Comments: “Snow makes crime scene investigation much easier....”

Reminds me of a death investigation I was part of (not as an investigator, as a staffer) whilst assigned to US Army CID.

A staff sergeant was found very early one winter morning hanging by his neck, very dead, from a tree outside an apartment building of an on-post housing area.

MPs were called, but MPs do not do death investigations, CID does, so a special agent arrived along with the MPs. The first thing the SA did was take a large number of photos of the scene while staying well outside it.

There were two inches of snow on the ground with no bare spots. The photos clearly showed a single set of shoe prints leading to the tree, an overturned chair beneath the deceased's feet, and no footprints leading away from the scene. However, CID is very careful, methodical and unhurried. So the SA did everything he was supposed to.

After the autopsy, the lab work, the interviews with the SSG's unit commander, 1st Sergeant and his peers, with his wife and (yes) his girlfriend, after handwriting analysis of his suicide note, after investigation of his strained financial status - in other words, after weeks of investigation were closed, then and only then did the SA close the case as suicide.

Somehow the media learned of this; we suspected by his estranged wife since the SSG had civilian life insurance as well as his military, and the civvy insurance did not pay off for suicide. (What a shock, money as motivation.) And the media accused us of covering up a murder and all that it entailed.

I personally showed network reporters the full set of scene photos, helpfully pointing out that there were footprints in the snow going to the tree but none coming away from it, showed them the autopsy findings that proved he died by hanging, explained the complete lack of evidence that another person was involved in any way, etc., etc. etc.

Did not matter. We got slashed to ribbons. But that didn't matter, either, because I had a real hard ass for a commanding general and so to this day that poor SSG's death is listed as suicide.

Posted by Donald Sensing at February 14, 2017 11:09 AM

Reminds me of an old Cops episode where the perp cut loose and stole a water heater, then unknowingly marked his getaway route with a trail of dripping water, which the cops followed, capturing him still dragging the water heater.

Posted by BillH at February 14, 2017 1:40 PM

Reminds me of another case...that also happened in Olympia! 2 HS aged girls robbed a bank, then got on the intercounty public bus to make their getaway. Do you need more irony? They retreated to my hometown, and of course they got off the bus and straight into a police car.

Olympia. Too. Many. Drugs.

Posted by Casey Klahn at February 14, 2017 6:14 PM

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