For immediate release

January 8, 2015

Walk through two complex arson cases at top LASD investigator Ed Nordskog's latest forensic science seminar

WHAT: Cal State Los Angeles Professor Donald Johnson, in association with LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association and Esotouric, present a new program in their quarterly forensic science seminar series: "Where There's Smoke " hosted by Ed Nordskog, top arson investigator for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department

WHEN: Sunday, January 18, 12:00pm-4:00pm

WHERE: The Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center (Cal State L.A.), 1800 Paseo Rancho Castilla, Los Angeles, CA 90032

COST: $36.50 per person, includes refreshments. A portion of the proceeds from this event supports the graduate level research of Cal State Los Angeles Criminalistics graduate students.

ED NORDSKOG'S BOOKS: Copies of "'Torchered' Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists" and "Fire Raisers, Freaks and Fiends: Obsessive Arsonists in the California Foothills" will be available for purchase at the event. More info at

RESTRICTIONS: Due to the graphic nature of the presentation, children may not attend.

PHOTOS: Images from a previous event at

INFO/RESERVATIONS: call 213-373-1947

LOS ANGELES- What makes someone set fire to buildings? What twisted line of thinking drives an otherwise nondescript citizen to endanger the lives of strangers? How do investigators get into the minds of arsonists and crack their crimes wide open? On January 18 you can join Ed Nordskog, top arson investigator for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, for a fascinating afternoon of lectures and live demonstrations, drawing on his own casework and notorious, high profile cases.

Ed Nordskog will present in detail just how two fascinating recent cases were solved.

Case #1 - St John Vianney Catholic Church arson, Hacienda Heights. In April 2011, a brazen arsonist entered the church sanctuary and carefully ensured its destruction. Two priests sleeping in the attached building narrowly escaped with their lives. You’ll marvel at the two-year, multi-agency investigation, the bizarre suspect and how toilet paper became the key to breaking the case.

Case #2 - Marijuana Shop Fires. Beginning in 2009, black street gangs began firebombing marijuana dispensaries throughout the Los Angeles basin, with a large number occurring in Hollywood and West Hollywood. Watch as the facts fall into place through the recently concluded four-year investigation, resulting in the convictions of 11 conspirators and a surprising ring leader. 

In between the lectures, experience a rare hands-on opportunity to view real examples of deadly explosive devices, carefully neutralized for your educational pleasure.

By the end of Ed’s presentations, attendees will have gained familiarity with the real-world experience of a top arson investigator, and with the shadow worlds inhabited by two very different types of arsonist.

ABOUT LAVA'S QUARTERLY FORENSIC SCIENCE SEMINAR SERIES: Turn on the TV today and odds are good you'll see white lab coats, DNA swabs and magnified fingerprints on computer screens. CSI is hot stuff, in fictional series ("NCIS: Los Angeles," "Bones," "Dexter," "CSI") and documentary programming. But it's not often that the general public gets a chance to tour a real crime lab with the forensic investigators and educators who use its tools to solve crimes and develop new research strategies. Leave it to LAVA - The Los Angeles Visionaries Association), the creative consortium helmed by Richard Schave and Kim Cooper, the married couple whose Esotouric bus adventures have transformed the guided tour experience, to make a real-life CSI experience accessible to interested laypersons. Working closely with one of LAVA's most intriguing Visionary members, Professor Donald Johnson, they've developed a series of events highlighting the work conducted at Cal State L.A.'s state-of-the-art Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, presented through tours and short lectures from the scientist/educators and graduate students who work there.

Since the program launched in October 2010, LAVA's popular lectures and tours in the CSULA crime lab have included presentations on Phil Spector trial trace evidence, the Patrick Tillman death investigation in Afghanistan, a comparison of the 1950s Harvey Glatman case with the 1995 murder of Linda Sobek, the use of dental records to identify mass disaster victims, and more.

A portion of the proceeds from these events supports the research of Criminalistics graduate students at Cal State Los Angeles. Space is very limited and pre-reservation recommended for this rare opportunity to tour the crime lab, learn from experienced forensic investigators and educators, and discover the real art and science of crime scene investigation.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to tour Cal State LA's state-of the-art teaching and research facilities in the Criminalistics Department of the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.

ABOUT ED NORDSKOG: Ed Nordskog is an active arson/bomb detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He has been a detective since 1990, working specifically in the arson and explosives world since 1997. He has conducted over sixteen hundred fire investigations and as of this writing has personally arrested and interviewed over 250 persons who were convicted of fire setting and related crimes. He has testified in court as a recognized expert in this field on over fifty-five occasions. He has been consulted by prosecuting attorneys on death penalty cases involving arson and murder on three occasions. He has been personally involved in over twenty serial arson investigations. The author has a master's degree in emergency services management and is certified as a fire investigator by the California State Fire Marshal and the California Conference of Arson Investigators. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Arson Investigation Course, the ATF Advanced Arson Investigation Course, the Forensic Fire Death Investigation Course, and numerous other arson investigation courses. He is involved in course development and teaches fire scene investigation, major arson case investigation, serial arson investigation, and arson murder/fire death investigation. He is a course developer and instructor for the state of California's Arson and Explosives Investigation Course. He is an instructor for the state of California's Homicide Investigator's Course. In 2004, the author was named Arson Investigator of the Year by the International Association of Arson Investigators and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the International Association of Special Investigations Units; both of these awards are for his work as the lead investigator on a massive arson for hire scheme, involving fifty-five burned properties. He has received over eighty-five commendations, awards, and medals throughout his law enforcement career related to successful criminal investigations. He is author of the books "'Torchered' Minds: Case Histories of Notorious Serial Arsonists" ( and "Fire Raisers, Freaks and Fiends: Obsessive Arsonists in the California Foothills."

ABOUT LAVA: Through participation in LAVA, a select group of creative professionals come together to promote cultural programming that speaks to the urban experience while promoting positive public space. LAVA's creative partners share a love for L.A. and unique ideas for exploring it in their work. Formed by social historians RICHARD SCHAVE and KIM COOPER—proprietors of Esotouric bus adventures and the 1947project time travel blog series (including On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land)—LAVA brings together L.A.'s most visionary promoters, artists, writers and thinkers. The first crop of Visionaries in the growing curated community includes cultural chronicler ADRIENNE CREW, artist and Eastside historian AL GUERRERO, Cacophony Society co-founder AL RIDENOUR, avant garde fashion maven A. LAURA BRODY, poet/publisher ALEIDA RODRIGUEZ, back-to-nature pioneer ALICIA BAY LAUREL, filmmaker ALLISON ANDERS, writer/curator ALLON SCHOENER, designer/mom of Chicken Boy AMY INOUYE, actor/musician ANDY BEN, custom tours maven ANNE BLOCK, documentarian/radio producer ANTHEA RAYMOND, author/gallerist APRIL DAMMANN, memoirist BARBARA KRAFT, pop culture historian BECKY EBENKAMP, ethnomusicologist BETO GONZALEZ, puppeteer BOB BAKER, tile historian BRIAN KAISER, producer/promoter CHRISTIAN VOLTAIRE MEOLI, cultural events programmer CHRISTINA GALANTE, musician COUNT SMOKULA, performance artist CRIMEBO THE CLOWN, writer/Libros Schmibros proprietor DAVID KIPEN, Novelist DAVID ROCKLIN, forensic educator DEREK PACIFICO, literary curator D.M. COLLINS, sculptor DONALD GIALANELLA, forensic scientist/educator DONALD JOHNSON, author/educator DOROTHY RANDALL GRAY, educator and historic cemetery board member DWAIN CARLO CRUM, arson investigator and author ED NORDSKOG, artist ELENA MARY SIFF, documentarian ELIJAH DRENNER, conversation curator ERIC VOLLMER, social connector EVONNE HEYNING, musician/performance artist FEATHERBEARD, photographer GARY LEONARD, pop critic/outsider artist GENE SCULATTI, musician/artist GEORGE EARTH, songsmith HARVEY SID FISHER, theater director HOLLY WITHAM, musician/writer IAN WHITCOMB, artist JASON HADLEY, food blogger JAVIER CABRAL, musician JEFF BOYNTON, filmmaker JEREMY KASTEN, musician JIMI CABEZA DE VACA, social historian JOAN RENNER, writer/artist JOE OESTERLE, writer JOHN BUNTIN, filmmaker JON ALLOWAY, documentarian JOHN DULLAGHAN, Musso & Frank co-owner JORDAN JONES, performance artist JULES ROCHIELLE, cemetery historian KARIE BIBLE. curator JULIE RICO, cultural curator and writer KIM OHANNESON, "Kristin's List" cultural chronicler KRISTIN BEDFORD, songstress/prognosticator MADAME PAMITA, esoteric scholar MAJA D'AOUST, author/broadcaster MANNY PACHECO, writer MARGUERITE DARLINGTON, performer McCRISTOL HARRIS, visual artist MELVIN HALE, journalist MICHAEL LINDER, photographic archivist MICHAEL RISNER, poet/dancer MONA JEAN CEDAR, architectural historian NATHAN MARSAK, writer NEAL POLLOCK, theater director NICHOLAS HOSKING, L.A. Historic Theater Foundation rep NICK MATONAK, music producer NO'A WINTER LAZERUS, musician OCTAVIUS, writer /photographer /musician PAUL KOUDOUNARIS, peace activist PAUL NUGENT of the Aetherius Society, 3-D photography expert RAY 3D ZONE, activist and performer RD PLASSCHAERT, historic ghost seeker RICHARD CARRADINE, artist/musician RICH POLYSORBATE 60, filmmaker/preservationist ROSS LIPMAN, singer-songwriter RUTHANN FRIEDMAN, poet S.A. GRIFFIN, ghost hunter SARAH TROOP, social networking mistress SHAWNA DAWSON, painter/gallerist SUSAN DOBAY, artist/writer/activist SUSANNA DAKIN, Warhol star and writer TERE TEREBA, sculptor TOM WALKER, musical entertainer THE UKULADY, and hat designer YASMIN DIXON.

Applications from prospective LAVA members are being taken at

To learn more about LAVA, please visit

LAVA founders Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, Professor Donald Johnson, Ed Nordskog and most of LAVA's Visionary members are available for interviews, and a very limited number of journalists on assignment can be accommodated at the event. Contact Kim at amscrayATgmailDOTcom, 213-373-1947