Police in the UK are reviewing the death of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones, who died under mysterious circumstances in July 1969. After years of meticulous research, investigative reporter Scott Jones (no relation), turned over to the police all of the material he collected throughout the course of his investigation. Although their curiosity was piqued by the new evidence introduced by the journalist, police have yet to determine if they will re-investigate the case.
Rumors and conspiracy theories have circulated for 40 years that Jones’s death was a matter of foul play, not by hard partying or “misadventure,” as noted by the pathologist. Jones’s autopsy mentioned that he had no narcotics in his system and that he had a minimal amount of alcohol in his system. Jones had left the Rolling Stones just three weeks prior to his death. He was 27.
Jaycee Dugard’s life in captivity for the past 18 years was lived out in a combination of sheds and tarps set up in the backyard of the couple alleged to have abducted her, Phillip and Nancy Garrido of Antioch, CA. The backyard compound created to hide away Jaycee and her two young children was so overgrown that no one ever noticed anything amiss. No one, not even Phillip Garrido’s parole officer, bothered to check out the backyard’s contents. Had someone intervened, rather than ignoring the massive eyesore in the Garrido’s backyard, Jaycee’s ordeal possibly would have ended much sooner, and a serial kidnapper and rapist would finally be off the streets. Instead, she was locked away, while her alleged perpetrator was free to do as he pleased. Considering his rap sheet, that is a frightening thought.
According to a recent article on cnn.com, victims of abuse suffer from “complex trauma.” Oh really? What a major psychological breakthrough! Can you read the sarcasm between the lines?!
Come now. Those who have been at the receiving end of any form of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse will suffer some sort of trauma. As will their families. Everyone has an internal coping mechanism that allows them to persevere in the most horrifying situations. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after the fact. Some will turn to drugs to put the past behind them, while others will find solace in support groups or the church. Certain individuals seek help from professionals: they notify the police, enter counseling, and try to take back control of their lives.
During the past few decades the public has learned of several sensational stories in which the victim lived to tell about his or her ordeal. There is the harrowing yet hopeful story of Dave Pelzer, known to the masses by his memoir, A Child Called “It”. There is also the TV mini-series I Know My First Name Is Steven, based on the abduction and escape of Steven Stayner. In 2007, Shawn Hornbeck, missing since 2002, was found alive after years in captivity. Recent headlines involving Jaycee Lee Dugard point to yet another such case. In all of these situations, the survivors suffered unimaginable physical and emotional trauma, as did their families, not knowing if their children were dead or alive. But by the grace of God these children did survive the evil that was inflicted on them. Yet mere survival does not necessarily mean that there will not be prolonged psychological damage.
Fortunately for victims of violent crime, there are crisis centers, support groups, and mental health professionals that provide a link to the help they need. For many of these people the healing process will be ongoing. That’s the tragedy of survival–whatever monstrosity you experienced and overcame will always be a part of you–but it doesn’t have to define who you are. You are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul.
Observing the use of DNA evidence in the judicial system during the past 20 years has been exciting for this forensics nerd. The potential for further analysis to narrow an individual’s genome code and separate it from other suspects has grown exponentially. The judicial system has experienced what you might call growing pains–several states have called moratoriums on death penalty cases, while other states have had case reviews if DNA is present but was not eligible for testing when the case was first tried in court. What has since come to pass is a number of people have been exonerated–cleared of the crime they were convicted of–due to the introduction of DNA evidence. In other cases, some individuals remain incarcerated because the DNA proved that person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Or so we thought.
So now what is our less-than-stellar justice system supposed to do since a group of Israeli researchers have reported that DNA can be fabricated? Where does that leave us? I realize that the average criminal isn’t going to bother going to all of the trouble to plant someone else’s DNA at a crime scene, but anything is possible in these troubled times. Our country was making strides in improving the weaknesses in our justice system, yet now we have to defend the one piece of evidence that we wholeheartedly (or rather foolheartedly) believed in, thanks to TV shows like CSI, Forensic Files, Dateline, and 48 Hours Mystery. This new finding brings up so many unanswered questions. Have we been wrong about DNA all along?