Homicide Crime Investigation
The homicide crime scene is the most crucial scene which needs careful analysis and also protection as investigation is being conducted. The main aim is always to find out what happened and identify the main perpetrators of the crime. This requires intelligent and careful examination of the crime scene accompanied with evidence acquired from the medical evaluation of different pieces of evidence that the investigator have gathered. During the investigation, all trace evidence has to be noted in writing or captured by photography (Murgado, 2013). Also, statements from the suspects and the direct eyewitnesses must be recorded to avoid leaving any form of information that may be important out. It means that everything that has been brought to the attention of the investigators must be considered as important evidence.
The case study
In the case regarding a child’s body being found inside a large plastic trash bag under a local bridge with signs that the child suffered numerous stab wounds over the body, the role of an investigator would be to identify the real culprits of the homicide and bring them to justice. However, it is important to follow the right and legal procedure to conduct the investigation. It is only through proper investigation that the reasons for the child’s death can be identified and why the child was the main victim in the murder.
When a child is found dead under unclear circumstances, the first people to be considered victims are their caregivers, guardians or parents. This is because they are the closest individuals to the child and are aware of her moves all through since she was born. The investigator may rule that the child was a victim because of domestic violence in the family or child abuse. However, the possibility of domestic violence being the main cause is high due to the deep cuts found on the child’s body. Though post-mortem would reveal in details what could have caused the child’s death. It is important to note that these are basic assumptions which are made without proper evidence. As the investigation deepens, it will be easy to uncover the main cause of the child’s death and who were the main perpetrators of the murder.
The first police officer to find themselves at the scene of the murder is always required to protect/secure the crime scene to prevent the evidence from being contaminated or destroyed. Since the scene is under a local bridge, it means that the area is not so populated. In this case, a physical barrier like a crime scene tape or sawhorses may be required to protect the scene from curious onlookers or individuals who are passing-by. At the same time, the investigator may decide to divide the area in manageable sections to make the search for any pieces of evidence easy. For instance, the child must have been thrown into the creek by someone; it means that any possible footprints in the area has be analyzed and investigated properly. There is, therefore, a need to cover a larger area with the crime scene tape as much as possible to create boundary or keep off unwanted individuals on the scene.
The crime scene should also be secured from curious police officers who might tamper with the evidence. Studies have revealed that most police officers who are present at the crime scene are just curious and do not contribute effectively to the investigation (Ruslander, n.d). The investigator should ensure that there are minimal numbers of police officers in the area to secure the evidence that can act as the lead to identifying the real perpetrators of the crime. The investigator should explain to the police officers that their mere presence in the crime scene is dangerous for the investigation. For instance, if they lean against a door or stand around everywhere, they might be grinding valuable evidence deep into the ground or contaminate the area with their fingerprints. The officers’ presence is therefore not required thus they should not give the investigator a hard time to move out of the crime scene.
The best way in which the investigator can determine if the girl died alongside the creek is from the forensic autopsy report. After the external body has been examined, the investigator will have an objective data regarding information about the child’s relationship with the crime scene together with the manner or circumstance through which the death occurred. All other methods will be mere speculations and not reliable information because the body of the girl was already rotten. The possibility of finding tangible evidence to show that the girl had died from the creek is low. Some of the things that might interfere with the evidence include: wind, wild animals, human beings and even the rain or the water underneath the bridge. Forensic autopsy can reveal when the girl died and the investigator can use that information to determine if she had died alongside the creek or whether she died before she was placed in the plastic bag (Demirci & Dogan, 2011).
When the body of the victim was analyzed, the investigative doctor found deep cuts which mean that the child did not die of natural causes and there were some kind of violence involved. Despite the fact that the body had rotten, the bruises from the cuts were still evident which will be used as the first sign to criminate the offender for high degree murder if they are found guilty of the charges.
Some of the ways to determine the ingress or egress of the offender to and from the crime scene is following the possible paths that he/she might have taken when dumping the body under the bridge. The investigator can analyze any finger prints available on the paper bag or even footprints at the scene which will be used as a lead to identify the offender. In every crime, there is always a clue that the offender leaves behind that can be used by the investigator as evidence. This is the reason analysts of crimes have made claims that there is no crime which is perfect. Since the child is an eleven-year-old, the possibility that the offender carried the dead body to the scene is very high. On the other hand, they can obtain help from someone to dump the body thus the need to check for any possible footprints and fingerprints from the bridge down to the scene where the body was found. Some of the clues that can help in determining if the body was thrown from the bridge is whether the paper bag has cracked, any form of broken bones on the child, or even drips of blood on the bridge or finger prints. At the same time the footprints are the only possible clues that the investigator can use to determine if the body was carried down to the creek waters. They can also check on the ways in which the body is placed; if the polythene is placed in an organized manner then the possibility that it was carried and placed at the scene are high.
Victimology is the study of the victim whereby the investigator will take part in examining all the facet of their background, physical characteristics, lifestyle, and health (Technova, 2014). This will help the investigator to know the victim better thus come up with a concrete possible reason for their murder. Victimology is a process which is important because it provides the investigators with ideas regarding why the victim was selected for murder. In majority of cases, the offender always holds back from selecting their victims until they found an individual that meets their needs enabling them to fulfill their desires and fantasies (Lusignan, 2007). Victimology study is crucial in this case because it involves a small child thus everyone including the neighbors is curious to find out the causes of her death.
While conducting the study, the investigator will have to interview the children who identified the body of the young girl especially what they were doing around that area. At the same time, they will interview those who live nearby plus the neighbors of the child. They will also have to investigate the family of the victim from the parents to the relatives because they too are possible suspects.
In conclusion, conducting a homicide crime investigation may not be easy, but following the right steps and procedures will help the investigator to identify the right clues that they can use to identify the offender and allow them to face the law. This case is considered as a high degree murder thus under law, the offender will be charged with homicide and high degree murder. The various forms of victimology include restorative justice and criminal trial, and institutional and group victimology. According to Virgin Islands local penal code, it is the mission of the courts to offer protection to the people to guarantee liberty while at the same time upholds the right law while resolving disputes in a fair and peaceful manner. The best law that is most applicable in this case is high degree murder case. This is because of the manner in which the victim was killed and thrown away. There are evidences and proofs that depicts that the child was tortured before being killed making it a high degree murder case.
Demirci, S. & Dogan, K.H. (2011). Death scene investigation from the viewpoint of forensic medicine expert. Turkey: Selcuk University.
Lusignan, R. (2007). Risk assessment and offender–Victim relationship in juvenile offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 51 (4), 33–443
Murgado, A. (2013, Dec 13). 12 tips from homicide detectives. Retrieved from http://www.policemag.com/channel/careers-training/articles/2013/12/12-tips-from-homicide-detectives.aspx
Ruslander, R. (n.d). Searching and examining a major case crime scene. Retrieved from http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/searchingandexamining.html
Technova. (2014). Victimology: The study of victims in criminal investigations. http://www.technova.gr/technova/index.php/2012-06-21-03-15-38/english/1009-victimology