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Careers and Cases In Forensics

Updated on April 4, 2015

Crime Cases From Hearst to Hughes

Hearst to Hughes: Memoir of a Forensic Psychiatrist

  • Author: Donald T. Lunde, M.A., M.D.
  • Publisher: AuthorHOUSE, USA

This is the work of a real life expert in forensics. It is more far reaching than everything you've seen in CSI, CSI Miami, and CSI New York combined. By turns fascinating and disturbing, the material in this book should be required reading for all criminology courses and on the shelf of every crime and mystery lover.

The material in this intriguing book reminds me of the groundbreaking efforts of attorney Erle Stanley Gardner as a California lawyer in the early 20th century, in the "Court of Last Resort" public forum in Esquire Magazine, and as a writer that dedicated most of his crime novels to great forensics professionals of integrity.

Unbiased Witness

Donald Lunde, M.D. is one of the real forensics professionals who present reality with no whitewash and no bias. Exemplifying the kind of expert witness Gardner advocated in his lifetime, Dr. Lunde cannot be bought and cannot be anything else than accurately detailed in his work. No amount of money can buy him off, as it has some of the professionals-for-hire in the last century.

Gardner would be pleased to see the advances in technology and the integrity that Dr. Lunde personifies in the field of forensics investigations, also teaching at Stanford University in Gardner's own California. Erle Stanley Gardner would be proud of this and dedicate one of his Perry Mason novels to Donald T. Lunde, M.A., M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Emeritus, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Hearst to Hughes is a fascinating, wry forensic documentary as well as an autobiography. Dr. Lunde calls it a memoir, but it is more exciting and complex than most. During his career, he has been able to reconstruct the background as to why people commit strange and shocking actions in the crimes they commit. In his book, he includes the back-stories to a number of high-profile court cases of the last several decades.

These cases have been controversial criminal and civil actions that have drawn much public attention, even furor. They include the infamous Jim Jones and the Jonestown debacle, Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, Howard Hughes, and the Hillside Strangler. Dr. Lunde published his first book, Murder and Madness, in 1975, working as a consultant and expert witness across the US in over two hundred cases from the1960s to date.

Historic Cases

The author describes the Jonestown Massacre phenomenon in detail, from inception to mass murder - or was it mass suicide? - having made a thorough study of it before completing a full psychiatric evaluation of a survivor, Larry Layton.

Lunde's evaluation and professional opinion are presented in the book, along with the back-story and details of Jonestown. He is as detailed in writing as he is in his examinations and findings, promoting integrity and trust in his consistency. He was able to testify to Layton's mental competence to stand trial. In addition, Dr. Lunde provides readers with his professional opinion, based upon reconstruction of the facts and personalities, of what happened at the massacre and who shot and killed Jim Jones.Massacre

In the case of Patty Hearst, Dr. Lunde examined her in the process of determining several conditions. He looked at whether she had a legitimate case of amnesia, and/or had been "brain washed", and whether she was competent to stand trial. Other psychiatric experts brought in by defense counsel presented an opinion some 200 pages long on the subject and it was dismissed in light of Dr. Lunde's more concise evaluation to the contrary.

At one point, representatives of the Hearst family tried to bribe the author for a different opinion, but failed. Although Ms. Hearst served prison time, she visited Dr. Lunde later with a friend and he was pleased to see positive changes in her life. This case presentation particularly contains many details that will keep readers engaged.

Dr. Lunde describes in Hearst to Hughes details of forensic work that the public has not seen before, despite the detail offered in increasing degree and magnitude in TV crime shows from Peter Gunn and 77 Sunset Strip to Law & Order and CSI. Howard Hughes presented a different set of confounding circumstances than those of the Jones and Hearst cases, but one requiring forensics as well.

Dr. Lunde was involved in assisting to settle the Hughes multi-billion-dollar estate, sorting through the claims of various relatives and staffers, as well as the claims of several US states for taxes. It is an interesting view into Howard Hughes and his dealings. The material about the Hillside Stranger is interesting as well, including information about actor Peter Lorre and his daughter and her involvement.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
USS Yorktown, upon which the forensics author served.Howard Hughes' XF11 USAF design
USS Yorktown, upon which the forensics author served.
USS Yorktown, upon which the forensics author served. | Source
Howard Hughes' XF11 USAF design
Howard Hughes' XF11 USAF design | Source

Forensics and Teaching

The concluding chapters of this book address how the doctor meshes his forensics work with his full-time position teaching medical and law students at Stanford University. In addition to all these duties, he also sees his own patients and supervises psychiatric residents. It is enough work for three professionals; however, Dr. Lunde is organized and dedicated, but tells us that sometimes he must say "No" to more work, for the sake of his family and himself.

One reason that Dr. Lunde excels in forensic psychiatry is that he trained in psychology to the Master's level as well as in medicine, so he has two directions from which to reconstruct backgrounds to criminal actions. In addition, he served as a CIC Officer and member of a military court on the USS Yorktown.

Not only that, but he was also part of the first successful American heart transplant team (1960s) and went on to publish the first paper about psychiatric complications of heart transplants. Dr. Lunde is an expert on several levels and they all combine for accuracy and success in forensics investigations. America is fortunate to have him involved in its justice system.

Anyone interested in crime and forensics and is a fan of TV Shows such as CSI and the Law & Order franchises would be very interested in reading Hearst to Hughes: Memoir of a Forensic Psychiatrist.

Other Books by Donald T. Lunde, MA, MD

  • Die Song: A Journey into the Mind of a Mass Murderer; Donald T. Lunde, Jefferson Morgan
  • Murder and Madness; Donald T. Lunde
  • The Next Generation - A Book on Parenting; Donald T. Lunde and Marilynn K. Lunde
  • Biological Aspects of Human Sexuality; Herant A. Katchadourian, Donald T. Lunde
  • Fundamentals of Human Sexuality; Herant A. Katchadourian, Donald T. Lunde

© 2007 Patty Inglish


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Hi Zsuzsy! I hope you like the book when you read it. Teh author should go on the talk show circuit, I think.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Patty! I will have to check this book out because it sounds really interesting.

      Thanks regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for the comment Michelle. I hope more people read dr. Lunde's books. They are very interesting and useful.

    • Michele Engholm profile image

      Michele Engholm 10 years ago from Hutchinson

      Terrific Hub!! Very interesting...Thanks so much!