Death and Homicide Investigation
Length of Seminar: 5 Days
Instructor: Multiple Instructors
This program will focus on the historical perspective of violent crime analysis and the importance of applying a criminal investigative assessment process to violent crime investigations. The participants will review case studies of offenders to enhance their understanding of the motivating factors of the offenders and then apply the acquired knowledge in conducting crime scene assessments. The course will culminate in case practicums in order for the participants to demonstrate their proficiency.
This intensive training module is for anyone who will be responding to death scenes; including patrol officers, detectives, supervisors, medical examiner investigators, and lab personnel. This class will provide the information, knowledge and skills necessary to investigate and interpret homicide and questioned death scenes. Through the use of lecture, case history and photo and video demonstrations, attendees will be provided the basic skills of homicide and questioned death scene investigations; to include bloodstain pattern recognition, ballistics and trajectory as evidence, scenes involving self inflicted deaths, scenes involving child deaths, scenes involving domestic violence related homicides, key objectives for presenting cases in court, and some of the technology available for obtaining and displaying information.
This course is different from a basic crime scene investigation course, in that instruction will highlight the specific evidence that should be observed and documented in each particular death scene. Emphasis will be placed on specific observations to be made and documented, as well as specific evidence needed by the medical examiner and the lead homicide detective for inclusion in the case files. Instruction will include the proper collection of data and appropriate measurements for proper case documentation and subsequent event reconstruction. Techniques for preparing for court testimony will also be covered.
Criminal Investigative Assessment Process- A Historical Perspective
Participants will consider the origins of behavioral analysis of violent crime and the research efforts that served to formalize the assessment process.
Criminal Investigative Assessment - Application to Violent Crime
Participants will be provided an in-depth look at the criminal assessment process with a focus on crime scene dynamics and the application of Victimology to establish the behavioral traits of offenders. The participants will then consider how the crime scene assessment process assists law enforcement officers with the formulation of investigative strategies, interview strategies and trail strategies.
Assessing Reflective Behaviors in Crime Scene
Interactions between victims and offenders can hold a slew of clues for law enforcement investigators. By assessing those reflective crime behaviors in stages, investigators are provided a clear picture of not only happened, but most importantly why it happened. Achieving an understanding of why it happened moves the investigator ever so closer as to who committed the crime.
Sexual Deviancy- A Laypersons Understanding of the Role it Plays in Crime Analysis
The presence of sexually related behaviors in violent crimes must be considered and properly weighed by investigators when conducting crime assessments. The participants will be provided an overview of various deviant behaviors and how it affects investigative measures, to include search warrant considerations.
A vital component to the crime scene assessment process is the consideration of existing dichotomies of offenders. Participants will consider the characteristics of organized and disorganized offenders and why recognizing those reflective behaviors will assist in focusing the investigation.
The Role of Fantasy in Violent Crimes
In many cases, particularly crimes with a sexual component, the acting out by an offender towards an unsuspecting victim is influenced by an offender acting out his or her fantasies. Participants will focus on the role of fantasy in violent crime to include its presence prior to the crime, during the crime, and after the commission of the crime.
Participants will be provided an in-depth look at various offenders that exhibit recognizable patterns of behavior at crime scenes. Additionally, the participants will focus on the crime scene dynamics, homicidal patterns, and suspect profiles of the offenders as part of the crime scene assessment process.
Equivocal Death Investigations
This session focuses on the criminal investigative process and the application of Victimology to move the status of a death investigation from the unknown to the known, thereby providing case resolution. Participants will consider case illustrations and participate in case practicums.
Paralogical Reasoning System
The influence of emotion and cognition on the functioning of an offender will be considered in this session. The participants will then consider how to use an offender’s rationale as a means to gain admissions or confessions to violent crimes.
The course of instruction will culminate with the participants participating in case exercises encompassing the crime scene assessment process.
Every Crime Scene Tells a Story
Each death scene presents itself differently, and to that end, it is important to identify the issue in each case. Is this scene a homicide, suicide, accident, or natural death? If the scene is determined to be a homicide investigation, does the evidence tell the story of a cold blooded, premeditated murder, or a killing as a result of a momentary loss of control during a heated argument? The homicide and death scene investigator should have the ability to recognize evidence or information to determine the manner of death and to support findings regarding culpability. Case slides will be used to demonstrate examples of scene evidence that may be important in demonstrating culpable mental states and manner of death.
Crime scene investigators examine crime scenes in search of evidence, which has taken on a context of being affiliated with something that is scientific in nature, such as fingerprints, bullets, bloodstains, or other biological material. Recognizing and properly collecting scientific evidence is obviously important in any death investigation. Information however, can come in many forms and is not necessarily limited to scientific evidence. The available avenues in which to uncover evidence, as well as information important to the investigation will be discussed in detail.
This section addresses scenes involving suicide, asphyxia, and accidental deaths. Emphasis will be placed on key scene evidence typically found at scenes of self inflicted deaths, which support investigative findings. Detailed examples of evidence that should be noted and documented at scenes involving self inflicted deaths will be presented.
Investigating Defined Murders
Investigating defined murders such as domestic violence murders or child murders can present unique circumstances, and should be understood and addressed. Murders occurring within the home are often the result of prolonged issues and go undetected by friends, neighbors, and extended family members. “Traditional” scientific evidence such as DNA or fingerprint evidence are often times less probative in murders occurring within the home, since there is a legitimate reason to find that type of evidence relating to both victims and perpetrators in the residence that they both lawfully occupy. The crime scene investigator should be aware of other avenues in which to find information regarding the events leading up to the death. Techniques and suggestions will be presented detailing methods in which to recover evidence that is specific and probative to these types of murder investigations.
Investigations involving multiple deaths can also present unique circumstances. Cases involving mass murders and serial killers will be referenced to explain the unique challenges that occur during such cases. Among the issues presented will be sustained presence at the scene, handling mass amounts of physical evidence, utilizing specialized resources and personnel, using advanced equipment, and dealing with the media.
Blood As Evidence
Blood found at crimes scenes or on victims, suspects, or witnesses (clothing or person) should be considered significant evidence and should be treated as such when documenting, collecting and preserving. Before blood evidence can be properly analyzed, it needs to be properly documented. The field investigator should also be able to identify different types of blood stains and understand how each stain lends information surrounding the blood letting event. This section of the training will describe different types of bloodstains frequently encountered at blood letting crime scenes.
Ballistic Evidence-Shooting Reconstruction
Ballistic evidence may provide valuable scene reconstruction information. A general overview of shooting incident reconstruction will be presented. Several components of shooting reconstruction including shell casing locations, projectile trajectories, gunshot residue, particle spread patterns, and bullet wound classifications will all be presented.