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Forensic Aspects of Death Investigation

This is not the normal course on homicide investigations, instead it is a course about death investigations that goes beyond examining homicide scenes to include suicides, accidental, natural, and those deaths in which the manner cannot be established. Actions taken during the initial response and initial actions upon arrival at the scene often make the difference in weather or not a case is solved. Also important to the investigation is scene management, the three major elements in death investigations, key death scene investigation practices, the importance of documentation, and the crime scene’s impact on case solvability factors.

Discussion includes interactions between the Coroner/Medical Examiner and law enforcement with emphasis on roles, responsibilities, and a teamwork approach leading to effective communication that is crucial to resolution of death investigations. An often-overlooked aspect of death investigations is proper photography of the scene with particular emphasis on documenting conditions, evidence, and in particular the victim and suspect. Not only are these photographs essential to good scene documentation, but they can be crucial to effective case presentation in court.

Recognizing and obtaining investigative clues/leads from early and late body tissue changes that occur after death, how they are influenced by environmental conditions, and their application to time since death determination can give critical information in the course of the investigation. Considerations when investigating deaths by suicide, asphyxia and child physical abuse are also discussed. This is a comprehensive course with instruction on the following subjects:

Course Instruction Topics:

  1. Initial Response

  2. 911 Calls

  3. Legal Considerations

  4. Working with the Media

  5. Crime Scene and Forensic Evidence/Examinations

  6. Establishing/Defining the Crime Scene

  7. Organized and Disorganized Offenders

  8. Secondary Crime Scenes

  9. Preliminary Investigation

  10. Canvass Interviews

  11.  Working with the ME

  12. Autopsy

  13. Cause of Death v. Manner of Death

  14. Time of Death

  15. Changes After Death

  16. Death Notifications

  17. Wound Recognition

  18. Blunt Force, Gunshot and Sharpe Force Injuries

  19. MOM (Motive, Opportunity, Means)

  20. Victimology

  21. Interviews and Interrogations

  22. Admissions, Denials, Confessions and Alibis (Inconsistent Statements)

  23. Polygraph

  24. Suicide

  25. Asphyxia Deaths

  26. Accidental Death

  27. Victim Precipitated Death

  28. Autoerotic Misadventures

  29. Personal Cause/Group Cause/Criminal/Political

  30. Child Abuse Death/SUID

  31. Sexual Homicide

  32. Define/Categorize Homicides

  33. Motive, Intent, Ability (MIA)

  34. Risk Factors: Victimology

  35. Developing an Investigative Plan

  36. Subpoenas and Search Warrants

  37. ViCAP

  38. Criminal Investigative Analysis

  39. Staged Crime Scenes

  40. Offender Dichotomy

  41. Investigative Failures

  42. Working with Prosecutors

Course Length:

Fourty (40) hours.



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