“A Voice for the Dead” by James E. Starrs with Katherine Ramsland

My quick spin on this book was it provided a nice reading experience of a true performance of a forensic scientist and investigator as he sought the truth from the grave as demonstrated in this book.


Click here for image source.


James Starrs has led a remarkable journey throughout his life. He has been an educator in the fields of law and forensic science. He has used his thought provoking abilities to uncover and bring forward significant information based on his exhumations.

Through the use of advanced technology, which obviously includes DNA testing, Professor Starrs takes his readers into his world by providing a true accounting of his exhumation projects. As costly as these projects are, his analysis based on his forensic analysis with the help of his colleagues have provided an avenue of exploring historically documented “facts,” in such a manner that in searching for the truth, the reader won’t be able to put the book down.

The intrigue of the core subject of this book is spelled out, in part, with the dedication page which succinctly states, “To the ones whose voices have not yet been heard but deserve to be.”

Starrs image

Click here for image source.

Click here for more biographical information on Dr. Starrs.


One of Professor Starrs projects involved an incident that occurred over 100 years ago in Colorado relating to the fact that while Alfred Packer and five others endure a wintry expedition, only Packer survivevs. While cannibalism was said to have occurred by Packer’s recounting the experience of survival in the snowy mountains near Lake City, Colorado, it remains to be determined whether the act of cannibalism can be proven.

What Professor Starrs brings to the surface is curiosity and wonderment for the reader. He takes you through the whole journey from the beginning of crew or team gathering into what they find based on all their respective skills and expertise. This journalistic style continues throughout the book.

A Packer

Alfred Packer (Source: Wikipedia; public domain).


One of the most interesting cases in Professor Starrs’ book is about former CIA Agent, Frank Olson. I did recall watching a news documentary about this story prior to reading this book. Professor Starrs was clearly on a mission to determine whether Dr. Olson had committed suicide from a 13th floor of a hotel building, or if he was pushed out the window.

Dr. Olson’s oldest son never believed his father had committed suicide. Dr. Olson’s body was exhumed for the purpose of determining how his death occurred. I found this segment of the book involving the subject of a biological warfare programs surrounding the subject of LSD testing on individuals to be both intriguing and interesting. The nail biter is turning page after page with diligent reading to reach Professor Starrs’ conclusions.

As reported by the Associated Press in November 2012, two of Dr. Olson’s sons are suing the government for their father’s death. See this story here. The Olson sons have a site called the Frank Olson Project, a site in which you can read Chapter 3 of Professor Starrs’ book. This chapter and the family site are very compelling to study and research.

Click here for a profile of Dr. James Starrs.



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