Inside the Mind of the Arsonist

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Visionary Professor Donald Johnson, in association with LAVA and Esotouric, invites you to participate in a special four-hour event at LA’s regional crime laboratory, on the campus of Cal State LA. Space is very limited and pre-reservation required for this unprecedented opportunity to tour the crime lab, learn from working forensic investigators and educators, and discover the real art and science of crime scene investigation.

“Inside the Mind of the Arsonist” is an exploration of the scientific investigation of fire-related felony offenses, revealed through methods of evidence analysis, profiling and select case histories. Attendees will also have an opportunity to tour Cal State LA’s state-of the-art teaching and research facilities in the Criminalistics Department of the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.

“Inside the Mind of the Arsonist” is hosted by Ed Nordskog, an active arson/bomb detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and author of the new book ‘Torchered’ Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists. Copies of Mr. Nordskog’s book will be available for sale at this event, or you can purchase a copy from Amazon at this link.

The presentation consists of two lectures from Ed Nordskog, with a related breakout scientific workshop offering illustration of the concepts raised by the lectures.

LECTURE #1 is an introduction to the six main motives behind the crime of arson – spite/revenge, financial gain, crime concealment, excitement/recognition (hero fires), extremism, juvenile fires (curiosity/experimentation/vandalism)—and to Ed Nordskog’s investigative specialty, a modification of the standard arson investigation in which he “profiles” the arson scene in order to determine a “motive” for the crime. He does this by determining the actual “target” of the arson attack and the method of ignition for the event. This usually indicates a motive and the level of sophistication of the offender. Because arson is a very personal crime in which the victim nearly always knows who set the fire, it is relatively easy to identify a suspect—although proving they were involved is not so easy.

LECTURE #2 focuses on select cases studies of convicted serial arsonists, including nationally known crimes and cases on which Ed Nordskog worked personally. Included will be discussion of Glendale arson investigator / arsonist John Orr and the prolific Washington D.C. arsonist Thomas Sweatt.

Following this second lecture, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase copies of Ed Nordskog’s book ”’Torchered’ Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists.”

By the afternoon’s conclusion, attendees will have a deeper understanding of the real work that’s done in the field by arson investigators, and the tools and techniques used to interpret crime scenes for the benefit of investigating officers and juries.

ABOUT ED NORDSKOG: Ed Nordskog is an active arson/bomb detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has been a detective since 1990, working specifically in the arson and explosives world since 1997. He has conducted over sixteen hundred fire investigations and as of this writing has personally arrested and interviewed over 250 persons who were convicted of fire setting and related crimes. He has testified in court as a recognized expert in this field on over fifty-five occasions. He has been consulted by prosecuting attorneys on death penalty cases involving arson and murder on three occasions. He has been personally involved in over twenty serial arson investigations. The author has a master’s degree in emergency services management and is certified as a fire investigator by the California State Fire Marshal and the California Conference of Arson Investigators. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Arson Investigation Course, the ATF Advanced Arson Investigation Course, the Forensic Fire Death Investigation Course, and numerous other arson investigation courses. He is involved in course development and teaches fire scene investigation, major arson case investigation, serial arson investigation, and arson murder/fire death investigation. He is a course developer and instructor for the state of California’s Arson and Explosives Investigation Course. He is an instructor for the state of California’s Homicide Investigator’s Course. In 2004, the author was named Arson Investigator of the Year by the International Association of Arson Investigators and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the International Association of Special Investigations Units; both of these awards are for his work as the lead investigator on a massive arson for hire scheme, involving fifty-five burned properties. He has received over eighty-five commendations, awards, and medals throughout his law enforcement career related to successful criminal investigations. He is author of the book ”’Torchered’ Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists” (website).