The Forensic Handbook How to Solve a Murder
The Crime Specialists • If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. • Thomas de Quincey “Murder considered as One of the Fine Arts.”
The Crime • LOCATION: Gotham City, a medium sized city in the Midwest. Racially and income diverse city. • VICTIM: Prominent and rich criminal attorney Godfrey Daniels, who is reputed to have been a silent partner to many of the criminals he defended. • CRIME: MURDER • MOTIVE: ?
The Specialists • Modern police science may be said to have three phases. • WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE THREE PHASES?
The Phases of Police Work • The first phase embraces the identification of living and dead persons. • The second phase embraces the field work carried at the scene of the crime. • The third embraces methods used in the police laboratory to examine and analyze clues and traces discovered in the course of the investigation.
The Experts in Forensics • Fingerprint Experts: • Dactyloscopy – the study of fingerprints. • Been around for over 100 years. • New techniques using all sorts of surfaces.
The Experts in Forensics • Crime Scene Photographers: A crime scene must be photographed from every angle to clearly show every detail. • Emphasis on accurately recording the size and distance of objects.
The Forensic Experts • Forensic Pathologists: Also called medical examiner. • Determine time and cause of death.
Forensic Experts • Forensic Psychologists: May be called on to evaluate a murder scene to suggest possible psychological motivations for a crime and develop profiles for police.
Forensic Experts • Forensic Serologists: Study blood groups, blood and other bodily fluids for ID following a crime. • Forensic Dentists and Odontologists: Study teeth of corpses for ID purposes or make casts of human bite marks to match the bite with the biter. • Ballistics Experts: Study the flight path of projectiles. Everything to do with firearms.
Forensic Experts • Forensic Chemists: Specialize in analyzing such things as tiny chips of paint to determine color and manufacturer as well as determining the identity of drugs, dyes and other chemicals in a body.
Forensic Experts • Forensic Geologists: Determine such things as where the suspect or victim walked by examining soil samples taken from shoes or feet.
Forensic Experts • Forensic Entomologists: By the study of insects, experts an determine how long a body has been dead by the degree of development of the maggots growing on it. • Forensic anthropologists: By examining a pile of bones, they can determine human remains and tell about what the person look like and often how they died.
Forensic Experts • Forensic Artists: Creating the likeness of a person based on eyewitness descriptions or can age a portrait to illustrate changes in a person’s features over time. • Forensic Sculptors: Reconstruct using modelling clay the appearance of a face from the structure of the skull. • Forensic Linguists: Analyze written and aural communication to identify the speaker and their intent and whether multiple communications are from the same person.
The Investigation • THE CALL: 9:32 PM, a chilly Saturday night in October. • Distraught voice told 911 operator, “My husband has been killed.”
911 Operator: • Get as much information as possible from the person on the phone to relay to police. • Know what police are walking into • Keep the caller on the phone. WHY? • Safety • Keep the scene from being tampered with.
What the Police Know • The patrol car (unit) is dispatched to the home of Godfrey Daniels in the Richwood section of town – populated by wealthier citizens. • Arrive 7 minutes after the call.
The First Officers • There is indeed a corpse lying in the middle of the floor in the study to the right of the front door. • Signs of a struggle. • Man appears shot. • Hysterical woman identifies herself as Mrs. Daniels.
Police Procedure • Ascertain the victim is REALLY dead. • Victim isn’t really dead until medical examiner says so. Make sure suspect is not on the premises.
First Officer Procedures • Secure the crime scene. • Don’t disturb the surroundings. • No one is allowed to use a toilet, run water, wash or wipe hands, use the telephone, drink out of glasses, or handle objects or touch furniture at the scene.
What the first unit found • Mrs. Daniels is trying to clean the study. She says she doesn’t want people to see a messy house. • WHY? Stress or guilt?
Why? • Dr. Sam Sheppard’s case. Prime suspect in his wife Marilyn’s murder. • Police found an unfiltered cigarette floating in a toilet. Dr. Sam didn’t smoke and his wife only smoked filtered cigarettes. • Before it was collected, a cop had flushed the toilet! • PRIME way to dispose of evidence!
First Officers Duties • Keep notes on relevant times and when crime happened (if they can); arrivals and departures from scene. • Note state of condition of anything that will change when the detectives arrive. • Lights on or off? • Windows up or down? Blinds up or down? • Smell cigarette smoke? Perfume? Gunpowder? • Visible footprints / fingerprints? Used cups/glasses
The Homicide Detectives • Detectives that will stay with the case from that moment until prosecution or their retirement. • Decide if the death is “suspicious” • Means it could be suicide, accidental death or murder.
The Homicide Detectives • In smaller towns, they will be the CSI officers too. • Write the first report. Details are vital so if 20 years later, another detective can reassemble the facts. • Secure crime scene • Determine witnesses from suspects.
What Mrs. Daniels said: She left house at 8:30 AM and spend the day at her store, Cecilia’s Frocks in a large shopping mall. Left store at 8 PM. Had dinner with a friend and came straight home, arriving at estimated 9:15 PM. After ten minutes in the house, she went into her husband’s study to speak to him and found him dead. She immediately dialed 911.
What Mrs. Daniels said: • Last spoke her husband over the phone at about 3 PM. He called to say he was expecting a client to drop in at about 8 PM. • That is why she says she ate out.
What should the police do with Mrs. Daniels’ statement? • What – if any – problems do you find?
Mrs. Daniels’ statement addition • She was reluctant to mention eating with local businessman – William Batson. • What should police do now? • Dispatch detective to verify story with Mr. Batson. • Ask him to come down to give fingerprints. • ANSWER DETERMINES IF INVESTIGATION CONTINUES ALONG THIS LINE.
Detectives also: • Do door-to-door in the neighborhood . • Some neighbors reported seing a strange man arriving at the Daniels’ house at around 8 PM. • Neighbor on the left is sure it was a tall, thin man in a trench coat and dark cap who slunk down the street at about 7:50.
BUT: • Neighbor two houses down on the right saw a stocky man with light hair and no hat in a blue or gray suit approach the Daniels’ home a minute or so after 8 PM.
What can the police assume? • What are our options about what the witnesses say they saw?
The Medical Examiner Arrives • Called at the same time as the homicide squad. • Issue a death certificate • Examine the body where it lies to estimate time and probable cause of death. • Take the body back to the morgue for an autopsy.
The Forensic Unit Arrives. • Start by photographing the scene before the body is moved. • Go over area for fingerprints. Attention to areas the assailant was likely to forget he/she had touched. • Check bathroom sink drain trap for blood.
The Forensic Unit • Note that the top desk drawer is pulled out and gone through. • Other desk drawers treated thus. • Bagged the gun and took samles from each of the blood stains. • Gathered hairs, fibers, cigarette butts in an ashtray. • Found by the car another cigarette butt.
Summary of scene: • Mr. Daniels was lying on his back on the floor of his study. • Appears to be a bullet hole in his chest and a pool of congealed blood under the body in the head and shoulder area. • Other stains of blood on the desk and the floor near the door.
Summary of the scene • There was also what might be a blood stain on the inner doorknob of a second door which led to a bathroom. • A revolver lay about a foot from the deceased’s left leg. • Overturned wastebasket and signs of a struggle or hasty search.
Options: Suicide or Homicide? • Suicide? • Homicide?
Something to Ponder: • Let talking cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where death delights to help the living. • Inscription on the wall of the office of New York City’s chief medical examiner.
Three factors to determine time of death: • Rigor Mortis – rigidity comes and goes shortly after death. • Livor Mortis: discoloration of skin caused by the settling of red cells of blood due to gravity. • Algor Mortis: Cooling off of the body.
Rigor Mortis • Begins two hours after death as the body changes from alkaline to acid. Muscles stiffen. • Where do you think it appears first? • Eyelids • Muscles of the face • Jaw arms, trunk and legs. • In that order.
Rigor Mortis • Body in full rigor is stiff as a plank. • Reaches peak in twelve hours and lasts 12 – 48 hours. • Releases when body changes from acid back to alkaline.
RARE instances • Cadaveric Spasm: Body in SOME cases of instant and violent death goes into full rigor.
Livor Mortis • Also called post mortem lividity – red blood cells settle out of the serum and gather in the lowest part of the body. • Starts in two hours and fixed after eight. • Even if body moved – the red markings remain. Sure sign the body has been moved if the corpse position doesn’t match the lividity.
Algor Mortis • Temperature of death.. • At the moment of death – exception – the body temp was 98.6 degrees. • Body temperature goes down at the rate of one degree an hour – depending on external temperature, body weight, etc.