Welcome John Cencich

The AISOCC welcomes Dr. John R. Cencich as consulting member. Dr Cencich, a legal scientist and criminologist, is Professor and Director of the Pennsylvania Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences at California University of Pennsylvania. The Institute houses a Cold Case Project and the Appalachian Innocence Project. The projects aim to identify offenders and, where applicable, exonerate the innocent.

Dr. Cencich specializes in the use of behavioral based techniques to elicit incriminating responses and confessions from criminal actors and to help establish a suspect’s innocence. He also provides training in forensic law and the effective use of expert testimony for forensic scientists and legal counsel.

His undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, research, and service are in the areas of equivocal death analysis and advanced criminal law and investigation. He is exploring the possibility to create the first “body farm“in Fayette County, PA. His current research involves the application of the behavioral manifestations of violent crime offenders to the unique elements of certain international crimes including the requisite discriminatory intent for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Professor Cencich holds a doctorate in Juridical Science from the University of Notre Dame, an advanced law degree from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Virginia Commonwealth University.

After working for 20 years in law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels, he served a 4-year appointment as a senior U.N. war crimes investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Netherlands. Headquartered at The Hague, he led one of the largest international criminal investigations in history, which involved atrocities such as extermination, murder, rape, and torture. The efforts of the investigative team resulted in the indictment of Slobodan Milošević, a sitting head-of-state, and the identification of 15 major co-perpetrators for crimes committed throughout Croatia. His work in this regard was published by Potomac Books in 2013 as “The Devil’s Garden: A War Crimes Investigator’s Story.”

Dr. Cencich frequently posts his opinions online. In this article he discusses why it was correct to not declare Mr. Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant — for good reason. Such a designation is the first step to a privileged status granted to legitimate members of armed forces under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, which went into effect in the aftermath of World War II. The primary purpose of this convention is to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners of war.

To receive these special considerations, certain conditions must be met. Belligerents must wear the uniform or another distinctive sign of belonging to an army, carry arms openly and obey the laws of war, which demand that civilians not be targeted. Once captured, enemy combatants are bound to provide only their name, date of birth, rank and serial number. They are to be treated respectfully, are immune from criminal prosecution for lawful wartime acts of violence and are to be released upon cessation of hostilities.

Mr. Tsarnaev is by no means a legally recognized member of the armed forces of an enemy state, he did not carry arms openly and he allegedly attacked innocent civilians, killing three, injuring nearly 200 others and later gunning down two police officers, one of whom died. Why would he be granted POW privileges and released when hostilities — which “hostilities”? — cease?

If you scroll down in this post to the comment section, you can read why John Cencich defends the Reid Technique and impresses on the readers that personal responsibility and integrity are key elements too easily overlooked.

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About Kenneth L. Mains

Founder and President of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases.

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