Ripon agency helps solve crimes in 42 coun­ties

Manteca Bulletin - - Front Page - By GLENN KAHL

Crim­i­nol­o­gists based in Ripon help law en­force­ment solve crimes in 42 Cal­i­for­nia coun­ties.

A se­nior crim­i­nal­ist from the Cal­i­for­nia State Crime lab staff gave an over­view of the agency’s op­er­a­tions re­cently for Ripon Ro­tar­i­ans meet­ing at Spring Creek Coun­try Club.

Libby Schreiber touched on ev­ery­thing

from mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tions to the ef­fects of us­ing metham­phetamine has on women’s faces over a 10-year pe­riod. She ex­plained that a crim­i­nal­ist is a sci­en­tist who uses var­i­ous sci­en­tific tech­niques such as bi­ol­ogy and chem­istry to ex­am­ine phys­i­cal ev­i­dence to reach a con­clu­sion based on their ex­am­i­na­tion and present their con­clu­sion in a court of law.

She noted that for­mer crime labs in Stock­ton and Modesto com­bined their re­sources for the more cen­tral­ized lo­ca­tion in Ripon in a 32,000- square- foot be­hind Ripon’s City hall. The Cen­tral Val­ley fa­cil­ity serves 42 coun­ties with two field labs and has a staff of 292 em­ploy­ees. The state labs cover and area from Eureka to River­side. The Ripon fa­cil­ity is west of the FBI field of­fice lo­cated two blocks away on Wilma Av­enue.

Schreiber joined the crime lab staff in 1994. She served first in the drug to the al­co­hol sec­tion. Cur­rently she is work­ing in the bi­ol­ogy sec­tion screen­ing ev­i­dence for DNA in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“When your day ends, ours be­gins,” she said.

She re­called sev­eral of the cases she and her as­so­ciates had in­ves­ti­gated in­clud­ing the Stock­ton bank rob­bery two years ago where a cus­tomer was kid­napped as a shield dur­ing a po­lice pur­suit and was killed in the process.

“We had three crim­i­nal­ists work­ing a 24-hour pe­riod on that case,” she re­called.

Then there were the Ng mass mur­der tor­ture vic­tims in Calav­eras County, the Lacy Peter­son mur­der case and the Sher­man­tine-Her­zog mul­ti­ple mur­der case which evolved into search­ing an old aban­doned wa­ter well look­ing for bod­ies. The peo­ple liv­ing on the prop­erty had used the well as a dump for any­thing and ev­ery­thing – in­clud­ing an en­gine block, she noted. The well had to be ex­ca­vated be­fore they found hu­man re­mains. One woman who had been killed had been preg­nant and her re­mains and that of an in­fant were also lo­cated in the dig, she said. The team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors in the Her­zog case worked for two weeks straight.

Schreiber added that when­ever there is an of­fi­cer in­volved shoot­ing, the lab has a spe­cific pro­to­col to fol­low in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion which is quite in­tense.

When work­ing with blood splat­ters in a mur­der case, they learned that dif­fer­ent types of wounds pro­duce dif­fer­ent pat­terns on walls from bul­let wounds caus­ing ar­te­rial spurts.

DNA can be found on any­thing from un­der­wear to cell phones, she ex­plained, and can be cen­tral in solv­ing a case in a court of law. And, there is now the RAP or rapid anal­y­sis for rape cases with a 20 day turn around time.

She fur­ther ex­plained that there are now over two mil­lion rapist pro­files in a na­tional data base keep­ing track of those with a crim­i­nal his­tory with ex­pec­ta­tions of go­ing in­ter­na­tional soon with a more de­tailed data base.

Schreiber said her lab has over 2,000 guns in their in­house col­lec­tion that are used for com­par­i­son when they need a part or need to iden­tify a weapon used in a crime. She noted that when a sus­pect’s weapon is miss­ing a part, in­ves­ti­ga­tors can go to their col­lec­tion and get the gun work­ing with avail­able parts – test fir­ing it into a wa­ter bath so they can ex­am­ine the mi­cro­scopic lines caused from the bul­let trav­el­ing through the bar­rel and prove their case in court with that ev­i­dence.

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