What Does it Take to Search a Major Case Crime Scene?

Cooperation.  Dedication.  Experience.  Crime scene examination must be done in a careful and methodical manner.  A crime scene is three-dimensional, it’s imperative that it be looked at it from that perspective. 

Pay close attention to the located evidence, even use a flashlight at the ground at an oblique level to capture light in a different way.  Take an overall look of the scene, and then step-by-step from different angles, making notes and sketches.   

BODY

Never move the body or position the body prior to the investigation.   Each investigator should approach the body one at a time, not in a group.  This helps to determine if it has been moved, altered, or staged.  Take detailed notes of everything.  Sketch what you see.  Describe the clothing, condition, new or old wounds, defense wounds, position, signs of struggle, evidence, etc. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

  • Keep a detailed photo log
  • Photos should be taken from far, medium, and close range.
  • Photograph the scene from a clockwise pattern, make sure that all four corners of the area are the vantage point.
  • Photograph around the body and even from the highest perspective of the body. This can show things missed from eye level.

FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE

Fingerprint evidence is the most delicate evidence and should be searched, documented, and collected first.  Weather and other environmental factors play an important role. 

  • Latent, visible, and molded or plastic prints can be found at or around the crime scene area. 
  • Photograph the prints before lifting them. 
  • Prints from other sources can also be found at the crime scene, such as wrist, palm, foot, and lip or ear prints.

EXPANDING THE SEARCH

Once the body has been removed from the crime scene, investigators should begin to systematically check the remainder of the area, whether it’s a house, business, vehicles, etc.

CURIOUS ONLOOKERS AT THE SCENE

  • Keep onlookers away from the scene in order to prevent contamination.
  • Keep detailed notes of evidence, make sure that outside onlookers didn’t leave anything that might be misconstrued as crime scene evidence.
  • Keep other officers out of the scene that aren’t working the area. 
  • In large common areas, such as streets and walkways, cordoned off several areas for searches.

Make sure there is only one way in and out of the crime scene to make sure that it can’t be contaminated.

Jennifer Chase
Award Winning Author & Criminologist

About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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