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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 148729 Find in a Library
Title: Death Investigation After the Destruction of Evidence
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:39  Issue:3  Dated:(May 1994)  Pages:863-870
Author(s): B L Danto; T Streed
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 8
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A case is described in which two firearms and the bullet were melted after the death was certified as a suicide.
Abstract: The case involved a 52-year-old married white male found in his bed in 1984. He was holding a revolver and had a bullet wound in the right temple. A team of investigators conducted a psychological autopsy as well as shot patterns to determine the distance from the gun muzzle to the head to determine whether or not the wound was a contact type. The gun was melted by the city in response to the widow's request and assertion that she was phobic about firearms. Political pressures within the police department led to complaints to the city council that the police chief was incompetent in the handling of the investigation and the running of the department. The police chief resigned, and a new police chief arrived from another State. Following further analysis of several factors, a grand jury ruled the death a homicide, but no indictment was issued. The police department invited the authors and other experts to analyze the evidence and discuss the cause of death. The authors concluded that the death was a suicide and that the deceased suffered from a severe mental disorder known as manic- depressive psychosis. All the experts concurred with this conclusion and agreed that proper procedure would have been to have bagged the hands of the widow and test them for gunpowder residue. The grand jury's conclusion was based on erroneous assumptions about the evidence of suicide and homicide. This case illustrates the need to use experienced adjunctive death investigators for answers that cannot be obtained by traditional means. Photographs and 2 references
Main Term(s): Science and Technology
Index Term(s): Death investigations; Grand juries; Mental disorders; Police effectiveness
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