|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
To this end, I thought that this week on the blog we could look at some decisions that writers can make and different points at which things can go well, or a writer could twist the plot.
WRITERS' DECISION MAKING
STEP ONE - Is it safe to go on the scene?
1. Do you have a hazardous environment called a HOT ZONE?
A Hot zones can be created by
* natural disaster - such as Tsunamis in Japan, floods, fires, and storms
* mass disasters - such as terrorism
* crimes - like the anthrax filled envelopes through U.S. Postal Service
B. Hot zones might include
* nerve gas
* radioactive materials
* nuclear threat
* chemicals creating toxic and/or combustible threats
* bio-hazards such as pathogens, venom, and parasites along
with other disease causing organisms
2. Is the bad guy still on the scene?
3. Did they plant booby-traps or bombs Link to bombs article
STEP TWO - Will the first response team get there in time?
* To save the victim(s)?
* To save the house?
* And in their attempts to preserve life and/or preserve property
will they damage the evidence to
make it harder to solve the crime?
STEP THREE - How effective will your First Responders be when they contain and secure the scene?
|. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
* Only someone with a good reason to be at the crime
scene is allowed in the area - this precludes the media,
the family, and PI's. In Janet Evanovich's books
Stephanie Plum really can't just walk in and look
around because she happens to be doing Morelli.
* Others who might contaminate your scene and
twist your plot might include looters and bystanders
* An officer has to stand at the entrance of the scene
and log in everyone who enters and exits the police
tape including the precise times when they entered and
* Others who enter a crime scene can introduce
Finger prints Link to finger print article
Foot prints Link to footwear article
DNA Link to DNA 101 article
Now this might be a good place to talk about Locard's Exchange Principle:
Whenever someone moves throughout an environment there will be an exchange of materials.
* A person will pick up materials such as animal hair, dirt, and fibers and take them away with them.
* A person will leave trace evidence showing that they were there - fingerprints, hair strands, DNA from spit
* The longer that two people are in contact and the more intense their exchange the more trace evidence will
be left in place.
Imposing Lokard's Theories there will be a transference. This is why any superfluous people need to be kept from the scene.
* When extra information is introduced it slows the process and creates extra work for the investigators
because they have to sort through all of the data.
Another reason to keep others at a distance:
* Public access has to be restricted so that someone with a cellphone etc. won't be releasing information
to the public.
* The police typically only release information that is critical to identifying the perpetrator.
* They keep the rest quiet so they can monitor the story.
For example, in interrogation Link to Interrogation article a suspect lets slip a piece of information that
only the perpetrator or someone who had seen the scene would know. This is a big piece of evidence
* This also helps prevent copy cat cases because the full MO has not been revealed. Maybe that's just what
your plot needs.
|A Crime Scene at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
STEP FOUR : How competent are your investigators in gathering and processing evidence?
VIDEO QUICK STUDY (11:41) good overview poor sound quality.
VIDEO QUICK STUDY (25:52) A little long but this is the process from the military (US Army)
* Proper warrants are obtained (a property owner can give consent for searches)
* A search strategy is developed by the officer in charge
This prevents the crime techs from damaging or overlooking evidence
This usually happens before the investigators enter a scene. Everything must be considered even the spatial
relationships of objects, blood spatter patterns etc.
* There are four main types of searches -
|English: Footwear impressions left at a crime scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
circular (or spiral) search
* Evidence is identified -
1 Trace Evidence - (also called Micro-evidence)
tiny pieces like sand, saliva, latent prints.
2 Real Evidence (also called Tangible Evidence
and Macro Evidence)- physical objects
that inform a case or played a part in the incident.
* Everything in the area is potential evidence
* Assumptions are made prior to scientific analysis -
Is it blood? Is it cocaine?
* Field Tests are conducted (like blood swabs)
* Pattern Evidence - Helps to understand the scene.
This is protected with photography (digital and
video) VIDEO QUICK STUDY (5:39)
* Maps are created
* Measurements of all pertinent pieces of evidence
* All objects are measured from one set
point called a datum.
*This is sometimes done with
portable computerized mapping systems called
Total Station Serving Systems
VIDEO QUICK STUDY (9:51) excellent lecture on evidence collection. Shows process and equipment in use.
1. hunt and peck
3. alternate light Link to alternative light article go to
* Micro Search
3. using chemical solutions (such as BlueStar or Luminol)
STEP FIVE - Did your responders process everything correctly so that it is useful in making a case and also permissible in court?
`Crime Scene inventory list is created identifying each marker
` Chain of custody list
* Transportation of evidence
STEP SIX - The investigators hand the evidence over to the scientists and a whole new set of complications can twist your plot. Have fun!
See how this article influenced my plot lines in my novella MINE and my novel CHAOS IS COME AGAIN.