Crime scene investigation is a field with rapidly changing tools that seem to evolve almost every day as a result of the changes made in technology. However, even the simplest elements of a crime scene can still inform investigators an epic amount.
For instance, in this case, the position of the body and the weapon used represent the main forms of evidence and can help investigators uncover the elements which motivated the crime and caused it to happen. “Firearms evidence is usually encountered in crimes against persons such as homicide, assault and robbery; but may also be found in other crimes such as burglary, rape, and narcotics violations” (crime-scene-investigator.net). Thus, the very fact that this crime scene even involves a rifle means that there is a strong likelihood that it was a violent crime and that the victim was a murdered and that the case is a homicide. However, this is not definitive. Research demonstrates that when it comes to guns, suicides make up the bulk of deaths. “Suicides accounted for 55% of the nation’s nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionâ€¦ There was nothing unique about that year – gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years. In 2005, homicides accounted for 40% of gun deaths. Accidents accounted for 3%. The remaining 2% included legal killings, such as when police do the shooting, and cases that involve undetermined intent” (CBS, 2008). In that sense, it has called public health researcher to determine that in homes where there are guns, the likelihood that a person in the home will die from suicide or homicide is at an aggravated likelihood. This indicates that in this case, statistically, it is likely that the man turned the rifle on himself, firing at himself in the head. This is supported by the fact that in the room there is no sign or break in or forced entry: none of the windows are open or broken and none of the doors are open or compromised in any way. However, this doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t have broken in. This particular room was widely accessible: there were four doors surrounding the perimeter of the room and two windows. There is no evidence or any other signs which indicate that the victim locked himself in. However, while there is compelling evidence in this case along with historical evidence to support the idea of a strong suicide, the placement of the weapon negates this fact.
Moreover, in this case it would also be worth examining the shot wads which were involved, although they’re not visible here. “When a shotgun is fired, the wads travel along with, or behind, the shot charge for a short distance. In those cases involving close shots, wadding may be found in either the victim’s bodv or in his clothing” (crime-scene-investigator.net). Furthermore, while we’re unable to determine the distance between the muzzle of the gun and the victim, as such a determined distance would be useful in assessing whether or not the crime was a suicide with more certainty or if there was a struggle for the gun, in this case, the placement of the weapon is extremely revelatory. The weapon was found on the floor by the man’s bed, underneath a pillow. Given the position that the man landed in (facedown, with one arm under his chest and another arm making an L-shape) points strongly to the fact that the man was likely murdered. In this case, it appears as though the weapon was concealed after the shot was fired, something that the man in the picture would have been incapable of doing himself. Furthermore, there appears to be some abnormality with the man’s clothes, namely his shirt. “The position of the clothes — for example, how far the pants are pulled up, whether garments are twisted sideways and then pulled down, backwards or even inside out — may be of great importance. Any displacement from the normal position is measuredâ€¦Folds in the clothes should be examined, especially on the lower parts of the body” (Fisher & Fisher, 2012). In this case, there appears to be damage to the clothing along with odd looking folds which strongly suggest that the body was lifted or dragged after it was shot. These elements, combined with the strange position of the body, the location of the gun strongly point to the fact that the man was shot as a result of a homicide.
In conclusion, it appears as though the attacker gained access to the room in some manner, perhaps through an unlocked door or window and that there was a struggle of some sort. The victim was then shot in the head or the stomach and fell backward. The victim’s body was then moved onto the bed and in the position that the body was found in. This explains the folds and strange impressions that were on the man’s clothing. Finally, when fleeing the scene, the murderer panicked and dropped the rifle, covering it partly with a pillow, in a sloppy manner.
CBS. (2008, July 1). Guns Used More For Suicide Than Murder. Retrieved from CBSNews.com: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/guns-used-more-for-suicide-than-murder/
Crime-scene-investigator.net. (n.d.). Physical Evidence Bulletin. Retrieved from Crime-scene-investigator.net: http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/CAfirearms.pdf
Fisher, B., & Fisher, D. (2012). Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, Eighth Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
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