Connecticut is home to one of the world’s most renowned forensic investigators and he’s weighing in on the case of a missing mother from New Canaan.
Dr. Henry Lee is not connected to the Jennifer Dulos investigation, but from his work on the OJ Simpson case, the Newtown woodchipper case, and others around the world, he understands what investigators face as they try to piece together clues from small bits of evidence.
Dulos has been missing since May 24, when she dropped her children off at school. Her estranged husband Fotis Dulos and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, have both been arrested in connection with the missing person case and were charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution in the first degree in connection to the missing person case. Fotis remains in police custody and has been ordered to have no contact with Jennifer’s family or his children.
Troconis was released on bond.
NBC Connecticut’s Mike Hydeck sat down with Lee at his forensic research training center at the University of New Haven to get a sense of how a search like this works.
Lee said there are six major things police need to build their case.
First, he says you need a crime scene.
"This particular case we don't know the exactly where the crime scene yet, the body is still unfound," Lee said.
Next, you need a piece of physical evidence.
“In this case they have some physical evidence, apparently found some bloody clothing and sponge, apparently DNA matched the victim."
Third is witnesses.
“So far in this case, no major witnesses have come forward.”
Fourth is public information.
. State police, FBI, everybody will ask the public to provide information to us,” Lee explained.
The fifth is a big database.
"CCTV camera, license recognition program, facial recognition program,” Lee explained.
Sixth, is intelligence.
"Police and detectives state local federal work diligently trying to develop some intelligence to put this case together.
Even if all six pieces are not in place, police can still get a major break.
"If that piece of sponge or clothing, if they can identify whose clothing? Where does the sponge come from? The garbage bag. we have case before where we linked the garbage bag, because that the garbage bag was made by a certain company and it depends on the manufacturers sometimes they use recycled material."
Lee said even with all that scientific evidence, it can be hard to convince a jury, or a judge.
“So to convince jury, it’s not just one piece of evidence. It’s like a puzzle together, you have to convince the judge to let the evidence in," he said.
Lee said not only has the forensic science gotten dramatically more advanced in recent years, so have the legal techniques to discredit it.
With that in mind, investigators have to be especially diligent as they try to prove their case.