A few years ago, we had swarms of new students all wanting to go into forensic science entering our biology program — TV had made the field look cool and sexy and exciting. The flood is ebbing now, fortunately, but I still have to wonder if the effects of the fad aren’t still being felt.
Annie Dookhan is the classic case, an underqualified fake who botched thousands of drug tests and almost certainly sent innocent people to jail…and after her work was discovered, was also responsible for the release of guilty people. But now there’s another example: Shawn Parcells, the so-called expert who was called in by the Brown family.
He has a bachelor’s degree in life science, and that’s it. I am very familiar with what an undergraduate degree in biology gets you: a lot of basic knowledge and preparation, but it most definitely does not mean you are now ready to do autopsies. He also claims to have a Master’s degree in anatomy and physiology, but it’s from New York Chiropractic College. He claims to be heading off to medical school any day now, but he also says he turned down admission to a Caribbean medical school to spend time with his wife.
He has announced himself as a “professor” — he has no position with any university.
He likes to give the impression that he is a doctor. He isn’t.
So why is this morbid glory hound being given so many opportunities for public exposure, and to meddle in high-profile cases?