Two things make MSCOSAR different. One is the group is teen led and made up primarily of teens. The second is that about 30 percent of what the group does is search for crime scene evidence.
This book features the same three friend as were in Blood Will Tell. Alexis, whose mother is mentally ill. Ruby, who understand things far more than she understand people. And Nick, who desperately wants to prove that he is as strong and brave as he longs to be.
Blood Will Tell was inspired by two true stories. Back in 1987 in Colorado, a bicyclist checked out what he thought was a mannequin in a field and discovered it was really the body of 37-year-old woman. She had been stabbed in the back and died from blood loss.
But before the bicyclist realized it was really a body, a 15-year-old saw also saw it while walking to school. Thinking it was a mannequin left as a prank, he did not report it to the police. After his father told police that his son usually walked through that lot, the police pulled the teen, whose nickname was ”Toothpick,” out of class.
He was questioned for hous alone, but always said he was innocent. Still, they zeroed in on him because he had never reported the body to the police. There was no physical evidence. They did find hundreds of violent drawings, a couple of knives, and a newspaper clipping about the murder.
Eventually, he was tried for the murder and convicted. It was covered on a lot of “real-life” TV shows, with titles like Drawn to Murder and Murder Illustrated. In the end, DNA evidence proved his evidence and he won millions from the state of Colorado.
Can DNA lie?
The other case was in San Fransisco. A millionaire was tied up and robbed. He ended up suffocating on the packing tape used to keep him from crying out. A forensics team found DNA on his fingernails that belonged to an unknown person. The sample was put into a DNA database and turned up a “hit” — a local man with a long criminal record.
Arrested and charged with murder, that men spent more than five months in jail with a possible death sentence hanging over his head.
Then his defense realized he had been hospitalized the night of the murder. But how did an innocent man’s DNA end up on a murder victim?
I won't give away the answer, but I will say that for 15 years, German police searched for a serial killer they called the “Phantom of Heilbronn” — an unknown female linked by traces of DNA to six murders across Germany and Austria. Police had found her DNA on items ranging from a cookie to a heroin syringe to a stolen car. She had been involved in over 40 crimes, rangning from murder to a car-dealership robbery and a school break-in,
In 2009, the police found their “suspect”: a worker at a factory that produced the cotton swabs police used in their investigations. She had been accidentally contaminating them with her own DNA.
Those two cases really make me wonder about our reliance on the infallibility of DNA evidence. After all DNA can’t tell your when it’s been left or under what circumstances. It may not lie, but it may not tell the whole truth either.