Welcome to the Official Site of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime — an International Organization of Crime Writers and Readers

Come in and make yourself at home. We invite you to join our group and to journey through the pages of our website to discover the many exciting activities we offer our members. We are a non-profit organization of mystery lovers. Please know that you do not need to be a writer, or even an aspiring writer, to join our chapter or to attend one of our meetings. We are a diverse group of mystery readers as well as writers, and we welcome all. If you would like to join our chapter, please see our Join Us page. If you wish to attend the next meeting before you make up your mind, please go to our Meetings and Directions pages for additional information.

Upcoming Meetings and Speakers

February 17, 2018: Please join us at our February meeting when we welcome Oscar Vance as our guest speakers. Former Montgomery County criminal investigator Oscar Vance has decades of experience gleaning clues from murder scenes.  His ability to walk into a crime scene and get a sense of what happened was one of the reasons Investigative ID recruited him to analyze a murder for their true crime documentaries. After forty-eight years in law enforcement, Vance founded a private investigative agency that offers services in all phases of information gathering, observation, and evidentiary reporting. In addition to earning a BA in Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement Administration from LaSalle College and an MS in Criminal Justice from West Chester University, Mr. Vance attended the FBI Academy and remains a member of the FBI National Academy. He also attended the Law Enforcement Forensic Hypnosis Institute and is a certified Hypnosis Investigator and Instructor.

Past Speakers

Saturday, January 20, 2018: Please join us at our January meeting when we welcome Richard Kluft, MD, as our guest speaker. Dr. Kluft is an experienced psychiatrist and psychotherapist who will speak to us about his knowledge and experience with the criminal mind.

Working in often-controversial fields such as trauma, dissociative disorders, hypnosis, therapist-patient boundary violations, and the resolution of therapeutic impasses, Dr. Kluft has developed many widely-used techniques and approaches, including hypnosis. His research and clinical contributions have earned him numerous awards, including the 2009 Pierre Janet Award for Clinical Excellence and the 2014 Erika Fromm Award for teaching. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017: Please join us at our November meeting, when we welcome Janis Wilson as our guest speaker. Janis Wilson, a retired trial lawyer and Jack the Ripper scholar, was a delegate to the 2013 Jack the Ripper conference in Whitechapel, London. She co-organized last year’s American Ripper and true crime conference, RipperCon, and will be a featured speaker at next year’s conference. Janis has also taught a Ripper course at Temple University and has written a novel, Goulston Street, about this 130-year-old case.

Saturday, October 21, 2017: Please join us at our October meeting when we welcome Anthony Murphy, Executive Director, Town Watch Integrated Services for the City of Philadelphia, as our guest speaker. Mr. Murphy will give us an overview of the Town Watch effort and provide us with some training in observational skills.

Mr. Murphy has been the leader of the Philadelphia Town Watch effort since the Office of the Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia instituted the program on July 1, 1996. Starting with the hope of having a town watch group on every block in the city, Mr. Murphy and two staff members created a curriculum for training the 300 plus groups and for forming new ones. Now there are more than 750 certified Town Watch groups serving over 23,000 trained members.

The group’s mission is stated on its website http://www.townwatch.net/about.html: “TWIS community support staff provide technical services to facilitate in building a better network of community partners which empowers them to participate in the process of creating a desirable quality of life. Our primary goal of all TWIS activities is to create safer and more supportive environments.”

April 15, 2017: Please join us at our April meeting when we welcome Mr. Joseph A. Slobodzian as our guest speaker. Mr. Slobodzian has been a reporter for the Inquirer since 1982 and has covered a variety of beats, including the New Jersey Statehouse, New Jersey state government, federal courts, and federal agencies. He has also covered Philadelphia’s criminal justice system since 2008.

Mr. Slobodzian communicates about major crime stories through a variety of channels: as a reporter for the Inquirer, a blogger for www.phiily.com, a tweeter at twitter.com, a professor at Temple University, a commentator on local and national news broadcasts, and in the documentary 3801 Lancaster: American Tragedy.

March 18, 2017: Please join us at our March meeting when we welcome Dian Williams, PhD, RN, CLNC as our guest speaker. Ms. Williams is a professional arson profiler who formalized her business, the Center for Arson Research, in 1985. She serves as a consultant on arson, fire bombing, and domestic terrorism to federal and state criminal justice agencies, insurance companies, fire departments, federal and state courts, mental health organizations, drug and alcohol treatment programs, police departments, schools, and adoption agencies. She serves as an expert witness in civil and criminal cases, usually as a fact and opinion witness for the prosecution and as a mitigation witness at sentencing for the defense. She lectures, appears regularly in the print and visual media, and consults with federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies throughout the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries. She is a full time member of the Criminal Justice Department faculty at West Chester University.

Dr. Williams has written a chapter on treatment strategies for fire-setters for a forensic textbook published in 2005 and authored a textbook entitled Understanding the Arsonist: From Assessment to Confession. In addition to her work on arson, Dr. Williams lectures on ethics in forensic practice for medical, nursing, and criminal justice practitioners.
Dr. Williams was awarded the honor of appointment as a Distinguished Fellow of the International Association of Forensic Nurses for outstanding contributions to the field.

February 18, 2017: Please join us in welcoming Oscar P. Vance, Jr., President of Vance Investigations and Corporate Solutions, Inc. (VICS) as our February guest speaker. Rather than retiring after nearly five decades as a Montgomery County criminal investigator, Chief Detective Vance founded a private investigative agency that offers services in all phases of information gathering, observation, and evidentiary reporting. Last year, he visited the Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime chapter to discuss forensic hypnosis. This month, he will update us on that topic and focus on developments in surveillance.

Mr. Vance earned a BA in Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement Administration from LaSalle College and an MS in Criminal Justice from West Chester University. He attended the FBI Academy and remains a member of the FBI National Academy. He also attended the Law Enforcement Forensic Hypnosis Institute and is a certified Hypnosis Investigator and Instructor.

January 21, 2017: Please join us at our January meeting when we welcome Howard Silverstone, Director of Forensic Resolutions, Inc., as our guest speaker.  Mr. Silverstone has concentrated his practice in the field of forensic accounting since 1985. He has testified in many different jurisdictions and has also provided testimony at Grand Jury hearings and overseas.  Mr. Silverstone has been quoted in many national and international publications and has appeared in the media both in the United States and the United Kingdom. He has co-authored three books on fraud and forensic accounting and has written many articles on fraud and related subjects for a variety of publications. He has presented various programs to the legal, accounting, and insurance industries on the calculation of damages in financial disputes, corporate fraud, and other financial matters. As indicated by the title of his book, Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation for Non-Experts, he is also experienced in talking about his field to those in other professions.

November 19, 2016: Please join us at our November meeting when we welcome Terry Ruggles as our guest speaker. Mr. Ruggles is a familiar figure from his coverage of major news stories at home and around the world for WCAU. He will provide insight into the practices, ethics, and pitfalls of a profession that characters in mystery fiction might engage in or encounter. Mr. Ruggles will share tales of mysteries, solved and unsolved, from a career that started at the age of seventeen, when he went to work (for no pay) at an Ohio radio station as a copy boy.  In 1974, after a stint as anchor and producer at WZZM-TV Grand Rapids, Michigan, he moved to WCAU and the Philadelphia area where he and his wife Maryjane raised their two children. In 1978, he was awarded the Pennsylvania State Police Meritorious Citizen Award for helping negotiate a hostage situation on Christmas Eve at Delaware County Prison.  We look forward to hearing about his encounters with the types of characters who populate the books that Sisters in Crime members create and enjoy.

October 15, 2016: Please join us at our October meeting when we welcome Kimberlee Sue Moran, Assistant Program Director, Masters of Forensic Science Program at Arcadia University as our guest speaker. Ms. Moran has been a forensic consultant and educator since 2002, in both the UK and the US. She helped to launch the JDI Centre for Forensic Science at University College London and is the founder of Forensic Outreach, a UK-based resource for forensic education. In addition to teaching at Arcadia and Rutgers University, Camden, Ms. Moran runs training workshops for local law enforcement.

Ms. Moran is a regular participant and speaker for the Philadelphia Science Festival, working in collaboration with the College of Physicians and the Laurel Hill Cemetery. She is an active member of the Society for American Archaeology, the UK Fingerprint Society, the Association for Women in Forensic Science, and Forensic Archaeology Recovery. Ms. Moran holds an undergraduate degree in archaeology from Bryn Mawr College and a Masters of Science in forensic archaeological science from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. She conducted research in the field of ancient fingerprints for her graduate work and is currently researching taphonomy, the process of decomposition.

September 17, 2016: Please join us at our September meeting when we welcome Mr. Richard Johnson as our guest speaker. After being represented by Attorney Alan Dershowitz, Mr. Johnson served a 10-year sentence in Federal custody. He will discuss his experiences with the American justice and penal systems. Mr. Johnson has a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab during his career in Aerospace and Electronics. He currently lives on Cape Cod and will be traveling here to speak to us.

April 16, 2016:  Please join the Delaware Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime in welcoming Paul J. Burgoyne as our guest speaker. Mr. Burgoyne is the Deputy Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board and the current President of the National Organization of Bar Counsel. He has spoken at seminars and panels on legal ethics and professional responsibility for a wide variety of audiences, including the National Organization of Bar Counsel, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the Conference of County Bar Leaders, the National Association of Legal Secretaries, and the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals. On Saturday, April 16, he will address these topics for, and welcome questions from, an audience of mystery enthusiasts, readers, and writers.

March 19, 2016: Please join the Delaware Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime in welcoming Molly Gleeson, the Schwartz Project Conservator of the Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, as our guest speaker. Ms. Gleason will discuss the conservation of Egyptian mummies and the ways in which the treatment and study of mummies have changed over time.

February 20, 2016: Please join us at our February meeting, when we welcome Peggy Gusz, Executive Director of the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, Inc. (CVC), as our guest speaker. CVC (also known as the Rape Crisis Council of Chester County, Inc.) is the designated Sexual Assault Center for Chester County, PA, and provides free and confidential services to victims, their family members, and significant others who either reside in or were victimized in Chester County. CVC also provides services to victims of other types of crime and violence, including, but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, incest, sexual harassment, child abuse, elder abuse, homicide, assault, robbery, identity theft, drunk driving, stalking, and bullying.

January 16, 2016:  Please join us to welcome Bonnie Lee, Internationally Certified Polygraph Examiner, of Polygraph Solutions LLC, as our guest speaker.  Polygraph Solutions specializes in relationship testing (infidelity, couples, family issues, theft, false accusations, molestation, and lies), therapeutic testing (addictions and therapy compliance), and criminal testing. Ms. Lee will conduct a polygraph demonstration, showing how the instrumentation is used and how actual tests are conducted. She may also conduct a mock pre-test interview, which will demonstrate case information, required forms and procedures, test-question formulation and discussion, and medical and personal background taken from test subjects.

November 21, 2015: Please join us at our November meeting when we welcome Detective Oscar Vance, President of Vance Investigations & Corporate Solutions, Inc.  Det. Vance will present interesting cases and information concerning forensic hypnosis including how eliciting details from the victims and witnesses to a crime can be greatly augmented through application and analysis of forensic hypnosis.

October 17, 2015: Please join us at our October meeting when we welcome Dr. Walter Hofman, Montgomery County coroner, who will provide many interesting stories from his 50 years as a forensic pathologist.  Dr. Hofman has investigated some of the region’s most gruesome, puzzling, and high-profile deaths.

September 19, 2015: Please join us at our September meeting when we welcome Vicki Wooters of Wooters Dog Training and one of her trained dogs! Ms. Wooters will share highlights of some of her investigations and discuss “Search and Rescue Dogs: Which Dog Does Which Task,” with a live demonstration of the different tasks for which her dogs are trained.

 In Loving Memory
Robin Hathaway

Robin Hathaway, a beloved member who helped found our chapter in 1995, passed away in February 2013.  Though the written word always seems to fail us in our attempts to honor someone whose friendship we cherished, a few of our members have made valiant efforts with the following tributes.