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Author Topic: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS  (Read 10928 times)

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Antonio G.

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CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« on: October 09, 2014, 02:20:42 AM »

Hello, I'm an European user, congratulations to all for the very interesting forum. Sorry for my bad English but it's not my first language.
I'm writing a fictional history about an homicide. I have some questions for you expert, because I don't know U.S. legal procedures very well.
This is the story: Chiara C., an Italian female citizen and CEO of an important Italian firm is in Los Angeles, CA, to conclude an important affair with an American contractor, Steve. During a dinner, Chiara and Steve, decided they like each other and to have a night of sex somewhere. Being a married man, Steve must act secretly, so he  proposed to go to a random hotel and rent a bedroom. Here they had sex and drunk wine using Chiara's high heel shoe as a glass. Unfortunately the wine that the hotel had given them was drugged by the killer and they fell asleep naked at about 1;00 AM. Steve woke up at the early hours in the morning, dazzed, only to find himself soaked in Chiara's blood and to see Chiara herself dead with her throat slashed. Panicking and fearing to be accused of Chiara's death , he did the silliest thing....he just ran away. Chiara's lifeless naked body was found later in the afternoon by hotel personnel. Questions:
-Chiara, a female in her mid-30's is found dead by hotel personnel at 2;00 PM. She was killed at about 3;00 AM, i.e. eleven hours earlier. Does the body present rigor mortis or other distinctive postmortem syntoms?
-In your opinion, how does a crime scene such as the one described would look like? How many police officers, if any? After how much time would be the corpse removed?
-The clothes, shoes, panties, bra and purse scattered in the hotel bedroom, will they finally given back to her family or are forever retained as crime scene proofs?
-Chiara is an Italian citizen killed on U.S. soil arguably by U.S. citizen. Will the Italian authorities be somewhat involved in the investigations?
-the corpse. I suppose that after the autopsy it will be shipped back to Italy...but HOW? With a private flighf?
Thanks in advance
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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2014, 11:22:05 AM »

Welcome to MWF, Antonio.

I can't answer all your questions, but I can offer some insight into how your victim's body would look.  For one, rigor mortis may or may not be present, may be full or only partially developed, may have peaked and is fading.  This is a vague answer because many factors enter into it.  Room temperature is a major one - a cooler environment delays the onset, a warmer one hastens it.

Livor mortis - the color of death - will, on the other hand, have become fixed.  Since slashing the throat produces death within minutes, your victim will not have moved and whatever blood remained in her body after her heart stopped beating will have settled to the lowest point on her body.  If she was on her back when her throat was slit, blood will have pooled and clotted in her back.

Also, if the room was warm, putrefaction of the body may have begun and there may be insect activity present - flies laying eggs in her nose, mouth, ears, eyes, vagina, and slashed throat.

Hope this helps.

Dave
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Antonio G.

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2014, 12:51:00 PM »

Thanks you, Dave, a very kind and helpful reply. I really appreciated it! I got the picture about the possible condition of the body.
The tale took place in California during the summer, so the temperature is certainly warm, although the room obiouvsly has air conditioning. Chiara is killed in the first hours of the morning, when the general temperature hasn't reached its peak yet.
So, according to your description, Dave, the people who find the body should meet a pale and cold corpse, with more darker tones on her back (she is lying on her back) because of the blood pooling down there. I suppose that it's too early for the corpse to release any bad smell, isn't it?
I abuse of your patience, Dave, for another question. What about the slashed throat? The killer is not a professional, actually, as it would turn out later in the story, the killer is Steve's jealous, lunatic wife who, after having secretly spied the "activities" of Chiara and Steve during their repeated night-time "work conferences" at the secluded hotel, decided to intervene. She corrupted somebody in the hotel staff and had the wine drugged and a key to enter the room (registered at Chiara's name). She kills the drugged, sleeping Chiara by slashing her throat with an unprofessional, rapid cut, more a plunge than a "clean" cut. How many blood is supposed to be present on the bed?

Thanks again in advance-

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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2014, 03:21:51 PM »

Thanks you, Dave, a very kind and helpful reply. I really appreciated it! I got the picture about the possible condition of the body.
The tale took place in California during the summer, so the temperature is certainly warm, although the room obviously has air conditioning. Chiara is killed in the first hours of the morning, when the general temperature hasn't reached its peak yet.
A lot there would depend on Steve's and Chiara's preferences.  I like my room cool for sleeping, others prefer a warmer environment.  Although, I think if they plan on engaging in sex, they might set the AC to a cooler temperature.  By the time she is killed, odds are the room would be at whatever temperature they set the thermostat at.

So, according to your description, Dave, the people who find the body should meet a pale and cold corpse, with more darker tones on her back (she is lying on her back) because of the blood pooling down there. I suppose that it's too early for the corpse to release any bad smell, isn't it?
The front of her body would have a mottled blue/white/grey coloring but her upper body - head to breasts - would be covered in blood.  Her back would be a dark purple-red, darkest in the buttocks, heels and shoulder blades because they would be the lowest points on the body, while the small of her back (just above her buttocks) might only have a faint purple-red coloration or none at all.
Once she dies, Chiara's bladder and bowels may relax and the bed may also be stained with her urine and feces.

I abuse of your patience, Dave, for another question. What about the slashed throat? The killer is not a professional, actually, as it would turn out later in the story, the killer is Steve's jealous, lunatic wife who, after having secretly spied the "activities" of Chiara and Steve during their repeated night-time "work conferences" at the secluded hotel, decided to intervene. She corrupted somebody in the hotel staff and had the wine drugged and a key to enter the room (registered at Chiara's name). She kills the drugged, sleeping Chiara by slashing her throat with an unprofessional, rapid cut, more a plunge than a "clean" cut. How many blood is supposed to be present on the bed?
Plunging the knife into Chiara's throat is a bit risky.  It would cause damage, maybe enough to kill her, but perhaps not.  In that case, as she struggles to survive, her efforts may rouse Steve which would allow him to possibly get medical help that could save her life.
A slash across her throat has a better chance of killing her quickly - especially if Steve's wife cuts the carotid arteries and jugular veins on each side of Chiara's esophagus.  Once she does that, blood is going to spray everywhere - walls, ceiling, bed (pillows, blankets, sheets, headboard).  The area around the bed will look like someone threw red paint all over it.  Steve, since he is sleeping next to her, will be drenched in it.  He'll be covered in red from the top of his head to mid-chest or wherever the covers fall on his body.
The human body is approximately 7% blood.  For a 150 Lb. (68 kilo) adult that works out to about 4.5 liters (Women tend to have less blood than men).  I don't know how much of that would be pumped out of Chiara's body after her throat is cut, but I don't think there would be a lot left.

Again, I hope this helps.

Dave
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Antonio G.

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2014, 10:09:20 AM »

Dave, thanks you again. Your help and insights are really precious.
The crime scene would be a heck of a mess, actually!

Now, about the actual killing: we determined that the killer (Nancy, Steve's wife) sliced Chiara's arteries and jugular veins with a clean and decise cut to nullify her chances of survival.
In the story, Steve and Chiara have been drugged by a mixture of wine and drugs. They engaged in sex for a while, but then collapsed both drunk and drugged and started to sleep. This prevented them from hearing Nancy enter the room, and come near the bed.
I imagine that Chiara would wake up with a start when she feels the cold blade on her neck. Too late to organize a defense.
Steve drank more than Chiara and he consequently was both more drunk and drugged. Maybe he may hear something, he can even temporarily wake up, but he too confused and dazed to understand what was going on, or remember anything.
Is that a plausible developement of the events?

Best regards
Antonio
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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2014, 10:38:53 AM »

In the story, Steve and Chiara have been drugged by a mixture of wine and drugs. They engaged in sex for a while, but then collapsed both drunk and drugged and started to sleep. This prevented them from hearing Nancy enter the room, and come near the bed.
Even without the wine and drugs, Nancy might be able to sneak into the room unnoticed if she's careful opening the door and crossing the room to the bed.  Most U.S. hotel rooms, especially in more up-scale hotels have fairly thick carpet that would muffle her footsteps.
 
I imagine that Chiara would wake up with a start when she feels the cold blade on her neck. Too late to organize a defense.
Steve drank more than Chiara and he consequently was both more drunk and drugged. Maybe he may hear something, he can even temporarily wake up, but he too confused and dazed to understand what was going on, or remember anything.
Chiara might or might not wake up, depending on how drunk and heavily drugged she was.  Even if she drank less that Steve and therefore consumed less of the drug, she might be in a deeper sleep than he, depending on how big or small a woman she is.  If she is petite, both will exert a stronger effect on her than if she is of Amazonian build.
Steve, too, may or may not stir.  And like Chiara, it will to some extent depend on his size.  He may have drunk more of the spiked wine than her, but if he's a big, bulky guy, the effects would be less than if he was a short, skinny one.  If Chiara screams when Nancy places the knife against her throat, he could rouse a little but be too befuddled to react or even comprehend what's going on.

Is that a plausible development of the events?
Yes, it's entirely plausible.  But you, as the author, have ultimate control (within reason) over what Steve and Chiara do and how they react.

Now, I have a question for you: Why doesn't Nancy kill Steve at the same time?  It seems odd to me that she would let him live, especially if there's the possibility he awoke enough to see her kill Chiara and possibly identify her to the police.

Again, hope this helps.

Dave
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Antonio G.

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2014, 01:06:24 PM »

Thanks, Dave, very interesting points.


Now, I have a question for you: Why doesn't Nancy kill Steve at the same time?  It seems odd to me that she would let him live, especially if there's the possibility he awoke enough to see her kill Chiara and possibly identify her to the police.

Actually, this is the pivotal moment of the story. Nancy purposely let Steve live.
Nancy is a very intelligent woman, but psichologically troubled by both her distorted relationship with her husband and by her past failures, all elements that ultimately affected her mental health to the point that she recurred to homicide as a solution.
In her youth, Nancy failed to pursue her long-dreamed career in the academic world; this failure always troubled her, and she feared that Steve soon or later would  abandon her, dismissing her as a "failure".
When she finally becomes aware of the relationship between Steve and Chiara, she perceives that her fears have somewhat been confirmed. Chiara is the smart, succesful woman who Nancy herself had always failed to be. Perfectly normal, in Nancy's mind, that Steve has fallen in love with her.
But the affair between her husband and Chiara gave a new opportunity to Nancy. She wanted to "punish" Chiara for her relationship with her man. But she also wanted to win back the respect of Steve.
This is why she came up with such complicated a plan.
She wanted to slit the Italian woman's throat and wanted the cops to believe that Steve was the killer. The reason behind that is that Nancy hoped to brilliantly "exculpate" Steve from the charge by accusing a business rival of Chiara.
Actually, for most of the tale, Nancy would cohoperate with the police detective (who also believes in, and tries to prove, Steve's innocence). A friendship even arises between the detective and Nancy. Nancy, the killer, tries to accuse (by manipulating proofs, by using her influence with the detective) Chiara's business rival. Of course, at the end of the tale, the detective finally finds the truth!
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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2014, 01:38:02 PM »

That's a well thought out idea, Antonio.

The only glitch (minor problem) I see is in the idea of her manipulating proofs.  If by that you mean evidence recovered from the hotel room, I doubt very highly she could do that without access to wherever the evidence is being held.  Unless she is attached to the LAPD in some capacity, that will not happen.  Civilians can't just walk into a crime lab or property room (where evidence is stored) and ask to see evidence of a crime.

She can, however, point the lead detective toward Chiara's business rival by feeding him erroneous information about the man or planting evidence in his home or office that makes it appear he killed Chiara.

Good luck with your writing.

Dave
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Antonio G.

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2014, 06:12:12 AM »

Thanks you, Dave!
You are certainly right: Nancy, as a civilian, couldn't manipulating proofs that easily. Actually, I meant exactly what you said:

Quote
point the lead detective toward Chiara's business rival by feeding him erroneous information about the man or planting evidence in his home or office that makes it appear he killed Chiara.

Not only that, but Nancy would do her best to damage Chiara's image by presenting her as an immoral,  obscene woman. This would influence both detective Horton and the readers in the first half of the story.
Chiara is....was....a a very rich woman, a CEO of an important firm, and she was gorgerous and good looking. Back in Italy, her life and activities were often covered by media: she frequently appeared on TV programs, talk shows and, of course, gossip columns. Her death consequently received an extensive media coverage in both countries. Journalists began to put forth a lot of theories about who killed her, and the extensive presence of the media certainly didn't help the work of poor detective Horton. The sordid death of Chiara (butchered like a pig in a second-rate hotel after a night of sex) anyway was carefully planned by Nancy in order to destroy Chiara's reputation in addition to her life.
I hope the readers would initially think "hey, look Nancy! That Chiara slept with her husband, but she is trying to find her killer and send him in jail, rather than give him a medal! And he is trying to help her backstabber husband Steve as well!"

Chiara went to the USA to negotiate an important affair many dollars worth. Of course, she had supporters and she had opponents. She was moving many interests. A group of U.S. workers risked to lose their jobs as a consequence of Chiara's decisions.  In the business world, the potential killers are many, and initially the investigations of detective Horton point on that direction.

The success of Nancy's plan was essentially based on the assumption that she could exactly predict what her husband would have done after Chiara's death. This involved some risk, but Nancy was confident enough because she knew her husband very well. Steve is a weak, impulsive man. Nancy rightly calculated that he would have completely lost his mind once he woke up side-by-side with Chiara's slain corpse.
And that was  what happened. When he woke up, dazzed and groggy because of the drug,  Steve found himself covered in blood and saw Chiara, dead, lying on the bed with open, empty eyes. He panicked. He couldn't control himself, couldn't decide to do anything. At first, he was obsessed by the sickening sweet smell of blood. Of course he never saw such large quantities of human blood and didn't think that he could have such strong a smell. He compulsively wash himself out, eve with some fury, like if he was drenched in some toxic substance.
He feared to be accused of Chiara's death. He was scared as hell by the very presence of Chiara's corpse in the room.....these empty eyes.....(under the influence of the drug, Steve's reasoning is still alterate). He just wanted to run away, he dressed himself, put the "do not disturb..." sign on the door (to delay the recovery of Chiara's corpse as much as possible) and simply ran away with his car.
Calming himself down, a day later he decided to go to the only person that could help him: Nancy. Weeping like a kid, he met his wife, and dramatically called for help. He put all the blame for the illicit relationship on Chiara, claiming that he had been seduced and almost "forced" to follow her on that room. Now he was wanted for murder by the state police and Nancy must absolutely help him. Nancy "generously" absolved him for his escapade and promised help. The day after they both went to the police and Steve gave himself up to them, protesting to be innocent. Too much hours had passed, and he couldn't prove no more the presence of drugs in his blood (this would have been the main proof of his innocence). Everything went as Nancy planned. Now her help was invaluable to Steve.

The thing that doesn't persuade me yet, is that Nancy is forced to resort to the help of an hotel staffer to enter the hotel room. This is the real weak point of Nancy's plan, but I don't know how to correct it.
I chose the bedroom of the second-rate hotel as the place of Chiara's death because I think it serves my purposes well. Chiara, the rich, powerful, beautiful, brilliant woman who finds her end in a very miserable location: it's exactly what Nancy wants for her Italian rival. Besides, it would help the media to spring up every kind of theories on Chiara's end. But still Nancy has to depend on external help to access the room.
The night of the homicide was not the first time that Chiara and Steve used that hotel for their night-time adventures, but at least the third or the fourth time. This would give Nancy some time to organize her plan and corrupt the hotel staffer, but still it's hard to believe a Nancy saying: "Excuse me Mister, could you grant me free access into room 66 into the earth of the night? I just have to kill my husband's lover and leave the mess to you to clean up!"

These difficulties could be overcome by setting up a little different scenario. The sex sessions of Chiara and Steve don't take place in the hotel, but in one of Steve's Los Angeles apartments. Nancy too has the keys to the apartment but Steve knew that she would never go there without a reason. But Nancy has a reason. Just before the arrival of Chiara and Steve she went there, drugged the white wine in the fridge (he knew Steve would celebrate with a little wine after sex, because he use to do so with Nancy as well) and then left. Chiara and Steve arrived afterwards, engage in sex, drink the wine and collapse asleep. After few hours Nancy enters the apartment. As first step she cautiously goes on the kitchen room and notices that the wine was no longer in the fridge. The plan has worked. She takes a sharp knife from the kitchen, goes to the bedroom, slits Chiara's throat and watches for few seconds while the blood sprays all over. Her revenge is now complete and she leaves.
The morning after, Steve wakes up, and is shocked. Initially his reaction is more or less than the one described above. He couldn't accept to be accused of Chiara's death or simply to admit he spent the night having sex with her. Consequently he could decide:
-to spend the day washing the blood out from his apartment, stuff the corpse in a big trash bag and then get rid of it by throwing it in the sea the night after (this would provide the tale with some "action" too, describing the adventures of Steve to get rid of the body without being get caught by authorities). The decomposed corpse is "fished out" by fishermen two days later. The autopsy reveals traces of Steve's semen in Chiara's body, Steve is accused of homicide and of concealing the corpse. Nancy promises help to acquit Steve at least from the homicide charge.

-Steve loses completely his senses and just runs away from the apartment. Nancy reports his disappearance to the authorities. The cops, searching for the missing Steve, accidentally finds Chiara's corpse in the apartment. Steve is charged with homicide. Great media commotion, with the scandal rocketing both Italy and the USA.
Steve goes to Nancy to implore forgiveness and help. Nancy promits etc...etc...

More credible scenarios, pheraps, but I am reluctant to quit the hotel. I think the hotel is more fascinating as a setting.
Any suggestions?

Could anyone help me with the other questions I submitted in the first post of this topic?

Thanks you again
Antonio

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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2014, 09:39:40 AM »

Glad I could help.

Some observations:
1/ The Italian government through the embassy in Los Angeles would probably be exerting pressure on the police to find the killer of their famous citizen.

2/ If Chiara was known as a woman who frequently took lovers, Detective Horton would want to locate and question any she had in the LA area.  He might also ask an assist from the Italian police to question her lovers there and confirm their whereabouts at the time of her murder.

3/ Because she was murdered in a second-rate hotel, the police would also look for similar crimes and possible murderers in the area.

4/ The workers who could possible lose their jobs as a result of Chiara’s decisions would also be high on the police’s list of persons of interest.  If her actions would put a company out of business entirely, the owners of that company would be on that list, too.

5/ The police would swab the shower stall and sink in the bathroom and examine the drainpipes for both for evidence.  If Steve scrubs the blood off himself before leaving the hotel room (a very logical action), there will be traces in whichever one he used and in the drainpipes.

6/ If the hotel is located within the Los Angeles city limits, the LAPD (one of the largest police forces in the country, if not the world) would handle the investigation.  If the hotel is outside the LA city limits but within Los Angeles County, the LA County Sheriff’s Office would handle the investigation.  The state police (not sure what they’re called in California) would not be involved unless and until the LAPD or LACSO requested their assistance.  Also, since a foreign national was murdered, the FBI may either be called in by the department investigating her murder or they may offer assistance.  They will not, however, come charging in and take the case away from either one.

7/ Nancy could sweet talk the desk clerk at the hotel to give her a keycard for the room (“I’m so sorry I lost my card.  Can you give me another one?”) or, since this is a second-rate hotel, bribe the desk clerk to give her one.  Another possibility is she has a relative who works at the hotel and is only too happy to help Aunt Nancy nail Uncle Steve – especially if he or she had seen Uncle Steve and Chiara checking into the hotel before.  This could be how Nancy found out Steve was having sex with Chiara there.

8/ I think the hotel is a better choice for the murder than one of Steve’s apartments.  If the murder happens there, Steve and Nancy will automatically become prime suspects in Chiara’s murder.  And no matter how much cleaning Steve does, there will be evidence (traces of blood, etc.) in the apartment that point right back to him and Nancy.

9/ Regarding the spiked wine Steve and Chiara drink: The police will collect the wine bottle and test its contents for drugs.  Even if the bottle is empty, there may be traces of the drug Nancy used still in it.  Also, the coroner will order toxicology tests during Chiara’s autopsy that will reveal what drug she was given.

10/ Nancy will have some (maybe a lot of) blood sprayed on her when she slits Chiara’s throat, so she will have to either bring a change of clothes to change into after killing Chiara or wear some sort of coverall (such as a jumpsuit) to protect her street clothes from getting blood spattered.  Also she will probably, like Steve, wash any blood that gets on her face or hands (she absolutely will get some on her hands unless she wears gloves) off in the bathroom and leave traces in the sink.

Again, I think you have a really well thought out plot here.

I'll look at your original post again and see if I can help.

Dave
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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2014, 11:33:21 AM »

Hello, I'm an European user, congratulations to all for the very interesting forum. Sorry for my bad English but it's not my first language.
There is nothing wrong with your English, Antonio.  I have had no problems understanding what you say.

Unfortunately the wine that the hotel had given them was drugged by the killer and they fell asleep naked at about 1;00 AM.
This is going to be a harder thing for you to pull off than getting Nancy into their hotel room.

-In your opinion, how does a crime scene such as the one described would look like? How many police officers, if any? After how much time would be the corpse removed?
Whoever discovered her body would call the police.  The closest patrol car. manned by uniformed officers, will respond and be the first police officers on the scene.  Once they observe the body, they would call it in as a possible homicide and set up a perimeter around the crime scene.  Detectives from the precinct the hotel is in would be dispatched to the scene and, since it is a possible homicide, crime scene investigators, the Coroner, and morgue attendants would be sent.  So probably ten to 15 officers in all.
The corpse would remain on the bed until the coroner had pronounced her dead, performed a visual exam of her corpse, and ordered her body removed.  That could be anywhere from 1 hour on up.  I would estimate an hour or two would be realistic.  Note however that examining the room and gathering evidence will not begin until the coroner finishes his examination of the body.

-The clothes, shoes, panties, bra and purse scattered in the hotel bedroom, will they finally given back to her family or are forever retained as crime scene proofs?
All of her personal belongings found in the hotel room would be held by the police until after the trial of the person who murdered her then returned to her family if they wanted them.

-Chiara is an Italian citizen killed on U.S. soil arguably by U.S. citizen. Will the Italian authorities be somewhat involved in the investigations?
The police would ask the assistance of the Italian authorities in questioning her friends, family, and lovers in Italy.

-the corpse. I suppose that after the autopsy it will be shipped back to Italy...but HOW? With a private flighf?
No.  It would go by commercial airliner.  Most likely, someone from Chiara’s family would be flown to LA to claim the body and accompany it back to Italy.

Hope this helps.

Dave
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Antonio G.

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2014, 05:05:19 PM »

Dave, I'm embarassed! You helped me a lot and spent time giving me suggestions and insights, I feel I somewhat owe you. Thanks you very much!

Quote
1/ The Italian government through the embassy in Los Angeles would probably be exerting pressure on the police to find the killer of their famous citizen.

Yes, indeed. Actually, I planned to include in the story a small part dealing with the pressures exerted by the Italians.
Not only, but if I know the Italians well, they would surely invent some conspiracy theory, unofficially accusing the Americans to have "allowed" the murder of Chiara only because she outsmarted them at directing business, and her decisions were going to cost the job of few local workers.
The Americans could probably reply that if she had done a more appropriate use of her nights, nothing would have happened to Chiara in Los Angeles.
Just imagine the polemics, the furious debates on the media, the theories of journalists from both countries! Poor detective Horton!

Quote
7/ Nancy could sweet talk the desk clerk at the hotel to give her a keycard for the room (“I’m so sorry I lost my card.  Can you give me another one?”) or, since this is a second-rate hotel, bribe the desk clerk to give her one.  Another possibility is she has a relative who works at the hotel and is only too happy to help Aunt Nancy nail Uncle Steve – especially if he or she had seen Uncle Steve and Chiara checking into the hotel before.  This could be how Nancy found out Steve was having sex with Chiara there.
8/ I think the hotel is a better choice for the murder than one of Steve’s apartments.  If the murder happens there, Steve and Nancy will automatically become prime suspects in Chiara’s murder.  And no matter how much cleaning Steve does, there will be evidence (traces of blood, etc.) in the apartment that point right back to him and Nancy.


Yes, I agree: the hotel it's the better solution and the desk clerk of the hotel could help Nancy.
As you said, the desk clerk could be a relative of Nancy, or maybe a relative/friend of one of the workers whose job was in danger because of Chiara's decisions. The desk clerk, a lady in her 40's, just helped Nancy for preventing his friend/relative from losing his job. She recognized Chiara because she previously saw her at the TV. She provided Nancy with the keycard. Nancy used the keycard twice: the first time before Chiara's and Steve's scheduled arrival when she replaced the white wine bottle in the hotel room fridge with an identical one mixed with the drug. The second time when she murdered Chiara.
The desk clerk, on her hand, gets herself an alibi because she stayed all the night at her desk, where a fixed camera recorded everything, testifying that she never left her workplace. Nancy used a rear fire door to go in and out the hotel.

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9/ Regarding the spiked wine Steve and Chiara drink: The police will collect the wine bottle and test its contents for drugs.  Even if the bottle is empty, there may be traces of the drug Nancy used still in it.  Also, the coroner will order toxicology tests during Chiara’s autopsy that will reveal what drug she was given.

Yes, actually the drugged wine would be the main element that persuades detective Horton of Steve's innocence. Basically, Steve had no reason to drug Chiara. He could have killed her during her sleep, or also by using her violence, in any case the resort to drugs was redundant. Certainly, Chiara has been drugged by someone else.

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10/ Nancy will have some (maybe a lot of) blood sprayed on her when she slits Chiara’s throat, so she will have to either bring a change of clothes to change into after killing Chiara or wear some sort of coverall (such as a jumpsuit) to protect her street clothes from getting blood spattered.  Also she will probably, like Steve, wash any blood that gets on her face or hands (she absolutely will get some on her hands unless she wears gloves) off in the bathroom and leave traces in the sink.

I imagined the murder of Chiara that way: Nancy wears a jumpsuit to protect her clothes, as you suggested. Not only, but she also wears gloves, and a scarf around her face, as well as glasses (that she usually doesn't wear) to cover as much of her face as possible in order to prevent Steve from recognizing her in the event he regains his consciousness. With one hand, she closes Chiara's mouth, with the other she places the sharp razor/blade upon her throat. In that moment, Chiara's eyes open: the victim perceives the danger, she istinctively gives off a muffled scream, but it's too late. Nancy slits her throat. Blood sprays, and stains Nancy's jumpsuit. gloves, etc...She hesitates for a while: she has just killed a woman in cold blood! Moreover, she doesn't expected so much blood and the incredible sound of air coming in and out Chiara's sliced throat. Finally she regains control, and leaves. The blood-stained stuff are the first things that Nancy destroy.

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There is nothing wrong with your English, Antonio.  I have had no problems understanding what you say.

Thanks you! My second language is German, my English is mostly self-taught (I read a lot of, ermm, Superman comics when I was a kid! ;D).
This is why my historical reasearches required me the knowledge of German (and a grasp of Russian), not because I don't like English. On the contrary, I found it a beautiful language, probably the best for mystery novels.

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Whoever discovered her body would call the police... [cut]...

Great, Dave! This was very helpful.
Now I can start writing the first part of the novel. I think I start it with Steve waking up and finding Chiara dead. Probably he "perceived" something as a dream, because her senses are confused by the drug, and he couldn't distinguish the dreams from reality. Arguably his "dreams" are troubled by the recurring theme of color red (maybe he dreams of sailing on a red river, a symbol of Chiara's blood who sprayed everywhere).

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All of her personal belongings found in the hotel room would be held by the police until after the trial of the person who murdered her then returned to her family if they wanted them.

And what about other Chiara's personal effects, which are in her "official", first class L.A. rent apartment (her personal computer, documents, clothings, cell phones, business papers, etc....)? The police would examine them, and I guess that they would retain the most interesting ones as evidence, while the rest will be shipped back home alongside her body. Is this right?

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The police would ask the assistance of the Italian authorities in questioning her friends, family, and lovers in Italy.

Yes, and this is the part where I can examine in some depth Chiara's personality, through the eyes of people who knew her well.

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No.  It would go by commercial airliner.  Most likely, someone from Chiara’s family would be flown to LA to claim the body and accompany it back to Italy.

Okay thanks. I suppose the body would be flown back after the autopsy.
I read somewhere that to be accepted aboard, a corpse must be....embalmed! I refused to believe this! Is it true??

Again, Dave, I have no words to thank you!!!
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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2014, 07:04:16 PM »

Dave, I'm embarassed! You helped me a lot and spent time giving me suggestions and insights, I feel I somewhat owe you. Thanks you very much!
Don't be.  I'm happy to help.  Over the years, I've gotten so much help from members here and elsewhere, I'm glad to repay the favor to others whenever I can.

Yes, indeed. Actually, I planned to include in the story a small part dealing with the pressures exerted by the Italians.
Not only, but if I know the Italians well, they would surely invent some conspiracy theory, unofficially accusing the Americans to have "allowed" the murder of Chiara only because she outsmarted them at directing business, and her decisions were going to cost the job of few local workers.
The Americans could probably reply that if she had done a more appropriate use of her nights, nothing would have happened to Chiara in Los Angeles.
Just imagine the polemics, the furious debates on the media, the theories of journalists from both countries! Poor detective Horton!
And a great source of tension and conflict throughout the book.

Yes, I agree: the hotel it's the better solution and the desk clerk of the hotel could help Nancy.
As you said, the desk clerk could be a relative of Nancy, or maybe a relative/friend of one of the workers whose job was in danger because of Chiara's decisions. The desk clerk, a lady in her 40's, just helped Nancy for preventing his friend/relative from losing his job. She recognized Chiara because she previously saw her at the TV. She provided Nancy with the keycard. Nancy used the keycard twice: the first time before Chiara's and Steve's scheduled arrival when she replaced the white wine bottle in the hotel room fridge with an identical one mixed with the drug. The second time when she murdered Chiara.
The desk clerk, on her hand, gets herself an alibi because she stayed all the night at her desk, where a fixed camera recorded everything, testifying that she never left her workplace. Nancy used a rear fire door to go in and out the hotel.
Another possibility could be a college student working at the hotel to earn money – maybe to meet tuition costs.  Nancy offering him $50 or $100 for a keycard to Chiara’s hotel room is manna from heaven.
A video system that shows the clerk at the desk would also most likely show Chiara and Steve checking in and Nancy getting the keycard from the clerk.  The police would take as evidence any video record the hotel had that covered the 24 hour period before Chiara’s body was discovered.  Viewing it, they would see Nancy get the keycard and (possibly) walking toward the elevators but would never see her leave the hotel.  You could get around that by having the system cut out from time to time – such as just before Nancy comes to the desk – and start working 5 minutes later.  Or the video could be of such poor quality that they can't identify anyone coming to the desk.
Some hotels have systems that monitor and record every time a keycard is used on a room door is opened.  If this hotel has such a system, it would record when Chiara entered the room and when Nancy entered (helping to fix the time of Chiara’s murder)

Yes, actually the drugged wine would be the main element that persuades detective Horton of Steve's innocence. Basically, Steve had no reason to drug Chiara. He could have killed her during her sleep, or also by using her violence, in any case the resort to drugs was redundant. Certainly, Chiara has been drugged by someone else.
But a sharp detective (Is Horton?) would consider the possibility that Steve drank the drugged wine to divert suspicion from himself.

I imagined the murder of Chiara that way: Nancy wears a jumpsuit to protect her clothes, as you suggested. Not only, but she also wears gloves, and a scarf around her face, as well as glasses (that she usually doesn't wear) to cover as much of her face as possible in order to prevent Steve from recognizing her in the event he regains his consciousness. With one hand, she closes Chiara's mouth, with the other she places the sharp razor/blade upon her throat. In that moment, Chiara's eyes open: the victim perceives the danger, she istinctively gives off a muffled scream, but it's too late. Nancy slits her throat. Blood sprays, and stains Nancy's jumpsuit. gloves, etc...She hesitates for a while: she has just killed a woman in cold blood! Moreover, she doesn't expected so much blood and the incredible sound of air coming in and out Chiara's sliced throat. Finally she regains control, and leaves. The blood-stained stuff are the first things that Nancy destroy.
She's still going to get some blood on herself unless she wears something like a biohazard suit that covers every inch of her body.

Thanks you! My second language is German, my English is mostly self-taught (I read a lot of, ermm, Superman comics when I was a kid! ;D).
This is why my historical reasearches required me the knowledge of German (and a grasp of Russian), not because I don't like English. On the contrary, I found it a beautiful language, probably the best for mystery novels.
It can be that.  And you can't beat it for flexibility.  But it can also be frustrating, infuriating, and confusing even to those who heard and spoke it from day 1.

Now I can start writing the first part of the novel. I think I start it with Steve waking up and finding Chiara dead. Probably he "perceived" something as a dream, because her senses are confused by the drug, and he couldn't distinguish the dreams from reality. Arguably his "dreams" are troubled by the recurring theme of color red (maybe he dreams of sailing on a red river, a symbol of Chiara's blood who sprayed everywhere).
That's a great place to start.

And what about other Chiara's personal effects, which are in her "official", first class L.A. rent apartment (her personal computer, documents, clothings, cell phones, business papers, etc....)? The police would examine them, and I guess that they would retain the most interesting ones as evidence, while the rest will be shipped back home alongside her body. Is this right?
Those would be taken by the police, too, dusted for fingerprints, and searched for possible clues to her murder.  They'd look for threatening emails, letters, texts, and voicemail messages and who she met with in LA and when they met.  The only items that might bet returned to whoever claimed her body would be ones that the police had determined held no clues to her murder.  But chances are they would keep everything belonging to her until the trial was over just to be on the safe side.  If anything from her apartment was returned with her body, it would most likely be her clothing and jewelry.

Okay thanks. I suppose the body would be flown back after the autopsy.
I read somewhere that to be accepted aboard, a corpse must be....embalmed! I refused to believe this! Is it true??
That, I don't know.  You would have to check with someone who worked for an airline.  Perhaps someone at Alitalia?  I'd try their Public Relations department to start.

Again, Dave, I have no words to thank you!!!
Glad I can help.

Dave
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Antonio G.

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2014, 08:10:21 AM »

Don't be.  I'm happy to help.  Over the years, I've gotten so much help from members here and elsewhere, I'm glad to repay the favor to others whenever I can.

You're great, really! ;)
Are you a published author, Dave?

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Another possibility could be a college student working at the hotel to earn money – maybe to meet tuition costs.  Nancy offering him $50 or $100 for a keycard to Chiara’s hotel room is manna from heaven.

This is certainly realistic! Actually, in my university days, for $100 not only I would have given Nancy all the keycards of all the hotels of the city, but I would've helped her actively in the homicide! Ah, tuition costs! :-X
ps.-just jocking! ;D

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But a sharp detective (Is Horton?)

Yes, he is. I think of him as an intelligent, intuitive man, very sensible, with a strong sense of justice (this is why he initially supported and trusted Nancy).
He has a difficult task: he has to find who Chiara really was. Actually, Chiara was many things to many people (this applies to everybody, I suppose): the gossip queen of Italian tabloids; the strong-willed CEO of her corporation; the hard-working, generous daughter presented by her parents; the shameless harlot in Nancy's heated speeches; the gentle, mild-mannered lady so loved by her friends; an hot lover to many men. The work of detective Horton is complicated because he has a "famous corpse" at hand. I'd like to try to show the difficulties of an investigation when the media are massively involved. Journalists, TV, blogs, forums, twitter, facebook posts, everything contribute to produce a massive bombardment of informations. Of course, the police should cling to mere facts only, but they don't live into a bell jar, and can't avoid be influenced by the quarrels between Americans and Italians over Chiara's death.


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It can be that.  And you can't beat it for flexibility.  But it can also be frustrating, infuriating, and confusing even to those who heard and spoke it from day 1.

Can it be?
Personally, I crazily love American English, and his accent as well. I visited the USA three times: New York, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (for a reenactment of the famous Civil War land battle), and Houston, Texas.
The more understandable accent for a non-American I found in the East USA. In Texas they speak too fast!! ;D
Anyway, visiting the USA is quite a wonderful experience (not for Chiara, anyway! ;D >:D)


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That, I don't know.  You would have to check with someone who worked for an airline.  Perhaps someone at Alitalia?  I'd try their Public Relations department to start.

Good idea, I'll follow the suggestion.
Now, I think that I'll conclude the book with a note about Nancy's trial and the sentence.
Her lawyer would try to insist on her mental instability.
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Dave Freas

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Re: CRIME SCENE QUESTIONS
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2014, 03:01:24 PM »

Are you a published author, Dave?
Not yet and not for lack of trying.

This is certainly realistic! Actually, in my university days, for $100 not only I would have given Nancy all the keycards of all the hotels of the city, but I would've helped her actively in the homicide! Ah, tuition costs! :-X
ps.-just jocking! ;D
Then you'll be able to offer a realistic portrait of a young man so hard up for money that he'll 'look the other way' when someone asks him to do something illegal.

Yes, he is. I think of him as an intelligent, intuitive man, very sensible, with a strong sense of justice (this is why he initially supported and trusted Nancy).
He has a difficult task: he has to find who Chiara really was. Actually, Chiara was many things to many people (this applies to everybody, I suppose): the gossip queen of Italian tabloids; the strong-willed CEO of her corporation; the hard-working, generous daughter presented by her parents; the shameless harlot in Nancy's heated speeches; the gentle, mild-mannered lady so loved by her friends; an hot lover to many men. The work of detective Horton is complicated because he has a "famous corpse" at hand. I'd like to try to show the difficulties of an investigation when the media are massively involved. Journalists, TV, blogs, forums, twitter, facebook posts, everything contribute to produce a massive bombardment of informations. Of course, the police should cling to mere facts only, but they don't live into a bell jar, and can't avoid be influenced by the quarrels between Americans and Italians over Chiara's death.
Making her all those things will generate a lot of emotion and reactions among your readers.  Some will love her and be very upset by her murder, others will see her as a slut who got what she deserved and will hope her murderer will get away with the crime.
The biggest pressures Horton will face will come from both the American and Italian media (TV and newspapers) and his own superiors in the LAPD who will want a quick resolution to the case to (a) get the media off their backs and (b) prove to the Italian people that the murder of a fellow countrywoman will be solved quickly.

Can it be?
Personally, I crazily love American English, and his accent as well. I visited the USA three times: New York, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (for a reenactment of the famous Civil War land battle), and Houston, Texas.
The more understandable accent for a non-American I found in the East USA. In Texas they speak too fast!! ;D
Anyway, visiting the USA is quite a wonderful experience (not for Chiara, anyway! ;D >:D)
It can be confusing.  Root and foot look the same yet are pronounced differently.  Here and hear are pronounced the same yet mean 2 entirely different things.
Gettysburg is only about two hours from my home.
People who live in the eastern US, mainly the mid-Atlantic states from roughly New York south to Virginia and New Jersey west to Ohio, probably have the least accented way of speaking.
I'm glad you enjoy visiting the U.S.  She is not perfect but she is my country and I am very proud to live here.

Now, I think that I'll conclude the book with a note about Nancy's trial and the sentence.
Her lawyer would try to insist on her mental instability.
He may try a ‘Not guilty by reason of mental instability’ defense, but judges and juries are getting very skeptical about it because too many criminals have falsely claimed it to escape punishment for their crimes.  In Nancy's case, her planning (obtaining the keycard, drugging the wine, wearing clothing to protect her from blood spatter) all point to a sane person, demolishing that defense.

Dave
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