Category Archives: Criminal Investigation

Deceptive but Truthful: Is it Possible?

A Tangled Web

Detective Wesley Clark
Connecticut State Police Department
Western District Major Crime Squad

The Question is Raised

This may sound like an oxymoron, however in light of the adjoining article, “Statement Analysis Put to the Test, a Case Study”, I felt this question should be addressed. With this statement – Deceptive but Truthful – I am raising the question; If a statement is found to have many indications of deception, does that mean that the event reported did not happen? The answer is NO! Continue reading

Deception and its Detection

Detective Wesley Clark
Connecticut State Police
Western District Major Crime Squad

This article originally appeared in Connecticut Trooper Magazine, Fall 1998.

As a member of the law enforcement community for the past twelve years, I have made it my commitment to seek the truth in all matters, personal and professional. During my career I have encountered, as all other police officers throughout the state and country, those individuals who do not necessarily hold tight to the same values when it comes to truth. Though the reasons for this deception may vary, as do the investigations in which they arise, the intent of the subject in question is always the same; to mislead you and/or your investigation. As a detective with an ever-increasing caseload, that is something I am not willing to accept. With Statement Analysis as one additional tool available to you in your pursuit of the truth, you will be able to focus your investigations and reach an accurate conclusion to many cases. Continue reading

Caught on Tape

Using Criminals’ Videos Against Them

By Edward F. Davis, M.S., and Anthony J. Pinzotto, Ph.D.

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, November, 1998.

In Sparta, Michigan, a 16-year-old high school dropout with a criminal record bludgeons a man to death, then cuts off his head. At home, the youth repeatedly slashed the severed head with a butcher knife, and removes the brain. Detectives recover the head wrapped in plastic outside the youth’s home. [1]

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, five teenagers vandalize and burglarize eight homes and a school. During their escapades, they blow up a live sea trout in a microwave and get a dog high on marijuana. [2] Continue reading

Burglary Investigations

By Daryl W. Clemens

Burglary defined

Burglary is sometimes also known as Home Invasion, or Breaking and Entering. The unlawful entry into the premises of another with intent to commit a felony (usually larceny) therein.

Introduction

Burglaries represent one of the more common crimes to which patrol officers respond. Someone has returned home from an evening out and found the doors open and their property missing. The police are called, and an investigation is begun. Continue reading

Arson Investigation

Written by Katherine Steck-Flynn

The Fire

Arson investigation starts with the fire itself. To create and sustain a fire three factors must be present. The three factors are known as the fire triangle (Peige ed., 1977). The fire triangle consists of oxygen, a fuel source, and heat. In most cases the percentage of oxygen concentration must be above 16% (Peige, ed., 1977). The fuel may be any flammable substance. The heat source needs only to match the ignition temperature of the fuel.

In a fire involving arson the arsonist will have tampered with one or more of the factors in the fire triangle. The arsonist may increase the fuel load by introducing flammable material or by adding accelerants such as kerosene, gasoline or alcohol (French, 1979) The arsonist may increase the oxygen content of a structure by opening windows or punching holes in ceilings and walls (French, 1979) Fire will follow the highest concentration of oxygen to its source. By ventilating a structure at the top and starting a fire at the bottom of the structure an arsonist can cause the fire to race upward through the structure. The fire will rapidly involve the whole structure rather than be confined to one room. Continue reading

Violent Crime Scene Analysis: Modus Operandi, Signature, and Staging

By John E. Douglas, Ed.D. Special Agent
Chief of the Investigative Support Unit FBI Academy

and

Corinne Munn
Served as Honors Intern FBI Academy

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1992.

Most crime scenes tell a story. And like most stories, crime scenes have
characters, a plot, a beginning, a middle, and hopefully, a conclusion. However,
in contrast to authors who lead their readers to a predetermined ending,
the final disposition of a crime scene depends on the investigators assigned
to the case. The investigators’ abilities to analyze the crime scene and
to determine the who, what, how, and why govern how the crime scene story
unfolds.

To ensure a satisfactory ending, that is, the apprehension and prosecution
of the violent crime offender, investigators must realize that the outcome
depends on their insight into the dynamics of human behavior. Speech patterns,
writing styles, verbal and nonverbal gestures, and other traits and patterns
give shape to human behavior. These individual characteristics work in concert
to cause each person to act, react, function, or perform in a unique and
specific way. This individualistic behavior usually remains consistent,
regardless of the activity being performed. Continue reading

The Criminal Sexual Sadist

By Robert R. Hazelwood, M.S.
Special Agent
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime
FBI Academy
Quantico, Virginia

and

Park Elliott Dietz, M.D.,
Forensic Psychiatrist Newport Beach, California
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
and Biobehavioral Sciences
University of California at Los Angeles

and

Janet Warren, D.S.W.
Assistant Professor
Institute of Law Psychiatry and Public Policy
University
of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia

This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,
February 1992.

Any investigator who has taken a statement from a tortured victim or who
has worked the crime scene of a sexually sadistic homicide will never forget
the experience. Human cruelty reveals itself in many kinds of offenses, but
seldom more starkly than in the crimes of sexual sadists.

This article describes the more commonly encountered actions of sexual sadists
and differentiates sexual sadism from other cruel acts. It also describes
the common characteristics of sexually sadistic crimes and offers investigators
suggestions that they should follow when confronted with the crimes of the
sexually sadistic offender. Continue reading

Successful Interviewing

By James R. Ryals, Commander

Long Beach, California, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 1991.

Interviewing is one form of communication used extensively by law enforcement. Whether used to screen applicants, to elicit information from a witness to a crime, or to obtain a confession, a good interview can have a significant impact on the organization. However, if conducted improperly, the interview may be rendered worthless or can result in serious negative consequences for all involved.

There are certain guidelines to follow when conducting an interview. By adhering to the following basic rules, the interviewer can reduce many of the problems that might arise because of a faulty interview. Continue reading

Why Suspects Confess

By David D. Tousignant, M.A.

Inspector Lowell, Massachusetts, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 1991.

Many criminal cases, even when investigated by the most experienced and best qualified investigators, are ultimately solved by an admission or confession from the person responsible for committing the crime. Often times, investigators are able to secure only a minimal amount of evidence, be it physical or circumstantial, that points directly to a suspect, and in many instances,this evidence is not considered strong enough by prosecutors to obtain a conviction. In such cases, the interrogation of the suspects and their subsequent confessions are of prime importance.

This article addresses the question of why suspects speak freely to investigators, and ultimately, sign full confessions. The physical and psychological aspects of confession and how they relate to successful interrogations of suspects are also discussed, as is the “breakthrough,” the point in the interrogation when suspects make an admission, no matter how minuscule, that begins the process of obtaining a full confession. Continue reading

Child Abuse: Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy

By Kathryn A. Hanon

Investigator Orlando, Florida, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, December 1991.

The range of investigations for modern day law enforcement officers is unparalleled in the history of criminology. Investigators must use innovative techniques in order to solve today’s more sophisticated, bizarre criminal acts.

For example, cases of an obscure form of child abuse–Munchhausen’s Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP)-are being seen more and more frequently. MSBP is a form of child abuse that involves long-term physical abuse, usually by a parent.

However, in order to conduct MSBP investigations effectively, it is necessary to understand the complexity of the disorder and the unorthodox investigative procedures that may be necessary to prosecute the case successfully. This article discusses the disorder and how officers should approach the investigation of this crime. Continue reading