When Henry Lee came to the United States from Taiwan with his wife Margaret in 1965 he didn’t speak English and they had $50 between the two of them.
During his recent lecture at the University of Rhode Island, the renowned forensic scientist joked that he still didn’t speak English, but at least he had some money now.
URI students, faculty, staff and visitors, including local high school students and law enforcement officers, visited the Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences on the Kingston Campus to hear Lee present the final lecture in the fall Forensic Science Seminar Series.
His lecture, “The Forensic Cases of Dr. Henry C. Lee” explored some of the famous cases he’s been involved in, including the O.J. Simpson trial and reinvestigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Lee also discussed some of his lesser known cases and engaged the audience, urging them to put their investigative hats on.
“The fall Forensic Science Seminar Series was well attended, but Dr. Lee drew in a tremendous crowd of about 200 listeners,” said Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory. “Lee instilled in students the importance of continuing their studies and working hard to find success.”
Hilliard was glad to have Lee wrap up the fall series and hopes to follow up with another big name in forensic science for the spring series.
One of 13 children, Lee was raised by a single mother who made it her mission to make sure each of her children received the highest degree in their fields. After fleeing China at the end of the Chinese civil war, he attended the Central Police College in Taiwan. Lee began working after graduation and was soon named captain at age 22, the youngest in Taiwanese history, he said.
After coming to America and pursuing his studies, Lee served as the director of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory from 1978 until 2000. During that time he served two years as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. In the fall of 1998, along with a team of other forensic scientists, Lee opened the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science on the University of New Haven campus.
In addition to detailing his work and personal lives, Lee stressed to the audience the power of observation in normal life and as it pertains to a crime scene. Attendees, some in URI’s newly added criminology and criminal justice major, examined crime scene photos and offered insight regarding what they thought might be missing.
Now in its 20th year, the Forensic Science Partnership, in conjunction with URI’s Department of Chemistry and the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at URI, hosts the free, public series each semester and has explored topics including polygraph testing, DNA comparison, identity theft and bias in forensic science.
See video of some of the other fall lectures at the forensic partnership website.
Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this for URI Today.