Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Where There's Smoke...

The Noose Tightens

Pacific Division detectives were ready to make their move. So far, they had Kerry Ephriam caught up in several lies. They had Michael Valentine pawning Lon Kim's watch. They had Lon's car found stripped four blocks from Valentine's house. They had two anonymous callers saying Valentine had been boasting recently about robbing and killing someone.

J. Kristopher as Kacey Ephriam (left), John Williams as Michael Valentine (center), and Damion Robinson as Kerry Ephriam (Right)
J. Kristopher as Kacey Ephriam (left), John Williams as Michael Valentine (center), and Damion Robinson as Kerry Ephriam (Right)

The detectives got three search warrants and hit all three residences Michael's, Kerry's, and Kacey's simultaneously.

Not surprisingly, Michael, who knew the cops were looking for him to question him about a murder, wasn't home. Also not surprisingly, his mother claimed to be in the dark about where he was. The investigators combed through Michael's house but didn't find any additional evidence linking him to Lon's murder; however, they did find Valentine's work tools a sawed-off shotgun and a military-style assault rifle.

At Kerry's apartment, SID used what in 1989 was a new weapon in their arsenal, luminol and black light. Luminol is a chemical agent that reacts when it comes into contact with the iron in blood hemoglobin. In low-light conditions and under a black light, that reaction is luminescent it glows.

Inside Kacey's apartment, SID criminalists covered the windows, then sprayed a luminol solution on nearly all of the flat surfaces. Then they doused the white lights and turned on the black ones. From two locations, the edge of a rug and a tiny spot on one wall, came a faint blue glow. It was blood.

Larry Blanton, SID Criminalist
Larry Blanton, SID Criminalist

"I was flabbergasted," Barron says.

He didn't believe in the newfangled technology, but here it was working.

"Wow, it's glowing," he says. "I mean, it was impressive because this is 1989. It was new. We had heard about it, and it sounded like something the FBI could afford to do but not us."

SID lab tests later confirmed the blood was human.

 

Watch this story and many others from the case files of the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division, which solves crimes using cutting edge forensics. Only on Court TV. Learn more.

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