Imagine being a crime investigator. You walk into the garage of Kier and Jennifer Anderson. Inside you see Jennifer hanging with a rope around her neck. Upon first glance it appears to be a suicide. Then you start to notice things that are just not right - the rope is inside her sweater and her socks are upside down. Murder or suicide? In this episode of Inside the Crime Files, Anne Marie Schubert interviews Ruth Anne Dozier; Dozier takes us on a journey of what it’s like to solve a mystery using forensic science.
The application of science to a criminal investigation is not an easy task. Ruth Anne Dozier is a special prosecutor with a science background. She explained how forensics, specifically “trace evidence,” helped answer whether the death of Jennifer Anderson was a murder or a suicide.
Jennifer was a young married woman from Sacramento who was found dead, inside of her garage in the house she shared with her husband Kier Anderson. Kier was on trial for homicide; SPOILER ALERT.
Dozier used trace evidence along with motive to convict Kier of murder even though all evidence was circumstancial.
Trace evidence is a technique in forensic science that deals with microscopic evidence - usually transferred through friction or heat - that cannot be seen with an unaided eye. Dozier describes the different kinds of trace evidence used in the case of Jennifer Anderson including hair, soil, paint and fiber. Beyond the use of scientific evidence, this case presented some unusually beneficial evidence - diaries and even a recording of Jennifer’s visit to her astrologist just one day prior to her death.
This particular case was also unique because Kier was a prolific journal keeper. Not only that, Jennifer had recorded a visit with her astrologist the day before the murder. Criminal investigators were able to pinpoint motive - from knowing about Kier being bisexual and bringing another man into the relationship, to the jealousy that ensued afterwards. Investigators were even able to hear the state of mind Jennifer was in the day before her death.
The careful display of circumstantial evidence by Dozier to a jury - who must convict beyond a reasonable doubt - was enough to put Kier behind bars.