Saturday, July 23, 2011

One More Death Investigation

A fellow PI and I went to see some scene and death photos recently.
She is a new investigator and she never worked a homicide vs. suicide case before.
My job is to help the family determine if the conclusion of the police and prosecutor were right... that my client's deceased daughter, let's call her "Sally," killed herself, with a self-inflicted, gunshot wound to her head.
To figure it all out, we had to study the case file, evidence... and  review the police and autopsy photos closely because the family was unwilling to look at the pictures.

The scene photos were grim. Everything ugly, sad... with blood and brain matter spattered.
Then pictures of things... a  gun,  pillows, a spattered wall, close-ups of Sally's dead hands and fingers.
I recall an ashtray filled with half-smoked cigarettes.
The hole in Sally's head the bullet made.
The ugliness of such a death.

Just as we had done with the police file,  I asked the other PI to talk to me as we went through every page together. To tell me everything she observed, wondered about, thoughts that ran through the illuminating magnifying glass of a brain she has.  I wanted another perspective. I took notes.

I watched my newbie Death Investigator closely as we moved to the autopsy photos.
She handled herself well and professionally, though I could tell, she was taken aback.
"I've never seen anything like this before" she said, as I began to move through  the thick stack of  police pictures.
I didn't tell her I have seen way too much of it. I just continued on through the photos.
This was real.
On those true crime TV shows and horror movies... you know, viscerally, "this is not real".
In Hollywood, they  have a school that trains people to act like corpses so the crime shows can use living actors on autopsy tables and crime scenes.

Real life death is ugly and not entertaining.
Because when you look at a dead person, it's like looking in a mirror.
And when you see a brain just splayed out on a table, part of pulverized... you know you have a brain and don't ant it to end up this way.
Or you see a woman younger than you lying naked on an autopsy table, photographed from afar by a stranger... you wonder, then pray, you never have such a shot of you somewhere.
You think all kinds of things.

And these photos were among the ugliest I have seen.
And even now as I blog about it, I thank the heaven's above the family hired me to look those photos so they would never have to.
I think the other PI and I agree. This case could go either way.
It could have been murde.
However, the woman was indeed unstable and had attempted suicide multiple times.
Plus, we both saw what happened with Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson in the criminal arena when there is what many believe true evidence of murder.

No way the family paying us could get enough evidence or money required to get it, if it existed, to indict the boyfriend.

Now I await the CD's I ordered from the police, so I can further study the crime scene, the pictures and write up a case report based on my notes, my associate's observations and all gathered evidence.... that will hopefully put the mother, father and sister of the deceased at some sort of peaceful acceptance of their beloved's death.

I  did speak with the Police Detective on the case before we went to see the crime photos.  He was pretty certain it was suicide and had compelling reasons why. I told him families often hire me after a suicide to get a death certificate changed to homicide because they blame someone else -- either because they truly believe it, or because they can not accept suicide.
The Detective agreed whole heartedly.
He said it is very difficult for police to tell a family member one of their own killed themselves... they would rather place blame than move to acceptance.

Someone once said  "when a person truly goes mad or gives up, they take one of two ways out, suicide or homicide."
I believe yes, he may have killed her. I also think there's  a chance she killed herself.
I just know, there is no way I can prove murder, especially if the police and prosecutor don't believe it
So what would you do with that.... really?
Let the family sink all of their life savings into a losing battle?
Think I'll just tell them the truth -- it's was a fatal  50/50 shot, suicide or homicide.
And the chances of their getting a homicide conviction against a man we have no evidence did it ar zero to nil.

It's hard for a P.I. to let a case like this go.
However, it's the right thing to do for a client/family with barely enough money to keep their bills paid, the lights on.
Without the police and prosecutor behind them, justice will cost money they simply do not have.
Time to pick up the pieces and carry on.

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