The Assessment of the Crime Scene In Order to Solve a Mystery

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Initial Assessment

In the living room of the Bach a body was found by Ms Yvonne SMITH and alerted authorities to the scene. The body was confirmed to be Mr Jared Plunk by pathologist Jones via finger print analysis. Police have identified 4 suspects who were supposedly involved in a “poker” night, all of which are convicted criminals. Various bottles were dispersed across the scene along with both sandy and bloody foot prints. The feet faced the north while the head was to the south. To the west wall was covered in a large blood splatter while in the centre of the crime scene was a pool of blood. An apple and 2 confectionary bars had received bite marks as well as some playing cards with poker chips and note book were present. Below his left arm was a bloody knife whereas below his right arm were 4 small pills. It is to be noted the decomposition process had begun, and maggots were visible.

Areas of Interest

It is agreed that the deceased individual was indeed Mr Jared Plunk this was confirmed at autopsy by pathologist Amy Jones. However there still remains, if this is a suspected homicide case then who the killer was. Did they act alone or were there accomplices? When exactly did this happen, is it consistent with the findings? Why was he killed, what was the motive? Finally, what did exactly happen that fateful night on 6th January.

Sketch of crime Scene

Description of Evidence

The majority of items were sent for DNA analysis, anything that could have possibly contained human DNA in the form of sweat, saliva and blood. The evidence was swabbed for DNA then sent to the lab to be examined by a Forensic Biologist. This was in the hope of obtaining a possible match with one of our persons of interest using the New Zealand DNA Data Bank. The large blood splatter on the wall as well as the blood stains across the scene were sent for inquiry by Forensic Blood Pattern Analysts. The foot prints were allocated for footprint identification to find a possible match with one of the individuals involved. Food having received bites marks was given to the Forensic Odontologist for bite mark examination. This included an apple and 2 confectionary bars. 4 small blue pills were sent to a Forensic chemist to discover their chemical makeup. A “Poker” note book was also sent for document investigation to a Forensic Handwriting Analysist. Routine Toxicology tests were also carried out on the deceased.

Evidence Handling

Examination of Details and Results

The pathologist`s findings were consistent with that of a fatal stabbing from behind. Cause of death, multiple stab wounds. Manner of death, homicide. It was found that the time off death occurred between the 4th and 8th of January. Apart from the injuries he received Mr Plunk appeared to be a normal healthy 47-year-old male. 2 Stab wounds were considered fatal damaging vital organs including a main artery in the neck. Notably the victim received injuries to the forearms and hands. These findings are consistent with possibly defensive wounds and were non-fatal. On the scalp there was a blunt force injury. This was deemed perimortem and could have taken place before or after the fatal stabbing. This was given to be non-fatal however, it may have rendered Mr Plunk unconscious. The toxicology report indicated high levels of alcohol intoxication prior to death. Amphetamine was also present in his system but by contrast at much lower levels incapable of causing overdose. The Entomologist report estimated the PMI (Post Mortem Interval) to be between the 5th and 8th February.

DNA Analysis

Humans have relatively the same DNA apart from a few very small areas which are unique for each person. Forensic Biologists use these special areas or loci to help determine whether a sample came from an individual or not. This helps to build what is known as a DNA profile. Swab tests of the glass bottles tested positive with Barlow, Rewa, Bain and Plunk. The food including an apple, made a match with Ms Yvonne SMITH, a Kit Kat with Bain and the Twix with Plunk. All the Blood swabs were found to belong to Jared Plunk.

Blood Splatter Examination

Blood Splatter Analysis uses the knowledge of physics, mathematics, and biology to estimate the events that lead to the formation of a particular blood pattern. The majority of the blood stains was found to form passive drip patterns that is, gravity acting on blood to produce a rounded droplet falling on roughly a right angle. In the centre of the crime scene was a large passive pooling of blood. This is different to the wall however which displayed a spatter in the form of an artery spurt. Bloody footprints had created a pattern transfer onto the floor of the scene leaving distinctive foot prints.

Foot wear analysis identified that Ms Yvonne Smith had been at the scene also. 4 sandy foot prints made a possible match with her footwear. However, the footprints were rather sandy and were without clear marking. This made making a successful match difficult. The bloody footprints were unable to be identified other than their length and width. Forensic odontology also confirmed Ms Yvonne had taken a bite out of the apple, nevertheless the apple could have possibly degraded over time and making it less reliable. A kit Kat was shown to be bitten by Bain and a Twix by plunk. Hair analysis on the jersey revealed dog and sheep with also Rewa and Plunk`s hairs were found. Document examination made out that it was Plunk`s handwriting however, with an inscription on the back from Rewa. Forensic chemists managed to confirm the pills were in fact amphetamine.

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Preliminary hypothesis

In light of the Forensic Pathologist and entomologist report it is likely that Mr Plunk died between the 4th and 8th of January. However, the exact day or hour cannot be specified for sure. The incident most likely occurred in the living room of the bach as this was the location of the crime scene. I believe beyond reasonable doubt it was a homicide, the nature of the stab wounds show it was highly unlikely to have been an accident or self-inflicted. However, what exactly lead to this occurrence is hard to say at this point in the investigation. Mr Plunk had received wounds to his wrist suggesting defensive injuries received by a possible attacker. The Attacker managed to severe a large artery in the neck, according to the pathologist. This also confirmed with the blood stain on the wall which was analysed to be an arterial spurt likely from the artery. Blood stain analysis also revealed a large pool of blood in the centre of the crime scene. This suggests that after the stabbing Mr Plunk was not moved and extensive loss of blood occurred. Any movement of the body would have created a smear (Transfer stain) across the floor of the living room. It is not clear whether there was a single assailant or whether there were multiple involved.

The clear drip patterns from the blood spatter analysis were a clear drop pattern indicating that the victim was injured while standing for some time and with little movement. It is also clear the attacker must have severed the artery before he was on the ground. This is because the spurt on the wall was most likely caused by a standing individual. Multiple cast-off blood stains were identified, which indicates more than one stab attempt. This coincides with the pathologist finding many stab wounds.

Another aspect of the pathologist report states a blunt force injury to the skull. It is therefore probable that Mr Plunk received this injury from either falling or a large blow to the head before or after the stabbing. When exactly before or after is difficult to say. Mr Plunk ingested an excessive level of alcohol previous to death as well as the drug amphetamine. As the toxicology report revealed high levels of alcohol intoxication and to a lower extent amphetamine. The DNA found on the alcoholic beverages helps support this.

The 4 suspects can be confirmed to have been at the scene. This is due to their DNA being found at the crime scene, together with the police interviews in which they said they were indeed at the bach on the 6th. All were convicted criminals and therefore their DNA profile was readily available on the New Zealand DNA data bank. Interestingly enough the witness Ms Yvonne Smith was found to have her DNA on an apple at the crime scene. This therefore likely shows she was at the crime scene at some stage. However, it cannot be known when she was at the scene. The time of death was estimated between the 4th and 8th January and the apple was found in good condition. It means that she most likely entered the scene soon before police arrived. Her witness statement also shows that she was there the day authorities arrived. However, she did say in her witness statement that she did not alter the scene in any way. I believe this not to be true as the apple was fresh showing no signs of decomposition and her DNA present on the apple. Also, her foot prints were believed to be found across the crime scene according to forensic foot analysis. Therefore, she most likely altered the scene and failed to inform police. At the time of her witness statement, she may have been under significant stress and didn’t remember that she possibly altered the scene. Yet whether she did this deliberately or not is unclear and difficult to say.

Her sandy foot prints may have been discovered however what is more prominent is the bloody foot prints at the crime scene. Finding her bloody foot prints would be compelling evidence. However, the size of the bloody foot prints indicates they cannot possibly belong to Ms Yvonne. As the bloody foot prints are 240mm in length Ms Yvonne`s are 300mm. Therefore, this brings strong evidence to suggest she may have forgotten to let authorities know of her evidence she left on the crime scene. Yet we cannot know for sure and another police interview with Ms Yvonne would be a step in the right direction.

Why exactly did the killer do this is another question. It may have been a money dispute as stated in Bains suspect report. it could have been drug related as 4 pills containing amphetamine were present at the crime scene. Yet at this stage of the investigation it is too hard to tell without further evidence.

Personal Reflection

After analysing the evidence, it should be understood that I am merely providing my opinion based on the facts and information I have been given. It is never the evidence that lies only its interpretation that gives false witness. I am a human being just like anyone else who has feelings and subjective bias. Before entering the crime scene, I was possibly influenced by many factors that may have altered my judgement with or without my knowledge. My background, study and experiences can affect the way I see the world. For instance, on discovering that the four suspects were convicted criminals may have altered my view. That is making me more confident that one of these suspects possibly committed the crime based on their backgrounds. In order to combat this the suspect`s background information should have been hidden from the very beginning. This would have helped to not bring about false perceptions on the suspects even before the evidence was looked at. The press also had an impact on my investigation. The media may make outlandish claims and theories for the entertainment of the viewers. As much as I would like to say I am not guilty of this, I did indeed read the latest reports. Whether it was against my will or not it could have played a role in my decision making. That is making me see more negatively or positively towards the victim or the suspects when I should remain indifferent. Not reading the press would have helped avoid this bias, however the media should still report on crimes. This is because letting the public know can allow valuable information to surface from the public and possibly help solve the case. Therefore, the press is still necessary however it would wise for a crime scene investigator to shield themselves from the quick assumptions of the media.

Even when looking at the evidence itself may be a source of bias. For example, the order the evidence was viewed may have influenced the way it was identified. If the suspect footprints were observed before the case prints it could have possibly introduced bias. As if one suspect print may have possibly made one see things that aren`t there. That is if someone one has good reason to believe a suspect may be guilty before looking at the case prints. It may cause a false match to occur ultimately altering the course of justice. This can be helped by first looking at the case prints as I did trying to minimize this effect. Then afterwards trying to remain as indifferent as possible look at the suspect prints.

Another form of bias I fear may have taken root also is what is known as the CSI effect. The effect that drama TV shows and movies have swayed our views on how crime investigations are carried out (insert reference here). In the past I have been exposed to countless movies and TV shows depicting a facade of what real crime investigation actually is. It makes for great entertainment however maybe more fiction than fact. For instance, perhaps over weighing certain evidence like DNA or under weighing others like blood stain analysis. It could have possibly made me overlook certain evidence from the very beginning. A way to improve this and stop the CSI effect would be to have these directors of these shows to stick to the truth when it comes to the way forensic science is carried out. By consulting the Forensic Scientists, they could build a picture of what really happens at the crime scene and turn fiction into fact. However, it should also be noted that is actually the CSI effect that got me interested in crime investigation in the first place. Without it I most likely would not be here in the first place. In this regard the CSI effect has really helped spark interest I believe for the forensic world. Another point is that it may have actually helped me to understand a lot of the science beforehand like DNA and fingerprint analysis. Thus, I was not completely unaware of the tools at our disposal when it came to look at the evidence. Therefore, the CSI effect has yes possibly altered my views on the case from the truth but may have also helped me delve deeper into this mystery and possibly help me actually solve this case.

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