06-26-2005, 07:47 AM #1
What is the average length of time before a murder suspect is identified?
I woke up this morning feeling very sad and frustrated, not only by this case but a couple of others as well.
I don't know why this case still has no suspect under arrest but I would like to explore the potential facts of murder investigations:
How long does it typically take to process DNA?
What might be the specific timetable in NC?
What is the average length of time before a suspect is named in murder cases? How does that number differ between random and non-random murders, etc.?
I don't know how much time I have to do this this morning but I wanted to throw these ideas out there so if anyone has any ideas or sources, maybe you could post them here.
06-26-2005, 07:50 AM #2
(From page 3)
... Analyzing DNA evidence in a criminal case can take weeks or months to complete and can be expensive, especially if multiple pieces of evidence are submitted. During a criminal investigation, the police department or the prosecutor's office often pays for the analysis ...
(From page 8)
The importance of the role forensic DNA evidence plays in solving sexual assault and homicide cases cannot be overstated. DNA evidence is a crucial tool used in effective police work to solve violent crimes...
Although DNA is a powerful tool, it is useless to the criminal justice system if it is not properly collected, preserved, and tested...
As technology to test forensic DNA evidence advances and huge backlogs of rape kits decline in laboratories nationwide, crimes will be solved more quickly ...
06-26-2005, 08:12 AM #3
Thorough article on collecting blood evidence; goes on beyond what I've copied here:
Collection and Preservation of Blood Evidence
... it is essential to correctly document, collect, and preserve this type of evidence... Blood evidence or the lack of blood evidence can also be used to bolster or contradict a witness statement or any statements that the suspect may make. Blood evidence can also point the investigator in the direction he or she needs to go to solve the case. If blood evidence is documented, collected, and stored suitably, it can be presented to a judge or jury several years from the time of the criminal act. Perhaps the most powerful application of blood evidence is the ability to absolutely eliminate a person as a potential suspect in a crime.
... Communication is the key to effectively processing blood evidence. Clear and open communication must exist between a crime scene's first responding officer, the case detective, the crime scene investigator, the forensic scientist analyzing the evidence, and the assistant district attorney handling the case. Of prime importance is the communication between the crime scene investigator and the forensic scientist. A crime scene investigator should know the crime lab's capabilities, the methods of blood collection and preservation preferred by the crime lab, the investigative information relevant to the forensic scientist, and the type of reference samples required by the crime lab...
The investigator should then use logic and common sense to search for evidence; however, he or she should also use imagination and avoid becoming narrow-minded. As investigators become more experienced, they know that certain patterns emerge and certain elements are common among similar cases. They also know that they have to keep an open mind when deciding what is evidence and where it will be found. This is due to the unpredictable nature of people and the forces of chaos. Once the investigator has gathered as much information as possible about the case, then he or she should form a mental or written plan to proceed with the documentation, collection, and preservation of the evidence. The investigator should also pass any relevant information to the lab analyst. This will allow the analysis to make decisions concerning the best approach to the analysis and what information can be determined from the evidence...
06-26-2005, 08:16 AM #4
Great information ... please check it out.
Searching and Examining a Major Case Crime Scene
VII. Personal Information
Is the victim married or in a relationship? Determine as much about the state of the marriage or relationship as possible, for example, abuse, infidelity on either partners part, drug or alcohol abuse, monetary problems. Is there a suicide note, if so does it appear genuine or staged? Process for prints, get handwriting samples from the other occupants of the location. Has the victim threatened suicide recently, has he/she been despondent, what has happened recently to prompt or preclude such actions? Check the victims computer...
06-26-2005, 08:18 AM #5
Searching and Examining a Major Case Crime Scene
VI. Expanding the Search
Once the investigators have completed their examination and the body has been removed, the investigators should take time to systematically check the remainder of the house, business, vehicle or location and carefully note items of evidence or conditions which may shed any additional light on the investigation. These can include;
- Doors, are they locked or bolted (from the inside or outside), are there marks of forced entry, does the doorbell work, is there a doorknocker, are there scratches around the keyhole, etc.
- Windows, what type, are they locked or unlocked, open or broken, note the type and position of curtains, drapes or blinds.
- Newspapers and mail, is the mail unopened or read or not, check the postmarks on envelopes and the dates of newspapers.
- Lights, which ones were on when the crime was discovered, how are they controlled, by timers, motion sensors or switches. Can they be seen from the outside. Are the bulbs broken or unscrewed?
- Smells, do you or did the first responding officer notice the smell of gas, tobacco, alcohol, perfume, gun powder or anything else unusual.
- Kitchens, was food being prepared, if so, what kind (it may or may not correspond with the victims stomach contents). Is there food that was partially eaten, utensils, glasses or plates. Is the stove warm or still on, Are there signs of attempts to burn or wash away evidence. Are there signs of clean up attempts.
- Heating/Air Conditioners, what type is it, is it vented or unvented (carbon monoxide can kill). What is the thermostat setting.
- Are there signs of a party, such as empty bottles (note the labels, brands, types of liquor, etc.) are there cups, glasses and what is their contents, how many are there, is lipstick on any of them, how many places are set at the table.
- Note contents of ashtrays, cigarette packs and butts, brands, the way in which the cigarettes were extinguished, is there tooth marks or lipstick on them. Remember, DNA is easily obtained from the butts, preserve them properly.
- Contents of waste baskets and trash cans, has anyone been going through them looking for anything, is the trash in proper order (dates on newspapers, letters, etc.).
- Clocks and watches, are they wind-up or electric. Are they running, do they show the right time, what time are alarm clocks set for. Check timers on VCR's, microwave ovens, etc.
- Bathrooms and vanities, are towels, rags etc. damp to touch or dry. Are they bloodstained. Check for signs that the suspect cleaned up afterwards or was injured and bled at the scene. Is the toilet seat and lid left up? In a womans house, this could be a piece of important information. Check medicine cabinets for drugs, check the tanks of toilets, that is a great place to hide things.
- General disorder, is there evidence of a struggle, is the place just dirty, etc.
- Shootings, how many bullets were fired, account for all of them if possible, find cartridge cases (number and location found) if there are any bullet holes (number and location), was the weapon left at the scene. There may be expended cartridge casings found laying on the floor, rug or on furniture. It is recommended to mark these items, after photographing them first, with numbered markers to prevent their being moved, altered or damaged. If necessary, they may be protected by placing water glasses over them.
- Stabbing and beatings, was the instrument left at the scene, could it have come from that location or was it brought to the scene by the suspect.
- Blood, document the location, degree of coagulation, type (spots, stains, spatters, pooling, etc.). Sketch and photograph the bloodstains. Remember, when a body fluid begins to decompose, it will discharge a reddish brown fluid which resembles blood, when describing this, be objective, call it what it is, a reddish brown fluid. Bloodspatter analysis may be used to reconstruct violent crimes. Carefully photograph all blood patterns using scales. DO NOT cover up patterns with the scales if possible. Remember, always look up, cast-off spatter will probably be on the ceiling.
- Hangings and strangulation, what instrument or means was used, was it obtained in the house or brought to the scene, are there any portions remaining. If a suspected auto-erotic death, look for signs of prior activities such as rope marks on door frames or rafters. Be prepared for scene re-arranging by ashamed family members. Remember, do not cut the victim down if he/she is obviously dead until all aspects of the investigation have been covered. Never cut through the knot and always use a piece of string tied to each end of the cut to re-connect the circle.
- Look at stairs, hallways, entries and exits to the scene, check for footprints, debris, discarded items and fingerprints. Attempt to determine the route used to enter and exit the scene by the suspect and avoid contaminating it.
- Presence of items that do not belong there, many suspects, in the heat of the moment, will leave items of great evidential value, don't overlook this possibility.
- Is there signs of ransacking, to what degree, if any, has the scene been ransacked. Was anything taken (relatives and friends can assist in making this determination).
- Look for hiding places for weapons which the suspect may have had to conceal quickly, check behind stoves, on top of tall furniture, behind books, among bedclothes, under the mattress, on the roof.
06-26-2005, 08:19 AM #6
06-26-2005, 08:42 AM #7
Quinnipiac Health Law Journal 1996
Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence [FN29]
This tricky title describes an application of physical evidence that apparently has not been previously addressed in the forensic literature. Paul E. Kish and I wrote this article to address attorneys' unfounded belief that if their clients do not have blood on their clothing, they could not have committed the act. Unfortunately, we have to inform such attorneys that both from our experience, and from the literature, this is not the case. Explanations for the lack of bloodstaining on an individual who has actively participated in a violent act are innumerable. These include the assailant cleaning-up prior to his being apprehended, removal of his clothing prior to committing the act, or simply not being stained because spattered blood was intercepted by some intermediate target. [FN30] Therefore, no one should speculate as to why a defendant was not bloodstained except in the most unusual cases. The lack of bloodstaining on the defendant should only be used as a reason for further *45 investigation. [FN31]
I have given several examples of unusual physical evidence. Unfortunately, while The Evidence Never Lies, [FN32] there are many investigations where the evidence is not understood through the incompetence and/or ignorance of the examiner. Bloodstain pattern interpretation is not new. [FN33] Nevertheless, it has only recently come to the attention of the forensic community. Bloodstain pattern interpretation is not a panacea, but it certainly can be important in the reconstruction of prior events in many cases. Bloodstain pattern interpretation should always be considered by an attorney who is litigating a case that involves blood stains.
06-26-2005, 08:49 AM #8
The agency probably in charge of DNA evidence in Janet's case ...
North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation
The Molecular Genetics Section is under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mike Budzynski. This Section analyzes blood, body fluids, tissue and other related biological materials in an attempt to identify the contributor of the biological specimens. The vast majority of examinations involve violent crimes such as murder, sexual assault, or aggravated assault...
The Section offers a full service DNA typing laboratory to provide state-of-the-art analysis PCR based STR typing procedures in casework. Evidence provided by this Unit has been crucial to solving some of the State's most violent rape and homicide cases. The Section is offering a PCR based typing system called STRs which has a faster turn around time for cases with a high probability of discrimination...
06-26-2005, 08:51 AM #9
06-26-2005, 08:56 AM #10
North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation
Evidence Control and Administrative Services is supervised by Deborah Burwell.
This section receives, tracks, and returns evidence submitted to the Crime Laboratory by law enforcement agencies from all one hundred counties across the state. Data of the evidence submitted to the laboratory is entered into the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to initiate the tracking of evidence and to generate the beginning of lab reports. The evidence is transferred to the technicians to maintain control and custody. Items of evidence are tracked by LIMS throughout the laboratory as analyses are completed and returned to the technicians for external transfer to the respective law enforcement agencies. Technicians routinely testify to the chain of custody in criminal proceedings.
The Administrative Services Unit has the responsibility for laboratory report dissemination and case file preparation, tracking, maintenance and archiving. Approximately 35,000 submissions were received during the past year with an expected increase to 40,000 submissions predicted for this calendar year.
06-26-2005, 09:10 AM #11
Types of Homicide
The killing of a spouse, life partner, or other significant individual of the same or opposite sex with whom one has lived for some time and formed a stable relationship.
The FBI reported in 1997 that 26 percent of female homicide victims are slain by husbands or boyfriends, and 3 percent of male victims are slain by wives or girlfriends. Among legally married persons, regardless of geographic region in the U.S., African- American females were at greatest risk of being killed by African-American spouses or partners. Specifically: in the West, African-American males were 11 times more likely to be victims of spousal homicide than white males, almost 7 times more likely than white females, and 1.4 times more likely than African-American females. (Segall and Wilson 1993).
In a study by Christine Rasche (1993) of 155 "mate" homicides in Jacksonville, Florida, between 1980 and 1986, the most salient motive for spouse murder was possessiveness (48.9 percent) that included the inability of the offender to accept the termination of the relationship and/or the sanctity or security of the relationship (jealousy, infidelity, and rivalry). Feelings arising out of arguments (20.7 percent) and self-defense (15.5 percent) were second and third principal motives respectively.
The killing of a person or persons by an individual unknown to the victim.
In 1993, for the first time in history, Americans were more likely to be killed by a stranger or unknown killer (53 percent of cases) than by a family member of friend. By 1996, the trend had reversed slightly with 49 percent of homicide victims killed by strangers (FBI 1998).
06-26-2005, 09:29 AM #12
Most violent crimes are committed by intimates or acquaintances, but an increasing amount of crime is being committed by strangers...
Stranger violence tends to occur in certain geospatial locations known for disorder, such as bars/taverns or wherever unruly people are jammed together. As people compete for space and recognition, stranger violence can erupt... Other types of encounters, such as those involving serial killers and stranger rape, may take place in isolated locations, but strangers, in general, prefer the anonymity of big cities. Other stranger crimes, like assault, cut across the urban-rural dimension, and occur everywhere...
The number of murders in the United States fluctuates between 20,000-25,000 annually. As many as 25% of murders go unsolved. Handguns are involved in 54% of the murders. Perpetrators of stranger murder have a better than 80 percent chance of going unpunished.
... Any loss due to murder will be grieved in different ways because relationships with the victim were all different. Spouses will have to adjust to being a widow or widower...
Depending somewhat on the suddenness of the death and the stigma of the murder itself, survivors may find themselves making drastic changes in their lifestyle, including: a sense of having "changed" from the person they used to be; a greater need for dependence on others or the institutions of society; a sense of loss in social standing; and a questioning of faith or religion. Homicide survivors may experience symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, but they are much more likely to experience a phenomenon known as "complicated mourning." Years after the murder, survivors also find themselves having uncontrollable crying. These feelings have been called "grief spasms" or "memory embraces".
When homicide survivors first learn about the murder, they experience shock and disbelief, numbness, changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, confusion, anger, fear and anxiety...
Then, there's usually a feeling that "the world has stopped"; they cannot understand how everyone else is able to go on about their daily routine. Later reactions often include a desire for revenge. It's not uncommon for homicide survivors to have tremendous feelings of rage toward the person(s) responsible for the murder, and they may also experience anger toward the victim for "being in the wrong place at the wrong time" or for having a lifestyle which placed them at greater risk for victimization.
There are four "tasks" of the grieving process. These include:
Homicide survivors have little privacy. Their identities and the circumstances of the murder often become public knowledge, and they may find a microphone thrust in their faces after a court hearing. The media also tends to report inaccurate or inappropriate information about the case and may portray the offender as a victim...
- Accepting the reality of the loss
- Feeling the grief
- Adjusting to a life in which the deceased is no longer present
- Emotionally relocating the deceased so that life can go on...
When the crime is unsolved, the family will often try to pursue any avenue to obtain information or insights about what happened -- not only to bring the guilty party to justice, but also to protect themselves from unknown threats. Some families hire psychics or profilers to try to come up with new leads, and others become police "wannabes", listening to a scanner all day and night...
06-26-2005, 09:41 AM #13
Assuming the perpetrator was a man ...
VPC - When Men Murder Women - Introduction
The Myth: The Stranger Lurking in the Alley
Homicides against women are surrounded by an aura of mythology and sensationalism. These supposedly typical scenarios are familiar to us all: a woman is depicted alone and vulnerable, perhaps walking on a dark street or at home asleep. Her attacker, according to this archetype, is a depraved stranger who will rape, rob, and eventually kill her...
The Reality: The Husband or Boyfriend with a Gun
When Men Murder Women is an annual report prepared by the Violence Policy Center detailing the reality of murders committed against women. The study analyzes the most recent Supplementary Homicide Report data submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.2 The information used for this report is for the year 1998...
This study examines only those instances involving one female homicide victim and one male offender...
In 1998, there were 1,932 females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents that were submitted to the FBI for its Supplementary Homicide Report.3 These highlights from the report, expanded upon in the following sections, dispel many of the myths propounded by the gun lobby:
- More than 12 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,699 victims) than were killed by male strangers (138 victims).
- Sixty percent (1,016) of female homicide victims were wives or intimate acquaintances4 of their killers.
- There were 410 women shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during the course of an argumentómore than one woman a day.
- More female homicides were committed with firearms (54 percent) than with all other weapons combined. Of the homicides committed with firearms, 77 percent were committed with handguns.
- In 87 percent of all incidents where circumstance could be determined, homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.
06-26-2005, 09:43 AM #14
06-26-2005, 09:46 AM #15
An Analysis of 1998 Homicide Data
VPC - When Men Murder Women - North Carolina
100 females were murdered by males in North Carolina in 1998
Ranked 4th in the United States
Most Common Weapons
For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 67 percent of female victims (60 out of 67) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 75 percent (45 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 14 females killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 3 females killed by a blunt object, and 11 females killed by bodily force.
For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 91 percent of female victims (89 out of 98) were murdered by someone they knew. Nine female victims were killed by strangers. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (57 victims) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Among the 57 female intimates murdered, 70 percent (40 victims) were killed with guns; 73 percent of these (29 victims) were shot and killed with handguns.
For homicides in which the circumstance could be identified, 88 percent (74 out of 84) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 50 percent (37 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and offender.