Five Things I learned writing THE HUNTING GROUND

 
The fact that usable DNA can survive for hundreds, if not thousands of years after the death of an organism. It all depends on how securely the body has been protected from light, heat, water, and oxygen. Recently archaeologists found the bones of England’s King Richard the Third buried under a parking lot in Leicester. He was killed in battle in 1485, about 530 years ago. He was positively identified when surviving mitochondrial DNA was compared with a descendant of his sister.
 
The city of Chicago was once buried under the Ice Age glacier that scoured out the Lake Michigan basin. Most of Chicago is pancake flat. But there is an area on the far South Side that rises high 135 feet above the rest of the city. It is made up of the soil and rock the glacier pushed in front of it as it advanced from the north. When the glacier retreated, all that debris stayed put. The neighborhood affords the closest thing to a mountain-climbing experience Chicago can offer.
 
Why do traffickers do what they do? Well, according to the latest figures available, worldwide profits from human trafficking in at least 155 countries were $32 billion a year. That’s billion with a b. In 2010, there were 2,500 incidents of human trafficking in the United States alone.
 
The concept of “diplomatic immunity” was something I hadn’t thought about in years, and it was fascinating to refresh my memory on how difficult it is to arrest and prosecute a foreign national in the United States under the protective cover of diplomatic immunity. Just ask the New York City treasurer. That office is holding millions of dollars in parking tickets issued to cars displaying diplomatic  license plates, and there’s no hope of ever collecting a dime. The same protection is afforded to diplomats who commit much more serious offenses, including murder.
I learned how to use a burner cell phone. Not all of them belong to criminals.
 

Jean Heller
Jean Heller’s news career included serving as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for The Associated Press in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Cox Newspapers and New York Newsday in Washington, D.C. and the St. Petersburg Times in Washington, D.C. and Florida.
 
Jean has won multiple awards, including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.
 
Her novels include the Deuce Mora series (THE SOMEDAY FILE and THE HUNTING GROUND) and the stand-alone thrillers HANDYMAN and MAXIMUM IMPACT
 
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