Criminal Investigation

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Criminal Investigation

A criminal investigation can be defined as the official and deliberate effort to reveal information about a crime (Hess & Orthman, 2009). Therefore this process has the objectives of revealing who committed a crime and why the person committed the crime. Mass murder is a term that has been used interchangeably with the term mass destruction especially within the military phenomena. However, the FBI defines mass murder as the killing of four people or more within the same and short period using the same means (Siegel, 2009). A mass murder therefore means deaths that occur in one location in which four or more victims are killed without breaks between the murders. Mass murder can therefore be; mass murder by state, mass murder by terrorists and militias or mass murder by individuals (Siegel, 2009).

Three mass murders

Mass murders by state can be defined as the indiscriminate and intentional killing of huge number of people by government agents. An example of state sponsored murder is that of Hitler in Germany and Stalin in Russia that was meant to suppress the opposition. This includes shooting at the antigovernment protestors or bombing and bringing down certain cities or even throwing grenades in the prisons. Mass murders by terrorists are the killings that are done by the terrorists may be to intimidate a society and draw their attention to their causes (Siegel, 2009). A good example of mass murders by terrorist is the recent bombing of the world trade center in Washington DC by the Al-Qaida terrorists that led to the death of thousands of people. Sometimes individuals may also fall under mass murders if an act of an individual satisfies the definition of mass murders. This may include the killing of students, family or just randomly killing many strangers (Siegel, 2009). In the United States of America, examples of earlier mass murders include Howard Unruh, Perry Smith, George Hassel and Richard speck who killed eight nurse students in the south Chicago townhouse.

How Death Investigations are Conducted

The first and very important step in death investigations is to establish a collaborative effort and ensure that the scene is safe prior to entry. In case there is the presence of physical threats at the scene, they are supposed to be removed immediately to ensure safety.  The investigators should also use protective devices not only to protect themselves but also to protect the evidence from contamination (Hess & Orthman, 2009). In the event that death is determined, rescue effort is stopped immediately to help establish medico-legal jurisdiction and should always take place prior to medical examination personnel assuming any responsibilities. Once one has began the actual collection of the evidence, it is also important to maintain the chain of custody for evidences. This is achieved through proper, effective and efficient documentation, collection and preservation to ensure that the integrity of the evidence is achieved (Hess & Orthman, 2009).

How Crime Scenes Related to Murders should be Conducted

It is important strictly to follow the state laws and most of the time it is often advisable to take accurate scene photographs so that they are made available to the agencies, authorities or investigators to recreate the scene (Hess & Orthman, 2009). Photographs are also important since they are permanent evidences that cannot be altered and retain not only the authenticity but also the evidentiary value, hence the photographs have to be as accurate as possible. However, written documentation of a particular scene are also vital for critical investigations since they correlate with the evidences of photography to recreate the scene for the forensics, police, civil agencies and judicial authorities, which have legitimate interest (Hess & Orthman, 2009).

In situations where the body has been moved away from the scene of injury may be due to urgent healthcare attention or criminal activity to a remote area, it is advisable for the investigator to try and determine all the locations where the decedent have been as well as the means of transport used for transfer. Lastly, it is also important to interview the witnesses as well as keeping the right identities of the witnesses through proper documentation and evaluating the body (Hess & Orthman, 2009). This must include all the evidences collected comprising of both internal, external, postmortem changes which must be well documented with proper identity of the decedent.


Hess, K. & Orthman, C. (2009). Criminal investigations: Ninth Edition. New York: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Siegel, L. (2009). Criminology. Belmonte: Thomson Higher Education.







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