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By Colin Evans, John L. French

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Upon his return from Colorado, Branion was quizzed about this discrepancy. He backtracked hastily, explaining that he had really meant to say “cyanosis,” a bluish discoloration of the skin caused by de-oxygenated blood. Lividity, he said, had just been a slip of the tongue. On January 22, 1968, Detective Michael Boyle returned to Branion's apartment with a search warrant. In a cabinet that had been locked on the day of the murder, he found a brochure for a Walther PPK, an extra clip, and a manufacturer's target, all bearing the serial number 188274.

64 Crime Scene Investigation Here is a light micrograph comparison of two bullet casings, one retrieved from the scene of a shooting, the other taken from the gun of a suspect. A similar analysis was used to convict John Branion of the murder of his wife, Donna, in 1967. Philippe Psaila/Photo Researchers, Inc.

Sniper case further fueled arguments that offender profiling still has some considerable distance to travel before it can ever fully enter the forensic science mainstream. During the investigation an army of experts flooded the airwaves on television and radio with a bewildering array of profiles that were not only wildly dissimilar, but were positively dangerous in the way that they diverted police resources. The snipers were ultimately arrested as a result of concrete police work and a tip from an alert citizen.

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