Presentation in Alexandria gives insights into forensics, true crime
The presentation was made as part of the Kiwanis Club of Alexandria's 100th anniversary.
ALEXANDRIA — True crime fans had a chance to learn about forensics and see a demonstration of a real lie detector last week.
Forensic psychologist and author Frank F. Weber made a presentation as part of the Kiwanis Club of Alexandria's 100th anniversary on Tuesday, March 29, at Broadway Ballroom.
Weber began working in the field at a large mental health clinic, primarily working with victims.
"The offenders were court-ordered to be there, but most of them didn't show up," Weber said.
He complained to the Department of Corrections, and when asked what he would do differently, he had four suggestions: If the offender doesn't show up, they get incarcerated; the offender's partner has to come in, because they often don't know what the offender is up to; the offender has to take a class in healthy relationships; and they have to do a lie detector test because it can ensure the program is working.
After the changes were implemented, they were picked up in many different counties across the state, Weber said.
"I'm an advocate of accountability," he said. "What we do is every few years, we go through all the graduates of our program and do criminal background checks, because I want to know if any of these guys have re-offended. And in 27 years of doing this program, 97% of the people who graduated from our program were never convicted of an offense again. But we're intense."
Weber is called in to do assessments and interviews on homicide and sexual assault cases all over Minnesota. He said it's what got him into writing murder mysteries.
"You start doing this kind of work and spend your day talking to serial rapists, you can't go home to your wife and kids and say, 'Hey, guess what I did today,'" he said.
His first book was picked up by a publisher in 2016, and Weber has published one a year since that time. All of his books were inspired by real cases, he said.
His most recent book, "Burning Bridges," appeared last year.
The stories have to vary to be successful, he said.
"I think you have to have some romance, you have to have some humor and you have to have some tension," Weber said.
Weber also discussed how advances in technology have aided in the solving of crimes.
"We're solving a lot more crimes with certainty today because of things like DNA," he said.
Investigators also now have the ability to take fingerprints off of clothing, he said.
Cellphones can be an aid, as well.
"You can pinpoint the location of an Android phone at any point in (its) history," Weber said. "They can actually use an Android phone to prove that someone was at a site where a body was dropped off at the time the body was dropped off. It's that exact."
Weber said the analysis of evidence is one of the most important keys to solving a crime.
"You hear investigators say all the time, 'I don't believe in coincidence,'" he said. "Well, that's how innocent people get convicted, because sometimes there is coincidence. That's why you have to be really careful when you're looking at the evidence."