Forensic Science Seminar: The Hollywood Fire Devil
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Forensic Science Seminar: The Hollywood Fire Devil

Forensic Science Seminar: The Hollywood Fire Devil

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Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center

5151 State University Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90032

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The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, Esotouric and Professor Donald Johnson 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.

Join us for an afternoon with LASD arson/bomb detective Ed Nordskog, presenting on one of his most fascinating recent investigations, The Hollywood Fire Devil case.

ABOUT THE CRIMES: In 2011, Dorothee Burkhart used a fake check to pay a Frankfurt doctor the equivalent of $10,000 for breast augmentation surgery. The German authorities took a dim view of the ironic twist of using fake money to pay for fake boobs and soon arrested the long time scam artist. Ever resourceful, Dorothee feigned a heart attack and was taken to a hospital. She crawled out an emergency room window and called her adult special needs son Harry, who delivered their passports and some cash. The pair fled through Europe and flew to Vancouver. After being refused asylum in Canada, Dorothee fled to the United States and eventually landed in Hollywood, where she put her new assets to good use by opening an erotic massage parlor.

German authorities tracked her down and issued an international arrest warrant seeking extradition. This warrant was executed on December 26, 2011 by agents from the United States Marshal’s Service and the Deparment of State. Dorothee was arrested and appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on December 28. During the hearing, a livid Harry Burkhart leaped up and demanded his mother’s release. He yelled “Death to America”, among other things. The judge, realizing that Harry had mental health issues, ordered him to be identified and removed from the courthouse.

Eight hours later, a still fuming Harry Burkhart would light the first of fifty-two fires he would set over a four day period. The arrest of his mother would trigger that largest and most furious amount of arson activity ever recorded, and would bring the four largest police and fire agencies west of the Mississippi River to their collective knees. It would also cause the formation of the largest and most intense arson manhunt ever conceived in the United States.

Over the next four days, 400 local and federal investigators would utilize every possible tactic and trick in the hunt for the elusive Hollywood serial arsonist. This intense investigation would culminate with a simple traffic stop by a reserve sheriff’s deputy who earns one dollar per year (less taxes) for volunteering to serve his community.

The Hollywood Fire Devil case is the largest and most intense arson investigation in the history of the United States and is explained through the eyes of the lead investigators who spent ninety straight hours on their feet tracking down hundreds of leads.

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 books ‘Torchered’ Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists, Fire Raisers, Freaks and Fiends—Obsessive Arsonists in the California Foothills and The Arsonist Profiles: Analyzing Arson Motives and Behavior.

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Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center

5151 State University Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90032

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