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Thomas O’Neil ’59 teams with top criminologist

Thomas O’Neil ’59Thomas O’Neil ’59 became aware of and then involved with his co-author, criminologist Dr. Henry C. Lee, by degrees.

“Like most people in Connecticut,” says O’Neil, “I began following Dr. Lee’s career with great interest during the mid- to late-80s, when he led the Woodchipper [murder] investigation and played a critical role in solving the Sherman case. Then my son enrolled in the University of New Haven’s Criminal Justice program and began regaling me with stories about Henry.”

“In 1995,” O’Neil continues, “I interviewed Richard Crafts, the Woodchipper murderer, and did a story for the New Haven Register on security lapses at Cheshire, a maximum security prison. To polish off the story, I called Henry, and the two of us hit it off. Margaret, his wife, and Emily and I all became friends and we started discussing this book.”

The eventual product of these discussions was Cracking Cases: The Science of Solving Crimes, published this spring by Prometheus Books.

The cases unspool like a combination of Ellery Queen and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Each chapter gives a quick overall introduction to the case and then follows the same pattern: the facts of the case, the investigation, the trial, the scientific facts and a closing summary.

In the most famous of the cases covered—bloody glove or no bloody glove—it was Dr. Lee’s forensic investigation and testimony that demonstrated most compellingly to the O.J. Simpson jury that some kind of serious evidence tampering had taken place. As to the details of that particular case … Well, you’ll have to read the book.

“Working with Henry has been fascinating,” O’Neil says. “He has a great sense of humor and is eloquent. The whole experience has been fabulous, and we’re talking about a second book.”


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