At the end of last month, I wrote a post outlining what a uniform response officer would do when initially attending a crime scene where a murder has taken place. (You can find that first post Here.)
Today I’m going to talk about what the investigating detectives are going to look at when they turn up though I do have a slight amendment to the last post in thinking about this post.
Now, when we are talking about crime scenes and we are talking about a dead body at a location, we are talking about two scenes. The person before you who has been murdered is a scene (because this may or may not be the place they were murdered and you could get a lot of information from the body of the person) and the scene as you would usually understand scene to be – is a scene.
Let me start by clarifying a couple of things I said last week, and remember when I’m talking about policing, things are different at every single incident you attend. Though there are frameworks and policies, the actual incident you attend is always different so the way you will deal with it will vary from incident to incident, because you are dealing with people and people are human.
When I said don’t touch anything that is the ‘norm’ but what if your victim was outside in the garden and you saw a footprint in the soil coming away from the body and it was starting to rain, and heavily, and the CSI’s hadn’t arrived yet? You’d need to preserve that footprint before it’s washed away. So you would cover it with something large enough to go over/around it and high/domed enough to not touch it. You could look in your car to see if you had anything or get something from a neighbour (without allowing them in!) and get that footprint protected.
I also said don’t cover the body, even if it’s in the middle of the street (after a stabbing or shooting for instance) and you want to protect the decency of your victim and you want to protect the people who live and work around you. You can’t because you can transfer fibres to and from the body in doing so. Again, what if it started to absolutely hammer it down with rain and evidence was potentially going to be washed off the body and down the street drain and CSI’s and their white tents were still 5 minutes away? You need to preserve that evidence. You, as first responder, will have to make a quick call whether to cover and if so, the item you cover with will be a part of the evidence. If you can see it’s going to rain and you have time to make the call to the SIO you can make that decision someone else’s. The same can be said for whatever bizarre situations you have your dead bodies in. If they need protecting from losing evidence then you have to make that call, but don’t ever cover up just to protect the victim or witnesses.
Okay, so now I’ve clarified those things – it’s long-winded isn’t it?! – let’s move on to when your detectives turn up at the scene and what they are going to be looking at and doing…
- They will not enter the scene without first putting on protective clothing, including footwear, all-in-one suit, mask and gloves.
- They will consider if the scene needs protecting (white tent etc.)
- Consider if they want the pathologist at the scene.
- Record the scene in photographic format and/or video.
- If you have more than one scene on the go at once, the same officer can not go to both scenes as this would cause cross contamination. They would also not be allowed near or to interview the offender (if you have them) that day for the same reason.
- Take the body temperature of the victim at the scene (not done by your detective!)
- Identify and recover any evidence. Now, this is a wide and varied comment and totally depends on where your body is and who has murdered them and how, what they could possibly have left, what they could possibly have touched or done while they were there? How long were they there? Lots to consider and you just need to think really carefully about what happened and then look at it from the outside for any possible evidence. Fingerprints, footprints, cigarettes smoked, bite marks in certain foods, bodily fluids, weapons, notes, CCTV, computers, tyre marks. You know what happened. Think it through and know what will be picked up.
- Looking to identify access and egress sites.
- Consider if this is the scene of the crime itself or a dump site. Will you be needing to look for another scene.
- Do not cut or undo any ligatures.
- Also, when looking at your victim check the liver mortis – where the blood has settled in the lower regions of the body. -So if the victim is laid on their back the liver mortis should be along their back and the back of their arms and legs. If you can see the liver mortis is not in the position the victim is laid in then this tells you the body has been moved after death.
If you think I’ve missed something off this list (which is highly possible) then please let me know in the comments and I’ll answer.
Again, if there is anything you want to see in this series, just let me know and I’ll try to cover it.