Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Mysterious Confession

The Scene
of the Crime

Petrie Crime Scene
Petrie Crime Scene

Lois's apartment at 346 W. 10th St. was small, just three rooms: a bedroom, a small sitting room, and a tiny kitchen. Investigators found no murder weapon in the apartment. Likely, Lois's death had been the result of strangulation, probably manual strangulation, meaning by hand. There was no blood other than the spot on the pillow. That same pillow also had a smear of mucus-like fluid on it, which may have come from Lois's mouth, if someone had held the pillow over her face.

Fingerprint Examination
Fingerprint Examination

Crime scene technicians dusted for fingerprints and collected a handkerchief lying crumpled on the dresser. If Lois had been raped, there was the possibility the killer had used the handkerchief to clean himself off. Any bodily fluids found on the handkerchief could be used to determine the killer's blood type.

Testing Blood
Testing Blood

At a later autopsy, a pathologist used a rape kit to swab fluid samples from the parts of Lois's body that may have been involved in a sexual assault. The samples were preserved on slides for blood-typing and possible later comparison to a suspect, if the police were able to identify one.

In 1972, semen, hair, and blood evidence was useful, but modern forensic DNA matching was still nearly two decades away. A statewide DNA database in California was almost 30 years in the future.

No one at the crime scene that day could have imagined that it would be more than 30 years before a forensic investigator, who was not even born yet, would match the DNA on those slides to Lois's killer.

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