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Chapter 08

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  • 1. Chapter 8Death Investigations Hess 8-1
  • 2. Introduction• Statistically, murder is the least significant of the violent crimes• Receives extensive media attention• May appear as if this crime is occurring more frequently, but it is actually declining• Males are most often the victims and the perpetrators in homicides• Males are 10 times more likely to commit murder than are females Hess 8-2
  • 3. Classification of DeathsCATEGORIES OF DEATH• Natural• Accidental• Suicide• Homicide  Criminal  Noncriminal• Degrees of murder Hess 8-3
  • 4. Elements of the CrimeOVERVIEW• Premeditation• Intent• Heat of passion• Culpable negligence or depravity• Negligence Hess 8-4
  • 5. Challenges in InvestigationISSUES WITH HOMICIDE INVESTIGATIONS• Pressure by the media and the public• Difficulty in establishing it was a homicide• Identifying the victim• Establishing the cause and time of death Hess 8-5
  • 6. Equivocal DeathINTERPRETATION• Homicide, suicide or accidental death• Sudden in-custody deaths (SICD)• Intentionally vague facts• Posing and staging Hess 8-6
  • 7. SuicideOVERVIEW• Often presents as a homicide• Reason for an apparent suicide must be determined• Observable signs of depression• Preserve all evidence until the medical examiner rules whether the death is a suicide Hess 8-7
  • 8. SuicideSUICIDE BY POLICE• Wants to die but does not want to pull trigger• The shooting officer may suffer emotionallySUICIDE OF POLICE OFFICERS• About 97 percent involve their own duty weapon• Rate is higher than general population Hess 8-8
  • 9. Preliminary Investigation of HomicideDETERMINING THAT DEATH HAS OCCURRED• Heartbeat• Respiration• Brain activitySECURING AND DOCUMENTING THE SCENE• Scene must be secured, photographed and sketched Hess 8-9
  • 10. Preliminary Investigation of HomicideCOLLECTING AND MOVING THE BODY• Move the body carefully• Slide a sheet under the body to catch evidenceFOCUS OF THE HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION• Specificity• Element of surprise• Haste Hess 8-10
  • 11. The Homicide VictimDISCOVERING THE VICTIM• No body in some cases• Various technologies usedIDENTIFYING THE VICTIM• Spouse, parent, friendor relative• Fingerprints, DNA• Dental records Hess 8-11
  • 12. Estimating the Time of Death (TOD)RECENT DEATH• Normally the easiest determination to makeDEATH ONE-HALF HOUR TO FOUR DAYS PRIOR• Body temperature• Rigor mortis• Postmortem lividity• Partial restriction of pupils• Preserve any vomit Hess 8-12
  • 13. Estimating the Time of Death (TOD)MANY DAYS AFTER DEATH• Decomposition• 30 isolated compoundsEFFECTS OF WATER• Dead body usually sinksin water• Unrestricted will rise to surface Hess 8-13
  • 14. Estimating the Time of Death (TOD)FACTORS SUGGESTING CHANGE IN ROUTINE• Check telephone calls• Check dates on mail• Expiration dates on food• Determine all facts to estimate TOD Hess 8-14
  • 15. The Medical Examination or AutopsyEXHUMING BODY FOR MEDICAL EXAMINATION• Strict legal procedures• Obtain permission• Photograph the area• Proper persons at opening• Identification• Examination Hess 8-15
  • 16. Unnatural Causes of Death and Method Used CAUSES • Gunshot wounds • Stabbing wounds • Cutting wounds • Blows from blunt objects • Asphyxia • Autoerotic death Continued Hess 8-16
  • 17. Unnatural Causes of Death and Method Used (Continued)CAUSES• Poisoning• Burning• Explosions, electrocution and lightning• Drug-related deaths• Vehicular deaths Hess 8-17
  • 18. WitnessesINFORMATION SOURCES• Struggles often create noise• Attract the attention of neighbors or passersby• Neighborhood canvass• Homicide hotlines• Anonymous tips Hess 8-18
  • 19. SuspectsMASS MURDERERS• School and workplace similarities  Profiles  Targets  Means  Motivation Hess 8-19
  • 20. SuspectsSERIAL KILLERS• Killing of three or more separate victims• Often quite intelligentLUST MURDERERS• Sex-related homicide• Organized and disorganized offenders Hess 8-20
  • 21. The Declining Clearance RateRESOLVING CASES• Aspects associated with likelihood of clearing a case• Actions affecting clearance• 10 most common errors in death investigations• Impact of unsolved homicides Hess 8-21
  • 22. Cold CasesVOLUNTEER COLD CASE SQUADS• Retirees• Cold case cowboysBENEFITS OF A COLD CASE UNIT• Clearance rates increase• Guilty brought to justice Hess 8-22
  • 23. Death NotificationOVERVIEW• Deliver with a two-person team• Wide range of emotional and physical reactions• Family members should be allowed to see the body• Viewing a body at the scene may compromise the investigation Hess 8-23
  • 24. Strategies for Reducing HomicideCURRENT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM• Part of a larger problem• General problem of violence• Address proactively• Positive impacts• Intervention programs Hess 8-24
  • 25. A Case StudyMOONBERRY POND MURDER• Lessons learned  Work as a team  Avoid gender prejudice  Stay attuned to subtle clues Hess 8-25
  • 26. Summary• Homicide investigations are challenging and frequently require all investigative techniques and skills• Classified as criminal (felonious) or noncriminal• Murder classified into three degrees• Manslaughter has two classifications• Medical examiner provides legal evidence• Determine a motive for the killing Hess 8-26