A Life of Crime: My Career in Forensic Science chronicles the career and experiences of world-renowned forensic scientist, Dr. Douglas Lucas. It is the culmination of his decades-worth of work in the field, developing innovative techniques that have revolutionized several aspects of forensic science. It is part professional reference, part career guide, part instructive reference for students wishing to entering the to enter the field, and wholly autobiographical.
Dr. Lucas chronicles a number of the high-profile cases he’s worked on firsthand. This includes both the logistical problem-solving of case management—how to process and handle the evidence—in addition to the testing, analysis and processes he went through, and developed, along the way. Such cases include mass disaster plane crashes, arson, IEDs and explosives, poisonings, missing persons, and homicides, to name just a few. Dr. Lucas has encountered and seen just about everything a forensic professional can see.
In addition to the in-depth discussion, development, and philosophy of forensic science as a discipline, the book also discusses the balance of personal and professional life. This is a vital, but little thought of aspect that becomes a conspicuous reality of working in the field: namely, delving into the science, and dealing with those personal emotions, work conflicts, and ethical conundrums that a professional regularly encounters. Forensic professionals, investigators, and students—regardless of background or discipline—will find this a fascinating look "behind the curtain" at one of the most decorated, innovative, and respected members of the field over the last 50 years.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Flight 621
1. The Early Years
2. The Fledgling Forensic Scientist
3. "Point Zero Eight": Forensic Science Influences the Law
4. The Courtroom: "What on Earth Am I Doing Here?"
5. Broadening Horizons: There Is More to This Than Just Alcohol!
6. Screech and Seal Flipper Pie: Fire and Politics in Newfoundland
7. Carbon Monoxide: "Death and the Dark-Haired Maiden"
8. Nitroglycerine and Explosions: Some Things Can’t Be Learned in the Laboratory
9. An Explosion in A Dynamite Plant: "Holy Shit—This Stuff Is Dangerous"
10. Dealing With IEDs: "There Has To Be A Better Way"
11. Canada’s Guy Fawkes
12. Mr. Miscellaneous: "Can You Do Something With This?"
13. Missing Person or Homicide? – Regina v. Arthur Kendall
14. How to Get a New Lab? – Regina v. Wayne Ford
15. The Attorney General’s Lab Gets a New Name, and a New Director
16. "Get Involved" They Told Me, So I Did: Professional Associations
17. Last Word Society Stories, #1 (1979): "Was Tom Thomson Murdered?" or "Whose Bones Are Buried Under That Spruce Tree?"
18. Last Word Society Stories # 2 (1983): The Assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, "Look for the Tailor with the Red Whiskers."
19. Last Word Society Stories # 3 (1988): Arsenic and Old Ice, The Death of Charles Francis Hall
20. Miracle in Mississauga: "Let’s Get the Hell Out of Here"
21. The Baby Deaths at Sick Kids Hospital: "George the Moose Was Still Standing"
22. Introduction of DNA Profiling: "If You Are Going to Do It, Do It Right!"
23. The Guy Paul Morin Case: "A Tragedy of Errors"
24. The Steven Truscott Case: Wrongful Conviction or Factual Innocence?
25. Retirement, Part 1: "So, What Do I Do Now?"
26. Retirement, Part 2: My Final Presentation
Appendix A. Curriculum Vitae
Douglas M. Lucas MSc, Dsc (Hon) retired in 1994 from the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto following 37 years of service, 27 as the Centre’s Director. His scientific background was in toxicology and chemistry with particular emphasis on alcohol, fire investigation and explosives. He has published over 30 papers and chapters on a variety of forensic science topics.
In 1960 Doug was the first forensic scientist to utilize the technique of gas chromatography as a means of identification of petroleum products used as accelerants in suspected cases of arson, identifying the inherent difficulties in attempting to minutely identify accelerants by brand type or commercial manufacturer. This method became a worldwide standard for volatile accelerant identification in forensic arson investigations, as gas chromatography remains considered among the most accurate scientific means of identifying flammable or combustible accelerant residues. In addition, Doug authored "Ethical responsibilities of the forensic scientist: exploring the limits," published in the Journal of Forensic Science in 1989. Doug also has been active with several professional associations and is a past president of the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Association of Forensic Sciences, and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) With ASCLD, he was involved in the development of an international forensic proficiency testing program in the late 1970s and with the establishment of the ASCLD/LAB accreditation program in 1982. The Douglas M. Lucas Medal, established in 1999, is presented by the AAFS at each IAFS meeting to a person who has made internationally recognized contributions to forensic science.
Post-retirement, Doug has continued his association with the proficiency testing program as an advisor and has served as a consultant internationally to forensic laboratories, primarily with respect to management and/or quality assurance issues. This included serving on a five member international "Blue Ribbon Scientific Panel" in support of an eighteen month investigation by the Office of the Inspector General in the US Department of Justice of allegations of misconduct and improper practices by staff of the FBI Laboratory. From December 1998 to December 2003, another major activity involved serving as a member of a three person international "Peer Review Panel" advising the Judicial Tribunal for the "Bloody Sunday Inquiry" into the tragic events of January 30, 1972 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in which thirteen civilians were killed and fourteen seriously wounded by gunshots during a confrontation with the British army. Since 2003 a similar activity has been associated with a major investigation by the Northern Ireland Police Service, the Omagh Bombing of August 1998 in which 29 people were killed by an IRA bomb. Since January of 2005, another important activity has been serving as a scientific advisor to the Independent Investigator examining serious problems in the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory and Property Room.