WORKING QUESTIONABLE DEATHS/SUICIDES
The taking of one's life is difficult to understand and accept. Those left behind are left questioning what they could have done to prevent such a tragedy.
Often times homicides are staged to appear to look like suicide, to cover up a homicide.
Unfortunately, often times to the untrained or inexperienced eye, the officer and or detective called to investigate fail to fully investigate the death and accept the fact that it is a suicide.
I have reviewed several reported suicide cases over the past seven years sent to me by family members who believe that the death was not a suicide but actually homicide.
One of the first cases I was asked to review was in a very small country town. The subject of the inquiry was separated from his wife and she had moved to this area to be with family. She was living in a small trailer on the property of her family.
The husband had travelled to this small town to meet with her and discuss their marriage. It had been reported that she was seeing a high school student that was several years younger than her.
While the two of them were in the trailer talking, the wife reported to law enforcement that he pulled out a hand gun and shot himself in the head killing himself.
When law enforcement arrived they took her statement, ruled the death as a suicide, the corner pounced him dead and the body transported to the morgue.
Total time for the investigation; thirty minutes.
When law enforcement is called to investigate the death of an individual, the investigations should be the same as any homicide investigation until proven further.
In the case above, the facts leading to the meeting between the husband and wife should have been a red flag for investigators.
One of the major factors to consider when investigating a questionable death is that a staging of the crime, changes the elements of the scene. Usually by the staging of the crime scene a trained investigator will find evidence that is forensically impossible to explain.
With the use of DNA Touch DNA and Forensic Evidence now in investigations experienced qualified investigators are able to reconstruct crimes scenes with much more accuracy and detail.
Other factors to consider is short range and long range goals and or plans made by the deceased. A person contemplating suicide does not plan for the future. This is usually an indicator that further investigations is needed in the cause of death.
Any time you have a family member that has died by questionable or unfounded means you should be requesting all the police reports, and have an experienced investigator review them.
Keep in mind that this investigator may have to verify his findings in a court of law if he finds that it was not a suicide.
If law enforcement is no longer investigating the incident ,the reports are public record. What did the investigators do? Who did they interview? Did they review the blood patterns if there were any. Did they collect any evidence? If so, what did they collect and what did they do with that evidence?
One of the major things to consider on a death ruled a suicide, is that most insurance companies will not pay benefits for suicidal deaths.