Fancy Plans Guide to Homicide InvestigationSeptember 26, 2009
Hi. I’m Detective James Morniwheg, Homicide.
I have some information to pass on to the newest members of our precinct. As you know, we field our fair share of homicide investigations. The world is not a pretty place and you’ll need to get used to it real soon. As quickly as I can, I would like to hand out a few pointers on how to handle a homicide investigation.
First of all, you need to have the proper tools. Every detective should be prepared for a homicide call. Here’s a list of items you should have on you at all times:
- Evidence bags
- Ballpoint pen (for picking up empty casings; occasional writing)
- World-weary cynicism
- Desire to help people (rookies only)
- Unlit cigar
- Pet theories
- Desire to hurt people
Every crime scene you deal with will contain all matter of evidence. Some criminals, especially drug dealers, will have thoughtfully pre-bagged some evidence for you.
Mark any evidence appropriately, for easy identification. For example:
- “Ditch weed”
- “Black tar”
- “B.C. chronic”
- “Baby laxative”
- “To be planted”
Most forward-looking police departments have realized that it is most efficient to have individual policemen secure evidence in their own homes, storage units or bus station lockers. This leaves the evidence in an area where it can be easily accessed as needed, rather than at a central location staffed by an officious and nosy prick.
If you find yourself with a surplus of evidence, especially during Internal Affairs’ investigations, feel free to ditch some of it at your current crime scenes. The other responding officers will appreciate your generosity and it may help take the case in a surprising new direction.
The Smoking Gun
The most famous form of evidence, the smoking gun can often refer to other things metaphorically. We will be dealing only with the literal interpretation.
If you find a gun on the scene, pick it up and sniff the barrel thoughtfully. Has it been fired recently?
If it hasn’t or is still “undetermined,” go ahead and fire a few shots into the wall or available corpse. Try out some creative angles to confuse the boys in forensics. Mark gun as “recently fired.” Place in evidence bag. (Allow time to cool.)
Be sure to indicate, when asked, that the gun was fired “circa the time of death,” rather than, “shortly after I got here.”
Shell Casings and the Importance of Pen Selection
Choose your pen carefully as it will be serving a greater purpose than dressing up your shirt pocket or staining your shirt pocket.
The main purpose of your pen will be to pick up empty gun shells at the crime scene. You’ll want to have a thin pen with a low center of gravity. This act is harder than it looks. You may want to practice at home, using any of the “evidence” guns you have secured. Fire a few rounds into the wall or available corpse. (This will also help you get the sense for the “recently fired” smell.)
Once proficient with this maneuver, you should be able to pick up casings in one smooth move.
(Important note: never use your hands to pick up shells, gloved or not, as this will probably “tamper” the evidence. It is a serious crime scene faux pas. This is a “rookie mistake,” and you will be the butt of jokes in the precinct for months to come.)
Dealing with the Coroner
As someone who deals intimately with death, day in and day out, your average coroner will often be a pasty, emotionless, wise-cracking weirdo who will insist on eating something no matter how gruesome the homicide.
He will often use phrases and ask questions full of words you won’t understand. Just nod and ask occasional leading questions, such as:
- “Any signs of foul play?”
- “What do you think for a time of death?”
- “Would this ‘recently fired’ gun have anything to do with it?”
If stuck for words, you can always defer to the responding officer. A second tactic is to remove your sunglasses and chew on them thoughtfully while gazing over the scene, perhaps guesstimating the wholesale price of the Persian rug that is now completely ruined. I know this tactic sounds ridiculous, but do it in front of a mirror a few times and you’ll see how “thoughtful” it can make you appear.
Dealing with Responding Officers
Your normal, workaday cop will most likely be the first responder to a homicide call. They are often unimpressed with your position and will try to undercut your authority at every opportunity.
Send them out to “knock on doors.” This will keep them out of the crime scene and thus unable to show you up with their “attention to detail” and “logical conclusions.” Also, their street smarts will clash badly with your world-weary cynicism/desire to help people.
Motives & Suspects
You will often be called on to draw a bead on a most likely suspect and motive. In order to get the ball rolling, observe the crime scene, victim and neighborhood. You should be able to get a “jump” on some conclusions by following these simple guidelines:
Black victim/Lousy neighborhood – “Gang-related”
Possible suspect: Gangbanger
White victim/Mainly black neighborhood – “Possibly gang-related;” “Wrong place at the wrong time”
Possible suspect: Gangbanger
Black or white victim/Drug paraphernalia – “Drug deal gone bad”
Possible suspect: Tony Montana
White victim/Upscale neighborhood – “Crime of passion”
Possible suspect: That guy whose wife you’re banging; local retard
White victim/Influential parents – “Accidental”
Possibly due to: “Ingestion of two .38 bullets in the back of the head”
The First 24 Hours
90% of homicides are solved in the first 24 hours.
Whether this is actually true or not doesn’t matter. Everyone already believes that it is, so act accordingly.
This would seem to indicate that you will have a hectic day (and night) beginning with the homicide call. Look at it this way: you only have to look busy for 24 hours before you can return to your normal schedule of playing computer solitaire and ticketing your ex-wife’s vehicle.
If you can make it past those critical hours, you are out of the woods, so to speak (even if your victim hasn’t even made it out of the woods yet). Label the paperwork “Cold Case” and throw it in the precinct fridge for some cheap laughs.
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