Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Sunday, March 15, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: “1920 FORENSICS AND THE RUIRU MURDERS”

NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover.

This blog is appearing on Sunday March 15 as I’ll be on the road on Monday. BOOK TOUR

The conclusion of the Ruiru flume murder was hardly satisfactory: no one convicted, charges dropped due to a questionable witness. What happened to examining the murder weapon for prints?

Fingerprinting was not only possible in 1920, it was being used in England. It should have been used in the colony. Check the iron pipe for prints, match them against the suspects, clear them or add to the evidence against them. Of course, prints on a murder weapon that happens to be lying around the flume is not enough to convict. The accused could always claim he’d moved that pipe out of the way two days ago or used it to lever a wheel open. But finding his prints would have added to the eyewitnesses claims.

The modern observer might wonder if fingerprinting was actually in use in the Kenya colony (still the British East Africa Protectorate at the time of this murder). The answer is yes! Every native (Kikuyu or Wakamba) was fingerprinted for identification and made to carry that document along with work papers in a metal cylinder the size of a shotgun shell which was worn around the neck. These kipande (work documents) had to be with them at all times or they would be fined or imprisoned.

So with all that fingerprinting capability, why was there no discussion of getting prints off of the murder weapon?

Another point of interest was the blood found on a door and a coat. The doctor said it was blood, but that he could not tell what animal it came from. Actually, by 1920, this was possible, providing you had a supply of rabbits which you injected with other bloods and collected the serum after (remember the old pregnancy test: “the rabbit died”). It seems that the colony didn’t have those capabilities yet.

Readers of the Jade del Cameron series will note that I updated the Nairobi police department by July 1920 in Jade’s adventure: The Leopard’s Prey. Not only does the inspector use fingerprints, his medical examiner has a goodly collection of those rabbit serums to test some blood samples.

NEXT WEEK: More Kenya Colony Fun Facts

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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