Time Flies

I'm leaning on one knee whilst resting my right hand gingerly on the window ledge, I'm looking obliquely at the sill. 

There's at least seventy three blue bottles. Some are on their side, some on their back. One or two look like they're spooning each other. 

I'm using one of our new face fitted masks, so there's no smell, yet. 

The occupants haven't been seen for a week. The neighbours noticed the curtains closed for a few days. We don't get a build up of milk bottles on door steps anymore, in fact, I can't remember the last time I saw a milk man.

Officers have attended because of concerns for the occupants by neighbours, they've not been seen for a week or more, which is unusual.

How long do you leave it before raising the alarm? You don't want to worry anyone, or cause undue panic, do you? 

When officers have arrived, they found a side window ajar and the probationer was made to climb through. Not only his first 'concern' call, not only his first discovery of a body. 

This was also his first discovery of two bodies.

Two deceased persons in one place without an obvious cause is good reason to be suspicious. 

Officers are often first to attend scenes where people are discovered dead, but they're not experienced at recognising what petechiae looks like or understanding what blood patterning looks like. Is that blood from the nose or is it purge? Is that an injury or is that fluid escaping from orifices after death? Has the person been moved after death? Does the lividity match the circumstances? 

These are all questions a CSI and CSM will consider when attending a sudden or suspicious death. 

Regardless of the outcome here, there's a bit of work to do, including lifting and moving the people found inside. I'll need help on this one. I called ahead and arranged for two CSIs from the local division to meet me at the address.

Before we do anything, I want to have a look, I want to see what we've got. I like to do this on my own, so I can just look and think, without distraction or bias from anyone else.

We're only human after all, if someone makes a suggestion, gives a reason for what we see, my mind keeps hold of that. I don't want to be influenced unintentionally.

When I do this, I don't touch or move anything. I want this scene to remain exactly as I found until I make a decision with the Detective Inspector as to how we're going to proceed. 

I take my logbook, a pen and my CrimeLite. 

Sometimes it's easy to be drawn to the people in a scene and get tunnel vision. I deliberately leave the deceased persons until last. I want to look at the post, what dates are on it? Has any been opened? How much credit is left on the electricity meter? Which lights are on? What channel is the television on? 

I start in the front bedroom on the first floor. The curtains are pulled. The lights are off, I use my CrimeLite to see the way. The CrimeLite is probably brighter than the 40W energy saving light in the fitting anyway. 

It's like I've walked into a time capsule. This room looks like it's sixty years old. Nothing has been changed or updated in the last half a century. The furniture looks like the stuff you see at the British Heart Foundation, after someone's passed away and the family can't sell the furniture so they give it away. It'll end up being a 'shabby chic' item on eBay in a few weeks. Although dated, there's nothing out of place in here. There's a double bed, but only one side of the quilt is peeled back. On the opposite side of the bed is a pile of genltemen's clothes, neatly folded. There's a perpetual calendar, which shows 'May 1st 1992'.

I'm confident that they've not been dead for 25 years. 

Maybe that's when the wife moved into another room. It's a common occurrence at these jobs, the male and female have separate rooms, normally due to ill health or mobility issues. I've been to one house where the couple had no contact at all on a day to day basis, the house was literally divided in two and they lived separate lives.

Each to their own, I'm not here to judge.

I walk down the hallway and I can't help but stare at the carpet. It's probably the original carpet, as in it's always been here and has never been replaced. It's an odd style. Full of browns and mustard colours. I shine my CrimeLite on the floor as I walk, it'll show up any blood or foreign articles easier. 

This floor looks like one of those colour blind test pages.

I tour the house, taking time to soak up what I'm seeing in each room, I make notes of some things and mental notes of others. Sometimes, something so insignificant at first can become vital as an investigation continues. I remember one job where the murder victim's laptop was stolen and the investigation team were trying to track it down using digital forensics. They needed the serial number but no one had it. I remember noting a HP laptop box in the garage when I did my walk through. We went straight back to the photos, zoomed in on the boxes and there it was, serial number on the side of the box. This helped tracked down the laptop at a Cash Converters which then identified a suspect.

Sometimes, something looks odd or out of place, to me or my colleagues, but may be the norm for the occupants of the address. There was what looked like the corpse of an animal on the kitchen floor. Technically it was. It was a carcass of a chicken, which appeared to have been put down next to the cat bowl. This stank. Even through my mask. 

Sometimes you can't explain what you see. Sometimes you don't need to. 

The female occupant was in an armchair in the conservatory, she still had her glasses on and a copy of the radio times on her lap. On the table next to her was a quaint cup and saucer, with just a small amount of tea in the bottom. There were two 'church window' biscuits on the table next to the saucer. 

She's got a flowery skirt on that comes down to her shins. She's wearing tights and slippers. Her slippers are a blue velvet material with a trim of 'fluff' over the top of the foot. I can see that her legs are deep purple in colour. The blood has settled in the lower extremities, this is normal. If you can call this normal. 

Nothing gives me cause for concern here. When she's been photographed, I'll search her whole body for injuries, I'll open her eyelids and check for any signs of strangulation, I'll open her mouth and check for anything obstructing her airway, I'll check her hands, front and back for offensive or defensive injuries, has she got skin and or blood under her fingernails? I'll only make a decision when I've fully examined her from head to toe. I'll tell the DI what I've seen and noted. Sometimes, the DI will be there whilst I do this, sometimes they'd prefer not to be. 

The male is on the kitchen floor. He has no top on and he's just wearing underwear. Unusual, it's two in the afternoon. However, it could have been two in the morning when he ended up here.

He's got a good head of hair. I'm jealous. I lost mine when I was 19. 

It's easier to search the male for injuries as he's almost naked. He's got what appears to be a skin complaint, with what looks like a bad case of eczema all up one arm. 

I can see that the process of decomposition is well underway. His abdomen is distended, it's purple and green in colour and there's the distinct smell of Pickled Onion Monster Munch that surrounds him. 

Anything that's moist, lovely word, will attract flies who then lay eggs. Nostrils, mouth, genitals and any wounds are all fair game, full of maggots. Looks strange the first time you see it, looks like the person is moving.

I finish my tour, noting everything I can and go outside. It's not a hot day, but the moment I step outside I feel the cool breeze on my face. Wearing this PPE makes you hot and sweaty real quick. I brief the two CSIs as to what I've seen and ask them to photograph the entire address. When they head in, I take my suit off, it's nice to have the chance to cool down.

I finish making some notes out the front of the address. Passers by are stopping and staring, some of the braver ones approach the PC at the front gate and ask them 'What's happened?' And they get the stock answer. 'Nothing to worry about' and the conversation normally stops there. 

The DI is on the phone, he's briefed his DCI as to the current situation. I wait for him to come off the phone and tell him what I've seen and what I've noticed.

There's nothing inside that indicates to me that the couple have died a violent or offensive death. The DI asks if their death could have been as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is a good call when you've got more than one person deceased at a location. I recorded that there is no gas supply to the house and there are no small independent appliances that could have caused this. 

Sometimes, depending on the DI, we have the discussion about 'Let's do a forensic Post Mortem, just in case' and my response is always the same. We can do a forensic PM, but we treat the whole scene and investigation as a 'suspicious or unexplained' death if that's the case. We can't do half a job. It's either suspicious or not. If there's one small thing that doesn't make sense or appears suspicious, then the whole job is suspicious. There's no fifty fifty. 

The CSIs finish and come outside for air. I suit up again and this time so does the DI, I need to show her what I've seen and give my advice and interpretation of the scene.

Now the scene has been recorded, I move each of the couple in turn, checking them from head to toe for injuries and anything that can help with a version of events or circumstances that led to their deaths. There are no injuries on either of them, offensive or defensive.

It appears they've each passed away within a short time of each other. It's a sad story, someone has lost two relatives at the same time. 

People die every single day, sometimes we're involved, sometimes we're not. Sometimes it suspicious, sometimes it's not. 

There's dozens of points to consider when deciding whether or not deaths require further investigation, and I couldn't go through them all here. Every incident is different and unique and each presents varying factors to consider. 

When we're involved, we make sure we're one hundred per cent it's either non suspicious or otherwise, when there's any doubt, we continue investigating until we're convinced one way or the other. 

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