The alignment was just too obvious…


Last week had been such a whirlwind of information and activities that I decided I needed to get out of town and take Charley with me. So with that, the Mustang convertible was loaded to the gills and I popped the recording of our meeting in Valdosta into the CD player and listened as I made my way along the highway. Sounds silly, huh? One would think I would have had the radio blasting, or a favorite CD of some Broadway show accompanying my ride… but information I received the day before had my head turning. This is why I always keep an open mind and remember that God places people in our paths for a reason. My husband had surgery a few weeks ago. In the process, we discovered a lump on his shoulder blade area just beneath his incision area, so he needed another MRI done. The morning of his MRI, I decided to bring my laptop and work on my blog while he was being ex-rayed down the hall. While doing so, a woman to my right took note of my oversized pocket book, my over stuffed book bag all over the seat next to me. She made a comment about my ‘bringing everything but the kitchen sink’ and smiled weakly. I looked at the fact that I was occupying two seats and part of the floor in front of me with all of my nonsense and smiled weakly back. I explained I am such a geek about writing, that any chance I get–I drag my laptop along for the ride. Ice broken, we struck up a conversation in between paragraphs. It proved to be fruitful. Both she and her husband were retired law enforcement; she from a Sheriff’s Department and he from a metropolitan Police Department. Seeing the natural segue, I suggested she might find Charley’s story of interest. She seemed intrigued, so I baited further. After giving her the abridged tour of my information and my card, I told her to read the blog and if she was still interested to know more- she should contact me through the web site. It took about a week, but she did!
Thankful to have another set of fresh eyes and sensing no reason not to trust her or her husband, I set an appointment to meet her to share more materials. This is where I sometimes quibble with the universe. I recognize that our paths were meant to cross. The alignment was just too obvious. The question then became…do I share information? Then it became about, how much information to share? Or, about how little information to share? And then in the scope of this case, which information to share? The responsibility I have to Charley and to J can be daunting, but the bottom line always remains the same. If Charley had been my dad… no amount of information could ever be too much if it helps solve his murder. So with a leap of faith, I met her and shared more information. It felt important to have eyes more trained than I to look at things that would involve law enforcement procedures and equipment.

The very next day she confirmed my trust had not been in vain. Yes she agreed, the statements of witnessed seemed to be little more than carbon copies of one another with different signatures. The DS statements vs. crime scene photos had issues of contradiction between themselves. But then she got to the GBI crime lab report and dropped a bombshell in my lap. Now, I had looked at that report many times and as a lay person, thought I had plucked some of the more juicy inconsistencies out- but what she and her husband unveiled to me was something that should and must validate the re-opening of this case.

Let’s take a little stroll down ballistics’ avenue and see what they say about lands and grooves.
(Taken from internet)
Ann L. Davis of the Virginia Division of Forensic Science and the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine, explains.
Most modern handguns and rifles are manufactured based on blueprints that specify their configurations. One of these specifications is a characteristic known as rifling, which refers to the spiral lands and grooves placed into the firearm’s barrel to impart a spin on the bullet for accuracy. The number of lands and grooves and the direction in which they twist, either right or left, can be determined by observing the rifling engravings in the barrel. The image at right (top) shows the rifling in a barrel having eight lands and grooves inclined to the left, as seen from the muzzle-end of a firearm. The lands and grooves appear as raised and lowered areas, respectively, in the barrel. These rifling characteristics are then imparted onto a projectile as it spins down the barrel, leaving land and groove impressions on the fired bullet (bottom).

Manufacturers use various cutting, swaging and electrolytic processes to introduce rifling into a barrel, and these processes, as well as others used in the finishing of a firearm, make each barrel unique. A barrel will produce individual markings in addition to a bullet’s land and groove impressions as the bullet passes through, and it is these unique markings that an examiner evaluates to determine whether a given bullet was fired from a particular firearm.
The rifling characteristics alone can reveal what brand and/or model of firearm could have fired a specific projectile. To figure out if a bullet could have originated from a specific firearm, however, a forensic firearm and toolmark examiner uses an instrument called a comparison microscope to compare a questioned bullet (one recovered from a crime scene, for example) to bullets test fired from a suspect firearm. Examiners generally test fire into a water recovery tank to obtain comparison bullets for evaluation under the microscope.
A comparison microscope comprises two compound microscopes joined by an optical bridge and one set of eyepieces, or oculars. The configuration is such that the examiner can evaluate items on each of the microscope stages at the same time. A dividing line separates the two items in the field of view, and allows the examiner to vary how much of each item is observed simultaneously.
After evaluation of the test-fired bullets against one another for the presence of repetitive individual microscopic markings, the questioned bullet is mounted on the left stage and one of the test-fired bullets is placed on the right stage. The examiner then assesses the questioned bullet for the same repetitive marks that are present on the test projectiles. If sufficient correspondence is found between the questioned bullet and the test bullets, with no unexplainable differences, the examiner can conclude that the questioned bullet was fired from the suspect firearm. The image above demonstrates corresponding microscopic markings consistent with two bullets having been fired from the same firearm.

Anyone care to know why this information is now center stage in this investigation? Hmmm…

One Response to “The alignment was just too obvious…”

  1. Ceandaplayeli Says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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