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Author Topic: What would a homicide detective do?  (Read 4217 times)

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TTMystery

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What would a homicide detective do?
« on: May 31, 2011, 07:38:42 PM »

I'm new here, but am anxious to jump right in  hope you don't mind! I promise to stick around and contribute, but I'll be honest about the fact that I'm joining now because I'm in a pickle. Sorry this is so long, also.

My scenario is this: A 15 year old girl discovers a man trying to dispose of a dead body. The man chases her, but patrol officers intervene (without knowing about the body), and the man runs away is lost. The girl brings officers back to the park, shows them the body, and homicide detectives, forensic investigators, and a coroner are called. The girl is traumatized and refuses to speak, until a detective coaxes her to. The girl then identifies the suspect (she knows him).

My questions with regard to the primary detective:

Would the 'dump site' scene be fully secured before the witness would be talked to? Could other police officers do this, along with the forensic investigators?

Would the detective do a full interview at the park (and would it be recorded?), or would the girl be brought to the Police Station after a short initial interview?

Also, would the houses around the park be canvassed, starting in the middle of the night, or would it wait until morning?

After the detective gets the name of the suspect, (note: simultaneously there will be a report that someone matching the suspect's description has been seen trying to steal a car) it turns out that this happened near the suspect's house, would it be plausible that the lead detectives leave the scene and go to the house in the hope of apprehending the suspect, as well as finding the murder scene? If not, why not?

If detectives can go to the house when they arrive, someone is entering the house, in the dark. They believe it to be their suspect, so they follow (I think this would constitute a legal entry). However, it turns out one person in the house isn't their suspect can detectives search the house for the suspect anyway, if they have reason to believe the suspect may have entered as well? (I can insert screaming in the house, if it is necessary I realize this is a legal question, but please, I would love your opinion.)

If yes would the detectives turn on the lights, or use their flashlights? Because of that other person who was in the house, the suspect would have heard them anyway. (by the way :D Would they ask this other person to wait outside? Would they lock them in the back of the police car?)

The setting I have used is based on a real place in Canada. It is a town of 15,000 people. The town is policed by a regional police department, of which headquarters are approximately 12 miles away (there is no department in the town). The homicide unit consists of 6 Detective Sergeants and 1 Detective Constable. They cover an area of approximately 600 square miles, and 410,574 residents, as well as 15,000,000 yearly tourists.

The park is a small area, has few trees, and cut grass, and is located on the shore of one of the Great Lakes. It is about 200 feet by 600 feet.

Also, the town is on the border to the US (across the river), and there are multiple bridges, so there is always the urgency of finding suspects before they can leave the country.

I understand that whatever information anyone might want to share may not directly apply to a Canadian setting. I have done quite a bit of research on Canadian crime scene protocols, but every case is different, and I haven't been able to find information that would apply to my scenario.

Any ideas, opinions? Thanks very much!
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Old Bill

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Re: What would a homicide detective do?
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2011, 10:12:19 PM »

I'll start and others will hopefully chime in.  First, welcome TT.  Lots of knowledgeable people here willing to help.

Would the 'dump site' scene be fully secured before the witness would be talked to? Could other police officers do this, along with the forensic investigators?

The manpower you stated that would be available will dictate how the scene and witness would be handled.  Since the witness and scene are basically discovered at the same time, the witness would be secured (placed in vehicle or taken to HQ).  As a juvenile the parents would be notified prior to any heavy interviewing.  This would tie up one or two detectives.  The crime scene would be secured and processed by patrol and forensic officers.

Would the detective do a full interview at the park (and would it be recorded?), or would the girl be brought to the Police Station after a short initial interview?

The latter.  I suspect the detectives would review the scene before talking to her in detail so they know what is going on.


Also, would the houses around the park be canvassed, starting in the middle of the night, or would it wait until morning?

Both.

After the detective gets the name of the suspect,

The detectives would probably seek out the suspect after talking with the girl BUT it would be to interview him.  No arrest would be made without collaborating evidence.  Lead detectives would get a statement from the girl before chasing after the suspect.  Patrol officers would handle the attempt theft of vehicle.

If detectives can go to the house

If someone is seen going into the house when detectives arrive, depending on circumstances (entering with key, thru window, etc.) they might pursue.  If possible illegal entry involved they have a separate crime and would have grounds to investigate and ultimately search the house.  If non-suspect does not live there, they would hold him for investigation.  If person entered with key then why wouldn't they turn on the lights.  Then the detectives could knock and talk to the person.  Bear in mind also that they might send a patrol officer to discreetly sit on the house until they arrive.  The officers could possibly see the (illegal) entry and take action, too.

I can't speak for Canada, but back in the old days in NY, the state police only had one crime scene tech for a very large area.  In the case of a murder, sometimes they would call upon the local sheriff's to handle the scene until their man arrived who could be hours away in many cases.  (Mind you this was not always voluntary because in NY the medical examiner had charge of a death scene and he would delegate who was to investigate in order to avoid a delay.  Unlike theat new TV show Body of Proof, ugh, the MEs office rarely had their own personnel that investigated the crime scene.)

Hope any of this helps.  Others may care to correct anything I got wrong (I've been out of the biz for sometime now).

Good luck with your story.  And, again, welcome.

Old Bill

PS:  Sorry about the ref to Body of Proof.......I do watch it but then I double up on my blood pressure pills.  :P
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TTMystery

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Re: What would a homicide detective do?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 12:11:04 AM »

Wow that is very helpful! Thank you so much Old Bill. It seems I'll only have to do a little tweaking to make my story work, then, hopefully. I hadn't even thought of the detectives needing collaborating evidence (is that the same as corroborating proof?) before they could make an arrest, but it definitely makes sense.

I haven't seen Body of Proof yet; maybe I shouldn't try to ;)

 
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Old Bill

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Re: What would a homicide detective do?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 08:10:38 PM »

...is that the same as corroborating proof?  Ooooops, my bad!  That's the word I was looking for, thanks.

Old Bill
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