Green Box Blues
The Crime Scene
After you first pick up a case, the logical place to go is to the scene of the crime. Even if you have no idea what happened or whether any case exists at all, the scene of the crime may contain clues to get you thinking in the right direction.
The following is a list of observations you should try when in a jam:
Where is the crime scene? Is it a residence, business front, etc.? Is the location significant? Look for any patterns involving multiple crime scenes. Note any similarities between them. Are they all on a trolley line? Near a bank?
Take note of neighbors for further questioning.
Before you even enter, take note of any signs of forced entry.
Was there a struggle? If so, what weapons were involved?
Is anything (valuable or otherwise) missing? Does it seem that the crime scene was tossed while the perpetrator searched for something? Did he find it? What was left behind that normally would be stolen (a burglar that steals paperwork but doesn’t even touch a victim’s wallet must have some higher motive…)
Look for trace evidence. Note any attempts to cover up evidence by the perpetrator.
Does the crime seem well-planned, or was it sudden and disorganized?
(if indeed one exists)
It takes a strong will to examine a body, but it’s a necessity to solving key components of a case such as manner of death, modus operandi, time of the crime, etc.
Was the corpse intact, mutilated, or missing?
Was the body moved or concealed in any way?
How did they die? Was the manner similar to that of other victims?
When did they die (this involves a fair degree of medical knowledge)?
Are you sure you can positively identify the victim?
Note the position of the body in a sketch, this will help you reconstruct the crime.
Suspects and Witnesses
These two groups of individuals are often one and the same or inevitably tied together. Consider the following when interviewing suspects and witnesses.
What is the person’s relationship to the crime/victim? Are they a neighbor, coworker, or relative? Are they friendly or hostile to you and the victim?
Does this person have a reason to lie? Could they be involved even if they claim to be a witness?
Do they have a credible alibi?
What motives would they have for involvement? The most common motives are greed, vengeance, and to cover up another crime or fact…
What do the official police records tell you about the person?
Is this person emotionally involved with the crime? Sometimes we see things in black and white when we’ve undergone a traumatic experience, other times things are hazy for a few days. Sometimes we bend the truth to suit our preconceived ideas or suspects…
Re-question any witness/suspect you feel was holding out on you earlier. Sometimes people have bad memories that come back over time. Give them a way to contact you. Often, a suspect will get sloppy when you repeatedly hound them as they begin to think that you’re on to them (such was the case with the intrepid Inspector Colombo).
When all else fails: canvass the town. Hangout in seedy areas. Pay a friendly visit to those with prior records (many crimes are by repeat felons). Hang signs, talk to street people, and so on. Sometimes witnesses are too nervous or lazy to come forward and say they saw something. They might talk if prodded along though.