June 12, 2004 by

Joseph L. Gormley

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Categories: Business, Government, Law

Joseph L. Gormley, the retired chief of chemistry and toxicology for the FBI, died on June 6 from complications of cancer. He was 90.
Born in Clinton, Mass., Gormley received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Boston College. In 1940, he moved to Washington D.C. and joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Gormley continued his academic pursuits, earning a law degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in forensic science from George Washington University.
He spent more than three decades with the FBI, investigating some of the agency’s most famous cases, including the Great Brinks Robbery in 1950 and the 1964 murders of three young civil rights workers, which became known as the “Mississippi Burning” case. He served as an expert witness in numerous trials, testifying on his knowledge of chemistry, toxicology and arson. For more than 20 years, Gormley supervised a program that developed the use of lie detector tests for investigative purposes.
He retired from the FBI in 1973, then directed the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory and worked in the research and training divisions of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The former president of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists, Gormley also taught at GW and the University of Maryland.
In his spare time, Gormley fathered nine children and built a small side business recreating well-known perfumes and fragrances. He used the perfumery profits to pay for his children’s educations.

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