“You sit and stare at their pictures. You breathe the same rarefied air they took their last breath with. Your reality becomes a fantasy. You try to picture yourself there…seeing it through their eyes. You feel their fright and the hands around your own neck. They are your victims. Taken from this world way to soon, mothers, fathers, brothers and daughters alike. Fate doesn’t care who it takes off of this earth as long as it balances out in the end.”
That is how Detective Kenneth L. Mains describes how he feels when he investigates an unsolved cold case. He continues:
“That is where I have a problem with fate….it never balances out in the end. There is always a void, a deep lasting sickness you feel when you can’t bring the victim back to the loved ones that have lost them. I want to go kick in the door, smack around the bad guy and rescue the victims from their evil capture. I want to carry the victim through the door and bring them, home to their loved ones. That is what I want and what I envision. That however, is not reality.”
When asked what a detective is and does Mains went on to say:
“A detective is different from any other position or job. It requires that you be well versed in many disciplines to include behavioral and forensic sciences, investigations, forensic pathology and knowledge of the legal profession. You as a detective, see human beings at their most vulnerable position ever in life….and that is death. You as a detective, have to meet the parents of these dead humans and tell them you will do everything in your power to solve this case. It is a huge responsibility. You look in their eyes, but peripherally you see the pictures of their dead son or daughter on the walls behind them and it makes you feel for the parents. I don’t care how ‘hard’ you think you are…it will always tug at your heart. These family members have a different look in their eyes. They have a look of desperation. They look at you and they put their entire faith in you. They want you to solve this case. How can you not be motivated by that? So in turn, you work that case until you die! That’s what I do. I do it for the victims who don’t have a voice. I do it for the family and friends of the loved ones because that is what Detectives do. At least I feel that is what good Detectives do. Good Detectives never turn it off. They think about the victims when they are shopping at Lowes or when they are fishing or when they lay down at night to sleep. You are always thinking about who, what, why and how the crime occurred. My mind is always spinning and trying to deduce the possibilities in order to solve the case. Because the bottom line is that is the business we are in. We are in the business of solving cases.”
Detective Kenneth L. Mains is dedicated. He investigates the unsolved. He is a detective. He closes out by saying:
“After I meet the parents of a victim of homicide I want to do nothing more than to solve the case and bring them closure. You feel their pain, their desolation and despair. You can see it in their eyes as they put their entire faith in you. They want you to rid them of this sickening feeling of loss and solve the case. That my friend is called pressure. That my friends is cold case investigations. Welcome to my world.”
If you do not have passion for what you do, you will never be the best. At AISOCC, that is what we are and what we continue to strive to be…the best. You cannot become the best without loving what you do. That my friend is called passion and Laura Pettler displays that passion when investigating cold cases. That is why she was promoted from AISOCC Review Board Member, to Director of Development and finally in 2014, Vice President of AISOCC.
She is no stranger to a variety of public platforms, cameras, and media interviews; Laura is a young woman on a mission to use her life to make a difference. Beyond the extreme diversity of her career, what also makes Laura so unique and interesting is her huge personality, multifaceted talent, and her incredibly inspiring backstory that touches so many people’s hearts.
Laura has been interviewed countless times about how becoming a single mother at 17 taught her to meet each of life’s challenges with determination to overcome and how she learned to turn obstacles into opportunities propelling her straight towards enormous success. Sometimes, individuals need those tough times and obstacles to overcome in order to push themselves to succeed. Laura has done that!
As a child, Laura was obsessed with television shows like Unsolved Mysteries, America’s Most Wanted, and The Bloodhound Gang, while embracing the eclectic culture of her youth studying music, dance, art, and culture. So as an adult, while honing her craft towards becoming a professional musician, Laura simultaneously strived to become one of the world’s leading crime solvers… and succeeded.
In her early years, so many people put this “teenage-mother” down by berating her with how she would become nothing but just another statistic. They were right…she has become a walking, talking statistic proving that if Laura can turn obstacles into opportunities…anyone can.
Above being a great person and a modern day success story, Dr. Laura Pettler is a forensic criminologist, which means Laura studies and uses sub-disciplines of forensic science (i.e., physical evidence). This includes bloodstain pattern analysis and shooting incident reconstruction coupled with social and behavioral evidence (i.e., theory and research) like information revealed in victimology and suspectology to reconstruct a crime.
A survivor of domestic violence, Laura’s interest for studying intimate partner homicide grew. Laura recognized early in life that domestic violence was a very serious societal issue and wanted to help. Laura centered her forensic criminology studies on intimate partner violence and crime scene staging. Coupled with studying death investigation, bloodstain pattern analysis, shooting incident reconstruction, victimology, and suspectology, Laura soon becomes a recognized expert in her field and a “go-to” person for numerous law enforcement agencies and private attorneys nationwide for homicide investigation and specifically cold case assistance. In 2014, Laura founded social media based The Crime Scene Staging Awareness Initiative towards remembering victims of homicide and missing persons of staged crime scenes.
In 2005, during a vocal performance for her hometown’s National Night Out, Laura met a District Attorney of a rural North Carolinian district. He hired her to work a cold case and liked her work so much he added Laura to his staff as the first forensic criminologist to work for a prosecutorial district in North Carolina. Grass does not grow under Laura’s feet and she used this opportunity to create several community initiatives.
As the first forensic criminologist to ever to work for a DA’s Office, Laura headed up North Carolina’s first Crime Scene Reconstruction and Behavioral Analysis Program, the District’s Cold Case Task Force, its International Forensic Institute, the District’s International Forensic Science Internship Program, and a professional forensics association for law enforcement and forensic practitioners’ continuing education. Laura’s tireless work met with tremendous success by helping the community from law enforcement to homicide victims and their families.
Armed with a bachelors, masters, PhD, several years post-graduate crime scene reconstruction study, published research, and nearly 20-years of experience, Laura’s specialty is crime scene staging in intimate partner cold case homicides. In fact, it was Laura’s work on the infamous 1986 homicide of Harold Gentry that led to the Cold Case Task Force arrest of Betty Lafon Neumar, The Black Widow Granny, a then 76-year-old grandmother who with five dead husbands and a dead son over 50 years died before she was tried.
Throughout her career, Laura has appeared on numerous television programs, radio shows, and has been interviewed countless times about forensics, homicide cases, music, and other topics.
Laura’s latest television project in partnership with AISOCC and Jupiter Entertainment, is potentially starring in a new TrueCrime TV series, costarring AISOCC founder and President Detective Kenneth L. Mains. The AISOCC and Jupiter Team shot the Sizzle Reel for this new show in late February 2014 and have high hopes for facilitating television outreach towards helping to bring justice to victims.
Laura also worked with Beyond Productions on Discovery ID Channel’s Deadly Women: Matriarch’s of Murder episode in 2012, and in 2013 Laura worked with Executive Producer George Davilas and in New York City alongside to shoot a crime scene reenactment for a potential new daytime TV series. Interestingly, in 2009, Laura was also signed by Washington, DC-based Storyboard Productions to star in a forensic crime scene reconstruction television show about her work in the District Attorney’s Office called Final Analysis.
In addition to her work in TrueCrime TV, Laura is a sought-after commentator as well. After being interviewed on the publicized information about a double murder published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Laura recently appeared on the NBC Affiliate WPXI Channel 11′s NightTalk with Ellis Cannon where she discussed common themes often seen in murders of that nature. Look for Laura on upcoming broadcasts on both local and national commentary programs.
In 2010, Laura appeared on News14 Carolina on a segment called “Hollywood changes juror’s expectations” where Laura demonstrated shooting reconstructive techniques in the Stanly County, NC court house. Laura also appeared on a Stanly-County based TV show where she was interviewed about forensic programming she cofounded while with the District Attorney’s Office.
In 2005, Laura founded Carolina Forensics, a company based in North Carolina, specializing in forensic consultation, research, and education. Over the years, in both the private and public sectors, Laura was often challenged in homicide crime scenes, primarily beatings, stabbings, and shootings by having too little equipment, equipment that didn’t work, or equipment that was too difficult to use.
In 2008, while working on a freezing October night with colleagues in a rural North Carolina county to reconstruct a shooting incident drug deal gone bad, Laura had an idea, “Why not use hollow dowel rods instead of solid dowel rods so that the laser beam goes right through the dowel to the point of impact?”
This was the inception of Laura’s first product line (2009-2013) called Tubular Dowel Crime Scene Reconstruction. Laura co-invented this system with her colleagues from that cold October night and the system met with success throughout the United States and abroad.
But Laura knew there was more…Laura’s inventions have been used on: CSI Las Vegas, NCIS, Rissoli and Isles’.
After four more years of research, in 2013, Laura finally launched her newest invention; a crime scene reconstruction system called The Kaleidoscope System, and discontinued the manufacturing of the Tubular Dowel System. The Kaleidoscope System has tripled in sales compared to the Tubular Dowel System and is carried by 17 forensic product distributors…worldwide. In the fall, Laura was invited to Paris, France to exhibit The Kaleidoscope System at MILIPOL, the largest State Security Exhibition in the world.
The Kaleidoscope System is now available in nearly 30 countries throughout North America, South America, Central America, Mexico, the UK, Europe: France, Switzerland; Australia, Turkey, and in several African countries. Laura hopes to work with a colleague in Singapore to break into the Asian market in 2014.
The Kaleidoscope System is the most versatile and comprehensive crime scene reconstruction system ever invented. It combines the use of green lasers, red lasers, tripods, resin laser bases, clamps, in addition to other items in order to reconstruct many types of beatings, stabbings, and shootings in violent criminal cases.
“Having worked so many murders in my career, I took an eclectic approach and gathered the good, bad, and the ugly from all the reconstruction equipment out there. I analyzed and evaluated all of it and from my evaluation came The Kaleidoscope System,” said Laura.
Laura is the perfect storm, whipping about cold cases with an unbridled fury. She is a huge asset to AISOCC and cold cases everywhere. AISOCC is proud to have her as the second in command in order to bring justice and closure to unsolved cases everywhere! The criminal investigation world should be very happy Dr. Laura Pettler is a scholar and practitioner in that field, I know AISOCC is!
The general membership page has also been updated and we thank all these members for their support and dedication to justice.
Information about the first annual conference held May 12-14, 2014 can be found here.
The AISOCC also has a Facebook page so if you use FB, give us the thumbs up!
The Bay Village PD, The FBI, and The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office (Cleveland, OH) are seeking to identify attempted or actual child abduction cases occurring as a result of perpetrator initiated interaction with victim similar to the approach described below:
On 10/27/1989, 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from Bay Square Shopping Center, Bay Village, Ohio. Amy left school at 2:05 pm and walked ¼ mile to the shopping center. Amy was last seen outside a business at Bay Square between 2:15 and 2:30 pm.
Amy’s mother, Margaret Mihaljevic, received her usual check‐in telephone call while at work from Amy between 3:10 – 3:40 pm. The call was later than usual but Margaret assumed Amy was at home. The offender and Amy were likely together at the time of this call, with the offender allowing Amy to contact Margaret to maintain a normal routine. Margaret returned home from work at 5:30 pm and reported Amy missing.
Two witnesses observed a white male interacting with Amy at Bay Square Shopping Center. The abductor spoke with Amy and directed her towards the parking lot with his hand on her shoulder. The abductor was described as 5’8” – 5’10”, medium build, dark hair, 30‐40 years of age, and possibly wearing glasses. No vehicle was observed.
Weeks prior to the abduction Amy told a friend that she had received a telephone call from someone who “worked with Amy’s mother”. The caller wanted help from Amy to pick out a gift for her mother, indicating Amy’s Mom had done something good at work. Amy told her friend she was responsible for keeping this secret because she was better at keeping secrets than Jason, her 13-year-old brother.
On 2/8/1990, Amy’s body was discovered in a farm field adjacent to County Road 1181 in rural Ashland County, Ohio. The body disposal site which afforded extended visibility in all directions is about 50 miles southwest of the abduction site. The body was re‐dressed in the same clothing the victim was last known to be wearing, except for missing shoes and earrings. The partially skeletonized body exhibited stab wounds to the throat and blunt trauma to the rear head. Advanced decomposition precluded determination of sexual assault.
If you have information call 1‐800‐CALL‐FBI or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AISOCC welcomes Andrew Reitnauer as new consulting member.
Andrew is a Forensic Scientist III and Section Supervisor of the Latent Print Section at the Nassau County Office of the Medical Examiner. As technical leader and primary trainer of the section, Andrew is responsible for procedure development, and development of the evidence processing program. He is the President of the New York Division of the International Association for Identification, Chairman of the NY State Technical Working Group on Latent Prints, and member of the NY State Proficiency Test Committee. Andrew is an ASCLD/LAB approved internal auditor for laboratory standards.
Andrew’s expertise include expert witness examination and testimony. He has been a Senior Crime Scene Responder since 2006, Forensic Photographer, and NY AFIS (SABIS) Regional Site Manager. He has three certifications in Latent Print Examination (CLPE through the IAI, CLE and CSLE through the NY State Division of Criminal Justice Services) in addition to the Senior Crime Scene Analyst (CSCSA) status with the IAI.