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Meet Dr. John DeHaan, Forensic Scientist, Fire Investigator

Welcome to the first episode of "DeHaan on Fire", a YouTube channel and podcast featuring education, commentary, and conversation with Doctor John DeHaan and some of his colleagues and friends. "DeHaan on Fire" is brought to you by FireWise Learning Academy. "DeHaan on Fire" contains discussion and video not suitable for all audiences. Viewer and listener discretion is advised.

To read the transcript of this video, scroll down past the video or click here!

YouTube Video:

 

- So Doctor DeHaan, it's really exciting to be starting this YouTube channel, and it's only appropriate for us to start with this first episode getting to know you a little bit, so as I said before, welcome to your own channel!

- Well, thanks for the invitation.

- So Dr. DeHaan, tell us a little bit about your background, about your childhood, where do you come from?

- Well I'm a native of Chicago. I probably claim heritage on the South Side, that's the White Sox end of the city. So we haven't had a lot to celebrate in that way for many, many years. But, public schools there and then I ended up at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, which was the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois main campus that was in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. And, I wanted to be a scientist, from the time I was eight or nine. I wanted to study physics, and that's what I did through science fair projects and things like that and then got into... I built an electron accelerator in high school, as my science fair project, and that won some prizes and things like that. But, that's what I thought I was gonna do. We didn't live too far from Argonne National Laboratory, and so, it seemed straightforward! And so I started in at Illinois as a Bachelor of Science candidate in Physics, and after about two years I realized, A, you know, real world physics wasn't much fun, and it involved a lotta math that I was kinda losing track of, and I thought, "Eh, maybe this was a mistake." And somehow I ended up at a Introduction to Criminal Law course, and, of course, everybody else in the class was a Criminal Justice major, and they looked at me and they said, "What are you doing here? "You're a scientist! "You need to hang around and take the next session." And I said, "Why, who is it?" And they said, "Well, it's the retired head "of the Illinois State Crime Lab, "and he's a scientist." So, I stayed over and sat in on his class, it was Professor Joe Nickell, who had been a criminalist since 1947, and had worked in all kinds of areas, and he and I struck it off. And I realized that forensic science or criminalistics had a lot more interesting puzzles and they were within my range of knowledge and skills, and each one varied, and so I found out then that it was too late for me to change majors. That, as a Bachelor of Science candidate at Illinois in Physics, that's what you got was physics. And it would've taken me an extra year to make up all the variables and stuff like that. So, I ended up sticking with physics, I ended up with a Bachelor's degree in Physics, and a minor in Criminal Justice or Criminalistics, since that constituted most of the Criminal Justice program at that time, and launched myself out into the world. Three months later, I had a job in California as a criminalist for the Alameda County Sheriff's department. That was 1970.

- Oh that's really interesting. So it almost seems that the job picked you instead of you picking the job.

- Yeah, in many respects that's true. I was feeling kinda down about, well, pure physics, research physics, wasn't as much fun as I thought it was gonna be. And the challenges. I was an undergraduate research assistant on a high energy particle project at Argonne for two years, and at the end of it, there was a paper. They had sorta half-proved the existence of what was then known as resonance particles, because they didn't understand at that point how particles actually worked, and I thought, "Well this seems like a colossal waste "of time and money." There aren't three dozen people in the world who care whether there's an S-star resonance particle, and that's when I started hunting around. And I looked at history, and that wasn't terribly exciting, and just by luck, happened to meet Joe Nickell and I was hooked.

- [Tim] Yeah.

- He had a degree in, his Bachelor's degree was Chemistry, his masters' degree was Physics, so, he certainly encouraged a lot of hands-on involvement right from the outset.

- And how old were you when you met him?

- I was 21.

- [Tim] 21.

- Actually I was 20, I graduated when I was 21.

- So, you're 21 when you graduate and then you launch into, you begin this career. Well, what was it like back then?

- Well, there wasn't a lot of training . I ended up in, well, what we consider today a generalist laboratory, so there were, what, four or five of us on the bench serving a large population county in northern California. And each of us were kind of assigned by our background as to a particular area that we could function in. But, as a general rule, we had to do pretty much everything that came in. And of course a lot of it was dope analysis, seizures, and that involved learning a lot of chemistry. But, because of my physics background, my boss said, "Well gee, you know about x-rays and optics, "and the spectrum and stuff like that, "you can be the instrumentation guy." And, so they kinda pushed me into the instrumentation lab and said, "Here, analyze all this stuff, "and there's the manual for the machine. "Don't break it." I said, "Okay." So, that's where I spent probably 80% of my time, and got to do all kinds of cases and crime scenes and things like that, but there wasn't a lotta training. And just a few years ago, I was supposed to appear in a high-profile bombing case in Washington, D.C., sorry, state of Washington. And they did the voir dire, my qualifications, over the phone for a variety of reasons. And the prosecutor, I was supposed to appear for the defense, so the prosecutor said, "Well I have your CV here "in front of me." And I thought, "Oh, here we go, 50 pages of questions." "You don't seem to have had much "in the way of formal training in bombs and explosives." I said, "No, that's true, not a lot of formal training." And he caught the gist of that and said, "Well, how long have you been doing bomb "and explosives cases?" I said, "My first bomb case was 1972." "Oh." And I said, "And our turf included Berkeley. "We got a lotta practice in the 1970s. "And by the time there was training available, I was expected to give it, not take it." So, he decided that maybe I was qualified to offer an opinion, and he didn't challenge, he didn't ask any more questions about, "Gee, do you have the experience?" So, that was kinda neat. But because of the physics, of course, I was extremely well-suited to get involved in fire and explosions because what are they but energy dynamic events and understanding heat transfer, and buoyancy, and inertia, and things like that. Vapor density and all the stuff that we rely on for understanding fires and explosions, I already had that sort of in-pocket. And, it worked out really well for, well, now we're pushing 49 years as a criminalist.

- So how did the shift, or when did the shift begin to really focus on fire and explosion? Was there a particular case or was it, as you said, your unique training that you were bringing to it and the need to start establishing training, or what was understood as norms? How did that become a focus away from the drugs and the other things?

- Well, that was a lucky break. I was eventually recruited by, the system was maybe two years old, but the relatively new California state crime lab system was being put in place and there was a number of new laboratories. But, they approached me, and it was basically trace evidence, which was what I considered my strong suit, and instrumental analysis, and so I got up there and then they said, "Oh, and by the way, your position "is partially funded by the State Fire Marshal "Arson and Bomb Unit, "so you are expected to give priority service "to the investigators from Arson and Bomb." I said, "Well, okay, I've got a lot of background "in those fields, so, let's have it." Well, that turned out to be really good because I was... Well my first day, at Sacramento they said, "Well, we don't know particularly "what you're gonna be doing, but the State Fire Marshal "is running a training symposium today "in a town about 20 miles away." And so I spent the first day as a state employee helping make Molotov cocktails, and watch fires, and see what suppression was like, and see what the evidence was like first-hand in full-scale structure fires.

- Wow.

- And, that kinda set the course. I worked very heavily with the guys from Arson and Bomb Unit all over northern California, and they were really strong believers in live fire training, and a couple of us joked that probably between the two or three of us, we'd probably burned 600 structures across northern California in the 15 years or so that I was participated. But that meant... And somebody says, "Well, how do you know? "You're just a physicist, "how do you know how this happens?" Well I've been there, done that, seen it, took the pictures, wrote up the paper. And so that, that's a lot of information accumulated over a lotta years.

- So, very quickly you became the expert because you were developing everything right from scratch.

- Yeah. I had pretty good equipment and I was prepared to use it creatively, and do the kinda rough-and-tumble stuff that's necessary sometimes in fire and explosion investigations. I responded to scenes occasionally, and things like that. And a lotta my colleagues didn't. In fact, nobody else really wanted to go near trace. I was kind of a loner in the laboratory and I'm sure my colleagues sometimes liked to refer to me as that individual, back in the trace lab and, "Don't mess with him, 'cause he's a nasty brute." "And by himself, so just leave him there!" And so that worked out fine, they needed a trace evidence person. But, I also did firearms, and tool marks, and shoe impressions, and tires, and things like that.

- But they were nice to you because they wanted their evidence processed first in their cases, right?

- Well, the staff wasn't really nice, they just said, "Well, that's Dehaan's problem. "Take it back to him."

- [Tim] Okay.

- "We don't wanna know ya."

- So from there, that's the beginnings of your career, that launched you into some roles with some other agencies. What was the next stage like for you then?

- Well, because of the... Accidentally because of the explosives work, it turned out, when they started that program, there were three of us. One guy in Riverside Lab, one guy in Fresno Lab, and me in Sacramento, and our positions were partially funded by the State Fire Marshal, so we worked with them very closely. And, this official laboratory policy was we didn't do explosives cases. Well, this was the 1970s and early 80s, before ATF had a laboratory in California. And so, there wasn't anybody else to do it. So, we would do it with the approval of our lab managers. The policy was we just don't tell senior management, like the Bureau Chief, never knew what we were doing back there. And then, when they did open the laboratory, the ATF Lab, the new manager there was talking to his agents and said, "Well, who's been doing your explosives work?" "Oh, this guy in Sacramento!" "Who?" And so, I got a phone call from him saying, "Who the heck are you, and what kind of training "have you had?" So, we started off on kind of a rocky basis, but, two years later he recruited me and I went to work for ATF. And their laboratory at the time was on Treasure Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. And so, that was challenging 'cause there was only a handful of us, and we covered 14 states from Texas to Alaska and including Hawaii, although we never saw any cases from Hawaii. But, that was challenging. And I only lasted there four years because of the travel involved, and the stress and things like that of, you know, the phone rings at 5:30 in the morning saying, "The briefing is today at six in Albuquerque," or Houston, or wherever else. And you go, "Okay, I'm on my way." And you didn't have any , any options because there was one guy for backup in the specialty, in the lab, and so it was you or him. And so, that made it tough. But, I got a lot of interesting cases. I think I lost track at about 400 explosives and bombs cases in the four years I was there. I was really busy. And, got to see a lot of interesting cases. And somebody said, "Well, what was your most famous case?" And I said, "Well, it was the Mormon church bomber, "Mark Hofmann, in Salt Lake City, "who killed two people with bombs "and then was on his way to kill a third one "when the device went off in his lap." And that kind of got the attention of the authorities, and so he was ultimately found guilty of the murders, and stuff like that. But that was, what, 40 years ago. 30. Well, yeah, almost 40 years ago. Then, as it turned out, the Bureau of Forensic Services, my state lab system, was starting a new element, an independent laboratory, basically, designed to do research and specialized training and specialized case consulting. And, they approached me, much to my surprise, after considering my less-than-spectacular departure. And they said, "You're the guy we want." And so, that expanded the necessity to do a lotta training, and I developed some really successful programs in fire debris analysis and low explosives analysis, and things like that that are still in use today. And, trained a lotta people, and got to do some really interesting cases on a consulting basis. Not only in California, but some cases across the country. And that lasted, much to my surprise, 11 years. Then, I opted to retire and start my own consultancy, that way I didn't have to keep a manager happy.

- Now, during that stage before you start your consultancy, and probably some people watching this channel or listening to this podcast, 'cause we're putting the audio on a podcast as well, they would know the answer to this, but other people are gonna be watching or listening because they're interested in the stories, or the science, the technology, or different things. What was it like for you compared to how things are portrayed in the movies or on television? 'Cause you're talking about, you get a call, you have to go to a briefing. So obviously, the scene's probably already been investigated, evidence collected, and is the briefing taking place in a meeting? Or just, what's the life that someone is living really like?

- Well, probably 80% of your casework comes in over the front counter of the lab, especially in trace evidence. And they've collected it, they've had an expert crime scene investigator who's documented the scene and collected the evidence. We didn't do a lot of scene responses, probably, maybe one in 15 or 20 cases involved an actual scene response. And, so, you basically got an investigative report, and you tried to talk to the investigator submitting the information and the evidence, so that you got a clearer picture of what was necessary, sometimes offer guidance as to, you know, "That, what you're asking for, isn't what "you really need most. "This is a better outcome for ya, "more critical information." And, so you'd kinda negotiate back and forth what was necessary, and then sometimes, of course, depending on the resources of your laboratory or your personal knowledge. And, that worked pretty well, because they could come in and ask for anything and we could give them the lowdown on what was acceptable and what wasn't. The scene responses were okay. The first years at Alameda County, big county, big population, except for the city of Oakland itself, which has its own police department forensic lab, a very good one. But we covered the rest of the county, which was what, 300,000, 400,000 people, but that included the Sheriff's Department submitting 12 or 13 city's police departments. So, you know, that was manageable. You got a phone call in the middle of the night, and almost all your scenes were within an hour and a half drive or whatever. And some of them were literally across town, and I lived in a fairly small town, what was then a fairly small town, and some of them were at the other end of the county but even that wasn't a big deal. So, you had nighttime responses and you learn to take the proper gear and things like that, 'cause you were expected to cover the scene. And then I went to the state, and at that time we covered 13 counties, that laboratory counted 13 counties across northern California. Some of those scenes were three and four hours away by car, that was the only way to get there. And then I went to work for ATF, and 14 states, and so almost all the responses were... My participation as a forensic scientist... And interestingly enough, I didn't qualify as a forensic chemist, at ATF, because my degree was in physics, and that didn't include enough chemistry, so I was officially a physical scientist. And I remember when I... We had to pay for our own business cards, and, my business cards with ATF logo on it said, "Criminalist, Physical Scientist." And my boss threw a fit and said, "We don't have criminalists in the ATF." And I said, "You do now." And that kinda set the tone for our management-employee relationship.

- In a little while, I wanna talk about some of the stuff that you've got going on in your personal life, your cars and other hobbies. And I think it qualifies you, in my book, as eccentric. Eccentric in a good way, not eccentric like all those people that you investigated and put in prison.

- Oh, good, yeah.

- But alright, so you get a call in the middle of the night, they're holding the scene, they're waiting for you to show up, what do you pull up in? What are you driving?

- Well, usually it was a state or county vehicle. The first time I was called after I was hired by ATF, I got a call from the supervisor and he said, "Well you're officially not part of the team yet, "but there's a National Response Team callout "in the next town." I lived in Sacramento, and there was a fire in west Sacramento. And I said, "Oh, I'll show up there in the morning, "and introduce myself to the team," and see what their process was like. This was a National Response Team callout, so there were agents from all over, especially trained agents from all over the west coast. And then I realized that, well, my everyday car was in the shop. And, so I turned up at my first response in a '49 Bentley.

- [Tim] That's what I was wondering about!

- The James Young Sports Saloon I still own, 40 years later, and so that kinda set the tenor for my relationship. All the agents looked at me and said, "Who the heck is this guy showing up in the Bentley?"

- Now, for good effect, did you have like a trench coat or a certain hat or something that you showed up in too and stepped out, or?

- Oh, no. No, my usual equipment was a coveralls and a baseball hat. This was long before anybody realized what kind of health risks we were all taking. And so, we got gloves, we got work boots, and coveralls, and that was considered enough. I knew enough chemistry that I thought, "You know, this really isn't a good idea," but, hey we're all here and we're all breathing the same stuff. And so far I haven't had any major complications from any of that.

- [Tim] Oh that's good.

- But yeah, that kinda set the tone and then, curiously enough, several times when I was out with the National Response Team I'd be somewhere where a friend lived, and so I'd call them up and they'd, "Yeah, we'll come and get ya!" So, I was in Portland and a friend showed up in a 1936 Bentley. And then, I was in Miranda County, and the guy's wife came by in a new Thunderbird, and I didn't know it, but she had been drinking, and so we went to pull out of the motel where the team was standing, of course, everybody's standing around with a beer on the balcony of the hotel wondering, "Where's DeHaan going?" And, this beautiful lady shows up in this fancy car, and then she proceeds to drive around the parking lot and smack into the tire of an Earthmover in the parking lot. And they go, "Yeah, DeHaan's found another one."

- Okay.

- So yeah, that was kind of fun, but you were a long way from home and the dogs were home and needing care and stuff like that, so you didn't tend to hang around much.

- So a lot of that changed when you started your own consultancy, so what was that change like for you?

- Well, I could pick and choose the cases that I wanted to do. I did both civil and criminal cases, which was a rarity. And I discovered how rare it was when I tried to get errors and omissions insurance, and none of the companies that advertised in the journals, one of their questions was, "Do you take criminal cases?" And when I said, "Yes," they said, "Well then we can't insure you." And I thought, "That's kinda odd." And luckily, I mentioned it to a friend from ATF, and he said, "Oh, try this firm." And that firm only insured ex-ATF agents, and I said, "Well, I was never an agent, "I was a physical scientist," and they said, "Close enough." Okay.

- So, I had really good errors and omissions insurance because of that fluke. But, in doing defense cases, obviously, in all the, what, 30 years? Well, yeah, 20 plus years, that I was in public sector stuff, I very rarely testified for the defense. But, that wasn't by choice. My results were my results, and they went to the investigator or to the DA's office, and if they favored the defense, I often didn't hear anything more from the prosecutor or the detective, they just said, "Well, we can't deal with that case, "so you don't have to be involved." But, there were one or two where the defense insisted on having me there. And, luckily they got the attitude right, or the understanding of my attitude about "I'm a scientist, "I'm following the science, and you're getting my results, "good, bad, or indifferent to your case". And, that was the motto when I started my own consultancy. I'd get these calls from prosecutors or investigators or public defenders, sometimes defense attorneys, and that was my policy. If you submit the case, I'm following the science that I know best, and you're gonna have to live with the results. And I never had a public investigator, district attorney, or private defense counsel, or a public defender ever hesitate. They'd go, "Yup, that's what we want. "We wanna know the facts." But you know who I never heard back from? Was the people calling on behalf of insurance companies. I think in all the 20 years I had my private consultancy, I bet I did less than five insurance company cases. Because they didn't wanna take a chance on me coming along and saying, "Nope, that wasn't what happened," or, "The evidence doesn't support that "analysis or conclusion." So, they didn't wanna risk that, so I never heard from them again.

- Boy, there's so many things coming into my mind that I wanna ask you, and we're gonna cover a lot of those things in future episodes, so. So you retired from working for other people, and now you're retiring from working for yourself, is that right?

- Yeah! I'm looking at, I think I only have three or four trailing cases, because, well, criminal and civil cases can drag on for years. And so, I'm now looking at cases that the fire or the explosion was in 2010, or 2012, or 2014, or whatever, and we're still waiting for the courts to help resolve those issues. But, almost all of them have wrapped up. I still have a hard time turning some cases down, because of the, kind of, unique nature of my expertise that I've accumulated over the past 50 years. I know what the answer could be, or at least I know what the analysis should be like, and I said, "But, you know, I'm retired, "I'm trying to get out of this business." "Well who else has that knowledge?" And I go, "Well, nobody." 'Cause nobody was doing the same kinda strange stuff I was doing, and murder cases, and fire death incidents, and stuff like that. And so, I brought a lot to bear and so I've gotten sucked into a couple of other, in some instances major cases, like the Grenfell Tower fire in London, where the MET police recruited me, and I said, "I really don't wanna get involved, "you got all these great investigators." And they said, "Yeah, but you've got unique qualifications "and you don't have a conflict of interest "with any of the agencies already involved." And I said, "Oh, okay, fine.

- You recently celebrated a birthday. I won't say how old you are, but it rhymes with 71. Now, as someone that's 71, how do you view the work or the cases, like you said there were some cases that you still find very interesting and compelling or that draw you into saying yes, what is it now that interests you at this point in your life that maybe is different than maybe a couple decades ago?

- Well, probably... Probably the ones involving death and fire, depending on the sequence. Fire after death, destruction of bodies, things like that. And because of the research that I was able to do as one of the instructors for the slofist Fire Death Investigation course, I got the unique opportunity to see something like 60 human cadavers burn under controlled circumstances. And so, I've got a lot of information that nobody else has as to what happens if you burn an adult human body under this condition, in this manner, for this duration. What can you expect? And, understanding the fire dynamics and the effects on the body and what the body contributes by the way of fuels, and things like that. It's hard to resist when somebody says... Well, and then it also includes the toxicology. What are people exposed to before they die? And sometimes you get... Part of the problem is the pathologists, that are sometimes involved in these, know a lot about the body, and wounds, and things like that, and the toxicology, but they don't know much about fire. And they're basing their conclusions on what they learned in high school chemistry about fire or watching a fireplace, or whatever it might be. And that knowledge is very limited. And, when somebody says, "Well this is what so-and-so thinks," or is preparing to testify to, that's when I get really sucked in and say, "Yeah, okay." That's how I got involved in the Netflix "Making a Murderer" case.

- Yeah, so Steven Avery.

- When called and said, "We want your help. "We need your help!" And I said, "I don't get Netflix, I don't know anything "about your case." "Oh well that's good. "If you didn't see it then you won't have a bias. "I'll send you the file." And I went, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! "Where does this involve me?" "Oh, you wouldn't know, but the suspect, the perpetrator, "incinerated the body of the victim. "And we're looking at an appeal." And I thought, "Well, yeah. "There aren't a lotta other people out there "that have the knowledge I have of both fires and bodies." And I was retained at the request, at the strong suggestion, shall I say, of a colleague who's a forensic anthropologist, who specializes in burned human remains. And I said, "Well, you got him involved! "What do you need me for? "He edited the textbook on burned human remains." "Yeah, but you wrote the introductory chapter "explaining all of it! "He says he's recovered a lot of burned bodies, "but you've burned more bodies than he has."

- That's one of the episodes that I'm hoping that we will get to soon, because I'm really interested in knowing, not only more about your involvement in that case, but just generally, principles involved in that. You were unfamiliar with that case, but I can say it's Steven Avery out of Manitowoc County, and for those of you watching this, if you wanna skip ahead, Dr. DeHaan is in part two, episode three. So, 'cause I've been following that very closely. So here you are, towards the end of your career, and so this YouTube channel and podcast, we're hoping for you to get some of your information and some of the things that you learned that you wanna pass on to others out there, but you're also doing it through your involvement with a course on arson and explosion investigation that's in cooperation with Firewise Learning Academy. So do you wanna tell us just a little bit about that course and your involvement in it?

- Yeah, I've done a lotta lecturing on a lotta different topics over the last 45 years or so. And getting involved in the training for new investigators especially, we're upgrading experienced investigators. And when I was offered the opportunity to get involved in this as basically introductory fire scene investigation, but it included all of the right elements that I thought are critical to good investigative processes, I agreed to be one of the technical advisors and play some small role in it, but it's very promising as a single unit presentation to get people off to a good start and following the recommendations of the nationally prescribed guides, like NFPA 921 and 1033, and things like that.

- Yeah, I found it really interesting working with you on this, and of course my role has been narrating the course and putting it together and the website, but as we've filmed some of your, well, they're more than cameos in the course, when you pop in and are sharing on video, there's so many other things behind-the-scenes that you reviewed and corrected or made advice for, and yeah, so you were a really significant part of that course. So I'm not a fire investigator, I'm not a fire starter, but I found it very interesting

- [John] After all that work and all that skill applied, you're fully qualified! So, get out there with a shovel!

- Fully qualified to start fires or to investigate them? No, investigate them.

- Yes, exactly.

- That's the interesting thing, somebody said once, I think it was in court, said, "Gee, musta had a really interesting childhood." And I said, "No, I didn't set any fires "until the day I went to work for the state of California." I said, "I'd build electron accelerators "and irradiated the neighbor's cat, and things like that." And that's when they go, "Oh, okay. "One of these boy scientists, "we're gonna avoid going there." But, I didn't do any fire stuff as a kid. Even firecrackers, I had minimal exposure.

- Well, one of my big takeaways from narrating that course and learning so much in it was that I am not smart enough to get away with setting a fire. I think like many people just growing up, and that's why you see people doing it to cover their crimes, you think, "Oh! "I'll set a fire, and it will just destroy all the evidence, "and no one will be able to find anything." And definitely, this course really opened my eyes to seeing the fact that, oh no, if you set a fire, you're not necessarily destroying everything, in fact, you may very well be doing things that will help you get caught for doing it. So, as always, it's better just not do the crime in the first place. We're gonna be covering much more of that. So, tell us about your cars! How many cars do you have? You've got the Bentley. I think you've got a Shelby as well, right?

- I'm not sure as to the final count, I'm always surprised when somebody says, "Well, tally them up for us," and I go, "Uh." I think there's 16 cars. I started restoring cars when I was in college as a sanity preserver. I restored a 1928 Essex Sedan that I bought for $400. And I restored it myself, with my mother doing the upholstery and stuff like that, but I had to sell that to move to California to take my first job. And, it so screwed with my mind to sell the car that I thought, "Well, I'm not gonna do that again." So, let's see, five months later I had purchased the remains of a '55 MG TF race car, and a month after that I took delivery of the 3-liter Bentley, the '27 Bentley, in fact I still own both of them. And a couple of months after that, I took delivery of a '69 El Camino that I also still have. And because I just, you know, I love these cars and I can't part with them, so they just kind of accumulate. There's no sense or rhyme or reason. I own three Bentleys: a '27, a '49, and a '90. I own four Hudson products: the '23 Essex race car, and a Terraplane from the 30s, and a Hudson Hornet, and a Railton, which was a Hudson hybrid from England. And, you know, the MG is still here, XK120 Jaguar, a Lotus Elan, and then we get into the American stuff. I bought the remains of a burned, stolen, and stripped Shelby GT350 Mustang.

- What--

- [John] And I restored that.

- What year is that car?

- [John] That's a 1966.

- '66, okay.

- [John] Shelby.

- [Tim] Was that a crime you investigated or you just found out about the car?

- No, a car friend of mine ran a tow service, and he called me and he said, "I just dragged off the remains of a Shelby, "a real Shelby, that some airmen at Travis Air Force Base, "it was stolen and stripped and burned." And he said, "I just dragged it off to the junkyard, so, "it's available for salvage." So I bought this wreck and spent four years putting it back together, so it's now correct with the, not the correct engine, but a correct engine and gearbox and interior and engine parts and suspension and stuff like that, so it's now registered as it always has been. Registered as a Shelby.

- And besides a crash, did you determine what the cause of the fire was?

- Oh it was arson. They had stripped the car.

- Oh, I thought it was from a crash.

- Oh, no. It was, stripped. There was no engine, gearbox. The passenger compartment back was completely burned, and then to make it worse, it apparently spent its early years in Colorado, and so it was very badly rusted. What didn't get burned was badly rusted. So that was an interesting challenge, that's why it took me four years to restore it. But, it's back.

- Well, we may have to do a whole episode on all of your cars. But I better cut you off there.

- Okay.

- Now I will say, I know you and I share another hobby in common, and that is model railroading, we're train buffs. I'm not even gonna start on that, because that'll be another 15 minutes, 'cause, you won't be able to stop yourself...

- It has a lot of aspects in common with the cars. Most of the stuff is old, and, but most of it runs. I guess that's one of the most exceptions.

- Well, you and I could nerd out on that for a long time. So one last thing: tell us about your dogs!

- Ah, yes. Well, for most of the last 50 years, I've owned at least one Irish Wolfhound. And they're marvelous animals. Friendly. Very outgoing, which is sometimes a problem because people aren't used to 150 pound dogs that kinda look them in the eye if you're 5'2 or 5'5 or something like that, one of the big boys is lookin' at you almost face to face. But they're such splendid dogs, and the bad news is, they don't live very long. Seven to nine years, like most giant breeds. And so, when I lost a couple of Wolfhounds back to back, I got into, actually thanks to a Wolfhound person, that I started getting rescue Greyhounds, retired racers. And, they're marvelous dogs. Almost the same kind of personality as a Wolfhound. You know, different intent in life. Wolfhounds were used in battle, and Greyhounds were used to chase rabbits. And so, kind of a different attitude about life in general, but they're wonderful dogs.

- Now did you ever show up to a crime scene, step out of the Bentley with the Wolfhound?

- No!

- Ahh, see, now that would've been classic. Well, Doctor DeHaan, I'm really excited about this channel and the podcast. I always enjoy the times that we have talked together, not only when you were here in my city a year ago and we were working on the course, but also now just through these connections that I really enjoy. I'm excited, I hope that everybody else is excited too, so thanks for sharing about your life and this. Thanks for this opportunity to do this channel with you!

- Oh my pleasure. Great having a nice chat with y'all.