Conversations with Callahan

Janice Glisson

In 1970, Janice Glisson worked as a chemist for the CID at Fort Gordon.  Glisson analyzed most of the blood evidence and some of the hair evidence found at 544 Castle Drive.  I had the good fortune of speaking with Janice Glisson about the MacDonald case on April 1, 2007.  She was very forthcoming with information regarding her role in the case and her intelligence was evident in the unhurried way in which she presented the significance of various evidentiary items.  For the most part, her memory of the evidence remains crystal clear.  She still remembers the blood types of each MacDonald family member, which hairs were sufficient for microscopic comparisons, and the condition of MacDonald's pajama top.

One of the first points that she wanted to convey was the vast amount of evidence that was collected at the crime scene.  Glisson stated that by the time the Article 32 hearings were underway, the Fort Gordon lab still had not completed their analysis of the evidence.  When asked whether Army attorney Clifford Somers was hindered by the fact that test results were still pending, Glisson quickly stated, "Oh, yeah."  She added, "We just didn't have time to finish the testing." Glisson stated that blood typing in this case was a tedious process, especially with the number of blood stains that were mixed.  The biggest surprise came when she got together with fellow chemists Larry Flinn, Craig Chamberlain, and Terry Laber.  They discovered that each MacDonald family member had a different blood type which allowed investigators to "follow the blood trail from room to room."

Speaking of investigators, Glisson met with William Ivory and Robert Shaw during the initial stages of the investigation, and felt that "They did their jobs well."  According to Glisson, Robert Shaw was the more persistent of the two, coming back time and time again to ask her if she had completed her tests on specific evidentiary items.  This included her blood stain analysis of MacDonald's pajama top, blood stain analysis of the bedding items from all three bedrooms, and the significance of the holes and tears in MacDonald's pajama top.  Glisson joked that Shaw "kept checking in with me, asking me if I had done this test or that test."

Glisson also visited with Paul Stombaugh and Shirley Green during the time when they were formulating the pajama top theory.  When I asked her whether she agreed with the theory, she responded by saying that the jury at the 1979 trial agreed with the theory, and that was all that really mattered.  Glisson wanted to make it clear that she never claimed that there were any absolutes in terms of her analysis of the blood and urine in this case.  For example, Glisson stated that when she tested the large urine stain found on the top sheet of the master bed, the most definitive conclusion she could reach was that the stain "indicated" that the source had Type AB blood.  Glisson did admit that every CID and/or FBI forensics expert, CID and/or FBI investigator and government attorney that she came in contact with felt that MacDonald was guilty.

Glisson asked me whether a hearing had been set regarding the DNA test results.  I told her that Judge Fox had not decided on the DNA issue, but that in my opinion, the results were a devestating blow to the defense.  In 1970, Glisson examined the limb hair found clutched in Colette's left hand and I pointed out that the hair matched the DNA profile of Jeffrey MacDonald.  She was surprised at this outcome because she thought that the hair would be too small to extract a DNA profile.  The source of the hair, however, did not surprise her in the least.  I then added that a splinter from the club was also found in Colette's left hand indicating that the wielder of the club was also the source of the limb hair.  She did not know that a wood splinter was found in Colette's hand, but she agreed that these evidentiary items are further proof of MacDonald's guilt.  Glisson also felt that most of the pajama fibers found in the master bedroom and Kimberley's room came directly from the torn left front seam of MacDonald's pajama top.

Glisson told me that she was struck by the lack of Type B blood on MacDonald's pajama top and added that with the number of holes in his pajama top, she expected to find more of his blood on the garment.

I asked her if any MacDonald defense team member had ever contacted her in the past and she stated that "many years ago" an investigator for MacDonald did arrive at her home for a brief interview.

Glisson does not have a high opinion of the content of Fred Bost's and Jerry Potter's book Fatal Justice, and told me that "so many things in that book are untrue."  An example she gave me was the allegation by the authors that the CID lost a piece of skin found under Colette's fingernail.  Glisson told me that there was no definitive proof that the lost evidentiary item was skin and that it could have been a tiny portion of a latex glove.  In this instance, she felt that the authors purposely replaced speculation with statements masquerading as fact.

Glisson continues to keep in touch with a number of individuals who were involved in this investigation.  She states that "Craig C" (e.g, Craig Chamberlain) provides her with case updates and that Brian Murtagh called her in 2006, to let her know that Bob Stevenson and Peter Kearns would be on Larry King Live.  I told her that I admired all the hard work she did on this case and that she played a huge role in justice being served.  Janice Glisson was very generous with her time and it was a pleasure speaking to her about the MacDonald case.