1800 Paseo Rancho Castilla LA 90032
The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, Esotouric and Dr. Jay Vargas invite you to the Cal State Los Angeles teaching crime lab for an afternoon’s inquiry into the history and practice of forensic science in Southern California, in support of new research coming out of the Criminalistics Department.
The focus of this seminar is arson investigation, and the human costs left to be tallied when an arsonist is captured.
Presentation #1: Author Frank C. Girardot Jr. and Lori Orr Kovach talking about their book Burned: Pyromania, Murder, and a Daughter’s Nightmare.
As a reporter in the San Gabriel Valley, Frank Girardot wrote about several major fires, including the fatal blaze at Ole’s Home Center in South Pasadena, that was tied to Glendale arson investigator John Orr. Long after Orr’s trial, the crimes haunted him, and he even named his son in honor of the youngest victim in the Ole’s fire. Years later, he was was introduced to Orr’s daughter Lori Orr Kovach, and discovered the fascinating family story that had never been reported.
Lori Orr believed her Los Angeles firefighter dad was a selfless hero. When John Orr was arrested and charged with four murders and countless arson fires, it was her testimony that helped keep him from being sent to Death Row. Eventually, Lori’s search for the truth lead her to the dark secrets lurking in her family’s past and to an inescapable conclusion about the remorseless killer and arsonist and his reign of terror in sunny Southern California.
Presentation #2: LAVA favorite, LASD arson/bomb detective Ed Nordskog, presenting on two fascinating, recently adjudicated investigations.
Case 1 – Jill Sampson
Synopsis: In 1991, Jill Sampson, a fashion student from Colorado, was out dancing at a nightclub near the beach in Los Angeles. She left the club around 3 a.m., sober and alone, to make the 20 minute drive back to her Downtown apartment. Two and a half hours later, Jill Sampson’s car was found burning in one of the worst gang neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Her badly burned body was found in the front passenger seat. Over four months, a few leads were developed, but then the infamous L.A. Riots erupted in same neighborhood where the body was found. The case went cold. In 2012, LAPD Cold Case investigators re-opened the case and were able to get a DNA hit on a man in State Prison. However, by this time, some critical evidence was missing or lost, there were issues with the Coroner’s testimony, and at least two of the fire scene experts had died. LAPD and the District Attorney turned to Los Angeles Sheriff’s Detective and Arson Profiler Ed Nordskog to lend his unique experience to the case, which was adjudicated in 2018.
Case 2 – Jesse Aguilar
Synopsis: In 2006, a smoldering car was observed in the Los Angeles River bed. Firefighters found smoke emitting from the trunk of the vehicle and that the trunk lid was tied shut. Inside they found the badly beaten body of Jesse Aguilar, a recently returned, decorated veteran of the Gulf War. Sheriff’s Homicide investigators had few leads, as Jesse was last seen going to work the day earlier. Some clues at the scene indicated the possible involvement of a street gang, even though Aguilar was not associated with gang activity. The investigators doggedly pursued the case for nearly a decade before finding evidence linking two suspects to the scene. Ed Nordskog was called as an expert witness and arson profiler and opined in court that Jesse was probably tortured prior to the fire, and set on fire while still alive. Case adjudicated in 2018.
Warning: This seminar will have extremely graphic and disturbing crime scene photos. They are shown to illustrate the unique forensics associated with fire death scenes. Any persons who knew the victims are urged not to attend. There will be no photography or videotaping permitted during this presentation.
ABOUT ED NORDSKOG:
Currently a full time Arson/Bomb Investigator with Los Angeles Sheriff’s, since 1997. Ed has investigated 2,100 arson cases and arrested/prosecuted 300 persons for arson related offenses. He has testified as an expert in fire/arson on over 100 cases, and been involved in over 60 fatal fire investigations and 46 serial arson investigations.
In recent years, he has acted in the role of consultant for police, prosecutors, coroners, and fire agencies at the local, state, national and international levels. Nordskog has provided these consulting services on over 75 occasions.
Ed Nordskog has authored three books on arsonists and serial arsonists, including his most recent release, The Arsonist Profiles. He has been named the “International Arson Investigator of the Year”, and the “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” for his work on major and complex arson investigations. He has provided expertise and script consulting to several television and movie projects regarding both arsonists and bombers.
Contact Page for Ed.