Larry King Live - May 26, 2000

Can High-Tech Advances Help Close Open Murder Cases?
Aired May 26, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, with the killer of their daughter still at large, the Ramseys take a lie-detector test. It's one unsolved homicide among thousands. How can high-tech advances help close open cases? Sitting in for Larry King, famed defense attorney Gerry Spence.

Joining him, the host of "Unsolved Mysteries," Robert Stack; renowned forensic scientist and crime scene analyst Dr. Henry Lee; former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman, who dug into the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley; plus, the man who polygraphed him and the Ramseys, Ed Gelb. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

GERRY SPENCE, GUEST HOST: Hello, I'm Gerry Spence. Now just a minute, don't mess with the clicker. This is the LARRY KING show. I'm sitting in for my pal Larry who's just had another baby. So congratulations, Larry. Right now, he's with his darling wife, Shaun, and their gorgeous new baby, Canon.

Tonight, well, we're going to talk about unsolved crimes. If somebody murders somebody in your house, you'd want the murderer caught. So let's talk to some people who have done just that.

Robert Stack, host of "Unsolved Mysteries" joins me in Los Angeles, along with Jane Alexander, who spent 13 years tracking down the killer of her dear aunt. She's the co-founder of Citizens Against Homicide.

[Abridged transcript -- small talk with Stack and others omitted; Gelb and Lee sections pertaining to Ramsey case remain.]


SPENCE: You know, one tool that's used in the investigation of crimes is the polygraph. The popular name of it is "the lie detector." Now joining me from New York, the man who polygraphed John and Patsy Ramsey. He's Ed Gelb, used to be president of the American Polygraph Association.

Ed, and I just said your name wrong, didn't I?


SPENCE: It's Gelb. Rhymes with?

GELB: There is nothing it rhymes with.

SPENCE: That's why I couldn't remember it.


SPENCE: Ed, listen, you do the polygraph on the Ramseys. What did you find?

GELB: Gerry, I found that both John and Patsy Ramsey, after careful examination, were not practicing deception, or put another way, they were telling the truth when they denied involvement in the deaths of -- in the death of their daughter, JonBenet, and we looked at it from a number of aspects. One, did you inflict the injuries that caused the death of JonBenet? Another approach was, do you know who killed JonBenet, or are you concealing the identity of that person? And finally, with Patsy Ramsey, because she had not been excluded from writing the ransom note, I directed an examination toward, did you write the ransom note?

Those examinations were all numerically scored, quality- controlled, and no deception was indicated.

SPENCE: You know something? These -- the fact that these people, both of them, passed the lie detector test has some significance, doesn't it? I mean, if just one of them passed or one of them -- or both of them failed it would have been something different. But both passed. What does that mean to you?

GELB: Well, not only did they both pass, but there was a total of five separate polygraph examinations. And you can get into the statistical probability of what's the chance that either or both of them were lying and yet able to pass five separate examinations each consisting of three polygraph charts for a total of 15 charts. I think those chances are pretty slim, Gerry.

SPENCE: All right, now, Ed, now listen to this carefully: Are you sitting there ready to guarantee to this whole world that these people aren't guilty of that crime?

GELB: Absolutely not, Gerry. I'm giving you the results of a well-conducted polygraph examination, which in my hands is probably 95 percent accurate. The other 5 percent would be made up of false positives, false negatives and inconclusives.

SPENCE: So why can't you under these circumstances say, well, you know, they passed this with flying colors not once but five times, I can guarantee they're innocent? Why can't you say that?

GELB: Because I guarantee the quality of my polygraph examination. And that's what I guarantee. I don't sit and pontificate and decide guilt or innocence. That's decided by judges and juries. I decide whether a polygraph examination was properly conducted and what its results were, and I stand behind those results.

SPENCE: Well, can we always rely on a polygraph with respect to guilt or innocence? I mean...

GELB: I don't think the polygraph has anything to do with guilt or innocence. As you well know, Gerry, that's the province of a judge or a jury, and I'm not sure that the nexus between truth and justice is always there.

SPENCE: Well, supposing, just supposing that in this case the Ramseys, who hired you to do this, who paid you the money, had come up with a negative result, and you came to your conclusion that these people had lied, would you have gone on national television to tell us all that?

GELB: Certainly not. I would imagine that the attorney would have said this was done under attorney-client privilege and this will never see the light of day.

SPENCE: Well, that's -- that's understandable, but I think America needed to hear that and understand that, Ed.

You know, who -- who is it that can -- can beat a lie detector test? There are certain kinds of people that you know you can beat them. What kind of personality is it?

GELB: Well, Gerry, I think we start out with the person who doesn't take the test. That's probably the best way to beat it, is not to take it.

Now, if they're going to take the test, there's probably a possibility that they could make that test run inconclusive so there would be no firm opinion.

SPENCE: How -- what kind of person would do that? We've got about 15 seconds here.

GELB: A deceptive person who is trying to hide their deceit would do things physically to destroy the efficacy of that examination, Gerry.

SPENCE: How about a psychopath, somebody with no conscience?

GELB: Well, the literature doesn't agree with that. The research that's been done indicates that people who were in fact psychopaths tested better with the polygraph than the normal population. That study was done up in Vancouver.

SPENCE: Well, there's the man, folks. There's the guy that if you want to find out whether your next door neighbor or your spouse is telling the truth, you better call Ed.

Thanks, Ed, for being with us so much. Thank you.

GELB: Thank you, Gerry, for having me on the show.

SPENCE: You bet. And now, don't go away. Going to have to take another break. Don't mess with the clicker.


PATSY RAMSEY: What was I thinking? I had JonBenet's face in my mind from the moment I went into that room, and I just kept saying, this is for you, honey, because we're going to find out who did this, and whatever I have to do, I will do.

JOHN RAMSEY: The only thing we know to do now is to appeal to the public and say, look, we've done everything we can that we know we can do. You need to realize there's a killer of children that walks among us. It's not patsy, and it's not I. Let's get with finding the killer. That is our single and only objecting in doing any of this.



SPENCE: Welcome back.

Still with me here in Los Angeles are Robert Stack, host of "Unsolved Mysteries," and Jane Alexander, co-founder of Citizens Against Homicide.

Joining me from Omaha, the eminent, inscrutable forensic scientist and crime-scene expert, the incomparable Dr. Henry Lee.

Well, Dr. Lee is the commissioner, as you probably all know, of the Connecticut Department of Public Safety. And in Spokane...


SPENCE: ... we've got the former Los Angeles police detective and best-selling author Mark Fuhrman.

Hi, Mark. Hi, doctor.


LEE: Hi.

SPENCE: Well...

FUHRMAN: Good evening, Jerry.

SPENCE: ... is it a little easier to solve these cases now, Doctor Lee, than it used to be?

LEE: Yes...

SPENCE: These old cold cases?

LEE: Because new advances in forensic, so have a lot of new technology applied to the cold cases, such as DNA, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), new chemical (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to look at a latent fingerprint, image enhancement, of course, artificial intelligence, and crime-scene reconstruction.

SPENCE: Artificial intelligence? What do you mean artificial intelligence? If they've got that, I want a little of it for myself.


LEE: Well, it's now, you know -- because massive amounts of information, we, early days, just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of forensic scientists would read the report, tried to memorize all these cases. Right now, we can put all the database in a computer, try to search the name file, a vehicle file. A witness has a description, we can link the cases together, determine that's a serial rapist or a serial killer. Try to look at the common parameters so we can solve that case.

SPENCE: So that -- so that computer is proving to be smarter than we are.

[section on Moxley case ommitted.}

SPENCE: Well, but, you know, they're still entitled to their basic rights under the law, and that includes due process. That means that the testimony has to be right, that the evidence has to be honest.

Dr. Lee, when you go into a case like the O.J. Simpson case, right?

LEE: Yes.

SPENCE: You're paid.

LEE: Yes, I got paid. However, it was money...

SPENCE: And you're -- well, that doesn't mean that you're -- that doesn't mean that you're...

LEE: Wait a second.

SPENCE: That doesn't mean that you're a bad man, doesn't -- doesn't mean you're not going to tell the truth. It just means you got paid.

LEE: Sure, you know, your lawyer get paid or not, right?

SPENCE: That's right

LEE: As a scientist -- right. As a scientist...

SPENCE: But -- but -- but...

LEE: As a scientist, yes I got paid. The money...

SPENCE: But the point -- the difference is -- there really isn't a difference. You see, lawyers get paid...


SPENCE: Lawyers get paid, too.

LEE: Right. as a scientist, we get paid.

SPENCE: But there's two sides. When you go into a trial, there's two sides of the lawyer. There's this side of the hand that represents part of the truth from the defense side. There's this side of the hand, the other side, that represents part of the truth from the other side. But when you take the stand and you're paid by one side or the other, does that have anything to do with the way you view the case?

LEE: No, absolutely not. Like a scientist, we only report a scientific fact to the court of law. Doesn't matter which side retain you, the -- Ed just talked about polygraph. He just report a result. We just report a scientific result to the court of law. Don't take side, doesn't matter which side pays us.

SPENCE: Well...

LEE: As a matter of fact, O.J. Simpson case did, in fact, pay me. However, half of the money went to the state police laboratory, bought some instrument. Other used for police training. Personally, I did not get benefit from it.

SPENCE: You know, Dr. Lee, you are such a fascinating person. Everybody is -- everybody just loves to listen to you...

LEE: Thank you.

SPENCE: ... and yet as I listen to you carefully as a lawyer, sometimes I'm not quite sure that you take an absolute position, even though you have the science in front of you.

LEE: Yes, a lot of time it's in gray area. We can't say everything is a black and white.

I like to make one point clear regards to Moxley case. I had the pleasure to have dinner with Mrs. Moxley, very nice lady. I feel terrible about her daughter got murdered. However, something have to make it clear. We been working on the case since 1993, a task force set up. We re-examine every piece of evidence, review all the record. I did the complete crime scene reconstruction, went back. We started investigating together. So solving the case, we really cannot goes to the public. So I hope sort of the public can understand...

SPENCE: Well, now, I'm not going to ask you that...

LEE: ... what the evidence was.

SPENCE: ... final question as to whether or not you've solved the case.

LEE: Well, we cannot really talk about that.

SPENCE: The prosecutor will ask you that on the stand.

LEE: Yes, exactly.

SPENCE: So there, we have it -- Robert Stack...

STACK: Yes, sir.

SPENCE: ... and Jane Alexander...


SPENCE: ... and we're going to go to a break. And we'll be right back. And don't mess with the clicker.



Let me ask you, Dr. Lee, just one question, however. Who -- who is it that hired you in the Ramsey case? Which side?

LEE: Well, I -- Gerry, I really don't like to hear the term hire. And judges, police officers, we all get paid what we're doing. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

SPENCE: Who is going to pay your check, your bill in this case?

LEE: Well, they really did not pay my check; they just paid my expenses.

SPENCE: Now, you know...

LEE: Alex Hunter.

SPENCE: Who is going to pay your expenses?

LEE: Expenses means fly me to Colorado. That's Alex Hunter.

SPENCE: Yes, who is going to pay it?

LEE: The DA or the public. OK, the people.

SPENCE: Well, I'll be darned, we got an answer from the inscrutable Dr. Lee. Now, thank you. Now -- now, I wanted to ask you, Mark, if whether -- whether or not you've got some advice for these people out here. This -- you know, thousands of people who have loved-ones that have been murdered and the cases aren't solved. Do you have some advice for them?