By Annie Tillery
My name is Anne Tillery, aka, Annie. I will be of to college next year. I live with my aunt, Jill Tillery, who is an NYPD detective, special assignments.
You’re probably thinking, Well,that’s convenient. She just passes on her cases to you. But it’s not that simple. She is almost always trying to keep my snoopy little fingers out of her work.
I came to live with J, as I call her, because my parents aren’t exactly charter members of the “parents of the year club”. My dad has a great job working for the U.S. Dept. of State, and that keeps him out of the country a lot. I’ll talk about Mom some other time. Enough about them.
I really want to tell you what I did last summer. And believe me, it’s a lot more than I would ever write that first day back in English class in September.
J and I went to Fire Island for a vacation of sun, sailing and surf. As it turned out, we got involved in an investigation of a local ghost who was hiding a “dastardly plot”.
Oh. You must be wondering, where is Fire Island? It’s a barrier island of the south shore of Long Island.
When we got there, you will not believe this, but my aunt’s friend had a nephew staying with him for the summer. Eighteen and just—words fail me. Hot, gorgeous, whatever! Ty Egan. He was so friendly and nice. We spent the first day sailing and were having the best time.
On top of all this fun, Ty’s uncle, who is called Doc told us a ghost story, that is, with a little prodding from me. I used to live across the street from a cemetery and started to collect ghost stories when I was ten.
Well, guess what? My Aunt J disappeared, the next door neighbors turned nasty and from then on, one curious and frightening thing happened after another.
Ty and I got really close. Besides being in love with him, he is my best friend.
What really started things on a roll, was when we began to investigate the ghost. I mean hide out and wait for her to appear!
What happened next is for you to read in the book. But I will tell you this. The solution to the “dastardly plot” involved the arson division of the forensics lab. This division has as it’s job determining if a fire was an accident or intentional, and if it involves criminal intent, such as hiding another crime. A murder victim can be disposed of by leaving them in a house or a car, and setting it on fire.
How do you know it’s not an accident? First, chemical analysis is used to see if any of the fire debris contains an accelerant like gasoline. That technique is known as gas chromatography. Second, the investigator looks for any suspicious device that could be used as a fuse to set the fire, like matches or faulty electrical wiring. Third, the pattern of the flames can also show that a fire was set and not natural. If all those tests come back positive, crime scene investigators look for other clues, such as fingerprints. The autopsy will add information about the cause of death, if enough remains are left. For a more detailed explanation, see “Criminalistics” by Richard Saferstien.
By Annie Tillery