Wednesday, August 31, 2005


7:19 a.m. On the way to the scene, Dickie gives me the details. A small-time dealer on the lower rung of a big-time drug operation was caught skimming profits and sampling a bit too much of the merchandise. He was too unstable to stay in the organization and he knew too much to be allowed to live.

When we arrive on scene it looks like some sick carnival. People are swarming everywhere. The DA is giving an impromptu interview to the media. Several reporters are crowded around him with tape recorders, lights, and cameras trained his way. A reporter approaches me and asks for information. I tell her that I have no comment at this time and she should contact the ME's office later.

I scan the area as I cross the police line. This is probably one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. At least half of the houses along the block have been condemned...including the one I'm about to enter. I put booties on over my pumps and curse a rediculously impractical dress code that requires women to wear professional attire to crime scenes. I've ruined two of my favorite pairs of shoes already.

Inside it resembles a landfill. Stinking masses of filth are piled everywhere. The "living area" is sparcely furnished with a broken sofa and a canary yellow Lazy Boy. There may be a coffee table, but it is too hard to tell with all the trash cluttering the room. I pass through and move into a bedroom. Three mattresses are on the floor. Dickie is right behind me and says, "This isn't just a crack house. Looks like we've got ourselves a den of ill repute, as well." I think to myself that it will be near impossible to get any solid evidence here with all the human traffic that moves through this place. Evidence techs (ET's) are going to be here until dawn pulling prints and marking items to go into custody. Dickie heads out into the backyard to inspect the body while I poke around a bit more.

I am in the living room when Detective Blue walks through the front door. Two ET are just in the process of moving the Lazy Boy to make room for Dwight's stretcher. As they push the chair aside, a crack pipe falls out from between the seat cushions onto the floor. It rolls toward Det. Blue and stops when it hits his black leather shoe. Det. Blue looks up at the ET's and then at me and says, "I didn't see anything? Did you?" A second later I hear a loud crunch as the glass pipe is pulverized under his foot. Detective Blue doesn't want the added hassle and paperwork that would be involved if he were to report evidence of drug use in the home.

Blue looks at me defiantly and I inform him that I won't be doctoring MY report for his sake. I see a flash in his eyes and start to wonder if the drug dealer that's currently hog-tied in the backyard won't be the only "homocide" victim today. Dickie walks in and sees us glaring at each other. He looks at Blue and then back at me. "What's going on, people?" Blue continues to stare me down and says, "Nothing," before finally breaking eye contact and walking back out the front door. Dickie looks at me and I shrug. "You got me."

We walk out to the backyard and I see the body lying in the grass about 10 feet from a concrete porch. It's a young black man, maybe 19 years old. His wrists, ankles, and mouth are wrapped in duct tape. He has sustained a single gunshot wound right between his eyes. Judging from the wound size, I am fairly certain the weapon was a .22 caliber handgun. I check the area for blowback and for blood pooling. Nothing. The body was moved here from another location. "Do we know where the murder took place?" Dickie shakes his head. "A few uniforms are canvassing the area and we'll see if anybody saw the perps or can at least give a description of a vehicle. Right now we've got nothing." I bag the hands and feet to preserve any trace evidence that might be there. When we get back to the MEO and his fingernails have been scraped and clipped, I will run a gunshot residue kit (GSR) on him.

As I am snapping photographs, I hear a noise and look up at the window of the abandoned house next door. People are literally hanging out the windows trying to get a better look. There must be at least ten of them. The house looks ready to collapse in on itself and I wonder at the voyerism that would possess somebody to enter a condemned building so they can get a good view of a dead guy. Dickie sees them, too. And when Blue walks into the yard, still in a less-than-pleasant mood, he yells up to the people in the house to get out or he'll have them arrested. They reluctantly leave.

After determining that we would rather not feed the media frenzy any more than it's already been fed, we decide to have Dwight drive through the side yard and load the body here. Dwight has a hard time getting the body strapped onto the gurney because of the bindings. But the tape can't be removed until later.

As Dwight slowly drives through the grass, a hysterical young woman, pretty, about 20 years old, begins to chase the truck. "I told you!" She yelled after it. "I told you this would happen and now look at you! Now look at you!" She stops running and collapses on the ground in tears.

Nobody goes to her. Nobody offers her comfort. She just sits there in the middle of the street and sobs for a few minutes before wiping her face with the back of her sleeve and standing up. I watch her melt back into the dispersing crowd as I get into the Explorer and we drive away.


Higgy said...

No one goes to either A) comfort the woman or B) ask her questions??? Seems like a crack in the old evidence gathering there...

Did you get a lot of evidence "suppression" on these sorts of cases?

FCDA said...

One less charge to defend against, Higgy!

Polly P.I. said...

She'd already been questioned. She was his girlfriend. I'm not sure if she had anybody there to comfort her. She was going kind of crazy so I suppose that if she was there with somebody they wanted to stay away until she was finished.

Medical Investigator said...

Your office still does GSR?
Which method do you use.
We do not since it often proves nothing since you can be in the presence of a gun being fired and be contaminated or fire a gun and have no reaction on a GSR test etc...

Polly P.I. said...

I agree that GSR is inherently unreliable. I have no idea why we still used it. Usually the results just caused more trouble.