I received a less pleasant blast from the distant past (2007) today –less pleasant than the Proteus story, that is– as I came across notes for an old story about pedophilia-related advocacy editing on Wikipedia.
That story –commissioned by The Guardian (UK)– did not see the light of day as I got waylaid with the small matter of moving continents and never managed to organise the reams of notes, interview transcripts, and email exchanges into a coherent article.
But not too hard: Pedophilia is an extraordinarily difficult topic to write about intelligently, and yet is almost small beans compared to the tangled controversies that surround Wikipedia edits!
Further, the strong personalities involved, including Perverted Justice founder Xavier von Erck, Wikipedia co-founders Jimbo Wales and Larry Sanger, self-proclaimed pedophile activists, and others, provided such conflicting perspectives on the topic that it was almost impossible to separate truth from spin.
Finally, 1,200 words could not do justice to a story that spans pedophilia, Wikipedia, Perverted Justice, Corrupted Justice, Citizendium, social epistemology, and numerous other topics. [Editors: commision a three-part series and I will give you rocket fuel... and some copy.]
In any case, in October 2007, whilst working on the piece (which was inspired by discovering that anti-pedophile activist von Erck had been banned from Wikipedia), I contacted Dylan Thomas, webmaster of a notorious pedophile website to ask about his views regarding advocacy editing on Wikipedia.
I knew the guy would be secretive about his identity.
What I didn’t know at that time was that Dylan Thomas was, in fact, FBI top ten most wanted fugitive Jon Schillaci.
Few outside law enforcement could have.
Schillaci replied to my questions with this email:
On February 10, 1998, Louis “Pete” LaFontaine was found shot to death in his home on Stafford Avenue in Bristol, Connecticut. LaFontaine was a resident of Bristol for many years and operated a successful appliance repair shop on Park Street.
LaFontaine was well known throughout the City of Bristol, and his murder shocked the community, according to police. The Bristol Police have conducted an extensive investigation into the murder of Mr. LaFontaine, but despite interviewing countless individuals, analyzing forensic evidence, and executing a number of search warrants, the murder remains unsolved.
That may be about to change thanks to pioneering forensic scientist Dr John Bond, Scientific Support Manager at Northamptonshire Police and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leicester Forensic Research Centre.
Bond is collaborating with Bristol Police Department, Connecticut, to probe the LaFontaine murder. And, on January 20th, he will meet Detective Garrie Dorman from Connecticut Police to see whether the new technique can shed new light on the crime.
Bond’s team developed a method that enables scientists to ‘visualise fingerprints’ on metal (including bullet casings) even after the print itself has been removed. The team examined the way fingerprints can corrode metal surfaces and found that they could enhance fingerprints deposited on small calibre cartridge cases.
The method works on the principle that sweat corrodes metal. So, Bond applied an electrical charge and a fine carbon powder to a gun’s corroded part, revealing a fingerprint pattern –even if the gun was fired several years ago.
Bond’s technique was named one of the top 50 inventions of 2008 by Time Magazine. The method has been patented worldwide and Northamptonshire Police is hoping to sell the process to interested buyers who could run the operation on a commercial basis or manufacture units to sell on to law enforcement agencies worldwide.
See also: Last year’s piece on new research that uses nanoscale tags made from natural pollen to help trace gun users.