Forensic science is so useful that it’s spawned multiple television shows about an endless supply of crimes solved using its immense capabilities. Murder, rape, robbery, vandalism, assault, and a slew of other crimes can — and are — solved with the help of forensic science. Besides helping all the people who get murdered by some boring guy who commits one crappy crime in his entire life, forensics has been the deciding force behind the conviction of some of the world’s most notorious criminals. People who wreaked havoc upon innocent people for decades without consequence were ultimately caught and locked up due to the amazing reach of forensic science and its plethora of crime-solving methods, techniques and technologies. Here are five of the world’s most heinous criminals who were justly pimp-slapped by the marvels of forensic science.
Ted Bundy – Odontology
Ted Bundy was one of America’s most notorious serial killers. His modus operandi was pretending to have a broken arm, which he used to convince women to help him carry books over to his car. Once at the vehicle, he would quite literally club them over the head and drag them away to be brutalized and ultimately murdered. This worked remarkably well for him, and he’s thought to have murdered between 30 and 40 women. He was eventually caught when he refused to pull over for a routine traffic stop, prompting the arresting officer to search his car. Inside, the cop found a ski mask, a crowbar, rope, handcuffs, and other items that look innocent enough — when found by themselves. Together, they were pieces of a deadly puzzle. Bundy was called in for questioning but released when not enough evidence could be found to concretely tie him to any murders. However, forensics saved the day when Bundy sold his car and the police impounded it away from its new owner. Once dissected, the vehicle yielded hairs “microscopically indistinguishable” from three of his victims. Although his parents bailed him out of jail, he was eventually prosecuted and found guilty in only four days with both the help of the hairs and with odontology, or comparing the bitemarks on his victims to his own teeth and finding an exact match.
Richard Ramirez – Fingerprinting
Richard Ramirez, better known as The Night Stalker, murdered over fourteen people in cold blood. Ramirez shot, stabbed, mutilated, and gouged out the eyes of his victims (separately, but sometimes in combinations). He would often mutilate the corpses of his victims, and even forced one woman to perform oral sex on Ramirez while her dead husband lay nearby, fatally shot. One victim was forced to declare her love for Satan before she endured sexual abuse at his hands. Ramirez’s end was finally getting closer after a teenager identified the stolen vehicle Ramirez had used to escape one of his crime scenes; a fingerprint was lifted from the mirror of the car and easily tracked to Ramirez, who had an extensive criminal history of traffic and drug offenses. Once his mugshot was shown to the public, he was quickly spotted during his final carjacking attempt. The police had to separate an angry mob from laying the beatdown on Ramirez, lest they murdered him before his trial. With the help of the fingerprint, Ramirez was convicted of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, 14 burglaries, and was sentenced to die.
John Wayne Gacy – Forensic Anthropology
John Wayne Gacy was the pinnacle of creepy, stereotypical murderers so often seen in television and movies — except for one thing: he was totally real, and scarier than any fictional character in the history of cinema. Gacy was quite literally a clown who enjoyed entertaining children in a clown getup complete with creepy facepaint which gave him a creepy likeness to the murderer in Stephen King’s It. Gacy raped and murdered numerous young boys, whose bodies he would hide in the crawlspace beneath his house. It wasn’t until he was identified as the last person to see missing 15-year-old Robert Priest that Gacy was questioned and ultimately caught for his despicable crimes. Gacy had seduced Priest with the prospect of a contracting job, but found himself beneath the eye of suspicion when a pharmacy owner told police he had overheard Gacy’s job offer. Gacy was called in for questioning, mostly due to his criminal history of child molestation, and began to confess his crimes. Anthropologists braved the horrible stench coming from beneath his house and dug up the bones of 29 different boys ranging in age from 9 to 20 years old. Anthropologists were able to identify all but 9 of the victims, and facial reconstruction was used to try and find the remaining mystery bones. It didn’t help, and those 9 boys remain unnamed.
John Duffy, a serial rapist who terrorized over 18 women over the course of two decades, is quoted as saying “rape is a natural thing for a man to do.” One can only imagine the type of monster it takes to believe violently dominating and psychologically destroying another human being is a normal course of action. In one of the largest UK investigations to date, John Duffy and his accomplice were hunted by authorities relentlessly. Despite the efforts of police, the investigation was clearly a little off-track — although Duffy was a potential suspect, he was at the bottom of a long list of hundreds. With the help of psychological profile, he was eventually brought to the top, caught and convicted. Professor David Canter created a 17-point list of characteristics the serial rapist/murderer was thought to have, based upon the crime scenes, evidence collected, and the criminal’s method of operating. 12 out of 17 proved to be accurate, and Duffy was sentenced to a life sentence in addition to a number of years for his crimes.
Arthur Hutchinson – Serology
Arthur Hutchinson’s crime may be somewhat less familiar with the general public than the media friendliness of a psycho killer clown, but he is just as — if not more — evil than Gacy himself. Hutchinson broke into the Laitner family home, presumably to rob them blind. Finding the family home, he murdered the family parents, who were in their late 50s. He also killed their 28-year-old son Robert before raping 18-year-old Nicola, and fleeing. Ironically, this family’s tragedy occurred on the same day that their other daughter, Suzanne, had been happily married and had her wedding reception in that very house. Although DNA testing was far from advanced in the early 80s, forensic scientists still had the ability to examine blood and make the decision that there was a 1/50,000 chance it belonged to a certain suspect. It wasn’t exactly condemning evidence, but combined with Nicola’s identification of the man and a palm print found on a wine glass within the house, Hutchinson was promptly convicted and sentenced to life. It also didn’t help that the was already wanted for another rape and had previously served five years in prison for attempting to murder his own brother-in-law. Amazingly, he was eligible for parole in 2002 and applied for release in 2006. Fortunately, he was denied and told that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.