Born: November 22, 1938 (age 83) Rugao, Kiangsu, Republic of China
Nationality: Republic of China United States
Henry Chang-Yu Lee is a forensic scientist who is Chinese-American. He is the creator of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, which is linked with the University of New Haven. He is one of the world’s best forensic scientists.
Early Life and Career
Lee was born in Rugao County, Jiangsu Province, China, the eleventh of thirteen children, and fled to Taiwan, Republic of China, after the end of the Chinese Civil War in the late 1940s. His father died when the passenger ship Taiping sank on January 27, 1949, while sailing independently from the rest of the family. Lee never wanted to go to university because he was raised without a father; instead, he earned a B.A. in Police Administration from Central Police College in 1960. (In Taiwan, Central Police College is a “service academy” that is tuition-free and provides a stipend.)
Lee then joined the Taipei Police Department, where he progressed to captain at the age of 22, making him the youngest captain in Taiwanese history. In 1965, he and his wife immigrated to the United States.
He got a B.S. in forensic science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City in 1972, after moving to the United States to further his education. He moved on to New York University to study science and biochemistry, earning his M.S. in 1974 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1975.
Lee is presently the director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science’s Forensic Research and Training Center and Distinguished Chair Professor in Forensic Science at the University of New Haven. From 2000 to 2010, Lee served as Chief Emeritus of the Connecticut State Police, and from 1998 to 2000, he was the Commissioner of Public Safety for the state of Connecticut, and from 1978 to 2000, he was the state’s Chief Criminalist and Director of the State Police Forensic Laboratory.
Lee has given several lectures, produced or co-authored more than 40 books on forensic science, crime scene investigation, and crime scene reconstruction, and has hundreds of articles published in professional publications.
He has served as a consultant or advisor to several law enforcement authorities. He hosted a show called Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee on the truTV network, formerly Court TV, that featured his work on well-known cases. Lee has also made numerous television appearances. He has appeared on several Chinese television and online programs, including KangXi Lai Le in Taiwan and many appearances on China Central Television’s Voice Beyond the Edge in Mainland China. Attorney Daniel Hong Deng of Rosemead, California, produced his book True Crime Experiences with Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee.
He has worked on several high-profile cases, including the JonBenét Ramsey murder case, the Helle Crafts woodchipper murder [the first murder conviction in Connecticut without the body of the victim], the O. J. Simpson and Laci Peterson cases, the post-9/11 forensic investigation, the Washington, DC sniper shootings, and the reinvestigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination.
Lee looked into the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu on March 19. Following the O. J. Simpson case, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr engaged Lee to assist him in the investigation of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, who committed suicide at Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993.
He was also consulted in the case of Danny Casolaro, an investigative journalist who died in a West Virginia motel room in 1991. Initially, Lee claimed that the evidence supplied to him by authorities did not rule out suicide. When more evidence from the hotel scene became available a few years later, Lee formally retracted his prior finding and declared, “a reconstruction is only as good as the information provided by the police.”
During the prosecution of Michael Peterson, a fiction writer, and politician from North Carolina who was convicted of the murder of his wife, Kathleen Peterson, in 2003, Lee was consulted as a blood-spatter analyst.
In 2007, Lee testified as a prosecution expert witness in the first trial of Cal Harris, a car dealer from upstate New York suspected of murdering his wife on September 11, 2001. Because nobody has ever been located, the greatest proof of foul play that the state possesses is some medium-velocity castoff impact blood spatter on the garage and kitchen walls. It could only have originated from someone lower than 29 inches (740 mm) above ground, Lee told the jury. Harris was found guilty in that trial and a subsequent retrial after additional evidence was discovered, but was acquitted in a fourth trial after his conviction was reversed on appeal.
Lee was involved in the early stages of the investigation into the disappearance of child Caylee Anthony in Orlando, Florida in 2008. Lee founded and became the director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science in 1996. Lee was then appointed commissioner of the Connecticut State Police Department of Public Safety in 1998, a position he maintained until 2000. Lee then became chief emeritus of the Connecticut Department of Public Safety’s Division of Scientific Services in June 2000, a post he still occupies. Lee was also named a research professor at the University of Connecticut in 2000, as well as a distinguished professor of criminology at Central Connecticut University.
Lee completed special training programs from the FBI Academy, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Connecticut State Department of Administrative Service, and other criminal investigative agencies throughout his career. Lee has also received numerous awards, including the Taiwan National Police Administration’s Distinguished Service Award (1962), the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ Distinguished Criminalist Award (1986), the Connecticut Police Commissioners Association’s Distinguished Service Award (1992), the Justice Foundation’s Medal of Justice (1996), and the Science and Engineer Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1998).
Lee and his team of forensic scientists have made significant advances to forensic research, including improving bloody fingerprints, developing novel procedures for extracting DNA from evidence, and estimating blood volume at a crime scene. Lee has received numerous awards, citations, commendations, and medals from civic groups, governments, police departments, and universities around the world for his achievements and contributions in criminal investigations, biochemistry, material science, forensic science, fire and arson investigation, home and industrial security, and law enforcement.
Lee is well-known in the forensic science field for his extensive knowledge, expertise, devotion, humor, and common sense, as well as his exceptional ability to identify the tiniest clues that might determine the outcome of key trial cases. Lee was inducted into the American Academy of Forensic Sciences as a distinguished Fellow in 1992.
Phil Spector Trial
The judge in the Phil Spector murder trial, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, declared in May 2007 that he had found that “Lee buried or destroyed” a piece of evidence from the scene of actress Lana Clarkson’s killing. “When he appeared before Fidler, Lee claimed he was startled and insulted by accusations by two former members of Spector’s defense team that he had gathered a small white object that was never turned over to prosecutors, as the law requires,” according to the New York Times. Judge Fidler’s decision was “extremely narrow,” according to University of Southern California law professor Jean Rosenbluth, who highlighted that the judge had not conclude that Lee had lied on the stand or acted deliberately.
Allegations of error in 2019
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in June 2019 that Lee had erred in his murder-trial testimony; Lee claimed that a towel had tested positive for blood, but he had not tested the entire towel. Blood was not discovered in subsequent testing. Lee’s testimony in other cases was later called into question by The Daily Beast. At a news conference on June 17, Lee later claimed that he did test the towel. On the day of the homicide, he added, chemical screening tests for blood were performed at the crime site.
Lee currently resides in Connecticut, where he lived until August 1, 2017, with his wife Margaret Lee (April 16, 1939 – August 1, 2017), whom he married in 1962. His wife worked at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, Connecticut, first as a teacher and then as a researcher. Lee married Xiaoping Jiang, the CEO of Jiadi (Hong Kong) Co., Yangzhou Jiadi Clothing Co., Ltd., and Yangzhou Jiadi Senior Care Center, on December 1, 2018.
Dr. Lee has also received awards for his efforts.
- In recent years, he has received the American College of Forensic Examiners (ACFE) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000
- The Ellis Island Foundation’s Medal of Honor in 2004
- The US Congress’s Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Services in 2004
- The President of Croatia’s Presidential Medal of Honor in 2005
- The Ministry of Interior’s Medal of Service in 2006
- The Philippines’ Gusi Peace Award in 2008.
Lee has written or co-authored more than 30 books on topics like DNA, fingerprints, crime scene investigations, and trace evidence. Henry Lee’s Crime Scene Handbook (2001), Blood Evidence: How DNA is Revolutionizing the Way We Solve Crimes (2003), and Cracking More Cases: The Forensic Science of Solving Crimes: the Michael Skakel-Martha Moxley Case, the JonBenet Ramsey Case, and Many More! are among his most recent publications (2004).