Father of FBI Forensics: The Life of Charles A. Appel, Jr.


Charlie Appel founded the FBI Laboratory, and was its only examiner its first three years. A Georgetown University Law School graduate, he was a concert violinist, electrical engineer and World War I biplane pilot. He became a world-renowned expert in crime-scene evidence and questioned documents as a Special Agent of the FBI from 1924 to 1949, then in private practice. His cases included the Lindbergh kidnapping, gangster-era thugs, World War II spies, Howard Hughes, Aristotle Onassis, Clay Shaw, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and other famous people. His life, 1895-1981, spanned horse and buggy days to the space age. His private life with three wives, seven children and many friends was a mix of love stories tragedy, and nonstop drama.The Author, Edward J. Appel, Sr. is Charlie’s son, who served as an FBI Special Agent for 28 years. Now retired, he provides unique insight into the birth of the FBI Laboratory, forensic science’s role in criminal and civil cases, Charlie’s story and the history of which he was a part.


Edward J. Appel Sr.

Publication Year



Independently published (April 4, 2021)



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