Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kevin Neal, Convicted of Murder by Forensic Entomology

'We Are Not in a Rush'

In late September 1997, days after nearly 300 people said farewell to India and Cody in a "Celebration of Life," Sheriff Deskins held a press conference and warned the public that any arrest in the case might be months in the future.

''We want to make sure we are correct,'' Deskins said. ''We are not in a rush. We are not going to be pressured into naming suspects ahead of time. We're doing this in a checklist fashion.''

Deskins and Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio had no reason to hurry — they knew exactly where their only suspect was, and Kevin Neal wasn't going anywhere for a long time.

Deskins told the media that forensic evidence was central to the investigation and that meant waiting for lab results.

''We have a great deal of evidence submitted to different laboratories. This will be a case of waiting for results,'' he said.

While botanists were examining seeds found in a blanket recovered by BCI Agent Hall from Cody's bed and on blue jeans worn by Kevin Neal the day the children disappeared, some of the nation's best forensic entomologists were studying the various species of insects found in the siblings' remains to establish a time of death. The FBI was examining some blood stains found on a sheet in the Neal home.

Other detectives were talking to friends and family of the Neals, looking for more conventional clues to help strengthen the case. The prosecution has no obligation to establish a motive for a crime in order to secure a conviction, but juries often expect to hear an answer to the central question of "why." In a case like the one the authorities were building against Kevin Neal, a motive was critical.


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