Plan A crime investigation plan mandates an extremely judicious balance of reason, observation and action-a slight oversight or underestimation of a single fact can mean effective end of the investigation. There is a very delicate correlation among the multitude of factors-the location of the crime scene, the evidences discovered for the crime, people present at the time when crime was discovered, the time of the crime and the time lags involved. Concisely put, effective crime scene investigation involves effective crime scene investigation is a subject that encompasses:
1.Management and coordination of available resources-both human and physical 2. Application of forensic techniques to record and recover the evidentiary materials 3. Interpretation and analysis of the events that had led to crime. However, these three action items are only components and they can be used under any order or intensity by the investigator to streamline the environmental variables, discount the surmises, identify the interests involved and filter out the essential facts, relate them with circumstances and discover the truth of the case. The first duty of a crime investigator is always to solve the crime and apprehend the culprit.
There are many practical challenges in this effort when they are directed towards solving a cases like murder of Jon Benet Ramsey, where number of environmental variables, surmises and conjectures and interests are copiously present to shadow the bare facts of the matter that may lead to apprehension of the murderer. But there are two factors that are consistent in every murder case, howsoever, obscure it may appear from outward angles. The first is existence of a person who has committed the crime and the second is the motive for which the crime has been committed.
The usual mindset of media personnel and onlookers is defined in form of ‘What happened? ’, for a forensic science expert the question translates to ‘how it happened? ’, but for a crime investigator, the same question has a third dimension with the question ‘why it happened? ”. It is this third question that forms the foundation of the initial investigation plan in cases like ‘Jon Benet Ramsey’. To brief the circumstances related to murder of Jon Benet Ramsey, she was a child beauty queen who was found murdered in her own house.
The murder came on the heels of abduction, the evidence of which is a ransom note received by the mother of the child the night that she had disappeared. The ransom note was found in night after 10 pm and next day at 1 pm the body of the child was discovered in the basement of the house by her father. After the family found the abduction note, they informed the local police who conducted a preliminary search of the household but found nothing incriminatory. Meanwhile they did not seal the house, and many of its doors and windows remained opened throughout the night.
Next day, when the body of the girl was found, the police again did not seal the crime scene, thereby letting the valuable evidence to be tampered with by curious onlookers. The result of this shoddy investigation resulted in no result-the case remains unsolved till date and neither it promises any solution in future. From the point of view of an investigator who wants to get a solution and conclusion, the approach to the case is both from the point of view of evidence and point of view of hypotheses. The second aspect is also a critical part of the reconstruction of the events leading up to the crime.
A study of the above case-file create following possible crime scenarios 1. The death of the child was an accident, but claimed as murder by parents. The evidences in support of this scenario are almost non-existent. Under ordinary circumstance, if parents feel that their child has been horribly, or even fatally injured in an accident, their first step is to call medical assistance, instead of creating an elaborate hoax of murder. Further, the autopsy results point towards strangulation and concussion on head as reasons of death, which rule out accident. 2.
The child was kidnapped and then killed by an intruder: The intruder theory is supported by evidence of the ransom letter, the fact that a number of known child sexual offenders were living in the area nearby, the evidence that the child had unknown type of hair found on her hand, and a host of other pointers, there are certain logical lacunae in the theory that it makes it extremely implausible. The first objection to the intruder theory is the fact that child’s body was discovered in her own house, less than few hours after her mother received the ransom letter.
It is extremely unlikely that an intruder would barge in the house, abduct the child, prepare a note of ransom, which incidentally asked for the exact amount of money that was received by the deceased’s father as a bonus a few months back, then leave the house with child, murder her, return to keep the body in the basement and then re-escape. Equally unlikely is the possibility that an intruder would abduct the child, but instead of securing personal safety, takes the child to the basement, murders her and then escapes, all the while remaining unobtrusive to anyone in the house.
Further an intruder who enters a house to abduct a child while her parents sleep one floor above steps in character of a person who was well aware of the interior layouts of the house. 3. The child was killed by one or both parent: The scene of crime, which is the house of the child, the fact that child was discovered by her father and his friend finally, the time of the death which, according to autopsy reports, falls closer to 1 am in the morning, which is just 4 hours after the reported abduction and the fact that an intruder theory appears extremely unlikely points in the direction of involvement of one or more parent in the crime.
However, against this theory stands the issue of motive to murder a six year child by her own parents, especially in light of their non confrontational, non abusive and non violent family relationship. Further, if the parents or one of the parents had any reason to murder the child, the setup they had created to the effect was too clumsy and ineffectual from diverting the suspect of police from them-which suggests that they had no part to play in murder of their daughter.
4. The child was killed by an insider: It is a reported fact that the child had won several beauty contest in her age group and therefore she was a well known public figure. Her father was a prominent businessman, and as it happens in course of business, he had earned open and subtle hostility of many people; the family used to host frequent parties where large number of guests where invited. The family had also an extensive friend circle, who all were well aware of the interior layout of the house. The father had also elder children from previous marriage, and these children were known to the child.
Scaling up all of these people creates a very large number of suspects, but as the logic of the criminal investigation goes, the actual murderer would belong to only one of these groups. Motive of the crime: The next question that arises is why a 6 years old girl would be murdered, when no material benefit or advantage came out of her death. In investigating this angle of crime, it is necessary to balance both the pathological and psychological arguments-they may help to bring some important facts from dark to light areas.
1. Sexual assault leading to murder: Sexual assault is always considered as the first probability in such cases of murder. However, this charge needs to weigh along with the available evidence-especially the autopsy results, injuries to body parts and evidence of body fluids. As no such evidence has been found therefore the theory of sexual assault can be discounted. 2. Intention of sexual assault leading to murder. Once again, there are no evidences of any struggle, or attempts to sexually abuse the child. 3.
Attempted abduction by a person engaged in pornography: For such theory to hold true, the aforementioned mentioned must be known to the family, who would be bidding his time to abduct the child. But then the question arises that when presented with the opportunity why should such person kill the child instead of abducting her anyway. 4. Spite, jealousy, personal score settlement: For such reasons to have actuated the murder of the child, the killer must be either a very close friend, a part of the family, or a person who has been well known to the family but has fallen out of way with them recently.
This angle requires further investigation. 5. Murder is caused by a psychopathic killer: There have been numerous such instances when psychic killers have raged havoc without any apparent motive. But its difficult to place this crime in the same league because the city where the child lived had no history of such crime, neither a similar crime took place again. Evidence collected Once the case has been theorized and argued from all the prospective sides, the question of evidence comes in.
In the case of Jon Ramsey, following would had been the important evidences 1. Fingerprints: The child’s body is found wrapped in a blanket. The blanket as well her clothes should had been profiled extensively for any fingerprint. Also, all the items in the room where she is found, including, the broken paint brush that is a suspect weapon, the ropes laying there, the knob of the basement door and the window sills should all be examined for fingerprints. The ransom note obtained by the mother should also been examined for the same. 2.
DNA sample: There are evidences of hair samples that are found on child’s person, which could give DNA samples. 3. Handwriting: The ransom note is hand-written and the writing could provide a clue towards the personality of the killer. Handwriting experts should be invited to create a profile of the criminal. 4. Questioning the family and friends: The family members, and more importantly the peers of the child could provide important information on any suspected person who might had been visiting the child off from her parents eyes.
5. Psychological profiling: Based on the handwriting samples, the language used, and the method of conducting murder, a broad psychological profile of the murderer should be get prepared by leading criminal experts of this field. Further investigation steps Although the list of primary suspects is comprehensive, considering the large number of people the family used to interact with, yet, the above evidences would have provided extremely useful filtering parameters to narrow down the list.
The police should take fingerprint samples and DNA samples of all the people who are remotely suspected of the crime. The psychological profiling based on the handwriting sample and approach of the murder can also provide clue to the identity of the killer. It is extremely important in this step of investigation that any suspected person is cleared of suspicion only after most rigorous examination because it is almost impossible to apprehend the killer if he/she are inadvertently purged from the list of suspects.
As the list continues to narrow down, use of personal interrogation method should also start. This is useful when one of the parents is also present during interrogation, which helps to psychologically break the suspect. As the suspect group continues to get narrower, the task of investigation team would be to create possible cases of modus operandi for each of them and keep evaluating them on these criteria. sConclusion Once the investigation team applied the above chalked out plan, the range of our investigation quickly narrowed down on 4 primary suspect.
One was a former employee of the child’s father, who bore deep personal grudges and was willing to inflict injury upon the family in some way. The second was a young lady who was a close acquaintance of the family and whose daughter had participated in beauty contests along with Jon, but had never won actually. Her psychological profiling showed deep seated anger and hate for the young Jon, whom she somehow held responsible for her own daughter failure at the beauty shows. The third was a known sex offender who was present in the party thrown by Jon’s family three days before her death.
The fourth suspect was a journalist who had been reported by his girlfriend to show extreme nervousness at the first appearance of the news, but later had calmed down. Our investigation team continued to grill these suspects, clearing each of them after extremely thorough examination of all the evidences, including their location at the night of crime and cross checking their statement with right sources. It was then that we established that Jon was killed by the young journalist, who had been a frequent visitor to the parties thrown at her house.
However, his career was still floundering and in an attempt to give it a great push he decided to kill Jon, hoping to make a sensational story out of it and reporting it almost first hand, which would cement his place in the journalist quarter. He was well aware of the internal layout of Jon’s house and knew her personally as well, having met her at many photographic contests and press conferences. But on the night of murder, he did not invite or lure Jon outside, but carried her forcibly out of her bedroom.
After murdering the child, he penned a ransom note to diver the attention of investigators and left the house. However, although he succeeded in his plan to kill the child, the shock completely disarrayed him and since committing the crime, he was unable to contribute anything on the sensational murder, remaining as oblivious as ever Reference John Horswell The Practice of Crime Scene Investigation; CRC Press, 2004. 418 pgs. Marilyn B. Peterson; Applications in Criminal Analysis: Praeger, 1994. 318 pgs.