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  1. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Screwing up forensics investigations

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Cdn Writer, Sep 8, 2019.

    I am trying hard to create a murder scene that would not leave any evidence behind for a forensics investigator to discover both in the present and in the FUTURE.

    For example, most people are probably aware that criminals during the 70s and earlier did not worry about DNA evidence...because the technology did not exist. It was probably considered science fiction to a criminal in the 70s that any blood they left at a crime scene could be traced back to them years and years later. I think the first time DNA was used in an investigator was in 1986 for the rape & murder of the UK woman, Lynda Mann by Colin Pitchfork...that's what I remember and google supports.

    I started thinking, perhaps the way to go is to leave TOO much evidence. I was thinking if you worked in a salon and you had access to the various pieces of human debris such as nail clippings, hair clippings, etc, could you contaminate the crime scene by spreading all of this stuff around and overwhelm the investigators? That way the criminal does not need to worry about whether or not *his* DNA is at the scene because......a few hundred other peoples DNA is there as well...?

    I suppose the investigators could start to track down the people (HOW?) and figure out who had an alibi and who did not but I can't see a run of the mill break and enter or murder getting that much attention from law enforcement.

    I suppose the weakness would be that law enforcement might possibly track down the salon where the evidence came from because at least one person is bound to have some type of record leading back to them such as doing regular blood sugar level tests for diabetes or paternity suits etc and once the investigator had that starting point they could find the salon and then work outwards from there. Easily enough dealt with - collect the evidence from a city in Winnipeg and commit the crime in Thunder Bay, or the opposite.

    First question: Does this work in terms of stalling the investigation because it's too much work? Seriously, unless you kill the President, how much time does a police department devote to investigating a murder? My understanding from my reading is that the solvency rate falls after 48 hours, that the magic window for solving the crime of murder is the first 48 hours....

    Second question: If somehow, the criminal did come to the attention of the investigation, even if further investigation revealed he did not have an alibi, would his legal team be able to create enough confusion to raise reasonable doubt? Like, "The prosecution says that my client's DNA was at the scene. Well.....so was the DNA from 43 other people! They say my client has no alibi....of course not! It was 3 am! He was at home asleep alone. How about you, juror #4, where were you on the night of Oct 27, 2016 at 3 am? What about you, juror #9, where were you? Can anyone verify that...."

    Thanks all!
     
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  2. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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    Regarding the first question: Who was killed? Random homeless dude knifed in an alley, the cops are going to spend about five minutes investigating. PTA mom in her home is going to get a lot more attention. I haven't heard of that 48 hour window, but DNA testing takes longer than that, something like three days at as minimum if the lab isn't busy. If your research says otherwise I'll defer to it, but the 48 hour window just sounds off unless it's referring to cases where there's a pretty obvious suspect (the husband).

    Regarding the second question: People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson
     
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  3. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    It depends on how you look at it. In 1985, DNA was used to exonerate a man in Maryland convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 9 year old girl.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirk_Bloodsworth
    In using abundant evidence to confuse investigators, that's not exactly new. Identical twins have been doing such things for years, if only to create that 'reasonable doubt'. A set of triplets is the UK just got tagged for gun crimes. https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/identical-triplets-jailed-guns-conviction-185335785.html
    I guess Their plan was if they each left DNA evidence, being identical triplets, investigators wouldn't be able to pin any one of them for the crime.

    Something else to consider though, is the 'give and take' theory, which claims that at a crime scene you take as much potential evidence with you as what you leave behind. People have been nabbed for murder by investigators finding a body dumped in the woods, then they find some obscure seed pod unique to the dump site in the under carriage of their primary suspect's car- that was all they needed to tie the suspect to the crime.

    If you can find a copy, Paladin press had a book titled How to get Away With Murder. Much of their catalogue was a huge steaming pile of crap, but if you're using it for fiction, what could it hurt. paladin is out of business now. They closed down after getting sued for providing an instruction manual for hitmen, so maybe there is some merit to their offerings.
     
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  4. SomePenName

    SomePenName Member

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    Something to consider:

    When you watch a show on T.V. or a movie, when the suspect is arrested and brought to the police station for processing, this is where the fingerprints and DNA swabs are done.

    These are the fingerprints that the police have on file, and because of the rate of repeat offenders, fingerprints and DNA lifted from the scene of the crime are analyzed against the known database of offenders.

    So if the person has a record, leaves behind a garbage bag of other peoples hair or something, it actually won't take that long to reject the unknown DNA and focus in on the suspect.

    (Not a forensics worker, re-iterating what I remember a cop telling me once, so take with a grain of salt.)
     
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  5. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    This may be location specific, but in Ontario, even if the person is a suspect is arrested and being held, they police still need a court order to collect DNA if the suspect doesn't consent. And it's not a swab, they lancet for blood.
     
  6. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    They have a number of ways down here- a swab from the mouth, spit in a vial, urine sample, or even plucking a few hairs with the follicle intact. You’d be surprised what they can get DNA from these days. The one that always gets me about those TV shows is when they walk in with a folder and tell the suspect they have DNA results already that put him at the scene of the crime. In the US, even if there wasn’t a years long backlog of samples to test before this one, it would take a few days at the least to get results back.
     
  7. SomePenName

    SomePenName Member

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    That's interesting to know, I didn't know about the court order thing. I guess it must depend on the nature of the crime or reason for gathering DNA, I'm in Ontario and my DNA is on record from getting a NEXUS card and it was just a cheek swab.
     
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  8. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    The 48 hour thing refers to the investigation itself. Supposedly if they don’t have a solid suspect in the first 48 hours, the odds of ever solving the case drop by 50%. There’s even a TV show based on the premise- First 48. A&E even has over 300 episodes you can watch online.
     
  9. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Good luck. Pray for a lot of solar activity and the sun feels like licking the earth. :p

    You do know that the jury are the ones who decide on weather the suspect is guilty or not, right?
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  10. aModernHeathen

    aModernHeathen Banned

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    Well, assuming that you're not asking this question because you actually plan on killing someone, here's the one thing we don't know, because you haven't told us. Does the perp know the victim? If so, it's pretty damn likely they'll be caught. And not even because of forensics. You see, when you kill someone you know, that means that there was a reason. And if there's a reason bad enough for you to kill someone, someone else probably knows about that reason. Meaning, if someone ripped you off for twenty grand on a dope deal gone wrong, plenty of people probably know that you got ripped off. Even if it's just one person that knows, people talk, and people spread rumors. Ever play a game of telephone? By the end of the line, it wasn't one murder over twenty grand gone missing, it was four murders four hundred and fifty grand.

    Put it this way, a cop told me once me, in so many words, that if you want to get away with murder, kill someone you don't know and don't leave the gun at the scene of the crime. Obviously, he was oversimplifying things a bit, but you get the gist. Forensics evidence is not as airtight as shows like CSI would have you think. Better to kill someone you don't know and leave a bullet casing at the scene of the crime than kill your best friend who you caught sleeping with your wife, and scrub the scene with Clorox (used to kill DNA in machines that analyze DNA), when damn near everyone in the neighborhood knows your best friend was sleeping with your wife.

    "Overwhelming" the investigators sounds good in theory, but any crime lab worth their weight in dog shit would probably be able to sift through the nonsense and find their perp, if the perp had a motive and lack of a good alibi. After all, they only need 2/3 to take you to trial for murder (that part from TV shows is true so far as I know). In other words, the three aspects to a murder case are:

    Motive
    Opportunity
    Weapon

    If they can prove that you have two out of three, you're going to be charged. So, honestly, you'd need to give us more information about the story first, because while overwhelming the forensics team sounds great, it really depends on the city. How many employees do they have dedicated to that job? Are they overwhelmed already? Is there a high murder rate in the city? Is the victim a shady person or an upstanding citizen? Because while that "48 hour" mark makes a good tagline for a TV show, the fact is, if a police department gets information about a murder ten weeks later, they'll move forward with the investigation as much as they can. But, certainly they're going to spend more time looking for the murder of an upstanding, innocent citizen than they would the heroin dealer who just set up shop down the block. Unfortunate reality, but true.

    It would be better if the killer did not know the victim at all, left no bullet casings at the scene, got rid of the body via chemical decomposition, and cleaned the crime scene with a 10% liquid Clorox solution (sodium hypochlorite is known to kill DNA). It's best for someone to vanish out of thin air, than for there to be any evidence at all to collect.
     
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  11. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    I've been trying to write a hit man type novel. I was envisioning a professional hit man who had no relationship to any of his victims (or perhaps only to the first two or three) which would start in the late 60s and move towards the end of his career in 2005. I haven't been very happy with what I've written out so far but my first attempt can be found in the short stories forum, crime & thriller and the working title I selected was "Bar Business."

    I am thinking a reasonably intelligent criminal is aware of some crime scene procedures and would know how to avoid leaving some evidence behind. I was thinking he could park a rental or a stolen vehicle nearby, walk to the scene, put on a painter's outfit (coveralls from head to toe, gloves, canvas booties over his shoes, a hairnet and a hood) enter the scene like at a really early or late hour when there are no witnesses and ambush a sleeping victim or lie in wait for a victim to walk into his trap and then he can stab, shoot, or physically break the person's neck. The stabbing can be done with a screwdriver or a pen, doesn't have to be a knife.

    Leave the scene, go to a pre-scouted location and strip off all of the protective clothing he's wearing and toss it in various garbage cans or an incinerator. The weapon can also be tossed wherever perhaps after being dipped in a chemical solution to remove any trace evidence - not that I know how any evidence would have gotten there....

    People back in the 60s and 70s up to the mid 80s would not know anything about DNA but it does seem reasonable that some advances would be made in forensics investigations and a smart criminal would try to think ahead. He'd be careful about the things he knows like fingerprints, fibers and hairs, there's not going to be any semen or sperm at the scene or on the body so that's not a concern. I'd have him commit the killing during a deserted time when there are no witnesses around and leave the body where it is. I think he'd get into trouble if he tried to transport a dead body around. If he really ends up needing the victim in a specific location, he can arrange a meeting at a potential real estate purchase or a restaurant with a new associate and commit the murder there.

    I see the guy using poison in a crowded place, like slipping his victim a spiked drink; a knife, a gun, or physical force perhaps with a hammer or a wench. Maybe meet on a roof top and throw him off?

    I think the biggest change from the start to the end would be the use of cameras for security. There might also be some complications with payments, like when he starts he gets $500 for a murder but by the time he retires he's earning $20,000 or more. How do you hide $20,000 in cash income when you don't work? So he needs to have a cash heavy business like a bar, hence "Bar Business" to hide some of the illegitimate income. Maybe eventually a motel as well. Or a car dealership or rental place so he has access to various vehicles? I want to write a smart criminal who's always thinking ahead and these are the types of businesses that seem to do double duty like they earn a legit income and they also let him hide illegitimate income or give him access to vehicles so he's never in the same car twice, plus most of those places detail the cars, right? Any evidence left behind would be washed away by the dealership/rental place staff...

    I was trying to avoid using organized crime figures in the story but I think I have to. They're the only ones that would have the money to pay him. The average wife who's pissed off her husband has a mistress on the side will simply not have the money to hire him, nor would she know how to get in touch plus she'd probably be suspect #1 and if the investigation revealed that she'd withdrawn $20,000 from her checking account and it's disappeared.....

    Gah....the more I try to figure this out, the more muddled it gets. I would like it to be grounded in reality if possible. My guy has no higher aspirations than to kill the target, get paid and go back to his boring life. He HATES drama. He does the hit man thing for the challenge and for the money. I don't see him becoming the Don of a mafia family for example.
     
  12. aModernHeathen

    aModernHeathen Banned

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    Listen... go online and search for Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors by Rex Feral. Read, read and read some more. You'll learn everything you need to know in there. This is probably the best resource you could use if you want to write a novel about a hit man. That, and I suggest you watch the HBO documentary about Richard Kuklinski - infamous mob hit man back who operated, undetected, from the early 1960s to the 1980s until he was eventually caught in 1986 after unknowingly buying what he believed to be cyanide from an undercover cop.
     
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  13. SomePenName

    SomePenName Member

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    I second researching Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski, very interesting and his style seems to match pretty close to what you are describing of the guy.

    Another thing that would be worth looking into is "Muder Inc." This was a group of hitmen estimated to have carried out between 400 to 1000 contract killings. By all accounts it operated much like an actual company, the killers were even kept on a regular salary as retainer.
     
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