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Newsmakers

Lab Work Clues Crime-Fighters In to Killer's Identity

November 12, 1987|ANN CONNORS

No one should get away with murder, in the minds of 125 detectives gathered in Albany, N.Y., for a first-of-its-kind meeting of "eminent authorities on modern-day killers." Ranging from Canadian Mounties to Texas Rangers, the participants generally agreed that the exacting work of forensics is the star of the modern-day homicide investigation. "You get a good lab case and you just sail," said New York Judge Albert Rosenblatt, a former prosecutor. "I've always felt that a good forensic case is 10 times more potent than a confession." Indeed, speakers declared, with confessions now more likely to be thrown out, "the words out of the mouth of the killer are no longer all you need," said New York state Police Supt. Thomas Constantine. And, like a good Agatha Christie mystery, it is the least obvious detail that can prove the most telling, conferees agreed. "What appears to be a little innocuous detail . . . mark it down because it may come home to roost," said attorney Jack Litman, currently defending Robert Chambers in the highly publicized "preppy murder" case involving the death of a young woman in Central Park.

--A detective is making headlines in Japan, where the daily newspapers are carrying photographs of a glamorous, raven-haired French policewoman assigned to lead a team probing the robbery of $2.4 million from the Mitsubishi Bank in Tokyo late last year. "Beautiful Detective to Come to Japan" screamed the headlines before the arrival Monday of Michelle Balestrazzi, 33, to investigate what is now believed to be the work of an international crime ring.

--Aid to financially strapped farmers came sailing in from the clear blue sky recently when balloonists, grateful at being able to use farm fields to land in, handed over $40,000 to a family in Wisconsin chosen in a special drawing. The money, collected from sponsors and passengers during a fund-raiser held by the Balloon Federation of America, was offered to farmers if they would write in telling why they needed the money. Twenty of the most needy were chosen and the subsequent drawing turned up the names of Cheri and Dale Lavasseur, who run a dairy farm in Sanborn. The couple, who have two sons, immediately used $500 to fill a fuel tank that "in 5 1/2 years of marriage, the most we've ever been able to put in was $100 worth," said Cheri Lavasseur.

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