February 23, 2007
Colloquium Speaker: Ronald Kelly
Ronald L. Kelly is presently assigned to the Explosives Unit of the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, VA where forensic analyses are conducted on evidence submitted by Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies from fire and explosion scenes. He supervises the fire debris analysis cases and has testified numerous times in Federal, State, and local courts. Mr. Kelly has been involved in many major case investigations, which include the Trade Center Bombing, the Branch Davidian siege at Waco, Texas, the Oklahoma City bombing, the crash of TWA 800, the bombings in Atlanta (1996 Olympics), the embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salam, Tanzania, the Unabomber case, and the Bali, Indonesia bombings. Mr. Kelly is a 1977 graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B. S. Degree in Chemistry. He joined the FBI Laboratory in 1978 and has specialized in the forensic analysis of evidence from fire and explosion scenes. Additionally, he has been involved in the fire service as a member of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad, Prince George's County, Maryland since 1977. He is currently coordinating forensic courses at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia in Fire Debris Analysis for chemists and Basic Fire Investigations for police and fire investigators. Mr. Kelly has published work and presented papers on the topics of fire debris analysis, the forensic analysis of explosives, and fire and explosion scene investigations. In addition to the courses he coordinates at the FBI Academy, his duties have also included the training of chemists, police officers and investigators from many foreign countries. Mr. Kelly is currently qualified as a fire investigator, fire officer, fire service instructor and forensic chemist. He is an active member of the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Technical Working Group on Fires and Explosions (TWGFEX), and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS).
The FBI's Explosives Unit has the responsibility to investigate any potential explosion/bombing related to terrorism, either domestically or against U.S. interests overseas. Investigators trained in various disciplines are deployed to evaluate these scenes to determine the type of explosion, examine and collect forensic evidence, and assist in the technical aspects of prosecuting criminal bombing cases. The crime scene processing team is comprised of bomb technicians, chemists, physicists, and other specialists supported by evidence recovery teams that work in harmony to collect the relevant evidence necessary to determine the cause of an explosion. Simple and advanced technologies are utilized in processing the scene and related searches. Recovered evidence is returned to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, VA where it is meticulously analyzed for device components and explosive chemistry. In addition to criminal investigations, explosive devices world-wide are sent to the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, a joint Federal entity hosted by the FBI Laboratory, whose mission is to analyze explosive devices used around the world against U.S. Troops and other American interests. The Explosives Unit works closely with several technical working groups addressing the issue of defeating improvised explosive devices. Additionally, several research projects are on-going directed at various facets of explosive devices, novel explosives, and chemical detection methods. This program will briefly discuss some of these aspects of bombing and explosion investigations and present casework examples of forensic investigations involving some recent terrorist incidents.