Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bag of Tricks: The Murder of Roland Kuster

Scene of the Crime

The forensic evidence is what transports detectives back in time. It's a window into the mind of a killer, allowing sleuths to retrace their steps and possibly figure out a motive. Criminologists would have their hands full with this bloodbath and it took a few weeks to collect all the evidence.

The testing of forensic evidence
The testing of forensic evidence

A 15-foot fence surrounded the property and two dogs were corralled in the back yard. Witnesses reported seeing a black man jump over the fence at 5:40 a.m. the day Kuster was killed. A check of the fence revealed a blood smudge; it was collected for analysis, as was blood on the front door. The killer likely broke in through the window and left through the door.

It was obvious that most of the blood in the bedroom where Kuster lay belonged to him. But perhaps the killer was injured in the attack and left his calling card as well.

The bloody shoeprint was photographed with hopes of comparing it to footwear worn by a potential suspect. Blood was smeared on a kitchen wall, partially concealed by shelves, and the bottom of a coffee can had blood and a fingerprint. The sleeve of a jacket inside a closet was smeared with blood and the bathroom sink was bloody as if someone attempted to wash up. A bloody napkin was discarded in the trash.

Avenal State Prison
Avenal State Prison

Two knives and a scraping tool were recovered from the kitchen. A total of 70 prints were lifted from the home. Other evidence included money found under Kuster's mattress, several guns belonging to him, and a backpack in the bedroom where he died. Inside the backpack was an envelope with the return addressee "David M. Minor, J99820, Avenal California 93204." The envelope was postmarked, "Avenal State Prison Mailroom."


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