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Investigations Gone Wrong
Actions initiated at the beginning of a homicide investigation at a particular crime scene are strong determinants whether a case is solved in a resolute manner or not. It is imperative that thorough and care are taken to ensure work by crime scene investigative personnel protect all potential physical evidences from destruction, being tainted or the eventuality that potential witnesses are overlooked (Girard, 2017). Unfortunately, though agencies have detailed and easy to follow programs relative to crime scene processing, there are significant setbacks to the successful conclusion resulting from resource availability and training levels amongst different jurisdictions (Robertson et al., 2014). In some cases, the few opportunities present towards practicing actual investigation procedures is wanting which translates to low quality crime scene investigations (Dutelle, 2016). This essay looks into the JonBenet Ramsey case of 1996 which became a cold case after recklessness on the part of investigators to fail in following crime scene investigation protocol.
America is the land of bottomless opportunities. This was true for the six year old daughter of John and Patsy Ramsey. JonBenet Ramsey was born in 1990 and following in the footsteps of her once beauty pageant star mother became a respected society figure winning prestigious accolades in different competitions (Hughes, 2014). Her father was a wealthy man and owned a lot of property. In the night of her demise, the family was in Boulder, Colorado. Early the next morning Dec. 26, 1996, Patsy Ramsey dialed 911 and informed the police of a missing daughter (Hughes, 2014). She also reported finding a ransom letter demanding 118,000 dollars in cash (Hughes, 2014). It thus, appeared to be a kidnapping (Chancellor & Graham, 2014). According to her father’s statement, she discovered the lifeless body of his daughter in the basement room within the house. The police investigators possessed little or even no experience in handling such a high profile murder case which resulted in numerous blunders on their part (Dutelle, 2016). The main murder suspects were the remaining family members of the deceased girl.
The sole aim of the investigations initiated by the Boulder County Police Department was to bring to justice culprits found answerable to the murder of the little pageant princess. Her body was found lying in the basement floor with hands tied and a rope tightly gripping her neck that it looked like an hour glass (Hughes, 2014). It was also found that she must have been sexually violated given the abrasive inflammations recorded in her private parts. Another pointer to that suggestion was that she was wearing underwear too large for her body size. Detectives were charged with acquiring all evidence within the scene of crime that could allow for the presentation of an airtight case before a court of law (Chancellor & Graham, 2014). Attaining evidence from the scene and questioning witnesses or people close to the vicinity of the murder scene, could have allowed police officers to work a case that ensured a conclusive trial.
At the time of the emergency call to the police, two persons were present in the house. This is according to the statement given by Patsey Ramsey, the deceased’s mother (Hughes, 2014). After coming home in the company of John Ramsey, her husband and the victim’s father, she proceeded to preparing the family for another travel together. While doing her chores, she came across the letter and immediately told her husband (Hughes, 2014). They only checked the girl’s room as well as others in the house but did not check the basement floor. These were the two main persons involved in the case given their proximity to the crime scene.
Scope on Investigations
This refers to persons within the vicinity of the crime. The Ramsey’s house was palatial but given to the fact that it was during Christmas, it was possible that most of the workers were away from the premises (Hughes, 2014). However, there was a broken window in the basement which at the time of the investigations was open. This could have implied that a third person gained entry and subsequent exit through it. However, as the investigations began, only Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey were party to the scope of investigations.
How It Could Have Been Handled Differently
Crime scene investigation procedures were largely ignored. Firstly, there were institutional failures within the Boulder County Police Department and the failure by the County Attorney General to solicit expert help from able agencies at his disposal (Hughes, 2014). Secondly, response time to the call was slow and when the first responders arrived at the scene there was a failure to quickly report details to the top brass (Hughes, 2014). As a result, the crime scene was tampered with making it impossible to find uncompromised evidence at the scene of crime (Girard, 2017;Robertson et al., 2014). For instance, the girl’s father is said to have moved the body from the scene of crime in a burst of emotions. This should have been avoided forthwith. Thirdly, the investigators erred in failing to acquire full statements from John and Patsy Ramsey the same day the crime was reported (Hughes, 2014). This could have allowed for a more detailed report from both persons in a manner where inconsistencies would allow for precise directions for detectives to follow.
The poor adherence to crime scene investigation protocol immediately after police received a distress call from Patsy Ramsey led to the case turning cold. As this paper has provided, the inexperience of the Boulder County Police Department led to not only a compromise of the crime scene but a failure to attain statements from the two persons within the scope of investigation. The purpose of the work by detectives was unclear though a failure by the AG led to a situation which could have limited errors by seeking assistance from neighboring police agencies or from the federal government.
Chancellor, A. S., & Graham, G. D. (2014). Staged crime scenes: crime scene clues to suspect misdirection of the investigation. Investigative Sciences Journal, 6(1).
Dutelle, A. W. (2016). An introduction to crime scene investigation. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Girard, J. E. (2017). Criminalistics. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Hughes, D. J. (2014). An Angel Betrayed: How Wealth, Power and Corruption Destroyed the JonBenet Ramsey Murder Investigation Contact and Publish Dav. Houston, TX: Strategic Book Publishing.
Robertson, J., White, R., Kelty, S., & Julian, R. (2014). Professionalization and Crime Scene Examination. Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal, 5(3-4), 99-111.