Investigating Fire and Homicide - Essay Sample

Published: 2021-08-18
1352 words
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Boston College
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Research paper
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The homicide crime scene is one most complex and trivial scene that requires years of practice and experience from an officer for successful investigations to take place. Answering the question of what exactly took place leading to the death of the victim(s) requires very keen analysis of the crime scene. All evidence is extremely important. When a police officer is called to investigate a fire and homicide crime scene, there are several factors that should be undertaken to determine the cause of the death. Often, this requires professional skills and medical evaluation in handling all the traces evidence discovered by the investigator. The most obvious pieces of evidence discovered from the primary crime scene presented in this scenario are the presence of gunshot wounds to the head, short guns lying nearby and witness reports of the two dead victims having been in a romantic relationship before they broke up.

Several critical precautions should be undertaken when collecting and preserving the evidence at the scene. First, there must be a rapid response by the patrol officers to the crime scene once the report of the crime reaches them. The patrol officers should secure the crime scene to protect all bit of evidence from being tampered with. (Geberth & Bagerth,1996) This is the most important of all precautions in determining the cause of the deaths. The other precautions are that everything submitted by eyewitnesses or found at the scene should be noted and considered as evidence. All the evidence whether they are spontaneous testimonials or eyewitness accounts should be secured and availed to me as the investigator. For example, in this case, the testimonials about the victims have been a romantic relationship and that they recently broke up should be availed to me.

The importance of DNA evidence in any homicide crime scene cannot be underestimated. Forensic investigators look for the desirable DNA sample from places and objects such as the clothing and weapons or any other place they are likely to trace human cells for DNA profiling.The DNA is of paramount importance in solving cases where suspects are completely absent (Buckleton, Bright & Taylor,2016). DNA information for example in the crime scene given will help me look for the perpetrator in case I find no suspects linked to the murder. DNA testing can also be used to formally identify victims body in case they are burnt or disfigured beyond recognition. This will be done by comparing the DNA samples of the victim to the father and the mother.For this case, DNA profiling will be collected from the handgun, any body fluids, and the victims to determine the perpetrator of the crime.

Note taking, photography, and crime scene sketches and creation of an accurate visual record of this crime scene are extremely important in solving the crime.The role of crime scene photography is to provide detailed and impartial pictures that will help the investigators at a later time of the investigations.Note taking is important in that it will help the judges and the investigators at a later time to reproduce every bit of evidence at the crime scene at a later time.Sketches of the crime scenes are essential especially when it comes to prosecution of the suspects in court.The prosecution might employ the sketches in producing a mock-up of the crime scene for the court.Sketches can also be used by the judges in recreating the crime scene in an as detailed manner as possible.For my case, I would take detailed short notes, make videos for the crime scene and back them up, take photographs of every part of the crime scene including the gunshot wounds an also draw a detailed sketch of the whole crime scene.

The size and scope of the crime scene to be secured should be as big as possible such that all the bits of evidence are secured. (Geberth,2013). For the case presented to me, the house and the detached garage including a radius of not less than 20 meters from the garage and the house should be secured.The primary crime scene should be secured most. The location of the bodies of the two victims is the most important since that contain trivial pieces of evidence. The secured primary crime scene will help me to have a sense of the events that unfolded before the crime was committed and to hypothesize concerning the causes of the crime.The secured area o crime will also help to answer questions and doubts as to whether the victims were killed elsewhere and dumped in the house. The area around the short gun and the positions of the bodies should be protected most as they contain almost all the critical evidence.

The presence of instances of fire in the homicide crime scene adds another complex twist to the investigations. Fire, most of the times, might be set up deliberately by the perpetrators to alter all the evidence and to misled the investigators (Copeland,1985). Understanding the process of combustion is thus very important in investigating homicides. The process of combustion all begins when a substance reacts with oxygen producing heat. In this crime scene, it would be important to ascertain the cause of the fire. For example, the fire at the garage might have been caused by electric faults or exposure of flammable materials into direct heat. Determining the flammability of the material burnt in the garage can be done by collecting any left evidence of the fuel and determining its flashpoint. Flammable materials burn by producing vapor at normally temperatures that s sufficiently high enough to ignite. Flammable materials burn more quickly that nonflammable materials.

Understanding how heat moves from one place in the investigation of fire instances at the scene of a homicide is very critical in solving the crime. There are three methods through which heat would have moved from one section of the garage to the other. The first method is through conduction. This involved a solid medium where heat moves from the hot region to the cool region of the medium. The particles, when exposed to heat vibrates and transfers heat to the next particles hence enabling heat flow. Convection involves the transfer of heat from one place of a liquid or gas to another by the use of convectional currents. When air or water is heated, convectional currents are set up and transfer heat from the hot heated region to the cooler not heated region. Radiation involves the transfer of heat through the infrared section of the heat spectrum. For example, standing next to the burning garage and feeling warmth on my feet due to heat from the garage is because of radiation.

It is important for an arson investigator to understand combustion and heat transfer because of several resons. The investigator must first try to establish if the fire was started deliberately in an attempt to coverup the crime of it was started by chance and contributed to the death of the victims. Getting to know if a flammable substance was used to start the fire in a place with no flammable substances will help the investigator to come closer to uncovering more evidence on the homicide. Understanding that the fire was also deliberately started will help in reconstructing the motive of the fire. For this case, the fire was started in the garage. The fire might have been used to destroy evidence. Heat might have spread through the workshop by conduction. This can be used to retrace the original stating point of the fire thus giving a better understanding on why it was started. Investigators should pay close attention to the fire as it could give more evidence that could be useful in solving the case.


Geberth, V. J., & Bagerth, V. J. (1996). Practical homicide investigation: Tactics, procedures, and forensic techniques (p. 167). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Copeland, A. R. (1985). Homicide by fire. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 95(1), 59-65.

Buckleton, J. S., Bright, J. A., & Taylor, D. (Eds.). (2016). Forensic DNA evidence interpretation. CRC press.

Geberth, V. J. (2013). Practical homicide investigation checklist and Field Guide. CRC Press.


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