~ 35th Anniversary of Practical Homicide Investigation® ~


Reviews:

PRACTICAL HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION:
Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques,
Fifth Edition



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  • Edwin T. Dreher
    Deputy Chief (Retired)
    Office of The Chief of Detectives,
    NYC Police Department
  • Tom Jordan
    Judge, District Court
    Center Hall, PA
  • Tanisha Henson
    Medical Legal Death Investigator
    Broward County, Florida
  • Wendy Lavezzi
    Forensic Pathologist
    Deputy Medical Examiner
    District 5, Leesburg, Florida
  • Tony Magnetto
    Police Commissioner (Ret.)
    City of Troy, NY Police Department

 

  • Marv Skeen
    Chief Criminal Investigator
    Office of Attorney General of Washington
  • Donna Pendergast
    First Assistant D. A.
    Criminal Division
    Michigan Attorney General's Office
  • Larry Thomas
    Assist Director, Kansas Bureau of Investigation (Ret.)
    BTK Serial Killer Task Force Supervisor
  • Dr. Ronald Turco, MD
    Medical First Responder State of Oregon and Police Examiner
    Past President, American Academy of Psychoanalysis and The American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians
    Former Reserve Police Officer 30 years




"Homicide investigation is a profound duty with awesome responsibility," are words that resonate from the preface to the impressive fifth edition of Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques by Vernon Geberth. With these words, Geberth demonstrates his own commitment to this profound duty and awesome responsibility by ensuring that every person entrusted with investigating and prosecuting these violent and horrific manifestations of human depravity have the most updated and factual information in their investigative arsenal to best ensure justice is served.

The first edition to this textbook has become known as the Bible of Homicide Investigation and each successive edition has exemplified the most comprehensive and up-to-date compilation of homicide and death investigative knowledge available at the time of their respective publication dates. This fifth edition is similarly an unsurpassed reference in not only the sheer amount of information presented and the level of detailed examples and personal explanations from Vernon's unparalleled experience, but also from the inclusion of the most cutting-edge forensic and technological practices as we currently understand them. In a perfect world, there would be a Vernon Geberth assigned to investigate every incident of homicide that occurs in this country, but clearly this will forever be just a wishful fantasy. Luckily, Vernon continues to share his exceptional knowledge and experience with those investigators who have become his successors in the grisly realm of death investigation and have assumed that very same "profound duty and awesome responsibility."


Joseph A. Bobak IV, Ph.D.
Professor of Criminology and Forensic Investigation
Mount Aloysius College
t

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When the first edition of Practical Homicide Investigation, Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, was publish in 1983, it was 460 pages in length, the photos were all in black and white and there was no mention of DNA, AFIS or cellular telephone technology.

This newly published 5th edition of Practical Homicide Investigation is 1226 pages in length, and double the physical size of the first edition. Each successive edition expounded on techniques, scientific advancements and critical case examinations, not present in the prior editions. It is a collaboration of information made possible by the author, who has dedicated his life to providing the most up to date reference tool to homicide and death investigators and prosecutors throughout the country.

This behemoth of a text continues that legacy and includes an advance chapter on DNA technology, which Law Enforcement has come to rely on in criminal investigations, and is written in a manner that is easily understood by the reader.

The identification of Unidentified Bodies or Human Remains is essential in any homicide investigation and this book documents the utilization of National Databases and DNA techniques to aid in such identifications.

Advances in electronic and digital crime scene mapping, have made such devices easier to use and the benefits of their application at a crime scene are explained by Mr. Geberth.

Each of the 24 chapters are well documented with detailed, full color photographs, or Medical Legal Art illustrations, which provide additional examples or explanations when traditional photographs are unable to do so.

Vernon Geberth has painstakingly updated and revised many of the chapters to include examples of recent, noteworthy criminal investigations that ended with the successful identification of the perpetrator(s).

The author continues his tradition of acknowledging his many contributors, which make this latest edition a valuable tool for any investigator charged with the "profound duty and awesome responsibility," of conducting a homicide or death investigation.

Detective Mark J. Czworniak
Chicago Police Department (Ret.)

Area North Homicide Sex Crimes Unit

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Once again, Vernon Geberth has set a new standard for learned treatises in homicide investigation. Mr. Geberth's 5th Edition is thoughtful, provocative and most of all provides an expert guide for the men and women of our police forces tasked with the difficult job of sorting out and identifying key elements of crime scenes.

Commander Geberth has continually provided investigators with the most current and relevant information to conduct a professional investigation and each of his 24 Chapters have been expanded and updated to accomplish this awesome task. This newest edition validates once again why Geberth is respected as a renowned expert in homicide investigation.

Viewed by my eyes as the attorney for the Gordon Hess family, one of the case studies presented in Practical Homicide, Mr. Geberth’s treatment of this very difficult and intricate murder case is simply top notch. Mr. Geberth carefully and thoroughly laid out the key issues, comprehensively reviewed with an open mind the evidence he was presented with and concluded with a cogent analysis that is validated by independent forensic specialists. Only Vernon Geberth could take a complicated case like the Gordon Hess murder and separate fact from fiction - a task homicide investigators must do each day.

Charles S. DeAngelo, Esq.
Attorney-at-Law
Fessenden, Laumer & DeAngelo


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Geberth, the world-wide expert on homicide investigation is the real thing. He was my top homicide commander in the New York City Police Department and now has hit the jackpot again with his latest Fifth edition of Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques.

His chapter on DNA is one of the most readable and comprehensive treatments on the subject. His expertise and clarity make this a must read. DNA technology has proven to be the most far reaching developments in criminal and civil investigations. DNA has no “shelf-life” and as the author has shown can prove or disprove cases that have been only history.

All of the twenty-four chapters have been excellently written and revised to make this textbook the continued recognized “Bible of Homicide Investigation” for all members of the criminal justice and legal system.

Edwin T. Dreher
Deputy Chief (Retired)
Office of The Chief of Detectives, New York City Police Department


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Just as the Greek mathematician Euclid gathered up all of the knowledge on the mathematics of his time and incorporated it into a single book to share with others, Vern Geberth’s fifth edition of Practical Homicide Investigation leverages his 46 years of experience with that of many colleagues to put everything you need to know about murder investigation in one place - at your fingertips. His book is contemporary, comprehensive and clear. His effort, a labor of love and profound respect for the victims, their survivors and the investigators whose job it is to ensure that justice is done.

Pete Gagliardi
Former Vice-President (Ret.), Forensic Technology
Author of The 13 Critical Tasks: An Inside-out Approach to Solving More Gun Crime
www.triplebarrelstrategies.com

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The best book on death investigations just got better. I love the new book and I can't begin to tell you how great it is. This new edition of Practical Homicide Investigation Fifth Edition has been significantly expanded and goes into even greater detail then Geberth’s previous editions.

The use of case studies to explain the importance of the different steps is magnificent. The information has been updated to acknowledge the increased role technology plays in death investigations. This is the ultimate manual for death investigations; every homicide investigator should own a copy and use it like a physician’s desk reference.

Lt. Larry Hallmark
Detective Lieutenant
Grapevine Texas Police Department


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Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques, Fifth Edition is a MUST have for every officer and detective. Vernon Geberth has put considerable thought and energy into the revisions and additions. These revisions address advances in technology, DNA, the "CSI Effect", modes of death, and much more. This textbook is more than just a textbook; it is the most outstanding and comprehensive text available, which will guide law enforcement and death investigators of any level of experience through virtually any case. It is practical, easy to follow, offers comprehensive checklists for every role in death investigation, and continues to offer a perspective from a true professional with over 40 years of experience. I would highly recommend this text as one to add to every investigator's library because it will prove to be an invaluable resource. Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, Fifth Edition (Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations)

Tanisha Henson
Medical Legal Death Investigator
Broward County, Florida Medical Examiner's Office

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I have worked with and known Vernon Geberth since 1987. His passion for assisting and training law enforcement officers across the United States and Canada is unmatched. As one of the founding fathers and current active member of the Pennsylvania Homicide Investigators' Association, I am unaware of any one individual who has contributed more to the education of thousands of officers and detectives than Mr. Geberth.

His release of the Fifth Edition of Practical Homicide Investigation text is proof positive that Vernon is still at the top of his game. He has stayed current with the newest technology and procedures to better equip the modern day death investigator.

This comprehensive book is a must have item for every detective/investigator to use as a guide and reference. Vernon's Fifth Edition successfully ties together the old fashioned principles of good investigative police work with the latest advances of forensic science and technology to provide law enforcement officers tactical and procedural references to do the job right, the first time. Vernon, thanks for giving us your very best effort, AGAIN.

Tom Jordan
Judge, District Court, Center Hall, PA
State College Police Department (Retired Detective), State College, PA


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Practical Homicide Investigation, 5th Edition
, by Vernon J. Geberth is a collection of related chapters in the field of homicide investigation. The book examines the process of homicide investigation by experienced detectives, criminal justice students, and prosecutors with knowledge of murder activities.

Practical Homicide Investigation synthesizes and organizes the best thinking on homicide investigation produced by a number of detectives and crime laboratory experts from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, criminology, geography, and criminal justice. The twenty-four substantive chapters that covers a broad range of topics, including the homicide crime scene, first officer’s duties, crime scene photography, crime scene sketch, estimating time of death, among many other functions of homicide investigation.

This textbook is designed for use in courses of criminology, homicide investigations, forensic investigations, suicide investigations, and violent crime classes and training.

Vernon J. Geberth brings together a unique combination of homicide investigative experience, scholarship, and teaching. He has collaborated with a number of eminent scholars on research, writing, and teaching.

Robert D. Keppel, Ph.D.
Retired Chief Criminal Investigator
Washington State Attorney General's Office


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Vernon Geberth became the first law enforcement professional to devise guidelines and protocols for efficient death inquiries. Since its inception in the early 1980s, Practical Homicide Investigation by Vernon J. Geberth has been considered the "Bible" of criminal death investigation and has been utilized by thousands of law enforcement and medicolegal death investigators who are committed to understanding the complexities of death investigation and solving crimes, including understanding the crime scene, handling of evidence, victimology, techniques of interviewing suspects, understanding patterns of injury, and the performance and value of the autopsy.

In my opinion, Vernon Geberth has succeeded in the impossible. Vern has managed to incorporate his four plus decades of practical experience along with the most up to date technology and investigative procedures into the definitive tome on the subject. His newly revised 5th Edition has been expanded into the most outstanding and comprehensive treatise on the subject of death investigation.

The fifth edition of Practical Homicide Investigation expands upon the preceding editions of the textbook with additional case studies, the expansion of information on DNA application as used in investigations in the new millennium, and the addition of numerous color photographs and detailed and accurate illustrations by Medical Legal Art that bring to life physical anatomy and injury patterns.

Vernon continues to share his exceptional knowledge and experience with those investigators who have become his successors in the grisly realm of death investigation and have assumed that very same "profound duty and awesome responsibility."

The Fifth edition is to the police profession what the Physicians' Desk Reference is to the medical profession

This text should be required reading for any investigator who is serious about understanding proper investigative techniques utilized to accurately determine the cause and manner of death.

Wendy Lavezzi
Forensic Pathologist
Deputy Medical Examiner
District 5, Leesburg, Florida

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I have to admit, as a rule, I rarely ever read the preface of a book. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and the preface to Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques Fifth Edition is one of those exceptions. Contained in its preface is this fixed opinion by the author. Geberth writes, "A homicide investigator is street smart and book wise."

This 5th edition is a one of a kind source that provides, we the professional, with the unique opportunity to integrate "street smart" with "book wise" in a very practical way. The 5th edition is to the police profession what the Physicians Desk Reference is to the medical profession. It is no less the PDR for death investigators and will profoundly impact your duty to get the job done and to "Do it right the first time." This 5th edition is a complete and absolute source that gives animation to Geberth’s street smart/book wise formula.

Vernon has undertaken a complete and thorough review of editions 1 through 4 and has made current and enhanced many sections in the 5th edition. For example, Chapter 13 and 14, Suicide Investigation and Sex Related Homicides respectively, have been revised and made current. Chapter 16, dealing with DNA Technology, provides the reader with unparalleled workmanship in presenting this information to the professional. The hundreds of illustrations, not to mention the over 900 photographs, all bring street smart into sync with book wise.

Geberth wrote that "My mission is to provide a comprehensive and practical resource text that will serve as an investigation guide for the homicide professional." Based on my 37 years in this business I can say without reservation MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Anthony D. Magnetto
Police Commissioner (Ret.)
City of Troy, NY Police Department


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This is a must have reference for all homicide detectives. This comprehensive opus is nothing less than a masterpiece. The amount of information packed into 1200 pages is astonishing. Vern has managed to incorporate his four plus decades of practical experience along with the most up to date technology and investigative procedures into the definitive tome on the subject. The 5th Edition covers the gamut with rewritten chapters on staged crime scenes and equivocal death investigations to the most up to date information on every type of homicide imaginable. From A to Z, asphyxia to zoophilia, there is nothing left uncovered. The practical reminders and updated checklists sprinkled throughout the text insure that police investigators responsible for cases in violent and sudden death leave no stone unturned. Truly a wonderful resource for all persons investigating and seeking to gain an understanding of every aspect of homicide. No question this text is the gold standard in the field. Truly a remarkable resource.

Donna Pendergast
First Assistant District Attorney
Criminal Division
Michigan Attorney General's Office


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In comparing the Practical Homicide Investigations Fourth Edition textbook to the newly revised Fifth edition, the reader immediately comprehends that the textbook has been greatly expanded. When you actually read through and experience the changes and updates made that you can truly appreciate the work that Vernon Geberth put into his "bible" of professional death investigations.

The Law Enforcement profession is a constantly evolving and never predictable profession in a multitude of different aspects. For this reason, the reader must appreciate the dedication and commitment that Vernon Geberth has to the Law Enforcement community to constantly evaluate the current trends in law enforcement and apply these techniques and tactics in the text of this already encompassing textbook.

The inclusion of more current cases, photographic examples, and forensic practices has added a wealth of additional knowledge for the death investigators of 2015 and beyond. This newly revised textbook, in conjunction with the Practical Homicide Investigations Checklist and Field Guide is not just a reference tool, but more like having a seasoned 30 plus year Homicide Detective that has "seen it all" with you as a backup at the scene.

In my experience, I have not found a more comprehensive or detailed textbook pertaining to the investigation of death, suicide, equivocal, or homicide incidents. This is a must have textbook for any investigator tasked with the profound responsibility of investigating death.


Detective Keith Quick
Criminal Investigations Bureau
Venice Police Department, Venice, Florida

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I met Vernon Geberth, a retired NYC homicide detective, a few years ago. He's a prominent forensic consultant and the recognized clearinghouse for all things related to death investigations. I see him annually at a forensics conference and, this year, he told me that his 5th edition of Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques would soon be published.

The 1st edition had become a veritable bible for investigators, so I could just imagine what a 5th edition offered. I couldn't wait to see it.

Geberth is a former lieutenant commander of the New York City Police Department and commanding officer of the Bronx Homicide Task Force. The recipient of over sixty awards for bravery and exceptional work during his decades of service, he has investigated, supervised, assessed, researched and consulted on thousands of homicides, including high-profile (e.g., BTK, Gordon Hess, David Parker Ray).

When he started, Geberth identified the sharpest detectives and shadowed them. On days off, he went to the library to look up everything he could find on the subject of homicide. Then he began writing for Law and Order Magazine. His goal was to standardize and substantially improve how homicide investigations were performed. This included an emphasis on teamwork and outside expertise.

"I would take crime scene pictures home and analyze them," he once told me. "I used to keep a rolodex of the experts that I'd met in different locations and I'd call them up for advice. I went down to the Museum of Natural History and interviewed a forensic anthropologist and an entomologist. So I was putting together these resources, but I was also making friends."

Geberth became the first law enforcement professional to devise guidelines and protocols for efficient death inquiries. Currently he runs P.H.I. Investigative Consultants Inc., which provides state-of-the-art instruction and consultation to police officers.

The 1st edition of Practical Homicide Investigation offered 800 pages that covered everything from the crime scene to proper evidence handling and documentation, to different types of homicides and suicides. The 5th edition runs more than 1200 pages, with full-color photos. It even includes substantial portions from Geberth's book on autoerotic accidental deaths.

(By the way, if you're a layperson, don't eat before opening this book!)

PHI's five primary components, according to Geberth, are teamwork, documentation, preservation of evidence, being flexible, and using common sense. At a crime scene, investigators should observe, describe, record anything they find, and use proper procedures to collect the evidence. This book goes over every known scenario: inside, outside, typical, atypical, straightforward, ambiguous, staged … you name it. The Table of Contents alone runs 25 pages!

Geberth urges investigators to always remember that they get just one chance to do it right. He works tirelessly to ensure that investigators get the proper tools. (And a side note to my writing colleagues: this is a great resource for methods, motives, and case details.)

Besides over 900 full-color photos and illustrations (with 250 new ones), among the 5th edition’s valuable features are:

*A revised "Homicide Investigator's Checklist"

*The latest DNA technology

*A revised and extended chapter on equivocal death investigations

*Fully updated chapters on death notifications, sex-related homicide, management for police administrators, suicide investigation, and narcotics-related and homosexually based homicides

In the preface to this edition, Geberth writes: "Homicide investigation is a profound duty with awesome responsibilities." He urges investigators today to be attuned to the impact that death has on surviving relatives and on society itself. Professionalism is key, which means education (including self-education), integrity, and concern for the truth.

In short, this book is impressive. (I recommend lifting weights to prepare yourself to pick it up.) Geberth leaves no stone unturned. I pride myself on my collection of unusual suicide cases, but he includes some in this book that riveted me. In fact, I'm going to end this review now so I can go read some more.

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D
Associate Professor Forensic Psychology
DeSales University, Pennsylvania
Non-Fiction Author


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Thank you for the opportunity to review Practical Homicide Investigation – Fifth Edition, authored by Vernon Geberth.

For over 44 years, I have participated in the New York State Criminal Justice System as Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, and Judge.

During my seventeen years as a Prosecutor in the Bronx County District Attorney's Office, I was the Bureau Chief of the Homicide Bureau. As Chief, I supervised, investigated, and prosecuted more than one thousand homicides in Bronx County, New York.

During my tenure as Homicide Bureau Chief, I had the great pleasure of working closely with Vernon J. Geberth, when he was the Commanding Officer of the Bronx Homicide Task Force. Commander Geberth's extensive knowledge, unmatched expertise, and boundless creativity with homicide investigations, was responsible for the successful prosecution of countless homicides in Bronx County.

Geberth has succeeded in the impossible. The 5th Edition has totally revised and expanded the most outstanding and comprehensive treatise on Practical Homicide Investigation Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques. Commander Geberth has made major revisions to each chapter, including 250 new photographs and 900 illustrations, and detailing all 21st Century advanced forensic and technological improvements in this "must have" treatise for those given the supreme responsibility of investigating homicides.

Commander Geberth’s Practical Homicide Investigation, 5th Edition, explains every aspect of a homicide investigation, with an easily understood, how-to-approach, from a professional who has been there. He takes the reader from the homicide scene and covers every possible situation that may be encountered during a homicide investigation, complete with do's and don'ts, right up to the apprehension and arrest of the homicide fugitive. This 5th Edition covers the basics, as well as, the cutting edge forensic techniques available to the homicide investigator.

In my opinion, it is essential that the professional involved with the investigation and prosecution of a homicide have a copy of Vernon J. Geberth’s Practical Homicide Investigation, 5th Edition. This is the most outstanding and comprehensive encyclopedia on the tactics, procedures, and forensic techniques of homicide investigations.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to review Commander Geberth's 5th edition. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Phillip G. Schnelwar, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Former Bronx Prosecutor and Rockland County Judge
White Plains, New York


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This intelligent all-encompassing book is not just a textbook; it's a practical professional encyclopedia for successful homicide investigations. How fortunate we are that Vernon Geberth is dedicated as he is to his profession to continue to update and share in the latest techniques of investigation and forensics through this fifth edition. Vernon gives substance and makes plain an often difficult subject.

Marvin Skeen
Chief Criminal Investigator
Office of Attorney General of Washington


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As the Sheriff of Russell County Sheriff's Office in Alabama the majority of my 30 plus years in law enforcement were spent in investigations. I'm truly impressed with Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques 5th Edition. This textbook contains just about everything there is to know about death investigations and is a must read for anyone that investigates deaths and homicides.

Vernon Geberth has kept this informative text to the forefront by updating the forensic techniques which are surely an aid to today's investigators. The knowledge that is shared by Geberth in this text has the potential of turning a green investigator into a seasoned detective.

Vernon Geberth highlights points that should be burnt into memory by every investigator new and old and Geberth has even incorporated that information in his text.

The newest edition of Geberth's Practical Homicide Checklist and Field Guide Second Edition is a practical and important tool that can be used in conjunction with the 5th edition textbook which will assist the working investigator to keep on point and on track in their cases.

I also enjoyed the fact that Vernon acknowledges a vast number of professionals and agencies that contributed to the success of this 5th Edition. Compiling several lifetimes of acquired knowledge to this profound profession is done so beautifully and enables the reader to learn from some of the greatest minds in the world. If I had to describe this newest edition of Practical Homicide Investigation with just one word, it would be the word BRILLIANT. It is the only plausible word that comes to my mind. It may be impossible to know it all, but maybe Geberth does!!

Heath Taylor
Sheriff
Russell County, Alabama

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Vernon Geberth’s fifth edition of Practical Homicide Investigation will be your OSSR (One Stop Shopping Resource) for any and all of the information that you will need if you are tasked with the investigation and resolution of homicide cases and death investigations. The updates and additions are massive as the founder of the "Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigation" series combines his expertise and research in the case presentations along with the incorporation of today's forensic and technological advances that will keep you on the cutting edge of death investigations.

As the founder of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's Cold Case Squad and one of the supervisors of the BTK Serial Killer Task Force, I was very impressed with the information related to cold case investigations, in the chapter "Supervision and Management of the Homicide Investigation." This entire chapter contains imperative information related to case management which is crucial for successful case resolution. Additionally the chapter "The News Media in Homicide Investigations" contains valuable information to consider that will help you establish a positive relationship with the media and utilize that relationship in a positive manner to help you identify investigative leads in your case. In the BTK investigation, the media connection was a thread that proved to be vital in the identification of Dennis Rader as the BTK serial killer.

In a time when our criminals can be educated about forensic applications by popular television shows and where our jury pools can be exposed to the "CSI Effect," as a death investigator you need to ensure that you are equipped with the best and most current death investigative strategies available. Your copy of Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques, Fifth Edition, will be your One Stop Shopping Resource for successful death investigations.

Larry Thomas
Assist Director, Kansas Bureau of Investigation (Ret.)
BTK Serial Killer Task Force Supervisor


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"For murder, though it hath no tongue, will speak with miraculous organ." Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 2, Sc. 2 (1564-1616).

Each sentence of Vernon Geberth's fifth edition of "the homicide bible" speaks volumes. Practical Homicide Investigation has been revised to include the most updated material in criminology, forensic investigation and homicide crime scene investigation. These scientific advances have been substantial since the last edition. In addition to specific scientific material the book is replete with references to a variety of psychological issues, often overlooked in homicide writings and studies, including psychopathic sexual sadism, the psychology of evil, the psychological autopsy, psycholinguistic analysis, the psychodynamics of lust murder and much more. Psychological reactions to murdered children, to police officers and "suicide by cop" are further examples. The author has expanded on the Munchausen syndrome, including warning signs and Munchausen by proxy.

This volume contains 24 chapters, a glossary and an index. It answers just about any question one might have with respect to the current state of homicide investigation from a practical and scientific point of view.

The author's philosophy is well stated in the dedication to "the men and women entrusted with the profound duty and responsibility of investigating sudden and violent death. In memory of those innocent victims of homicide and their surviving families, who must find the strength to go on without their loved ones." And the author adds: "May justice prevail."

This is one example of how this book brings one to real life and death. Thus, it is unlike any sterile textbook or manual. The information provided is material drawn from authors who are nationally recognized experts in the respective fields, examples being bite mark identification, hostage situations, sexual deviance, DNA analysis, the collection of evidence, nuances of the autopsy, the news media, autoerotic fatalities and methods used in autoerotic behavior and much more. As one studies the complex details the author’s perspective of "Do it right the first time, you only get one chance" resonates throughout the text.

Chapter 16 on DNA analysis is up to date and the best material I have read in either the medical or forensic literature. The author does explain that DNA work will never replace the homicide detective yet he can focus on the various aspects of molecular behavior as they apply to scientific investigation. This is done clearly and concisely, in a way that the average detective can grasp and utilize during an investigation. This chapter also contains 63 references which constitute a chronology of the science of DNA study.

The text is replete with photographs, drawings and illustrations that are cogent to the material being discussed, including multiple case examples that are very clearly written and pertinent to the science as well as the practical procedures of homicide investigation. Thus, this edition not only provides the scientific basis for homicide investigation, it also describes in intimate detail the procedures and techniques necessary for a comprehensive and successful investigation. This is the most complete text available on the subject of homicide investigation and the perspectives in approaching victim's families and perpetrators alike.

Commander Geberth has focused on the dynamics of homicide investigation, thus avoiding the mundane mistakes that might be made or described by less experienced investigators. His work and writing get to the "heart of the matter" making this work unique and productive. It is clear that the author is open to new ideas and suggestions thereby bypassing any pre-judgment. There is an openness in using scientific techniques in preparation to change the focus of an investigation if necessary by "information seeking."

My opinion is that this is based on the high degree of respect the author has gained from examiners and practitioners in many disciplines including law enforcement and forensic pathology. He has successfully bypassed the political bureaucracy. His working relationship with many of the contributors of this book has made this work comprehensive and informative. This is partly related to the non- judgmental manner in which he describes victims of various cultural and socioeconomic dimensions.

The author's original ideas such as the "signature" aspects of behavior and the "Total Station Technique" are maintained and expanded upon. These original contributions are the product of the author having investigated thousands of homicides and knowing firsthand the road to success. Emphasis is placed on the "order of things" and the initial actions at the homicide scene and the "do it right the first time, you only get one chance" approach.

Commander Geberth has kept up with the most recent homicides both with his involvement and study as well as with his teaching and close collaboration with law enforcement agents throughout the country and abroad as well. For example, he collaborated with a Canadian forensic pathologist, Dr. Anny Sauvageau in the preparation of a book on autoerotic death "Autoerotic Deaths - Practical Forensic and Investigative Perspectives" (CRC Press, 2013). This is the most up to date and complete text on the subject of autoerotic deaths, including differentiating them for homicides. To date, it is the "last word" on the subject and includes ground breaking material both from an historical as well as a contemporary perspective.

It would be redundant if I mentioned the vast amount of technical and humanistic wealth noted in this text. It might also deprive the reader of the excitement and discovery of new material and the advances of forensic science. This volume is both a reference text and a study in itself to be read thoroughly, as it is beyond mere description and is truly the "bible" of homicide investigation. I highly recommend it to any officer involved in homicide investigation as well as forensic scientists.

The author's philosophy of working for the families of the victims comes through loud and clear. In this regard I am reminded of what T.S. Eliot said: "What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make our ends is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

Dr. Ronald Turco, MD, Forensic Psychiatrist
Past President, American Academy of Psychoanalysis and The American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians
Former Reserve Police Officer 30 years
Currently - Medical First Responder State of Oregon and Police Examiner


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One of the most difficult aspects of homicide investigation (and consequently prosecution) in this day of ever changing information is to keep current and up-to-date on techniques, law and procedures. While many writers simply write a book that becomes out-dated  and then forget about it, Vernon Geberth continues to update and review critical matters relating to the ever changing world of homicide investigation through his series Practical Homicide Investigation. If you compare the first edition with the fifth edition you will note the underlying principles of good police work have remained the same but the techniques used and the evidence available has changed dramatically. The series literally takes you from the mid-1980's to present day. If you do not keep up to date on the latest techniques and investigative practices as Vernon explains them,  you will wish you had when you are confronted with them on the witness stand at trial. As before, you will not find this book on my book shelf - it is on my desk next to the current version and updates of the Colorado statutes. I have prosecuted murder cases for over thirty years. This book and its accompanying Field Guide are used by me and our local investigators constantly.

Jim Yontz, Deputy District Attorney
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Lead Prosecutor on the New Mexico Sex-Slave Case


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With the publication of the fifth edition of Practical Homicide Investigation, Vernon Geberth's winning streak in writing investigative "Bibles" for law enforcement and prosecutors continues.  Once again the popular "We work for God" author and instructor, and CRC Press, have teamed up to provide investigators, prosecutors,and trainers with invaluable guidance and direction in the solution of homicide and the identification and apprehension of the guilty.

Our retired NYPD Lt. Commander's latest effort features new cases, 250 new photos, a new chapter on DNA, and updates throughout.

Larry Welch, Esq.
Director, Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) Retired
Author of "Beyond Cold Blood: the KBI from Ma Barker to BTK"


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