What Information is Helpful to Generate a Criminal Profile?
The basic components used to construct a criminal profile are:
- Victim's characteristics such as background, employment, friendships, habits, etc.
- Crime scene characteristics such as location (more than one?), environment, body disposition (staging?), physical evidence, items left/missing from scene, etc.
- offender characteristics (if known) such as sex, race, physical characteristics, style of dress, language, etc.
- Forensic findings such as autopsy reports, DNA results, blood stain pattern analysis, etc.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Can You Get a Person's DNA Profile from a Single Hair Fiber?
Yes, if the hair root is intact.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Can You Detect Body Fluid Stains if They Cannot be Seen with the Naked Eye or if They Have Been Wiped Away by the Offender?
Yes, it is possible to detect and visualize body fluid stains such as blood and semen, which may not be visible by the naked eye, by using an alternate light source such as ultraviolet light or by using chemical reagents such as Luminol, which illuminates in the dark when in contact with the blood.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
What Can You Determine From Bloodstain Patterns?
Bloodstain patterns are often present at homicide crime scenes. Thee patterns can be used to determine such things as:
- the # of people who were at the scene during the crime
- actions or movements of people at the crime scene
- angle of injury to the victim
- type of weapon(s) used
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
What are the First Duties at a Crime Scene?
The first person at a crime scene should do the following in order:
- determine if the victim is alive or dead
- apprehend the offender, if still present; call for backup if he or she is escaping
- secure the crime scene
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
What is Staging?
Staging a crime scene occurs when the offender purposely alters the crime scene to mislead law enforcement authorities and investigators. For example, if the offender committed a murder, he or she might alter the crime scene to make the death appear to be a suicide or accident.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My son Kevin was murdered along with his two friends in his car on May 29,1999. The detectives say they have people that they "suspect" did the killing but not a clear motive as yet. How does one go about profiling a murderer like this?
The process of profiling any murderer(s) begins with collecting as much information about the crime(s), including characteristics of the crime scene(s), the victim(s), and, if possible, the offender(s). In addition, a thorough evaluation and interpretation of the forensic evidence must be performed.
For a case like this one, the following information would be beneficial to the profiling process:
- Victim Characteristics (Victimology) for each of the three (3) victims:
- physical traits
- education levels
- daily habits
- activities prior to attack, especially the last 24 hrs. (routes of travel, etc.)
- risk level
- Crime Scene Characteristics such as:
- general location (indoor, outdoor, neighborhood, etc.)
- specific type of location (address, workplace, victim's car, etc.)
- multiple scenes?
- date of attack
- time of day
- day of week
- environment/geography (population composition, socio-economics, etc.)
- weapon(s) - brought to scene? opportunity?
- weapons found
- victims attacked to specific body parts
- items taken from scene and/or from the victims
- attempted evidence destruction? evidence taken?
- disposition of the victims' bodies
- body disfigurement
- viewing of crime scene photos; visits to the crime scene
- review of police reports
- Offender Characteristics including:
- method of approach to the victims
- method of control of the victims
- method of departure
- precautions (i.e., time of day, etc.)
- Forensic Considerations
- bloodstain pattern interpretation (direction and angle of bloodstains, appearance of spatter patterns, etc.)
- firearms/ballistics (type of weapon, casings position/location and number, etc.)
- gunshot wound pathology/analysis (contact wounds?, etc.)
- tire and footwear marks (determine manufacturer, class and individual characteristics, etc.)
- autopsy reports (victims' body appearance consistent with case facts? defense wounds?)
- toxicology reports
Once all available and known investigative information has been collected and verified, it can be reviewed, evaluated, and analyzed by the profiler. This is an individualized process and the final criminal profile, therefore, becomes dependent upon the individual profiler's own background, education, analytical training, homicide investigation experience, research, and/or personal intuition/instincts. After a thorough victimological assessment, interpretation of the forensic evidence, and reconstruction of the crime scene, the profiler primarily aims to:
- determine the offender's motivation(s) for committing murder.
- derive specific offender characteristics (i.e., intelligence, education level, ~ age, race, marital status, social skills, physical appearance, possible employment/occupation, lifestyle, possible residence location, etc.)
For a single homicidal event, such as in the current case, one or more motivations or combination of motives may be evident. These may include revenge, argument induced, situational/impulsive, gang-related, or non-specific and random. However, a singular motive may become clear as investigators gather additional case information. If this occurs, the profiler can begin to narrow the criminal's profile by including more specific offender characteristics.
Also, if it has been determined that the current, unknown offender is a serial murderer, then behavioral patterns can be elucidated from a thorough analysis of all the victims, all the crime scenes, all methods of offender operation, and any signature aspects from the individual crimes. These patterns, in turn, give the profiler an insight to the general thought processes and everyday behaviors of the offender, which can help produce a more specific, more accurate criminal profile.
In addition to a criminal profile, the profiler can also provide detectives with investigative strategies and additional questions to pursue and explore. For a case like this one, these can include:
- if suspects are known, recover evidence such as clothing, weapon(s), footwear, etc. and examine for trace and biological evidence; compare any recovered evidence with victims' samples (i.e., blood, hair, etc.)
- fingerprint door handles, windows, etc. of victim's car and search database, employment records, dept. public safety records, etc. and also compare to likely suspects
- interrogate those individuals last seen with the victims; did victims have any arguments or disputes?
- anyone see victims leave? what were their condition? what direction did they travel? did anyone follow them?
- any evidence or indication suggesting that victims were outside of vehicle at anytime prior to murder?
- anyone observe unusual/suspicious behavior from victims' friends and acquaintances prior to and/or after the crime?
- anyone unusually interested in the case? has anyone repeatedly contacted the police and/or the victims' families looking for case information/updates and/or to ask if any new evidence has been discovered?
- exactly how many times was each victim shot? which had the most? possible revenge on the victim with excessive number of gunshot wounds? gunshots through car windows or directly to body? car windows down?
- check phone records from the place where victims last seen alive.
These are the type of investigative considerations that can be useful for gathering more case information and for helping "fine-tune" the criminal profile. Consequently, detectives will be able to further focus their investigation and decrease the number of likely suspects.
-Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Can You Lift Fingerprints from a Body? If not, why not?
Yes, recent advances in forensic science have enabled latent fingerprints to be developed and lifted from human skin. This can be invaluable in any crime where an offender has touched the victim.
Generally speaking, fingerprints can persist on living skin for ~ 1-1.5hrs. In cases where the victim is deceased, latent prints must be developed as soon as possible. It must be noted that the condition of the skin and the climate can affect the results of fingerprint development. Ideally, the environmental temperature should be between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, to avoid contamination and destruction of potential evidence, it is critical that people (including ambulance and hospital personnel) try to refrain from touching the body on any area of exposed skin.
Various procedures can be used to develop fingerprints on skin. These include the use of:
- black fingerprint powders
- magnetic fingerprint powders
- iodine fuming
For documentation and comparison, each of these methods require further enhancement using specific light sources, various types of camera film, and/or high glossy paper.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I have heard that there is a big computer system in use by police departments that can link one department to another, that somehow you either enter information about the murderer or that you can enter information about the victim that will help identify a serial killer, etc. Can you tell me what the name of this system is and how it operates? And, do all the police cooperate by entering their information into the system? Thank you for your time.
The computer system that you may be referring to is VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) that is based at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You can learn more about this program and how it operates at the following website: www.fbi.gov/programs/vicap.htm .
In terms of cooperation between law enforcement agencies, police departments can submit case-specific information (i.e. crime scene characteristics, offender MO, victimology, etc.) to the FBI, who then cross-reference the information with the VICAP database. Alternatively, local police and other law enforcement agencies can request software from the NCAVC that will enable them to establish their own criminal apprehension/tracking program and also allow them to link to the FBI VICAP. Many state law enforcement agencies have established such a link and networking agreement with the FBI to coordinate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information relating to violent and sexual crimes. These state agencies include:
- Alaska State Troopers
- Colorado Bureau of Investigation
- Delaware State Police
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation
- Indiana State Police
- Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
- Kansas Bureau of Investigation
- Maryland State Police
- Massachusetts State Police
- Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
- Missouri State Highway Patrol
- Nebraska State Patrol
- New Jersey State Police
- New York State Police
- Albuquerque Police Department
- North Carolina Bureau of Investigation
- Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
- Oregon State Police
- Pennsylvania State Police
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Virginia State Police
- Washington Office of Attorney General
- Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation
Local police departments in the above states can submit request to these agencies for statewide searches of similar offender, victim, and/or crime characteristics for possible case linkage and identification of crime patterns.
I am not aware that ALL local police departments contribute information to the state or national VICAP programs. However, the VICAP programs listed above do encourage police departments in their state to submit crime information to them. Such information from around the state will be invaluable in establishing a comprehensive, statewide crime database, again, for linking crimes, identifying any patterns or trends, etc.
NOTE: Canada has developed a similar program to the FBI VICAP. They refer to it as the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (ViCLAS). Several countries around the world have adopted this system as part of their law enforcement efforts, including Japan, Belgium, United Kingdom, Austria, Holland, and Australia. In addition, the American states of Tennessee and Indiana have adopted the ViCLAS system. More information on the ViCLAS system can be found at the following website: www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/html/viclas-e.htm .
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I am trying to learn as much as possible about the profile of a person who would harm and kill an infant. The baby died today from shaken baby syndrome, however, the child had multiple broken bones from previous injuries. The perpetrator was the father, 24 years old, unemployed, high school education, with no previous record. One thing he did admit to is that he has a cocaine addiction. This father showed no signs outwardly of distress to those around him. He has admitted to "squeezing the baby", breaking the ribs, and both femurs were broken. Unfortunately, the mother, my step-daughter, had no idea this was going on because the child had some colic. The baby was only 2 and 1/2 months old at it's death. My question to you is, what makes people harm an innocent being who is helpless and defenseless? I understand the "shaken baby syndrome" is not usually intended to harm the infant, it's a reaction. This situation, however, seems much more intended and done on purpose. Today, the perpetrator escaped from the hospital where he's been under psychological observation/suicide watch the past few days. The authorities were going to arrest him today, and he was able to escape. We are so fearful that he will try to harm others in the family and also take his other son who is 17 months old. I believe this man could be very dangerous.
The process of profiling any murderer begins with collecting as much information about the crime, including characteristics of the crime scene, the victim, and the offender. In addition, a thorough evaluation and interpretation of the forensic evidence must be performed.
For this case, investigative information that would be helpful includes:
- additional background information on the father (family history, childhood, any previous complaints of violence brought against him, etc.)
- detailed information on the father's previous interaction with the baby (from birth to the infant's death)
- the infant's pedigree and medical history (illnesses, prescribed medication, etc.)
- events leading to (~1-2 week chronology) and immediately prior (last 24 hours) to the infant's death, specifically the father's actions and behaviors during these times
- date and time of death (who was the last to see the baby alive? Who was the person who discovered the dead infant?)
- detailed description of the place of death (crib, parent's bed, etc.) and the surrounding environment
- position of the body at discovery (in it's original position? If not, why? Who changed the baby's position?)
- any available crime laboratory, toxicological, and/or autopsy reports
Such information would be very helpful to the profiling process in this case. However, it appears from the information you have provided that the perpetrator possesses some personal characteristics that, under certain conditions, can act as precipitating stressors and cause him to harm a helpless and defenseless victim like his baby son. These characteristics include unemployment, substance abuse, and physical aggression as demonstrated by his previous harming of the victim. Other possible factors in the perpetrator's behavior and daily life that might contribute (independently or in combination with other stressors) to his ability to harm an infant include:
- family instability
- financial strain
- viewing the baby as a major life problem (expense, crying, feeding problems, etc.)
During his life, especially as a father with two children, the perpetrator has most likely internalized a great deal of negative emotions, thoughts, and frustration, which, again under certain conditions and stressors, could cause him to harm a baby. By the very nature of his size, the baby is an ideal victim and target for this (or any) adult perpetrator. For some offenders, this ability to control and dominate another human being is rewarding in that it is something they do not normally experience in other aspects of their life. Therefore, they feel, at least for that moment during the crime, a sense of power. Since the perpetrator seems to lack control and/or power in his daily life, he may feel justified in his actions toward the baby.
In addition, if the perpetrator has had the ability to conceal his stress and control his emotions in the past but yet currently needs psychological observation and has suicidal inclinations, then his mental state and condition is questionable and must be examined further. Also, given the stress of his son's death, the investigation by the family and police, his suicidal tendencies, etc., the perpetrator was still able to think of his own survival and escape from the hospital to avoid arrest. In combination, all of this suggests that the father's thought patterns, personality, and behaviors may be more complex, calculated, and/or psychopathological than previously thought. Further examination and diagnosis by trained psychologists and/or psychiatrists could help determine if this is true.
Again, to more accurately profile a person who would harm a baby, such as the perpetrator you have described, additional background and investigative information is needed. However, based on the information you have supplied, it appears that the perpetrator is a dangerous individual and could harm again if not apprehended.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I would like to know why the detectives are not keeping me abreast of my son's case. It seems like they suspended the case and we have not heard anything to date. There were many people who were not interviewed or interrogated. I gave the police the people who may have seen my son last and the police all seem to keep quiet. Mum's the word on all of this.
I do not know exactly why the detectives are not keeping you up-to-date on Sean's murder case. However, based on the information you have provided, it is possible that any internal problems/politics within the local police department may have slowed the progress of Sean's case as well as other cases. In addition, the amount of crime in Hilo relative to the size of the police force and their available resources may also play a role in slowing the investigation.
Given that Sean was beaten and murdered after he returned from home, the offender(s) most likely acted under some motivating factor(s). This may include one or more of the following:
A thorough review and examination of police notes/reports (witness statements?), crime scene photos (bloodstain patterns?), forensic evidence (fingerprints? footwear marks? toolmarks?) and autopsy reports (wound patterns? likely weapon?) along with interpretation of behavioral evidence at the crime scene may help determine the offender's specific motivation. Also, the offender's MO may become more apparent to determine, for example, if Sean knew the assailant(s) or not (forced entry?).
In addition, it is important to perform a thorough victimological assessment. For example, current/past fellow employees, family, friends, and neighbors of Sean should be interviewed to learn more about his behavior, habits, daily activities, etc. prior to his death (especially the last 24 hrs). Such information will prove useful in developing potential suspects and determining why Sean was chosen as a victim.
In regard to the polygraph examination, or lie detector test, the results are generally inadmissible in a court of law unless an agreement and stipulation by counsel is obtained. A polygraph machine is designed to measure a person's autonomic bodily reactions; in other words, the way a person's body unconsciously and automatically responds to certain kinds of questions. A person's blood pressure, sweating responses, breathing rate, and pulse rate are constantly monitored by electronic means during the lie detector test.
There are four basic steps to the lie detector test:
- Pre-test interview
- Explanation of how the test works
- Preparation of test questions
Prior to the test, certain information about the crime should be withheld from everyone, including the media. The test examiner should be aware of facts about the crime that only the one who committed the crime and/or those who were present will know. This includes (but not limited to):
- how the person was murdered
- type and location of entry into scene
- type of weapon used
- type of items that were stolen, removed, or brought to the scene
NOTE: The lie detector test is workable only under the assumption a person's unconscious bodily reactions are going to be especially pronounced when they are responding with a lie. However, if a person can somehow consciously control there bodily responses at the right times during the test (i.e., altering their breathing rate and blood pressure when responding to certain kinds of questions), they cannot be diagnosed as "Deceptive". Instead, they could be scored as "No deception indicated" or, at worst, the test will be scored as "Inconclusive". Because of this, there has, and will always be, controversy and debate about the reliability of the lie detector test and it's value during criminal investigations.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I'm writing this letter with the hope of getting some insight. My grandmother was murdered in 1993 in her home with no forced entry. The intruder was someone she knew or thought she knew. Unfortunately, this is still an unsolved crime. The police department in charge of the crime claims that they suspect someone, (they have implied they think it is a family member) and that they have no evidence and must wait until this person shows their hand. They claim they have evidence that only they and the person who committed the crime knows about. Is there anything at all the victims family member who want this crime solved can do? It seems so futile. Also, the thought of it being someone within the family is pretty hard to take. There is only one person I think could have committed this crime and only because of a mental problem and a series of various medications which sometimes cause him to act out. I want to be supportive of the police force and my family as well. Any suggestions or comments?
In terms of what you can do to help solve your grandmother's murder, I suggest contacting an attorney, licensed private investigator, and/or a media consultant to help push and/or revive interest in the case. These individuals could provide you local expertise and guidance in your attempt to get questions answered.
Also, if you can provide additional and specific case information, such as outlined below, I could possibly give you some investigative direction and learn more about the offender and his motivation.
- Victim Characteristics (background, her activities prior to her death- including the last 24hrs, her habits/lifestyle, family relationships, phone calls before the attack, etc.)
- Crime Scene Characteristics (location, description, time of day, day of week, body location/disposition/disfigurement, items missing from scene or taken from victim, weapon(s) found, weapon(s) brought to the scene?, attempted evidence destruction?, etc.)
- Forensic Evidence (autopsy and toxicological reports, what type of wounds she suffered, fingerprints, footwear marks, bloodstain patterns, hair/fibers, etc.)
- Offender Characteristics (method of entry into scene, method of control of the victim-bindings?, method of departure, etc.)
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to write me at anytime.
Take care and best wishes to you and your family.
- Dean Wideman
If given as much details of a murder crime scene as possible, would you be able to profile a killer? If so, would you do this for me if I were to provide the information? My brother and sister-in-law were murdered over 5 months ago. My 16 year old nephew has been arrested, but there is great speculation as if they have arrested the correct person. The case is under a gag order so most details would come from local papers along with bits and pieces of information that witnesses and other family/friends have provided. We want the killer caught and prosecuted, no matter who it is. All evidence in the case is circumstantial. And we really fear that something is wrong here and this boy is being set-up for a crime he did not commit. There are many odd things about it and our local police department has a very poor track record here in solving murders in our community for the last 20 years. (It has been said on national TV, "If you want to commit murder, do it in Hardin County!". There are other suspects, however they I am told have never even been fingerprinted, etc. but would have a motive also. I am just curious as to what you would profile the killer to be to see if my nephew would fit the profile. Our family needs closure. It is difficult when you are just not 100% sure. Please let me know if you can help. I am sure you are quite busy and I would truly appreciate it.
My condolences to you and your family. I know it is a difficult time for all of you and I commend you on your strength to come forward and discuss the details of the case with me.
Yes, I would be willing to help you as much as I can with this case, including giving you a profile of the killer(s). If possible, provide me with as much case information as you can, especially regarding the background of both victims, characteristics of the crime scene, the forensic evidence (including autopsy findings), and any known offender characteristics (i.e., how the perpetrator approached the victims, method of entry/departure from the scene, etc.) Such information would be very helpful and would allow me to properly evaluate and assess the circumstances of this case.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Best wishes to you and your family.
- Dean Wideman
My brother was murdered 7 years ago. His killers have never been caught. He was found in the woods not far from where he lived. He was beaten about the head & thorax. He was wearing only socks & underwear. The day after he was found my other brother went to see the crime scene & found his clothes & shoes thrown all about. No drugs were found in his system. What can you tell me about the killers? We've been told very little about the case except that it was more than one person & the cause of death was blunt force trauma. I'm asking you as a criminal profiler. Any thing you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.
I commend you on your courage and strength to continue your search for those responsible for your brother's death 7 years ago. It is an unfortunate tragedy and my heart goes out to you and your family.
In order to generate a profile of the killer(s) and provide you with investigative suggestions and strategies, it would be helpful to have additional case information. Below is a list of questions and I understand that some answers are unknown and/or cannot be provided. I would like to have as much information as possible so I can be more accurate in my analyses and assessment as well as be able to provide you with as much specific information about the offender(s), their background, their behavior, and their motivation. Again, any additional information you can provide would be beneficial and greatly appreciated. If there is something I have not asked or addressed below but that you and your family feel is important, please forward it to me.
- Where exactly was your brother found? (specific location - closest physical address, city and state)
- When was he found? (time of day, day of week, month, and year)
- How far was the crime scene from his house? from nearest neighbor? from roads or streets? If possible, please provide best approximate distances.
- Provide detailed description of scene/area. (densely wooded area? large open area? dimensions of scene? locations of body and items?)
- How long was his body in the woods before he was discovered? (body condition? any decomposition?)
- Who found your brother's body in the woods? (family member? stranger? acquaintance?) How did they find him? (by chance? or were they specifically searching for him?)
- What was your brother doing the last 24 hours he was alive? What were his activities immediately before his disappearance?
- Does your brother have any known enemies?
- Was he killed in the woods? Or was he killed somewhere else and then transported to the woods?
- Based on his injuries, what type of weapon or instrument, if any, were used?
- Any similar murders in the area or was this an isolated, singular event?
- Was an autopsy performed? If so, any other injuries or trauma observed (defense wounds? slashing/cutting to specific area of body? any injuries inflicted postmortem?) Was any entomological (insect) evidence recovered from the body?
- Any apparent sexual element to the murder?
- What was the disposition of the body? (body facing down or up? sitting up or posed in a particular position?)
- How do the authorities know there was more than one killer?
- Were his clothes/shoes at the scene the day he was found? If so, why were they not collected by the police but instead found by your other brother? How far were these items from the body? (few feet or several yards?) What was near the clothes/shoes? (footwear marks? tire marks?)
- What forensic evidence has been recovered in this case?
- Were there ever any suspects? If so, why and/or how were they excluded as the killer(s)?
- Background information on your brother that would be helpful:
- habits and hobbies
- daily activities (typical weekly and weekend)
- relationships (friends, co-workers, social)
- areas most frequented
- Any items taken or missing from the scene? (money, wallet, jewelry, etc.) Any items left at the scene by the killer(s)?
- Were there any witnesses that saw your brother with the killer(s) during the day he was murdered? If so, what were their observations and witness statements?
- How did the killer(s) exit the scene? (automobile? on foot?)
- Did the killer(s) attempt to destroy evidence at the scene?
- Was victim bound? If so, what type of bindings?
- What is the population, socio-economics, and racial composition of the city your brother lived in?
- What are the likely paths or routes to where his body was found?
I look forward to helping you with this case. Again, whatever additional information you can provide will be helpful and any information forwarded to me will remain confidential. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- Dean Wideman
How do you profile a murderer? Would the following personality traits be typical of a murderer? suspect 1: volatile temper, aggressive, insecure, need to control, manipulative, need to be right all the time, physically abusive, extreme difference between public personality and private personality, narcissistic. suspect 2: hot/quick temper, aggressive, likes guns, believe to have been dishonorably discharged from the military, "little man syndrome".
If you go to the POMC web site, look at the answer to question #10 (My son Kevin...). Under the "Forensics" section of Ask the Expert. I address the question of How do you profile a murderer there. However, if you would like additional information or if you have a specific question(s), please feel free to write me back.
Certainly, murderers could possess those personality traits and characteristics that you outlined for both suspect 1 and suspect 2. In addition, individuals who possess these types of behaviors may be more predisposed to violence than others. However, the motivation behind murder is often a result of a complex set or combination of emotions, feelings, experiences, etc. There are those individuals who do possess the traits you outlined but do not ever commit murder. Therefore, if the individuals you mentioned are suspects, then a complete assessment and investigation of their background, activities and movements the day of the crime, etc., is necessary. Documentation and verification of the traits you outlined is a beginning step in this assessment.
- Dean Wideman
I don't know if you can help me but I am writing everyone I can find to get help with my son's unattended and suspicious death. It has been 11 months since he passed. He was found in the river. He had been to a bachelor party and left at 2 am to walk the bike path home which is just outside our back yard. He was 26 and they had been drinking at the party. They say he left alone about 4 minutes from home is where they say he fell off the bridge that is 5 feet tall. There is no current there. They found him 3 days later about two miles from the bridge. Could someone have been there with him? Could he have walked into something he shouldn't have? Could he have been somewhere else for awhile after leaving the party? How would the police know where he went into the water? Did someone put him in? How long would a person be in the water before coming up? Do you come up face down? Can jeans rip enough in the water to leave a cut on his leg? Could a shirt tied tight around the waist come undone? Where is the cell phone? Why would messages left on this cell phone have been erased after the police had them? I didn't mention that he had been seeing a married woman that was supposed to be separated and getting divorced for about 6 weeks. She did, in fact, get her divorce one month after my son's death. She had a boyfriend prior to my son for two years while she was married. Her story was that she was asleep with her husband the night my son died. She picked my son up in a strip bar after the breakup of his girlfriend of one year. They were to be married. The stripper was 35 and the mother of two kids. There are a lot of unanswered questions I have and would appreciate any help to my questions.
My condolences and best wishes to you and your family. I know it is a tragedy to lose a child, regardless of the circumstances, but I hope you are able to continue your courageous effort to find answers.
I have reviewed the information you sent me. I have several questions and recommendations concerning Michael's death. There are outlined below:
- Was there any serious trauma to his body? (i.e. stab wounds, blunt force trauma, etc.) What does the autopsy report say? What were his injuries and cause of death?
- Who was the last person to see Michael at the bachelor party? Who said he left alone? Did anyone at the party have any comments about his sudden and unexpected death?
- At 2 am, after leaving the party, did neighbors hear anything (people talking, struggling, etc.)? Any indication that Michael was with anyone on the bike path?
- Were any fresh footwear marks recovered from the bike path that night which did not belong to Michael?
- What was Michael's blood alcohol level? What is his height and weight? What type of drinks did he consume that night? Did he eat anything that night? If so, what type of food and how much did he eat?
- Are his injuries consistent with having fallen from a 5 foot bridge? Was there any indication or report of how far from the bridge he landed? (this knowledge may help determine whether he fell off or was pushed)
- What was the water level of the river during the time Michael was missing? If the water was low and there was no current, how did his body get so far down the river?
- Since his body was found 3 days later, was there any entomological (insect) evidence recovered from his body? What condition was his body in?
- Were there any scratches or bruises on his body to indicate a possible struggle?
- Was the cut on his leg due to rocks in the river or a possible weapon?
- Did the police record the messages from Michael's cell phone?
- What was the ex-boyfriend of the stripper doing the night Michael disappeared?
- Were there any indications below the bridge that Michael landed there?
- Were any of his blood, clothes, hair, and fibers, etc., recovered?
- Were there any indications on Michael's body that he was moved or dragged to the location where he was found?
- Was any blood found on the bridge or the bike path? If so, was it Michael's?
- What, if any, forensic evidence was recovered in this case?
- Who found his body in the river? If the person was a stranger, how did they find him? What were they doing at the river?
- If possible, have an outside expert review the autopsy report.
- Interview the people at the party to learn more about Michael's behavior that night (his interactions with others, any disputes, etc.)
- Check the records from his cell phone. What were the last 3 to 5 calls? Try to call these people and find out what the conversations were about. How did Michael sound to these individuals (normal, happy, upset, fearful, etc.)
- If insect evidence was recovered on his body, submit the insects to a forensic entomologist to examine. He/she can possible determine the time of death and whether Michael's body was moved from another location to the river.
- Find answers to the above questions (#1-14). This may help reconstruct the events that took place the night Michael disappeared.
- Interview fellow employees of Michael's girlfriend (stripper). Try to find out if anyone was upset or angry with Michael who might have had a revenge motive.
I hope this is helpful. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I believe if the above questions are answered, then the circumstances surrounding Michael's death may become more clear. Please let me know if you learn anything new and I will be willing to assist you further.
Again, best wishes to you and your family.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I am trying to find out the difference between a psychopath and a serial killer. I can't find any info on the Internet about a psychopath. I hope you can help me.
A person who is a serial killer can also be a psychopath but not every psychopath is a serial killer. For example, Ted Bundy, based on the actions and behaviors he displayed during the commission of his multiple murders can be classified as possessing psychopathic characteristics.
Also, for more information on psychopathy, I recommend you go to the web site of the leading expert on the subject, Robert Hare. He has published numerous articles and books on the subject of psychopathy and his web site address is www.hare.org.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any other questions or want additional information, do not hesitate to contact me.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
How do you profile a murderer? If I were to tell you details of a homicide would you be able to give me some kind of insight as to what kind of person, committed this crime? I lost a loved one to a violent murder. Her next door neighbor of 10 years confessed to her killing 4 months later. This man who confessed to taking her life was not convicted. We had a hung jury, and the D.A. will not retry the case until there is physical evidence to back up the confession. All DNA was inconclusive. The killer is continuing his education at this time to become a social worker. I am very disturbed by this.
For the question, “How do you profile a murderer”, I recommend you view my previous discussion of this question in the answer of the 10th question under the “Forensics” section of “Questions & Answers”.
In a homicide, if I am given enough specific information about the crime, the scene(s), the victim(s), and the offender(s), I can construct a behavioral profile of those involved in the crime. However, depending on the available information, there can be limitations in the predictions of personality, psychology, behavior, etc.
I am more than willing to review the case involving your loved one. Just send or provide me with as much information as possible. At this point, though, I have a few preliminary questions:
- How were the DNA results inconclusive?
- What was the source of DNA (blood, semen, saliva, or hair)?
- How did the neighbor confess (under what conditions-interrogation?); who did the neighbor confess to?
- What physical evidence is there in the case (weapon, clothes, bullet cartridges, mask, bindings, etc.)?
- Are there any crime scene photos?
- What were the autopsy findings?
- What was the cause and manner of death?
- How did the offender control or come in contact with your loved one?
- What time of day did the incident occur? day of week?
- Who discovered the body? When? How? Where?
- Was the body hidden or in open view for easy discovery?
- Was the scene a residence, business, or open area (street, woods, etc.)?
Again, I am willing to assist you and your family with this case. You can send any available information to POMC headquarters and they can then forward it to me. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My son was killed by a train almost a year ago. His clothes, shoes, and cap were discarded after the incident. What value would they have been as physical evidence to the investigation of his case?
His clothes could have contained very important trace evidence from the scene, including the train and railroad, as well as from any perpetrators (if he had been assaulted prior to being found on the railroad track). Also, the clothes and other items could have been used as comparison samples to trace and footwear evidence found at or near the scene to help reconstruct the events leading to his death. In addition, bloodstain and other pattern evidence (i.e., cuts, rips, or tears) on any of these items may have also helped in the reconstruction process. Needless to say, these items would have proven very valuable as forensic evidence in your son's case, especially if their is a question of whether his death was an accident or homicide.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My brother died in September from falling off a cliff/inclined hill. There have been many rumors and suspicions about whether the fall was accidental or not. I'd like to know how I can go about and find out whether the fall caused his death, or was there something else that did it? Also I'd like to know how I can find out if where the police found his body, if that was the original place that he died? Also how can we find out if the state is doing their own investigation? Alright this is my last question. What do we do with my brother's clothes to keep any traces of evidence on them? Thank you for your time and I will be looking forward to your help!
In regard to your questions, I have addressed them separately below:
- How can I go about and find out whether the fall was accidental or not?
It is often difficult to prove whether a fall was accidental or not, especially if the scene was not properly processed (i.e. proper photographs taken, forensic evidence collected, dimensions/measurements noted, etc.) and if there were not witnesses. However, if your brother had defensive wounds on his hands, pattern wounds (like a footwear mark on his back), and/or serious injuries to a specific location (eyes, mouth, etc.), then one might begin to wonder if his fall was simply accidental. Reconstruction efforts would be helpful in determining whether his fall was accidental. Also, another forensic pathologist should review the autopsy photos and report to determine if all of your brother's wounds are consistent with falling.
- How can I find out where the police found his body?
Only the police would know where they found the body; either they can tell you this information verbally, show you, and/or let you see the photos of the area. Forensic analysis can help determine if he had been moved from another location.
- How can we find out if the state is doing their own investigation?
You can call or write the state investigators and ask them if they received any information or evidence in your brother's case. They should be able to reference your brother's name or the local agency's case number.
- What do we do with my brother's clothing to keep any traces of evidence on them?
Package your brother's clothes in paper bags or cardboard boxes. Do not place or seal them in plastic. Note: Handle your brother's clothes while wearing gloves.
I hope this information is helpful. Best wishes to you and your family. If you ever need further assistance, please do not hesitate to write.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My 14-year-old daughter was murdered 6 years ago by a classmate/family friend whom we had known since he and my daughter were 3. He attacked our daughter in our home while she was alone and asleep. He molested her, woke her, and then murdered her by strangulation and by stabbing her 76 times with knives from our kitchen. I attend his annual hearings at the California Youth Authority and each year something new and more disturbing is revealed. At his last hearing, he admitted that he has fantasized about "killing and raping women" since he was 7 years old. He has also admitted that he molested 5-6 other girls prior to murdering my daughter. He will have completed his sentence by October 2005, when he will turn 25. I would like to know how the parole board and his treatment team will know that he is ready to be released? How do they know that he will not be a danger to society and that he won't ever kill/sexually assault another young girl again? I am a school psychologist and I try to ask and/or point out certain things about this kid that should be addressed. What kinds of things should I ask in the future? What is the best way for me to make an impact in this situation as a mother who has a professional background to know a little more than most parents?
First, I offer my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your daughter. It is such an unfortunate tragedy and I am sure your daughter would be proud of your efforts to continue to seek justice and help prevent this from happening to others. Given the time that has passed since the incident, I know you are a strong person and I admire your courage to discuss this case with me.
Some preliminary comments:
- Since your daughter was alone and asleep at the time she was attacked, it is possible that the offender stalked your daughter and monitored her and your family movements. After all, he attacked your daughter at a very vulnerable time, which indicates some degree of planning and knowledge of your daughter's activities.
- The offender used weapons of opportunity (knives from the kitchen), indicating that he had prior knowledge of what was available for him to use and therefore, he did not have to bring the weapons to the scene. Relying on weapons from the scene was not really a risk for him since he was a family friend and knew the contents of the house. Again, indications of pre-crime thought and planning.
- As far as admitting to fantasizing about "killing and raping women" and molesting 5-6 other girls, one must be careful as to the accuracy of such fantasies and claims. This type of violent and sexual offender can be very narcissistic and egocentric and say things that will only make him seem more powerful and confident (in his mind). However, in this particular case, I do not doubt that prior to and after committing this crime that the offender had fantasies about your daughter and his actions. A more thorough look into his background, early childhood, other criminal activity (if known and documented), etc. would be helpful in determining the motivation and origin of these fantasies.
- The fact that he stabbed your daughter 76 times indicates extreme anger and possible resentment toward your daughter or someone she resembles or portrays in his mind. I do not know what his motive was in killing your daughter but possibly it was due to tension between them. Perhaps he liked her and wanted more than friendship. Alternatively, she may have been chosen as a victim simply because she was an easy target given that they were friends, she trusted him, she is possibly physically inferior, and she did not feel threatened by him. This helped build the offender's confidence prior to committing the crime versus attacking someone he did not know in a place he had not previously been. The offender simply felt comfortable in your house.
- Precautionary acts by the offender include:
- Waiting until victim was alone and sleeping (minimal or no struggle; victim in more vulnerable position; offender able to surprise victim)
- Inside scene (reduces chance of offender identification by neighbors and helps muffle noise associated with attack so others outside the house cannot hear).
- In all honesty, it is difficult for the parole board and the offender's treatment team to know really when he is ready to be released. Given the case information, his own admission to committing other crimes, his fantasy-based behavior, and young age, it would be more likely than not that he would re-offend, especially since violent/sexual offenders are a very highly recidivist group.
As far as the future, I would be concerned with the possibility that this individual would re-offend, especially given his age, the violent nature of this crime, and his behavioral characteristics. He committed this murder at a very young age, which in itself indicates a future of difficulty once he is released. He has been detained for 11 years and consequently, has missed crucial years of young adulthood, which will likely make it difficult for him to integrate socially.
Again, violent and sexual offenders are highly recidivist. Given the length of his detention, he has had time to think and most likely has built up some resentment. Therefore, not only is he more likely than not to re-offend given the opportunity, but his crimes will likely be more methodical and planned out.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you and your family.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My 34 yr. old son was murdered early 3/31/02..Easter Sunday, Miami FL...he was found Monday a.m. in his condo when he did not show up for work...bank manager. The last person to see him was a female friend. The detectives feel it was a person who knew Duane. CSI spent 12 hrs. in the condo. They did interview her as well as polygraph (not the same day)...but we all know a polygraph is not fool proof. I think since she was the last person to see him alive...that they should have searched her car/home. There were only a few things taken...the weapon was taken. The detectives did not put a flyer up at the gates (gated community). It is possible that who ever left his apart. (ground floor) might have been seen carrying things to their car. This is a 24 hr. community and a Sat. night. The female, was about to be told the relationship was over....she is a jealous & possessive woman who bailed out of a relationship when she started seeing my son. His friends told him not to string her along, as he had told them he was not serious about her. I asked the detective in charge about profiling...he immediately said 'no'...am way off here? There are no clues left to follow...we did not go to the media as we were devastated and relied on the detectives to handle everything. The detective said they were going to do that this year. It is much to late. They will take his name off of the wall March of next year...we are afraid that the case will be forgotten...only one of two not solved by them in 2002. Can you suggest anything that might help us?
First, I offer my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son. I will keep you in my prayers.
In regard to the criminal investigation, I have a few questions:
1) Was there any indication of forced entry?
2) What was your son doing the last 24 - 48hrs before his death?
3) What was the approximate time of death?
4) How was your son murdered (what was the cause of death)?
5) What was the weapon used? Was it brought to the scene by the perpetrator or was the weapon already at the scene?
6) Was an autopsy performed? If so, what were the findings?
7) What physical evidence was recovered from the crime scene, his body, etc.?
8) What forensic testing was performed? DNA, fingerprint enhancement, etc.?
9) Were any interviews conducted of the acquaintances, friends, and family members of your son’s female friend AFTER the crime occurred? If so, what were their statements as to the behavior of the female friend after Duane’s death? Did she speak about his death?
10) Was he killed in his condo or had he been moved there after he was killed?
11) Since it was a gated condo community, what are the various ways a visitor can enter the community (i.e., code, security guard, etc.)
12) Are there any video cameras located inside/outside the condos?
13) Were there ever any suspects?
14) What did the female friend say about the incident? When was she at the condo, what happened while she was visiting Duane, etc.?
15) Has someone lived in Duane’s condo since this incident?
16) Exactly where in the condo was his body found? Was his body in open view? Covered up? Bound? Found inside a closet? etc. What was he wearing at the time?
17) Who found Duane’s body?
18) What possible motives would someone have to murder Duane?
19) What was Duane’s daily/weekly routines?
20) Did Duane receive any threats or have any arguments in days/weeks/months prior to his death?
21) What specific items were taken from the scene?
22) Did there appear to be any attempts to “clean” the scene?
You make a good point about searching the female friend’s home and car for physical evidence (i.e., clothing with blood, car seat with blood, etc.). Also, as you stated, there might have been witnesses to this female friend leaving the condo at a particular time. Profiling is most often used as a tool in the investigation of serial crimes; however, it can be (and has been) useful in singular criminal events like this case. So, with access to enough case information (police reports, statements, crime scene photographs, forensic and medical reports, etc.), I would be willing to assist you in this capacity. I am willing to review everything and generate a profile, help derive new investigative strategies, and see if the evidence that was collected at the time can possibly be re-examined, re-analyzed, and/or re-tested.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My son (34) was murdered in his condo on Easter Sunday, 2002. The last person to see him was a woman...he was going to stop seeing her...we don't know if he told her that night. She was extremely jealous & possessive. She made very strange statements to people in the days following his death, to my middle son she said, you aren't like Duane, you are a caring person... When I met her, she spoke of him, but not by name & with no emotion....never said she loved him or cared. She actually avoided me & could not look me in the face, eye to eye. After telling me all she had done for him (the story sounded rehearsed), helping him furnish his condo...she said, "I knew my place". She took 2 poly graphs & passed....at one time she had worked for the sheriff's dept. and had studied to become a CSI...but said she could not complete the course. Couldn't they have searched her car? Her home? Isn't it possible she kept something of his that was missing from the condo? I asked the detective in charge about a profiler...he said "no". I wonder why not. The case is cold, no leads to follow. Family & friends wanted flyers put up at gates (gated community) as we felt someone might have seen a person carrying items to their car in the area of the condo between midnight & 6am.....it is a 24 hour community. The detectives said they would handle that...they never did. My son died of trauma to the head, he had been in bed, presumably sleeping. I know I watch too much TV, but I don't understand why they did not go after her right away since she was the last person to see him alive. The weapon was taken from the condo, there was no evidence of a break in. The detectives will be taking his name off of "the wall" this year, it bothers me so much...I feel they will never solve this case. Although we know he was murdered between 12:00 & 6 a.m. (she left approx. midnight & a friend called around 6 a.m. as they were to go mountain biking..he didn't answer. He was not found until he did not show up at work Monday morning. His friend's went to the condo & found the slider open and called the police. Can you tell me why his case was handled in this way. Have I talked myself into thinking it was this woman? There is so much pointing in her direction. As in any family the loss of a terrific son & brother has had a tremendous impact on us as well as his many friends.
I can understand your frustrations with this case as it appears that the suspect pool is very limited and your son's murder does not, on the surface, appear to be the work of an unknown, stranger killer. Cases like this where the motive is unclear, there are no indications of forced entry, the victim was attacked while sleeping, etc. often involve a perpetrator and victim that knew each other or minimally were acquaintances prior to the incident. Given the kind of scene and environment where this occurred, it is possible that someone heard or saw something that night which is why talking to other tenants, checking security cameras, putting up flyers, etc. are all good methods of gathering new investigative information. Since the woman was the last person to see him alive, it would have been imperative to interrogate her about the events that occurred that night. If probable cause could be established, then a court order could have been obtained to search her car, her home, etc. for physical evidence. It would have been critical to do this within 48-72hrs following the incident to avoid potential loss of evidence. I know you said they interviewed her but I guess they could not establish probable cause. It is difficult to tell without reading her statement. Unfortunately, given the time that has passed, any evidence in her car and home that may link her to the murder has likely been destroyed. I know that CSI spent 12hrs at the scene but I do not know at this time what evidence was collected nor what forensics tests were conducted. In terms of profiling, it appears, preliminarily, that Duane likely knew his killer. But, without knowing any specific details about the crime scene or the weapon, not knowing what evidence was collected, not having any specific and significant background information about your son and his injuries, not being able to view crime scene photos, police reports, forensic/medical reports, etc., it is difficult to generate a fully rendered behavioral profile of the killer. If such information becomes available, I would be more than willing to further assist you and/or the detectives by examining this additional information and generating a more specific and detailed profile. I hope this information is helpful. I wish you and your family the best and again, my condolences to all of you for the loss of your son.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Can you help me understand schizaffective disorder? It is my belief that the person who murdered my son is using this as a smoke screen to keep our local authorities from thinking that he's too stupid to have murdered anyone.
First, my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son. My prayers are with you.
In regards to schizoaffective disorder, I would like to refer you to some websites that might be helpful. They are below.
Also, you can type "Schizoaffective Disorder" in Google and some very good links to more information are listed. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions about certain aspects of your son's case (ie, the physical evidence, forensic laboratory testing and analysis, crime scene investigation procedures/protocols, etc.), please let me know.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Our 38-year-old daughter's death on 11/23/03 in Colorado was ruled suicide by hanging, but I know that it IS possible to stage a hanging based on cases of Darrell Younger in California and Dan Leach in Texas. Even though I and others have spent 7 mos. trying to convince the police that she would never take her own life (and not THAT way) and given reasons why, they refuse to believe anything more than what was told to them by her husband and a neighbor. The case was quickly closed. "Profiling" is not anything in which they are interested. I have compiled over 200 pages on various personality disorders (obsessive compulsive personality, narcissistic, passive aggressive, dependent, borderline, and even psychopathic) and given specific behavioral links to each of them to her husband's behaviors, but this is not "physical evidence," and the police believe only the lies told to them by her husband. He told them she was despondent over having a miscarriage 6 mos. ago, but it was actually over a year ago, and she was way past that. (Any husband who wanted more children would know when his wife had a miscarriage.) She had also been taking fertility drugs earlier in the year, but during her "fertile time," her husband arranged to be out of town. It was obvious that he wanted no more children. He told the police that she was despondent over her weight (187 lbs.), but it was he who was despondent over her weight. He is a skinny 6'5" man who constantly told her what and what not to eat and to work out at the gym. (He was raised by his father, and both are fitness freaks....somatic narcissists?) He told them she feared her job was in jeopardy, but she had just returned from a conference in New York City, and her boss told me her job was NOT in jeopardy. He told the police she was sleeping in that morning when he went to church, but his mother said he had called her saying she had been in a rage and that maybe she had gone to North Carolina. He called his sister-in-law in Kansas to see if she had come there, but neither of these statements were told to the police. A memorial service was attended by hundreds of people (but not his mother and father). Her husband has shown absolutely no remorse to anyone over her death. He refused to allow us to bring her body back to NC for proper burial. He had her body cremated against hers and our wishes even though we offered to pay for it. He refused to allow her body to be embalmed so we could see her one last time. He insisted we take whatever of hers we wanted, and 3 mos. later, he shipped 32 boxes of her belongings to NC, including diplomas, pictures, and news clippings and letters of special awards and commendations......things that a normal husband would've saved for their son. The very next day after her death, he replaced the bedroom comforter because he wanted the room to have a different look! He is paranoid of cigarette smoke and germs, among other things. She had a 3-year-old son whom she had waited her whole life for. They adored each other. She had a successful career ($70,000/yr.) while her husband had not one decent job in the five years they were married. (Before they were married, he supposedly earned $100,000/yr. but lost his job right before they were married.) She loved Christmas and had for a year been anticipating Christmas 2003 with her family in the Carolinas. She loved the beach (once lived there), and plans had been finalized for Christmas week at a resort in Myrtle Beach with us and her sister's family. She had shopped with a friend all day and told her of her excitement about this upcoming trip, and hours before her death, she e-mailed me asking if I would crochet her a new scarf. Her husband has since been heard to say that HE didn't want to go to Myrtle Beach (narcissism?). She was also in the midst of preparations for a Christmas open house and cookie party.....had presents ready to ship ahead to Myrtle Beach....had planned Friday outings for the mothers and children at daycare, and had even bought Easter eggs for the church Easter egg hunt which was months away. She loved giving parties and was very good at it. In earlier years, she was co-chair of college homecoming, president of University Center Board that arranged for the year's campus entertainment, and later worked for Stouffer Hotels and in charge of the New Year's Eve gala at the corporate hotel in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, so a Christmas open house would've been nothing in comparison. Her husband is very miserly and had many motives for wanting her out of his life. I had felt for some time dissention because I did not give them some of my stock holdings as a wedding or anniversary gift. (He is very interested in money and the stock market, and I have now read that the narcissist's quest is for genetic and materialistic wealth.) He has refused to give me our grandson's Social Security # so I can buy savings bonds for him and set up a trust account. He wants ALL money to go to his educational fund over which he will have control. On the day of her death, he told police there had been marital problems, but that didn't make the police report either. He has now become most possessive of the child and has refused to allow us any communication with our only grandson. From our daughter's Social Security, he now draws at least $1300/mo. survivor benefits for the child plus her life insurance proceeds and 401k money. He lives in a $300-400,000 home but has only an entry-level job with Olan Mills. When they traveled, they used the frequent flyer miles earned through her job, and he has now transferred them to his account. Last year he cashed in her miles, and I'm told he even bought tickets for some of his family members.....leaving none for her to fly home on or to attend her 20th college reunion in Illinois. For 20 years, she had always come home several times a year....but only once a year the final two years of her life, and her phone calls had become less frequent, often from her cell phone. (The abuser keeps his victim far away from her support system because you can't abuse someone who has a strong support system?) The police cannot tell me who removed her wedding ring, but it did not arrive at the coroner's office. That ring was her husband's grandmother's ring, and she never took it off because 1) it is bad luck to remove your wedding ring and 2) she never took it off for fear of what her husband would do to her if she lost it. Her husband would NOT have allowed that ring to leave the house that day, and I'm sure he removed it before he called the police......NOT something a distraught husband would do, but the police find nothing mysterious about this either. This man has had spotty employment, has few friends, and we've now learned that he was controlling, manipulative, and emotionally abusive to our daughter. His grandfather committed suicide, and I have now read that the narcissist does onto another what he perceives doing unto himself. There is so much transference in his descriptions of our daughter. The things he said were actually descriptions of himself. Does this sound like something I should continue pursuing? The DA here has advised me to file a complaint with the DA's office in Colorado for more investigation, but the police commander has told me there's nothing more they will do. The coroner is now investigating "clinical history of recent dependency" that was listed on the report he signed, but I pointed out that you cannot look at a dead body and know that it had "clinical history" of anything. Where did he derive this information? (It came from information given to him by the police.....which came from the husband.) There was also a scrape on her outer right ankle for which no one can give an explanation. The coroner has said he will cooperate fully if I hire a private investigator, but that could cost thousands of dollars......money that we are going to need to file for grandparents' rights. I am most weary, but our daughter loved the Lord and was a wonderful, caring person to so many and looking forward to so much. She was a psychology major and in the past had talked people away from suicide. It is NOT something she would've done to herself. She could also never tolerate physical pain and if wanting to take her own life, she would've taken pills and just gone to sleep. Too many questions....... I am NOT a crazy, deranged mother who refuses to accept that my child would commit suicide. I just knew my daughter. I have read all the books and been through grief counseling. I have now joined a support group for survivors of homicide victims, but trying to convince law enforcement to investigate further has been like running into a brick wall. They see nothing wrong with her husband's story inconsistencies and lies. This man has always been so precise about details, but he told different stories to different people. Two months ago he ordered me to have no communication with anyone in his family but him, so it is very obvious that he wants his family to know only what HE wants them to know. They are under his spell too. His latest e-mail says he will delete all e-mail that I send and that he will discard anything we send via US mail or UPS, depriving his son of our gifts and enabling him to tell the child that we never send him anything. Meanwhile, he sends us e-mails that I know are being kept as his "proof" of being a good father. He is pathologizing us in the same way that he did our daughter. She used to tell me that her biggest fear in life was that something would happen to her leaving her son to be raised by the husband. I now understand her fear, and now it is us who fear for the child's psychological development. We have been told that he is not allowed to cry when he misses his mommy, and her husband has told us that the child will never be taken to his mother's grave here in NC where her partial remains lie.....that everything in his life must remain positive, but this will only cause him to grow up in the same grandiose fantasy land in which his father lives. Any advice you can give me will be appreciated.
First, I offer my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your daughter. I commend you on your strength and unrelenting desire to find out exactly what events led to your daughter’s untimely death. Second, these types of cases are very difficult to investigate yourself without the cooperation of law enforcement personnel (as you have found out) unless you hire a private investigator (I know a very good one in case this is an option you would like to pursue in the future). It appears that the behaviors of your daughter’s husband before and after her death are questionable and I can certainly see how such behaviors would raise questions in your mind. Statistically, in these types of cases, a person known to the victim is usually involved in their death (unless the cause of death is proven to be of natural circumstances or suicide). Without reviewing specific case information (i.e., police reports, scene photographs, autopsy/coroner reports, husband/family statements, scene descriptions/body location, victimology, etc.), it is difficult for me to offer any conclusions, final opinions, and/or suggestions regarding the forensic and/or behavioral evidence in this case. However, if such case information is available, I would be willing to review the information and try to assist you and your family as much as possible. Unfortunately, with the time period that has passed, with her belongings being moved and transported, and with her body being cremated, a great deal of potential physical evidence has been contaminated, destroyed, and/or altered. In addition, the appearance of the scene has likely changed since 11/23/03, causing difficulties in reconstructing the events that led to her death. Also, given that it was ruled a suicide, a great deal of information is probably not available for examination. You are correct in that hangings can be staged but without proper documentation of her body disposition at the scene and without forensic and behavioral evidence available for examination/analysis, it makes the task of re-investigation and reconstruction very difficult. Again, I am willing to review any case information that is available and I would be willing to consult with the local authorities to help determine if there anything that can still be done to investigate this case given the time period that has passed. Since the scene of her death was not likely processed for physical evidence, an examination of the behavioral evidence (from police reports, medical reports, statements, background information about your daughter, including her activities the last 72hrs she was alive, etc.) may be the only avenue left to determine if foul play was involved in her death. I hope this is helpful and if you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me anytime. My prayers are with you and your family.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Is there any possibility that an intr-oral gunshot wound to the mouth be ruled anything other than a suicide.My son was found dead in his vehicle. The police arriving on the scene immediately believed this to be the case due to positioning of the body and blood spatter in the car and on my son's hands.The gun was missing,his cell phone and wallet was removed from his pants pocket.The pants pockets were turned out.(This makes me question positioning of the body )Our son was a responsible law abiding young man. He held a full time position and pursued a career in law enforcement taking night classes part-time at the community college.Everything leading up to the time of his tragic death was normal. He had just received test scores from our local police dept.which he passed and was scheduled to take the physical agility test at the end of the month. He has never been under any duress nor does our family have any history of mental health history. There was no suicide notes or anyone who can indicate any changes in his behavior or state of mind.He worked with people who are MD's and have PHD's and they have told me under no uncertain terms should we believe that he committed such a violent irrational act.I am just trying to understand if there could be any other possible theory we may be overlooking. I know my son and definitely do not believe suicide is what was the cause of my son's death.
I have a few questions and comments regarding this case.
1. Are there are any photos of the scene, especially of his body, hands, and interior of the car? It would be worthwhile to examine these and I would be glad to do so.
2. What type of gun was used (or believed to be used)? Did your son own or have access to a gun?
3. What were the findings of the autopsy?
4. I am not sure exactly what type of gun was used nor the exact position of the body but was there any gunshot residue found on his hands, especially the hand that would have been used had he shot himself?
5. Based on the scene location, time and day of the incident, etc., could the gun, cell phone, and wallet have been taken from the scene after the incident by a person(s) not involved in the incident? (I know it sounds odd, but I have seen cases where items were taken/stolen from crime victims by individuals who were simply passing by the scene).
6. Was there any forensic evidence collected from the scene? I know this case was ruled a suicide so it is unlikely that physical evidence was collected but I wanted to ask. It seems that if items were missing, perhaps whoever took the items left evidence of themselves at the scene (i.e., fingerprints, hairs, fibers, etc.)
7. Has anyone tried to trace the cell phone to see if it had been used after his death? Has anyone obtained the cell phone records? Perhaps whoever took the cell phone used it after your son's death, which might be useful information to the investigation.
8. If his wallet had credit cards in it, it might be worth checking those records to see if anyone used these cards after his death. It might be possible to track the user's movements and get an idea of the person's physical characteristics.
9. Since the gun, wallet, and cell phone were missing/taken, it might be worthwhile to check the local pawn shops to see if anyone sold these items to the shops. If so, then additional information about the person(s) may be obtained - name, physical description, etc.
It is difficult to assess whether this was a suicide without examining the police report, scene photos, autopsy report, physical evidence, etc. However, just because he was shot in the mouth does not mean that it was definitely a suicide. It is always best to rule a death as "suspicious" until proven otherwise by a thorough investigation and analysis of the physical evidence. The fact that items were missing or taken from the scene is interesting to me and should be looked into further. If he did not shoot himself, then perhaps the secondary motive was robbery? Was your son followed by an unknown person/stranger who simply chose him as his next victim? Did your son have conflicts with anyone who might be motivated by anger and seeking revenge? Was the perpetrator(s) just trying to scare your son/instill fear in him but then something went tragically wrong and the scene then made to look like a suicide? Could your son have been killed or knocked unconscious and then shot in his mouth by another person? All of these are possibilities that require further investigation.
I hope this information is helpful and if I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me anytime.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My baby was murdered on november 22nd, 2004. He was 18 mos. old. The murderer was my husband. He murdered my baby boy right in our home while I sat in the living room only feet away from the bedroom he murdered my baby boy in. I never heard my baby cry at all. He was very depressed because I have terminal cancer. But how do you profile a murderer? What are the signs? There were some red flags but I ignored them. Please help me understand this. I keep asking myself why. He loved his son so much. However the baby was adopted. I am in so much pain and in a lot of shock. Thank you for your time.
First, I offer my condolences to you for the loss of your son and for the tragedy your family has faced. My prayers are with you.
In regard to criminal profiling, this is an investigative tool that is usually reserved for unsolved crimes where there are no known suspects, especially serial crimes. However, one can gain insight into an offender's motivations and try to learn and understand why they committed a particular crime after they have been caught. Such information can then be useful in future investigations of similar cases. From the information you sent me, you mentioned that your husband was depressed. Certainly, depression can be one of many precipitating stressors than can cause erratic, irrational, and even psychotic behaviors in otherwise normal people. It is difficult to determine exactly why your husband committed this crime without learning more details about the case and interviewing him but again, depression may have been a contributing factor. It might also be helpful to learn more about your husband's background, family history, and his behaviors 24 to 48 hrs prior to the incident - all of which might give insight into why he did this. You mentioned some red flags - those too might be useful in evaluating this incident to try and determine what caused your husband to act in this manner. It is difficult to propose general signs to look for in all people; for example, a particular stressor will have no on effect some people but in others, they may cause violent behavior. Each of us is different in how we handle life's problems and stresses.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
A 10 week year old little girl was murdered by her father. The evidence from the M.E. suggests that he continually abused her in some manner throughout her whole life. Her mother on the other hand had no idea this was even going on because he was always taking care of her i.e. giving her baths, wanting to feed her, changing her diaper, changing her clothes, etc. He never let the mother try to take care of the little girl, and whenever the little girl had a little bruise or something, the father would explain it away and tell the mother not to take the little girl to the doctor for something that "little". Why did he hide this secret from the mother and claim to love his daughter and yet keep abusing her until it finally lead to her death? Anything will help immensley.
First, I offer my condolences to the family of the little girl and I hope that justice is served soon. In regard to the father, it is difficult to assess the complete motive for his behavior without knowing more about him, his background, his family relationship, his marriage, his daily activities during the 10 weeks of her life, exactly how he abused his daughter, etc. However, it appears preliminarily that the father hid his actions from the mother to prevent her from discovering his psychological problem and true character traits. He claimed to love his daughter as part of his "masking" process, again to hide his true identity as an emotionally disturbed individual who behind the scenes was abusing his child. He knew what he was doing was wrong yet he went about his daily activities as if everything was okay and normal - the signs of psychopathic behavior. He did everything to prevent discovery of his wrongdoing, even to not allow the child to see a doctor. Any child, especially a 10 week old girl, is very vulnerable to such a disturbed person as they are small, weak, unable to speak for themselves, etc. Crimes like these are about power and control. This is a child that he could physically control as the little girl's life was essentially in his hands. To him, this was a very powerful feeling - to be able to control the life of someone else. Given that the child was only 10 weeks old, it is possible his motive was simply that he did not want the child in his life because of the perceived financial burden, added stress and frustration, daily responsibility, etc. Alternatively, the little girl may have been causing tension between the parents and the father may have felt he was going to lose his daughter (separation or divorce) and decided he could not live like that. Since he appeared to be the "model father", he may have thought he could hurt the child over time so hopefully her death would be ruled a natural death. Again, without more details about the father, the daily activities in the home before and after her birth, her injuries, exact cause of death, etc., it is difficult to generate a specific motive for his behavior. It would be interesting to learn more about the father before his daughter was born and how he changed behaviorally once she was born. This would possibly reveal the precipitating stressors (anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, etc.) that could have led him to do this.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Could you answer some questions concerning fingernail scrapping DNA and what it means when the scrapping comes back being the victims and a mixture. Is a mixture enough to test to find out who it belongs to? Can you tell from that mixture if it belongs to a female or male? If it does not belong to the suspect, would the mixture possibly be that of a second person that could have been involved? What else could mixture mean if anything? Thank you in advance for your help.
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter. My condolences to you and your family. In regard to the fingernail scrapings, a DNA mixture means that your daughter's DNA and DNA from an unknown person(s) was found under her fingernails. The DNA lab will know what part of the mixture profile originated from your daughter. So, you can tell who could be the second contributor to the DNA mixture. Also, the DNA lab can tell you if there is male DNA in the mixture. The task now is to determine who the second contributor is. If the 2nd person in the DNA mixture is the suspect, then perhaps she scratched or injured him during a struggle? Also, a DNA mixture can be of more than 2 people. The lab can tell from the data how many people could be contributors to the mixture. If the suspect is excluded and not a contributor to the DNA mixture, then the 2nd contributor in the mixture from your daughter's fingernail scrapings could be from another person involved in her murder. However, the 2nd person in the DNA mixture could not be involved in her murder as it is not uncommon to find DNA from other people under fingernails just from casual/innocent contact during normal activities such as repeated touching, holding hands, scratching someone's arm or back, etc. The main goal is to identify who contributed DNA to the mixture found under her fingernails and how this person(s) are related to your daughter and the circumstances surrounding her death. Also, in the event that the suspect in your daughter's case is excluded as a contributor to the DNA mixture, the DNA lab can search the DNA database (local, state, and/or national database) and see if the foreign DNA under her fingernails belongs to any convicted offenders and/or matches DNA evidence from other criminal cases.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
How is it possible for police to chase a man, handcuffed behind his back, down to the river in a wooded area surrounded by police and probation officers and they lose him. Six days later the mutilated body is supposively found by fisherman in a boat right in the small area they chased him to with the handcuffs now in the front with a garment tied around the cuffs and his fact is beaten beyond recognition. Their diagnosis is he fell in the water and drowned! These authorities have a history in Macon, GA of beating and murder, but the Good ole boys protect each other from Macon to Washington, DC with their code of silence. One homicide created a path of Suicide. The Virginia POMC have a file on this case. When it comes to a black man there is a long road to justice and there may never be Closure for the family. My son went to report thinking he was getting of intense probation that day 10-10-00 and because the sytem has allow this REIGN OF TERROR to inhabit the earth with lies and intimidation, he won his bet, HIS BOY would not make it off probation. Do you think this was an accidental drowning?
Without reviewing any investigative, forensic, or medical reports, I cannot draw any final conclusions as to what the manner or cause of death was in this case. To determine if his injuries were consistent with the reported events, an autopsy would have been beneficial. I am not sure if one was performed in this case or not. Since it appears there is no physical evidence or scene information with which to reconstruct this incident, this case needs to reviewed by a medical professional who can examine the reports and/or photographs of his injuries. If you have access to any official reports including medical reports detailing his injuries, it would be best for you to consult with a forensic pathologist/medical examiner.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I am writing you regarding the recent death of my 14 year old son. He died while in the custody of my ex-husband, his custodial parent, and the manner of death was ruled a suicide. I have obtained most of the evidence from the case and still have a few questions about both the police interview with the father as well as a piece of evidence from the scene.
On October 18th, 2006, the body of my son was discovered lying on the ground in the attached garage of the home he shared with his biological father. Next to him was his father’s car. A severed garden hose had apparently been secured to the exhaust system of the vehicle and was directing the flow of vehicle exhaust into the passenger cabin through the open driver side window.
A detective was assigned to the case and arrived at an unspecified time. He noted that my son was “CLEARLY IN THE STAGES OF RIGOR MORTIS AND HAD MILD LIVIDITY TO THE LOWER PORTION OF HIS ARMS.” He reported there were no visible injuries to the body to suggest a struggle. The father reported that upon discovery he had pulled the body from the vehicle and attempted to perform CPR but had found the jaw to be locked. At that point the father closed the garage door and contacted 911. The detective noted that the hood of the vehicle was warm to the touch, that the temperature inside the garage was warmer than the outside temperature and that the temperature inside the vehicle was even hotter than the garage itself. Shortly thereafter the detective concluded that the cause of death was self inflicted. The body was examined and removed by an employee of the county Medical Examiners office. He noted that there was no car key in the ignition and upon later questioning he was informed that the father had removed the car key after discovering the body of his son.
While there are many aspects of this apparent suicide and the way in which the investigation was handled that have raised concern I wanted to focus on what I felt were the two most relevant issues.
The first deals with the time and manner in which my son’s body was discovered. During his recorded interview with the initial responding officer the father stated that he had last seen his son alive at 0700 hours when he walked him to the school bus stop that morning. It has been determined that my son never boarded the school bus and had been absent from all his classes that day. On October 18th the father stated that instead of walking to the bus stop as usual he had walked home arriving at approximately 1450 hours. He noticed that a car was running in the garage. When he opened the external garage door he indicated that the enclosed space was filled with vehicle exhaust. It was at that point that he located his son, turned the ignition off, removed the key, and pulled the body from the car in an attempt to perform CPR. When he discovered that the jaw was locked due to rigor mortis he closed the garage door and contacted 911.
We have questions about is in regards to a piece of physical evidence as recorded by the investigating detective. The garden hose previously mentioned had been secured to two identical white plastic kitchen funnels, apparently with duct tape. The funnels had then been attached to the exhaust pipe and muffler using “Scotch Mailing & Storage Tape”, a roll of which was found lying near the rear of the vehicle. I have attached the relevant crime scene photos showing how the garden hose and funnels were secured. Though it is hard to tell for certain, it appears that at least one of the funnels was showing signs of melting and warping from the heat of the engine exhaust while the tape itself appears to be in very good condition.
Do you believe the physical appearance of the tape and funnels to be inconsistent with what might be expected after being connected to the exhaust pipes for 2-6 hours while the vehicle was idling in an enclosed garage? If so, how inconsistent? And do you feel this would be readable enough piece of physical evidence to request that this case be investigated by the local PD further?
First, my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son. My prayers are with you.
I understand that you and your family have some unanswered questions regarding the father's actions, behavior, and statements as well as the evidence in the garage. Given the case information you provided, it is possible that the father has not been 100% truthful in his statements and recollection of the events that day - the question then becomes why? Are there details of this incident that he does not want known or was he so traumatized by this incident that he cannot remember the exact details? Solid police work will help resolve this issue; if additional discussions and interviews are conducted with the father in the future, perhaps a forensic psychologist can assist the police with the questioning.
Looking at the photos you sent me and if there is any question as to the manner of death in this case, it may have been beneficial to process the tape, funnel, and hose (area near funnel) for fingerprints. Also, it would have been worthwhile to test the sticky areas of the pieces of duct and Scotch tape for DNA as cellular material would have transferred to this surface by the person handling the pieces of tape at the time they were being used to make the funnel/hose device. Results of such forensic analyses may help answer questions regarding the manner of death. To determine how the funnel/tape/hose apparatus would look after being connected to the exhaust pipes for 2-6hrs would require experimentation where the exact conditions at the time of the incident must be duplicated - i.e., same car, same garage, same tape, same hose, same funnel, etc. With the testing conditions being exactly the same as what occurred at the time of this incident, the experimental results become more significant, especially if there are major inconsistencies between what was found at the scene and what the experimental tests show. The results of the forensic testing and experimentation would help determine if further police investigation is necessary.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My fiance was serving in the military out of state and was murdered by his "friend" (in same platoon) on March 24, 2006. He died from an intra-oral shotgun wound to the head. The murderer and friend of the murderer covered it up and said it was a suicide. In November 2006 the co-murderer confessed what really happened but the trigger man is nowhere to be found.
My fiance's body was sent to a forensic science center in Dallas, TX where they had ruled with everyone saying it was a suicide.
How would someone know if a shotgun wound to the head was self-inflicted or forced?
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your fiance. My condolences to you and your family. Regarding an intra-oral gunshot wound to the head, it is possible to determine whether it was self-inflicted or not through proper examination and analysis of the death scene, determining the presence or absence of soot and gunshot residue on the fingers/hands of the deceased, observing the presence or absence of backspatter of blood on the hands/forearms/sleeve cuffs of the deceased, etc. It just depends on the type of gun, the position of the gun before and after it was fired, the position of the body before and after the gun was fired, the position of the deceased's fingers and hands before and after the gun was fired, the angle of the gun at the time it was fired, the location and directionality of bloodstain patterns at the scene, etc. Such scene examination and forensic analysis could have helped determine that your fiance's death was a homicide and not a suicide.
I am glad to hear that the co-murderer confessed and you know what really happened to your fiance.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
I am writing to you to ask if you can direct me to some place scene photo's of the victim can be sent to be enhanced. I actually was able to get a copy of the photos of my son's body, I seen what looked like a tennis shoe print on my son's arm. I scanned the photo to enlarge it, after doing so I can clearly see a footprint on my son's arm but the clarity of the picture is not as clear. There also appears to be three imprints on his shoulder which looks like imprints of fingers. I have seen this done on Court tv Forensic Files but don't know how to get it done. We live in a very small town in a small County, the DA will not allow the Investigator investigating our son's case to spend much money. We have been raising money for this case, we recently raised enough money to allow the investigator to send the scene photo's to a Forensic Pathologist/ attorney to prove our son was dead due to the lack of blood on the scene where the body was found. This Doctors normal fee for this service is 5000,00 but when I explained our situation he agreed to accept the photo's for 1,000.00. I'm going to send him an email to ask him if he knows of a lab who can enhance the photos to look for specific injuries. This doctor's name is Dr. Cryil Wecht, I seen him appear on Court Tv and was very impressed with him. His sight is http://www.cyrilwecht.com/services.php
Thank you for your help,
Unfortunately, I do not know anyone in private practice or a private company that can enhance the crime scene photo. What you might do is ask the investigator to contact the crime scene unit or the forensic photographer at a police department, sheriff's office, and/or medical examiner's office in a larger county in your state. Larger law enforcement organizations usually have someone on staff that can assist with such matters and have access to specialized software for enhancing photos. There will probably be no cost or a minimal cost to do this because it involves one law enforcement agency helping another law enforcement agency. This is just a suggestion. I will search for a private company or individual that can help you.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Do you know how we might find an expert on falls from a height of a 6-story parking structure. My brother’s body was found 10 feet away from the building and he landed exactly parallel to the building. A witness to only the fall said he was falling like he was laying in a bed except there was no bed. We do not understand how he could have thrust himself 10 parallel feet away from the building without “help.” Thank you.
First, my condolences to you and your family. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your brother.
These kinds of cases are always tricky because of the number of variables involved before and during the fall. I do not know anyone personally whose expertise is specifically dealing with falls from buildings. It may require multiple experts in the areas of biomechanics, incident reconstruction, and engineering working together to determine if it is possible for him to jump and end up in that final position without someone pushing him. You have a valid question given the distance that he ended up from the building. I don't know the circumstances of the case or any details of the building/scene but I would imagine that the expert(s) that will assist you with this case would want to know if your brother could have been running at the time he went off the building, possibly to get away from someone (running could cause him to land further from the building than if he was standing still before he went off the building). Also, were any toxicology tests run to determine if he had any drugs or poisons in his body, perhaps if he was drugged before he was "pushed" by someone else and to determine if he could have physically jumped from the building on his own? Were his clothes collected and examined for evidence that could have come from someone he was in contact with right before he fell from the building (for example, trace evidence such as hairs or fibers on his shirt from the person who might have held him and then pushed him). I'm sure his shirt was blood soaked but if someone did push him, it is possible that their skin cells/DNA would be on his clothes; however, this touch DNA would likely not be detected among the overwhelming amount of his blood on his shirt. Were his fingernails clipped or scraped for potential blood/tissue/DNA of the person who may have pushed him? If he was pushed or was in a struggle right before he fell off the building, it is possible he could have scratched the person and that person's DNA would be under his fingernails. Did your brother have any injuries inconsistent with simply falling from a building such as defensive wounds to his hands? Given that this was a parking structure, were there any cameras that could have recorded this incident? This includes cameras directly on/around the parking structure or from neighboring businesses, etc. Also, did anyone enter the parking garage right before he fell from the building? Did anyone leave the parking structure immediately after he fell from the parking structure? If it is parking garage where you have to pay, are there any records of customer transactions around the time this happened? Also, are there cameras at the entry/exit of this parking structure? If so, did anyone enter the parking structure right before and/or depart right after this incident - it would be interesting if the same car entered and exited around the time this occurred.
These are my preliminary thoughts and questions that I hope are helpful. Again, I am sorry to hear about what happened to your brother and I hope you and your family are able to get the answers you deserve.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My son, Zac, was murdered 5 ½ months ago. The investigators have said they are waiting for the cell phone forensics to come back from a lab before they charge the perpetrator. How long does it usually take to get phone forensics back?
First, my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son, Zac. I am very sorry to hear about this, my prayers are with you and your family.
There are a number of factors that can determine how long any type of forensic analysis can take. Three most common factors include:
1) The backlog of the agency or laboratory performing the forensic testing (i.e., how much evidence they have to examine in other cases before they examine the evidence in your case) 2) Whether or not there are any difficulties with the evidence based on the initial condition and quality of the evidence at the time it was submitted for testing 3) Technical review process - once testing has been completed, the testing data, results, conclusions, and report are often reviewed by laboratory or agency management before the final report is signed by the examiner and sent to the law enforcement authorities
Therefore, it is difficult to give you specific time frame as to how long the phone forensics should take. The investigators can call the laboratory or agency performing the testing and ask them how much longer the testing should take.
I hope this information helps answer your question.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Why would the pics of my sons crime scene not be of the dent on the truck that hit him but instead of the hood which had no dents? Would there any damage to the commercial size truck going freeway speed that hit my son who is about 110 pounds?
It also appears my son was actually on the emergency pull off portion of the asphalt and not the highway but they are trying to say that my son was on the freeway. It appears that the dent was on the front of the box and the very front edge. How would I be able to get the detective to take another look at this to maybe show the driver was at fault instead of my son accidentally stepping onto the freeway? Or possibly pushed onto the freeway by the 2 boys that were there at the freeway in the early hours of the morning about an hour before sunrise.
I want to offer my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son. My prayers are with you and your family.
Regarding your questions:
1. A variety photographs should be taken at every death scene to include wide range, mid-range, and close-up photographs. For your son's case, this would have included the entire truck, the freeway, the shoulder of the freeway, and any other area that could have potential evidence such as skid marks, blood, etc.
2. One could expect some damage to the front of the truck; however, that would depend on a number of variables such as the speed of the truck at impact, the angle of impact between the truck and your son's body, exactly what part of the truck hit him, etc. One could also expect some forensic evidence to be on the truck such as hairs, fibers, blood, tissue, etc.
3. Before you ask a detective to re-look at this case, I would recommend contacting an accident reconstruction expert/forensic engineer to assist you. That person might be able to help answer the ultimate question of where your son was located at the time of impact based on where your son's body was found after impact, the area of impact on the truck, the damage on the truck, the location of blood and other forensic evidence both on the truck and at the scene, the tire swerve/skid marks on the freeway, etc.
Again, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your son.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
Thank you for your response. Where would I find a reconstruction engineer? Unfortunately I have done all of this research on my own with no assistance from the detectives or DPS office. There is definitely something that happened on the road at 4am with my son that is not being told.
I would just Google the terms "forensic engineer accident reconstruction" and contact some of the forensic firms that pop-up on the search list. Some firms that popped in Google Search for me that you might want to contact are Robson Forensic, Nelson Forensics, Armstrong Forensic Engineers, Forensic Dynamics, and Delta Forensic Engineers. I would contact them by phone or email, give them some case details, and ask if they can assist you. At a minimum, maybe they recommend someone for you to contact.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.
My 20 year old sister was murdered in an arson fire. The arsonist has been incarcerated for several years and is up for parole. As part of my victim impact statement I want to provide statistics on rehabilitation of an arsonist. I personally knew this individual, he was house sitting my house, my sister lived next door to me and he knew people lived in the building. There was not a motive indicated in any documents I read. It came out that he had set other things on fire in his past - wood piles, car seats etc.
He was in his early 20's when he murdered her. In his past he had attempted suicide and was an alcoholic. Are there any statistics in rehabilitating an arsonist. From what I have heard they will strike again. Please let me know you thoughts.
Sorry to hear of the loss of your sister…my condolences to you and your family. I’m not sure if there is any reliable data or statistics on the rehabilitation of arsonists. I would think that each arsonist needs to be independently evaluated by a forensic psychologist or forensic psychiatrist to determine their rehab potential and/or potential to re-offend. I’m not a forensic psychologist so I don’t want to mislead you or step outside my expertise. Therefore, I would recommend that you contact a forensic psychologist who will be better able to assist you.
- Dean Wideman, M.Sc.