Murder Weapon

This incident came about amongst three or four other murders and attempted murders. The office was full of people, well as full as it can be, with exhibits coming and going.

Detectives and Detective Sergeants were a common sight in the office, coming by for copies of photographs or to collect exhibits to take to the Forensic Science Service (FSS).

It was a particularly busy day, I was the only CSI on for our area covering volume crime scenes. I had completed my seventh burglary scene when the Crime Scene Manager called me over the radio.

Th Crime Scene Manager (CSM) is a CSI who usually has completed a number of years experience. To become a CSM, the CSI has to attend a specific course with the National Policing Improvement Agency. The course is a two week residential course at Harperley Hall and covers many aspects of Crime Scene Management. The course includes coordinating resources at a scene, devising and continually reviewing a plan of action for evidence recovery, liaison with specialist personnel and other persons involved in the investigation. The NPIA's website has more information for those who are interested....and to keep the NPIA happy :-)

I came on duty at 0700 and the CSM had come on duty after me as she had been at the scene the night before until late. She explained that she had returned to the scene and was there with a blood spatter analyst from the FSS. There had been a stabbing where the deceased had been stabbed a number of times and died as a result of the injuries sustained.

The police search team were deployed to do a fingertip search of the route the offender was believed to have taken when he left the scene and had discovered a knife in a nearby garden.

The CSM couldn't recover the weapon as there would be contamination issues. If the CSM were to attend both scenes then she could inadvertently transfer evidence from the initial scene to the second scene and this could give misleading information. The two scenes wouldn't even be attended by the same police officers for the same reason.

The CSM requested that I attend the scene and photograph and recover the knife.

I programmed the address into my sat nav and headed off.

As I pulled into the street I could see the large Mercedes Police Van at the other end of the street, it saved me looking for house numbers. I bumped my van up onto the pavement near two CID officers. I informed the control room I was at the scene and got out of the van.

I introduced myself to DC Detective, and his reply was "It's DS Detective" DS meaning he's a Detective Sergeant and not a Constable. Way to go. I'm making friends already.

I asked a few questions about the knife, and ascertained it was bloodstained and bent. Luckily it was still slim enough to fit into a knife tube. I grabbed my kit bag from the van and my camera case and approached the address.

As I walked through the door I could smell food. The family hasn't long sat down for lunch and then found the police all over their house and garden! Luckily when the knife was found, the officers were smart enough to realise that this was now a scene. One officer remained in the garden to protect the knife and the others left sharpish.

I put on my white suit, mask, gloves and overshoes. This way I knew that no matter what, I wasn't going to risk destroying any evidence. The knife had been outside overnight, however, it hadn't rained which was good.

I began to take photographs. I took one of the front of the property so anyone viewing the photographs would know the address. I then took photographs from each corner of the garden. This way there was a complete view of the whole garden from each angle.

The knife was in the last corner, so I took a long shot, middle shot and then changed lenses to use a macro for close up shots. The first few were as the knife was found, with some weeds and undergrowth in the way. Once I was happy I had a few photos of the knife exactly as it was found, I removed the weeds and undergrowth for a clearer shot of the knife.

Although there was a net curtain along the patio doors, I could feel six pairs of eyes all on me. After all, I was in this family's garden, with a white suit and mask on. It was probably the most excitement they had for a long time!

The knife was small, probably only four or five inches in blade length, it was a solid metal and silver grey. Although nothing special, it looked like a part of a set. It had blood along it's entirety. There were fingerprints in blood on the blade. This is great evidence and I've been lucky enough to recover it.

I took a series of photographs of the knife with a scale beside it. I turned the knife a few times to ensure each side was photographed. I then secured it into the knife tube I brought with me.

The knife tube is a plastic tube that splits into two. One part fits into the other and screws shut. Each end is reinforced with a metal cap. This tube allows the safe recovery and transport of bladed articles. I then put the tube into a tamper evident plastic bag that I had labelled with the exhibit number, time, location and description as well as some other identification specific information.

I cleared up everything I had taken to the address with me and once the knife was safely packaged I took my suit and other PPE off.

I returned to the station and completed the necessary paperwork and booked the knife into the secure property store.

I got home a few hours late but it was all worth the time.

Nightclub shooting

It's something that you would expect to happen in the USA, isn't it? Surely this doesn't happen in the UK? Sadly it does, and more often than one would expect.

Reports of gun related crime incidents are becoming common place in the newspapers and televisions within many regions of the UK. However, you do normally only tend to see the more high profile cases or those that the Police decide to issue a press release for.

There are many reasons behind gun crime and these vary slightly depending on the geographical location in which they occur. Some of the most common reasons are gang members enforcing respect for its members or families and protecting territory. Gangs and criminals (not mutually exclusive!) often use firearms to secure venture capital.

I often come to work and read the previous night's briefing pages and there's usually at least one incident that involved masked offenders using firearms in some form of violent crime. It doesn't shock me as much as I thought it would.

I used to work for a different police force before I became a CSI, in a different role, and I can't remember the last firearms incident that took place there and they are only separated by one other County

I arrived at work for 0640 hours and there were a number of cars already in the car park. This meant one of two things; either everyone else was super keen and early like me, or, more likely there had been a serious incident and they had been called out.

It was the latter.

Two CSIs had been called out through the night and had dealt with the initial examination of a shooting scene.

About a mile away from the station was a nightclub. It's primarily used for private functions such as birthday parties or wedding receptions. We're not in the City but only a few miles from it, but I wouldn't have either my birthday party or wedding reception at this club.

Most of the CSIs were busying themselves at their desks with various tasks, most related to the scene we were holding at the nightclub. There were two CSIs preparing to attend the location and continue the examination, CSI Woman who came to the Suicide incident with me being one of them. She asked if I'd like to help them at the scene as there was a lot to do.

I couldn't have answered quicker!

We got some equipment together, including handfuls of evidence bags, swabs, water viles and some white suits. The two CSIs who had attended through the night had conducted the initial examination, which included some photographs of the scene. fingerprinting of key areas and swabs of blood.

A Police Officer had been posted outside all night. The Officer is likely to be relieved every three or four hours, depending on how many Officers are on duty. The main role of the Officer is to protect the scene. There will be tape indicating the inner and outer corden. No one should pass either tape unless there is reason to. The Officer will also control the scene log. Anyone who enters or leaves the scene will have to give their name and collar number to the Officer who will record it in the log.

It turns out one offender shot himself in the leg and the other was injured during the shooting, so by the time we were ready to attend the scene, CID had already made enquiries to identify the two offenders from the incident. The presence of some good quality CCTV went a long way. One was in hospital and the other was in hiding. The officers began a manhunt for the second offender and it turned out he was wanted for similar offences a few months back.

There was a private function at the club during the night/morning and some unwanted guests turned up with one thing on their mind. Trouble.

It was our task to collect the evidence to show the offender's involvement and to identify any other people at the scene who were key witnesses or possible offenders. The club had been a haven for a number of known criminals that night, idents were going to come easily.

When you know you are going to be at a scene for some time (and we knew this meant days in this case), it's helpful to find a sterile area where you can set up kit and store evidence that is collected. There was an unused room where we left our cases and large supply of bags and swabs.

I brought a case with various Crimelites with me. The Crimelite is a specially designed light source for use at crime scenes. The Crimelites are a high intensity LED light source which are available in violet, blue, blue-green and green as well as a white light for general examination. Each CSI has a personal issue White Crimelite for examinations of any scene. The varying colours and bandwiths are useful for detecting evidence such as blood, latent marks and other evidence by providing contrast using coloured lights and filters. Goggles are worn to protect the eyes. It's not quite CSI: Miami with the orange goggles and UV light but along the same lines!

I used the light to detect blood and bodily fluids and you'd be amazed at what I discovered on some of the seats- I wish I could take one of these everywhere I go, thought I'm pretty sure I'd never want so sit down anywhere!

There was the smell of stale blood in the air. There was blood in the doorway and in the porch area, there was also a lot of blood in a seating area where first aid had been administered and where an Ambulance crew had treated one of the offenders.

I was asked to conduct a search for the bullet casing that was still outstanding. I looked for a couple of hours. I conducted a fingertip search of the whole place from one end to the other and was frustrated that I hadn't found it. After I'd finished, a CID officer stopped by to inform me that one of the weapons was believed to be a revolver- revolvers retain the casing. I wish he'd told me that a few hours before, but at least a thorough search had been conducted of the premises.

I'm keen to ensure this post isn't too long as I know it can be tedious to read and read.

The next few days I spent at this scene. It was easy to loose track of time inside as there were no windows and only the three of us there, often in seperate parts of the club. I used Magneta flake powder, a metal flake based powder and a magnet applicator wand to recover footwear impressions on a tiled area around the bar. I even recovered a complete footprint, where someone had obviously been bare footed. Not something you find at every crime scene.

I'll talk more about recovery of blood samples in a dedicated future post.

My Blogs so far..

In case you have missed them, below is a list of some of my most interesting blog posts since I started my career as a CSI last year.

Fire Fatality

Deceased Male in Bath

My First Post Mortem

Ride Along in the USA


These are just a selection of my favourite posts/incidents.

I'll be blogging about a nightclub shooting I attended soon.

And remember you can follow me for updates on Twitter.