Debra Komar is the author of three books that use forensic methods to re-investigate historical crimes: The Bastard of Fort Stikine, The Lynching of Peter Wheeler, and The Ballad of Jacob Peck. She has been a practicing forensic anthropologist for over twenty years and has investigated human rights violations for the United Nations, Physicians for Human Rights, the Iraqi High Tribunal, and other organizations. She was also a tenured professor of forensics at the University of New Mexico, where she also investigated about 150 domestic cases per year at the Office of the Medical Examiner for the state of New Mexico. She is also the author of many scholarly articles and the textbook Forensic Anthropology: Contemporary Theory and Practice. She currently resides in Nova Scotia.
Komar’s latest book, Black River Road: An Unthinkable Crime, an Unlikely Suspect, and the Question of Character will be released in September. From the publisher:
In 1869, in the woods just outside of the bustling port city of Saint John, a group of teenaged berry pickers discovered several badly decomposed bodies. The authorities suspected foul play, but the identities of the victims were as mysterious as that of the perpetrator. From the twists and turns of a coroner’s inquest, an unlikely suspect emerged to stand trial for murder: John Munroe, a renowned architect, well-heeled family man, and pillar of the community.
Munroe was arguably the first in Canada’s fledgling judicial system to actively defend himself. His lawyer’s strategy was as simple as it was revolutionary: Munroe’s wealth, education, and exemplary character made him incapable of murder. The press and Saint John’s elite vocally supported Munroe, sparking a debate about character and murder that continues to this day. In re-examining a precedent-setting historical crime with fresh eyes, Komar addresses questions that still echo through the halls of justice more than a century later: is everyone capable of murder, and should character be treated as evidence in homicide trials?