Monday, May 7, 2012

Eczema and the perfect crime

I'm a fan of "Cold Case Files," that low-budget true-crime show that features slow-pan narrated black-and-white photos of old blood spatters, bad re-enactments of decades-old events, and interviews with neighbors who were always uneasy about Jim Bob's collection of garage-sale Barbies with missing limbs.

I don't follow the show, but I used to watch it when I was on the stationary bike alone in the office exercise room in the basement. I found it added a certain frisson. And so that's how I came to know a few things about the perfect crime: own a property way off in the boonies, dispose of the body in acid, and never leave any traces of either the victim's DNA or your own. They always get you through the DNA.

For those of us with eczema, that poses a challenge. We're always scratching and leaving clouds of DNA-containing skin cells behind us on our clothing, the furniture, and anyone we come in physical contact with. If a cold case officer knows what to look for, I'm toast. That's assuming I'm the perp.

But what if I'm the victim? Then, not that it's going to do me any good personally, but the cops are going to be able to follow my trail or deduce that I was once an unwilling passenger in Jim Bob's trunk.

And there's a third angle to this--if I had any ambition to be a cold-case investigator myself, I'd be a poor choice for the guy collecting evidence. I'd be leaving microscopic fragments of skin all over everything and contaminating the samples. No joke--it's there in Interpol's Handbook on DNA Data Exchange and Practice. People with eczema have to wear special suits if we're tapped for that job--and what detective is going to want to run the risk we'd screw it up?

But that does suggest there are special suits available that I might want to wear if I were, say, considering the perfect crime. I'll just file that trivia away.

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