Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Fletcher: A Simple Case of Murder

Gathering Evidence

"You got the gun yet?" Jack asked.

"Yep. Go ahead and take it."

Jack picked up the Smith and Wesson and placed it in an evidence bag. He sealed the bag and wrote his initials across the seal. It was impossible for anyone to get into the bag without breaking that seal or destroying the bag itself. There would be no way to tamper with the evidence without being caught.

"Hey, guys." came a voice from the doorway. "Can I dust?"

"Hey, Christine. Yeah go ahead," said Crain.

Fingerprint technician Christine Wallace was an old hand at crime scenes like this. She immediately set to work on the nightstand near Leann's head, carefully stepping around the coagulating blood. With a fine horsehair brush, she dabbed powder around the gun clip and bullets. She blew away the excess with a gentle puff and with the lightest of touches began to dust for fingerprints.

"I've got some latents here. Do you want a shot?"

Crain came over and zoomed in on the clip. There were fingerprints all over the magazine and he took a series of pictures.

Jack was busy taking samples of the bloodstained carpet and putting them in evidence bags. After Christine finished dusting the room, Crain put the clip and bullets into bags and sealed them, repeating over and over the process Jack had done with the gun.

In all, the three technicians worked for 45 minutes in the bedroom, never touching Leann's body except to put the bags over her hands. The blood had begun to settle in her body, drawn by gravity toward the lowest points in her body in a process known as lividity. A medical examiner could easily determine the time of death based on how much blood had pooled. The lividity gave the body an odd, two-toned effect, dark purple on the bottom and pale, almost translucent white on the top. It was most noticeable on her legs, where her buttocks were colorless while her thighs looked bruised and bloated.

The blood on her head had begun to dry and it caked in her auburn hair. The left side of her head, where the bullet was probably lodged, was grotesquely swollen, while the right side was indented and clearly unsupported by bone. It gave her head an unnatural misshapen appearance, but one that could be corrected by a skilled mortician.

As detectives and investigators from the Macomb County prosecutor's office looked on, Jack and Wally rolled Leann over onto her back. Wally stood up and began taking pictures again.

"Jesus," said Crain.

Leann's face was swollen and purple, due to lividity. Her lips were a deep purple-blue and her eyes, which were open, were bloodshot. There was no expression on her face, and blood had pooled in her cheeks; she looked like a badly made up mannequin. Her eyes stared blankly up at the ceiling, but there was no life whatsoever in them.

She looked sad, but peaceful and had been dead a little over an hour.

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