Back before forensics was cool

Back before forensics was cool, the man who murdered former WWDE-FM disc jockey Debbie Dicus in Hampton was convicted largely on the strength of blood-spatter evidence.Today, you hear Gil Grissom talk about blood-spatter evidence all the time on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” It’s TV chic.At the time of Dicus’ death in 1987, however, forensics was like a foreign language to juries.Court TV’s “Forensic Files” recently completed filming “Garden of Evil: The Debbie Dicus Case” in Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and Richmond. The episode, which is expected to air early in 2006, has much to say about blood splatter.Debbie J. Dicus, 31 , was killed in May 1987 in Hampton as she was tending to a plot she had leased in a community garden about a mile from Coliseum Mall.Within a week of her death, Hampton police arrested 20-year-old Ronald E. Blanchard and charged him with murder, attempted rape, abduction and possession of a firearm. He was eventually convicted of the murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

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The crime lab found that the blood on his white T-shirt was Dicus’ Type O. It got there, said the investigators, when the suspect struck Discus on the head with a rake.Analyst Norm Tiller re-created the attack in the lab long before anyone ever heard of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” He tied a sponge to a football helmet, soaked it in red dye, and hit the “scalp” six times with a rake.The splatter was of the same pattern found on Blanchard’s shirt.In “Garden of Evil: The Debbie Dicus Case,” Court TV focuses on the contributions of detectives J.D. Spencer and Glennell Fullman, prosecutor Linda Curtis and the Virginia Department of Forensics Eastern Laboratory in Norfolk in convicting Blanchard.”It was among the first trials to introduce blood-spatter evidence,” said Tom Murray, who produced the segments in Hampton Roads. “It makes for compelling television.” Blanchard refused to be interviewed by Court TV.Dicus was heard evenings on WWDE-FM for about three years until she left the station about six weeks before her death. Dicus, a native of Greensboro, N.C., previously worked at WTAR.

Late-night deja vu – Frankly, I don’t see much difference in David Letterman’s “Stupid Human Tricks”and Jay Leno’s “Don’t Try This at Home.”It takes practice – Speaking of stupid human tricks, I heard Scott Cash of WVEC telling Tony Mercurio on ESPN Radio (1310) how he mastered the art of dipping chocolate chip cookies into milk and eating them before the cookies fall apart.Hello again, Carmela – You don’t have to wait until next March and the return of “The Sopranos” on HBO to see Edie Falco. She’s hosting “Independent Lens,” the documentary series on PBS Tuesdays at 10 p.m.Inside joke – Did you catch “Boston Legal” when they talked about harmful sea lice that “cling on” to spawning salmon? When he heard that, William Shatner (Denny Crane) did a double take. It was the writers acknowledging that Shatner fought the Klingons on “Star Trek.”They’ve got you covered – For cell phone users with access to the Internet, WTKR launched “3 on the Go.” It delivers news, sports, weather, traffic updates and school closings. “It’s an exciting new platform for us,” said Channel 3 News Director Jeff Parsons. Log on to .Opinion du jour – I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to see 80-year-old Lee Iacocca back on TV as the Chrysler pitchman. It’s like a visit from an uncle you like.The no-Dove-bar zone – Jonathan Jennings of Virginia Beach appeared on “Today” with Al Roker recently to tell the world how he went from 516 pounds to 266.

Producers ran out of time before Jennings could say how he did it.Jennings drinks 120 ounces of water a day and eats six small meals – regular food, he says. He avoids bread and dairy products. Friends, family, neighbors and viewers called and e-mailed Jennings to say he was a hit on “Today.” “The reaction to my appearance was great,” he said.Remote control fatigue – I remember when all there was to see on television was a test pattern. So I’m stunned to learn that the number of cable channels has grown to more than 390.Baby update – From new mom Kerri Furey, co-anchor of WAVY’s early morning newscast, comes word that Baby Sam is starting to sleep through the night. If he didn’t, that would be OK with Furey, who has to be up around 4 a.m. to go to work. “Within days of Sam being born, it felt perfectly normal to be a mom,” she said.Readers forum – From Becky Evans’ e-mail: “I agree with you that ‘Gilmore Girls’ has lost its charm. Luke and Lorelai may be engaged but there’s no chemistry there. Rory’s getting on my nerves since she left Yale. The show seems tired now.”Comment: The bond of mother to daughter was at the heart of “Gilmore Girls.” That bond weakened when Rory went off to college. Now that they’re feuding and estranged, the bond is broken. It will be the death of the series.