit the floor. He lay motionless on his back, a jagged black hole in the center of his polo shirt. In less than a second, the hole filled with blood.
Dr. Parsons was collateral damage. Michael is the target. Michael is nineteen years old and the key to Armageddon. Starting with this opening, the story sets off across the globe in a race to stop the destruction of the world. If you like thrillers, science, and action, you’ll probably like this. If you write thrillers, The Omega Theory can be a tutorial showing how to keep the tension ratcheted up, the science understandable but vital to the plot, and how to make you feel and root for the characters.
Michael is autistic and he is brilliant with a mind like a computer. Einstein was his great-great-grandfather and Michael alone knows Einstein’s Einheitliche Feldtheorie, the unified theory that Brother Cyrus believes will open the gate to the Holy Kingdom. While other authors might shy away from taking the reader into the mind of a brilliant, but autistic, character, Alpert does not. Nor does Alpert keep us in one head. After Michael is kidnapped, his father, David, and mother, Monique, realize why he has been taken and they set off, along with the government, to rescue him before he is forced to give up the theory.
This dividing of the characters allows Alpert to keep the tension high. He moves from Michael to David to other characters who are in on the attempt to rescue Michael from the True Believers, the militant cult who has taken him across the world to the point where the theory will be realized, a theory so dangerous that Einstein tried to destroy it.
The Omega Theory not only has multiple points of view, it has multiple locations, from the desert to the tunnels under Jerusalem to deep mountain caves. The desert will leave grit between your toes, the tunnels will make you squirm if you’re claustrophobic and you’ll close one eye while reading the cave scenes if you’re scared of heights or the dark.
If you like to read thrillers, this is a good book to sit on the back porch and read. If you like to write thrillers, keep a highlighter and notepad handy while you read and analyze. Whichever you are, keep an eye out for the movie. I predict there will be one.
FTC Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the President of Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas chapter. That did not influence my review. The writing did. I agreed to review The Omega Theorybecause I’m a member of the group, an author, an editor and a reviewer of books that I like.
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, freelance editor and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its twelfth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series.
Grammar and Usage
TO LIE, TO LAY, AND TO LAY EXAMPLES THROWN ONTO THE PAGE AS THEY SPRANG TO MIND NOT INTENDED TO BE THE FIRST, LAST, MIDDLE, OR INFALLIBLE WORD ON THE SUBJECT
by Kathy Waller
Verb: to lie (to recline)—takes no object
Anne lies on her bed every afternoon.
Anne lay on her bed for an hour yesterday.
Anne has lain on her bed every afternoon since her trial began.
Anne had lain on her bed for just minutes when Henry’s henchmen arrived.
When the clock strikes three, Anne will have lain on her bed for the last time.
Anne is not lying on her bed any longer.
She was always lying there. She lay abed too long.
Now she lies underground.
Verb: to lay (to put or place something)—takes an object
Anne lays her head on her pillow every afternoon.
Anne laid her head on the block.
We’re too late; the executioner has already laid Anne’s head in the basket.
Henry had laid a trap for Anne before she realized what he was up to.
Henry will have laid traps for several people before he expires.
Henry can’t help it. He’s been laying traps all his life.
As we speak, he’s laying a trap for poor Jane Seymour.
Verb: to lay (chickens and eggs)
The hen lays an egg every day.
The hen lays, and the farmer reaps the profit.
The hen laid an egg a day for a whole month.
The hen has laid an egg a day for as long as I can remember.
The hen had laid an egg a day until we started feeding her laying mash. Then she upped her production.
The hen will have laid 30,000 eggs before she retires to Aruba.
The hen lies on the chopping block. Father sharpens the ax.
The hen lay on the chopping block for about two seconds before wriggling free.
The hen has never willingly lain on the block.
The hen was lying on the chopping block when the rooster swooped in with a last-minute reprieve from the governor.
Henry said he would do the same for Anne Boleyn, but the wretch lied.
Today the hen lays down her life so Colonel Sanders may eat. The hen laid her head on the block yesterday, and the result was delicious.
A hen has laid her head on the block every day for a year; now we’re short of eggs.
ONE MORE THING
If you ever see an old dog laying on the porch, call the me immediately. I’ve always wanted to see a dog egg.
Workshop: The Art and Science of Investigation
Sponsored by Brazos Writers
The Art & Science of Investigationwill be held Saturday, September 10, from 8:30 to 4:00 at the Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest, Bryan, Texas. Speakers will be
- Texas Rangers Evidential Artists Suzanne Lowe and Jorge Molina;
- Texas A&M Forensic Entomologist Jeff Tomberlin; and
- Texas A&M Cognitive Psychologist Steve Smith.
They will talk about
- how forensics artists give a face to bones and show what a person who disappeared years ago will look like now;
- how authorities use insects to determine how long a body had been decomposing;
- how much credence investigators can put in eye-witness testimony; and
- what writers get wrong when it comes to forensics.
Cost is $40.00. Lunch is included. This will be a fun and informative workshop that you do not want to miss. For more information and to register, visit the Brazos Writers website at http://www.brazoswriters.org, or go to http://brazoswriters.eventbrite.com. Brazos Writers is a non-profit, educational organization that supports writers in the Brazos Valley. Brazos Writers is an affiliate of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley.
The Word on Our Members
A review of Robin Allen’s If You Can’t Stand the Heat appeared in the July 22 Austin Chronicle.
Hopeton Hay’s interviews of Janice Hamrick (Death on Tour), Kaye George (Choke), and Robin Allen (If You Can’t Stand the Heat) on KAZI Book Review can be downloaded at www.kazibookreview.wordpress.com.
Kaye George’s flash short story, “Driving out of Dumas,” appears in the June 2011 issue of Apollo’s Lyre. Two reviews of Kaye’s Choke appeared this summer: one in All Things Writing by Mary Ann Loesch, and one in To write is to write is to write by Kathy Waller. Kaye will be signing and selling at the Hill Country Book Festival on August 20. Sign up for Kaye’s newsletter here.
Diane Fanning’s four Lucinda Pierce novels are available on Kindle. For details, check her blog, Writing Is a Crime.
Agent Research & Evaluationoffers a number of services to help writers find the right literary agents for their particular needs. In addition to describing their services, the AR&E website includes a glossary of publishing terms, links to bestsellers by authors who are clients of AR&E, blogs by the partners, and other relevant information.
For a look at July’s Writers’ League of Texas 2011 Summer Writing Retreat through the eyes of a tired participant, check the following posts at To write is to write is to write:
- Rejection, Registration, Research
- A Valediction
- Ground Glass and Scrambled Eggs
- ROW80 7/31 & Lizard
- Taking Off the Ruby Slippers
- My Writing Day: Extremism in Defense of Liberty
Avon Books Sponsors Debbie Macomber Inspired Short Romance Fiction Writing Contest.
FanStory.com sponsors a Flash Fiction Writing Contest,500-800 words.
2012 St. Martin’s Minotaur / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competitionentries must be postmarked no later than November 30, 2011, and received by judges no later than December 15, 2011. Requests for entry form must be received by Minotaur Books no later than November 15, 2011.
Writers’ Digest is sponsoring writing contests in multiple genres. Click here for details.
For upcoming MysteryPeople events at BookPeople, click here. Sign up for the MysteryPeople Newsletteras well.
HoTXSinC 2011 Program Schedule
- January 9 – Jerry Carruth, Retired Federal Prosecutor, and George Sanchez, Retired Federal Investigator: Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling
- February 13 – Claudia Grisales: Crime Reporting in Austin, Texas
- March 13 – Texas Ranger Sergeant Cody Mitchell: The Texas Rangers
- April 10 – Satish Chundru, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner
- May – Texas Mystery Month
- May 15 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event
- June 12 – George Arnold & Ken Squier present: An Author’s Guide to Successfully Selling Your Book
- July 10 – Jennifer Aguirre: Crime Scene Analysis
- August 14 - Shelia Hargis: Making Sense of Crime in Austin–Crime Analysts in Action
- September 11 - Hector Gomez: Lone Star Fugitive Task Force
- October 9 – Marian K. Williams: The United States Postal Inspection Service
- November 13 – Ron Franscell, Author of Delivered From Evil: My Life of Crime: A Crime Writer’s Journey
- December 11 – Karen and Mike Cross: Christmas Mysteries
The Editor’s Growlery
As always, if you find errors or omissions in HOTSHOTS!, please e-mail katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com so I can make corrections.
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Our newsletter blog has spent the two days before publication causing paragraphs to vanish. At this moment, I’ve once again reconstructed them and am hoping against hope that they hold. If they don’t–and if you are met by long blocks of text–I will do my best to get them back. Some days are just like that. It’s probably the heat.