Homicide and Serious Crime Victims Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Homicide and Serious Crime Victims Deck (61)
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Who does the OC body report to?


Crime Scene Co-Ordinator where appointment otherwise OC scene.


What are the three key elements of a homicide?




What is important to consider where dealing with the body of the victim?


Forensic research confirms that ‘every contact leaves a trace’. Whenever two items come into contact with each other there is a two-way transference; from one item to the other and vice versa. Therefore the body must be treated as a scene and afforded all appropriate efforts and resources.


What are the responsibilities of OC Body?

  • ensure death has been certified by a doctor or qualified paramedic using a Deceased Person Certificate (POL 265)
  • maintain security and continuity of the body, samples and exhibits, from the scene to the commencement of the post-mortem examination
  • secure and guard the body, body samples and any exhibits relating to the body, with dignity and respect
  • note and record observations relating to the body
  • note details of medical staff or others who have attended the victim
  • record what actions have been taken by any party in respect of the body
  • establish if the body has been moved or disturbed
  • ensure the body is photographed ‘in situ’ and consider using video recording
  • on authority of the OC () Investigation, arrange transportation of the body to the mortuary complete sudden death procedures
  • on authority of OC investigation, arrange formal identification of the body using form Pol 265A
  • obtain historical medial records of victim for information of pathologist
  • attend the post-mortem examination with the OC Investigation, or deputy appointed by them
  • attend the debrief of the pathologist and record the findings, on direction of the OC and/or pathologist
  • ensure all cultural responsibilities have been addressed

In relation to a homicide what is the responsibility of the OC investigation?

  • notify the Coroner early of the death,
  • arrange the post-mortem examination, in consultation with the Coroner
  • consult the Pathologist before the post-mortem commences, regarding the relevance and benefit of conducting X-ray or CT/CAT scans of the body.

When can the homicide victim’s body be moved?


Unless in an emergency situation, the body must not be moved until the OC () Investigation has given authority for this to occur


When briefing experts or interested parties what areas should be considered?

  • photographs and/or video recordings taken at the scene
  • actions of the first responders
  • identity of the body
  • history of the body including medical history, drugs found at the scene, action taken or developments since the discovery of the body
  • timeframes relating to the finding of the body, the last sighting and other significant times that may impact upon time of death
  • scope and priorities of the investigation
  • any special evidential expectations and requirements
  • environmental factors at the scene, i.e. weather conditions, ambient/historical temperature, nearby heating appliances, pollen influences
  • any other additional information received from other experts, as appropriate.

What factors should be considered in the appreciation prior to the removal of the body?

  • Notification to and response from, the Coroner
  • Views of the pathologist, ESR () forensic scientist and Crown Solicitor attendingthe crime scene
  • Consultation with other relevant experts
  • Requirement for any examination or action needed before removal, based on known facts of the case
  • Best method and route for the body removal, to minimise contamination of the scene or the body,
  • Supervision of the body removal
  • Chain of custody of the body from the scene to the mortuary
  • Safe custody of exhibits
  • Family and/or cultural considerations
  • The appreciation should record the Standing Operating Procedures (SOP) for what and how items of protective clothing (e.g. paper suits, gloves and masks) must be used in relation to the scene and the body. Unless a specific reason exists to retain them, items of protective clothing should be placed in a bag and destroyed. The SOP for protective clothing used at a scene should be recorded once and thereafter scene staff may refer to the SOP , rather than recording every use or change of protective clothing

In a homicide scene where the body has been disturbed….

  • Do not attempt to restore the scene to its original unchanged condition.
  • Make enquiries to enable the original unchanged scene to be subsequently reconstructed and photographed, if required.

Whether samples are taken at the scene will be decided by the OC Investigation. This is advisable where evidence would otherwise be lost or contaminated by moving the body, such as:

  • larvae and insects
  • potential fingerprint evidence from the skin on the body of the victim and/or items of clothing worn by the body, e.g. fine woven fabrics
  • DNA swabs
  • extraneous items such as loose hairs, fibres, glass, paint or other fragments
  • firearm residue samples.

What is important to note when preparing to remove the body from the scene?


The body must be considered a ‘scene within a scene’ and as such, the OC Investigation is ultimately responsible for ensuring how the removal and examination of the body will be managed.


What steps should be taken when recording details and removing the body?


1- Record the position of the body by sketch plan/photographs. Also consider video
2- Consider marking and recording the position of the body before removing it
3-Record all details of the position of the body
4-Consider what heath risks may be presented by handling the body
5-Cover the hands/feet/head with paper bags and secure with tape to prevent evidence being lost when the body is removed.
6-Ensure clothing on the body is not contaminated by contact with foreign objects
7-Wrap the body in a plastic sheet and place it in a body bag
8- Carefully search underneath where the body lay
9- Retain as exhibits all sheets, bags and other materials used to transport the body
10-Obtain approval from the OC Investigation to remove the body from the scene
11- When directed by the OC Investigation, arrange a contracted undertaker to remove the body to the mortuary. Ensure you are able to account for the security and continuity of the body as an exhibit at all times


When recording the details of the position of the body before it is moved what should be noted?


Position of the limbs. –

  • Appearance of the body.
  • Wounds and clothing.
  • Direction of any trails of blood present on the body.
  • Lividity, if present (coloration of skin due to gravitational movement of blood).
  • Extent of any rigor mortis present.

At the earliest opportunity, the OC Investigation, in consultation with the OC Body, must make an appreciation in respect of the post-mortem examination. What factors should be considered in the appreciation?

  • Identification of the body at the mortuary
  • Authority from the Coroner to conduct post-mortem
  • Consultation with the pathologist
  • Safe custody of exhibits
  • Identifying who should attend the post-mortem
  • Requirement for any specific need for examination or sampling based on the known facts of the case
  • Appropriate resources at the post-mortem, for packaging exhibits and taking photographs
  • Family and/or cultural considerations arising from the post-mortem
  • Any likely requirement for a second or subsequent post-mortem.

What is the primary purpose of the OC Body during a post-mortem?

is to observe, document and deal with exhibits associated with the body, in a structured, methodical manner.
The OC () Body must remain until the examination is concluded. Following the examination the pathologist will provide their findings during a debrief

What is the primary reason for conducting a post-mortem?


to establish the cause of death


The pathologist’s findings will provide further information to drive the investigation which may include:

  • determining where possible, the mode and time of death
  • establishing how injuries and/or events at the scene may have contributed toward the death of the victim
  • determining the nature and size of any weapon(s) used
  • determining the approximate height and stature of the suspect
  • providing areas of interest for subsequent interviews of witnesses and/or suspects
  • negating possible defences
  • identifying the victim, if identity has not been established

who may attend a post-mortem?

  • the pathologist
  • the Coroner
  • any other pathologist assisting (if authorised by the Coroner)
  • a doctor who treated the deceased
  • a doctor, nurse or funeral director representing the deceased (if authorised by the Coroner)
  • a doctor representing the interests of a suspect who has or may be charged in relation to the death (if authorised by the Coroner)
  • any other doctor or trainee doctor (if authorised by the Coroner)
  • Police
  • any other person authorised by a Coroner.

What Police staff should attend the Post-Mortem?

  • OC investigation
  • OC Body
  • a member specifically designated as exhibits officer for post-mortem, if required
  • Police photographer
  • SOCO or fingerprint officer, if required.

What is important to note about any doctor, nurse or funeral director (other than the authorised pathologist) attending a post-mortem?


They are not permitted to assist with the post-mortem and must observe only.


Particular consideration should be given to seeking authority from the Coroner for the following parties to attend the post-mortem

  • ESR () forensic scientist

- Crown Solicitor


In relation to a post-mortem, the legal representative of any suspect who has been (or may be) charged must be informed of what?


the time, date and place of the post-mortem, and advised that they are required to seek authority from the Coroner for a doctor (or any other representative) to attend on their behalf.
If the Coroner directs a second or subsequent post-mortem to be conducted, the same provisions will apply.


Depending on the particular circumstances of each case, the OC investigation may consult other experts regarding the conduct of the post-mortem, such as:

  • Odontologist
  • Biologist
  • Medical illustrator
  • Toxicologist
  • Ballistics expert
  • Crime scene examiner
  • Entomologist
  • Anthropologist
  • Disaster Victim Identification.

The OC () Body must collect the Police equipment required for the post-mortem examination and ensure this is readily available at the mortuary. This should include:


-MEK () examination kit
-Toxicology kit
-Body label
-A notebook and pens for use solely during the post-mortem
-A Scene Exhibit Schedule form
-Copy of completed Pol 47
-Pol 265 Deceased Person Certificate
-Pol 265A
Deceased Person Identification
-Exhibit packaging supplies
-Protective clothing
-Photographs from the scene, if available, showing the body ‘in situ’
-A range of available exhibit numbers for the post-mortem
-Pre-printed exhibit labels bearing the allocated exhibits numbers, if available
-Roll of brown paper, for placing layers between folds of any bloodstained clothing
-Firearms residue kit, if relevant.


Items found at the scene which are relevant to the post-mortem examination may need to be taken to the mortuary or to the pathologist for inspection. How should they be packaged?


The exhibit must be properly packaged to avoid contamination, but also be clearly visible.


What is significant to note about taking weapons to post-mortems?


weapons must not be taken to the mortuary until after the post-mortem examination has been conducted.


What is important to note where the victim of a homicide is Maori?


an Iwi liaison Officer must be engaged as early as possible. This will support an understanding and awareness of the Mäori traditions, protocol and beliefs, and enhance relations between the investigation, family of the deceased and the Mäori community.


On arrival at the mortuary, the OC Body must


1 Ensure mortuary staff do not wash the body.
2 Ensure the body is labelled and secured in the secure mortuary fridge.
3 Retain any key used to secure the body, until it is required for the post-mortem.
4 Ensure the body remains in its present condition until the commencement of the postmortem.
5 Arrange formal identification of the body.


Mutilation or decomposition may render visual identification of a body impossible. Where the identity of victim cannot be established, consider the following methods of identification, in consultation with the Coroner

  • fingerprints
  • DNA profiling (identification results take 3-4 weeks or 48 hours for urgent analysis)
  • dental records
  • eye examination records
  • medical examination records
  • personal effects
  • facial reconstruction.

When skeletal remains are found, a pathologist, with the assistance of a forensic anthropologist, can usually provide information such as:

  • Whether the remains are actually bones.
  • Whether the bones are human.
  • The age, gender, height and race of the person.

Who briefs the Pathologist before a post-mortem?


the OC Investigation or deputy appointed by them, will fully brief the pathologist of the circumstances of the death and outline the plan for the postmortem. The OC Body will attend this briefing and ensure they are aware of any specific samples the OC Investigation requires to be taken during the post-mortem.


What info must be provided to the Pathologist before the post-mortem?

  • Copy of the Notification to the Coroner (Pol 47).
  • Medical Examination (MEK ()) kit.
  • Toxicology kit.
  • Medical records of the deceased, where available.
  • Comprehensive photographs and/or video recordings taken at the scene

What is important to note about taking notes during a post-mortem?


The OC Body must not make any notes of discussions concerning the post-mortem examination, unless specifically directed to by the OC Investigation and/or the pathologist.


What steps should be followed when stripping the body?


1 The body must only be stripped in the presence of the pathologist.
2 Remove the body from the secure mortuary fridge and assist mortuary staff to take the body into the post-mortem examination room.
3 Remove the body from the body bag, causing minimal disturbance to the body.
4 Take possession of the body bag and any sheets or wrappings used to transport the body, as exhibits.
5 If necessary, direct the Police photographer to take additional photographs to ensure that appropriate and sufficient photographs of the body are taken before clothing is removed, and again after the body is disrobed. The pathologist will lead direction of the photographer.
6 Remove items of clothing from the body. Mortuary technicians may assist to removing clothing, but only under the supervision and direction of the OC Body.
Cutting clothing off the body should be avoided, but may be necessary in some cases. If unavoidable, cut clothing in areas where evidence is least likely to be present. Search clothing pockets and make an inventory of each of the pocket contents.
7 Make an inventory of clothing and possessions, as each item is removed.
8 Label each item of clothing and each possession.
9 Seal each item in a separate paper bag or container.
10 Ensure exhibits do not cross-contaminate each other by coming into contact with one other.
11 Maintain security and continuity of the body and exhibits taken from the body, until the post-mortem examination commences.
12 In cases involving obvious head trauma, before blood and debris is washed from the body, particularly the head hair, consider placing a fine sieve in the mortuary table drain hole to collect trace evidence that may have been transferred from a weapon, for later comparison with exhibits the suspect(s) have had access to.


the OC () Body must ensure the photographer at the mortuary takes sufficient appropriate photographs of:

  • the body, before it is stripped
  • the body, after it is stripped
  • close up photographs of any wounds, marks, internal injuries and unusual features. These photographs must include a measuring scale placed in proximity to the feature being photographed, to make a permanent record of the dimensions of the feature.

What is important to note in regards to fingerprints for the OC Body?


The OC Body must ensure fingerprints and palmprints are obtained from the deceased in cases where fingerprints are required,
This may be done at the conclusion of the examination or after the hands have been examined by the pathologist and any evidence has been removed. Where they are relevant to the investigation, footprints should also be taken.


The OC Investigation or deputy appointed by them must ensure the pathologist conducts a thorough examination of the body and that the pathologist conducts the following procedures:

  • Records a description of the body,
  • Records the body’s external appearance
  • Uses specialist kits for collecting evidence samples where appropriate

What samples should be taken at the post-mortem?


Will depend on the specific features of each case and be established by OC Investigation in consultation with the pathologist and forensic expert(s), where necessary.
If there is any doubt about whether a particular sample should be taken, the default position the OC Investigation should adopt, is to require the sample to be taken


What is the OC Body’s responsibility in relation to exhibits?


is responsible for recording, labelling, packaging, sealing and securing all physical exhibits relating to the body, including samples taken during the post-mortem. All exhibits must be packaged and sealed before leaving the mortuary, without exception and will be recorded in a Scene Exhibits Schedule.


Examples of exhibits which the investigation team and pathologist have a mutual interest in?

  • ballistic projectiles
  • foreign items such as hairs, fibres, blood or semen on or in the body
  • ligatures - any knot present on a ligature must not be cut or undone as the knot may be subject to a subsequent knot examination).

When do you make notes during a post-mortem examination?


Only at the direction of the pathologist or OC investigation.


At the conclusion of the examination, the OC () Investigation will fully debrief the pathologist with the OC Body present. During the debrief, the OC Body will record what?


the pathologist’s findings as well as the cause of death, but only at the direction of the OC Investigation and/or the pathologist


What should the OC body provide to OC Exhibits at the conclusion of the post-mortem?

  • All exhibits taken during the examination
  • the post-mortem Scene Exhibit Schedule
  • copy of the OC Body’s notebook entries
  • formal statement

Who is responsible for completing the 1S file?


OC body


What must be included in a 1s file?

  • statement relating to the victim’s formal identification
  • copy of the Police form 47 (report for the coroner) or, in the case of a child under the age of 2 years, a Police form 47A (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy)
  • copy of Deceased Person Certificate (Police form 265)
  • copy of Deceased Person Identification (Police form 265A).

When may a second post mortem be directed by the Coroner?

  • the pathologist is unable to determine cause of death in the initial post-mortem
  • a suspect’s lawyer seeks approval from the Coroner to conduct an independent postmortem
  • the Solicitor General orders a further post-mortem, after an application to the High Court.

Where a second post mortem is ordered, what must the OC body and OC investigations do?


Fulfil the same roles


At the conclusion of the post mortem, what must the family be advised of and consulted about their disposal?


Tissue samples


What is one of the purposes of a post mortem?


To obtain samples for analysis to detect the presence of drugs, poisons and to ascertain the blood alcohol level


What is important to note about blood samples taken during a post mortem?


Samples of blood are taken in all suspicious deaths. If the victim has been medically treated all blood samples taken during treatment should be considered as potential evidence.


Why is it important to use police toxicology kits when taking blood samples?


The containers used by hospitals may contain a gel which can distort the results of any subsequent toxicological analysis


Why are stomach content samples taken?


Taken for both toxicological analysis and to identify the nature of the last meal. Analysis of entire stomach contents may also assist with establishing a time of death.


Why are hair samples taken?


for use as a control to distinguish between foreign hair found on the body and the victim’s hair. The hair can also be used to provide a DNA profile if no other source is available.


Why are urine samples taken?


This is usually collected during the post-mortem for screening for toxicological analysis.


Why are ocular fluid (Vitreous humour)samples taken?


can indicate levels of drugs and alcohol present in the body, a few hours before death. It provides a useful specimen in cases where a blood sample cannot be obtained or where a body is badly decomposed. Decomposition processes in the body produce alcohol within blood which can affect alcohol levels of any toxicology results.


Why are bile samples taken?


This is produced by the liver and is drawn from the gall bladder. It is sometimes taken for toxicology examination. Both urine and bile reveal more about any drugs taken in the days before death rather than what may have intoxicated a person at the time of their death.


Why are liver samples taken?


This is used in a similar way to bile.


Why are lungs samples taken?


In cases where the body has been burnt they can help identify any accelerants used. In drowning cases, the presence of diatoms or the lack of them, can be useful for determining whether or not death occurred while the face was submerged in water and identifying possible sources of water.


Why are organs samples taken?


They can be studied with the naked eye for injuries and natural disease and specimens are taken for microscopic examination


Why are nasal cavity samples taken?


Nasal washings should be considered in cases where the victim has been killed or located outside. These should be secured for later pollen analysis.


What does the OC body do when they attend the post-mortem examination with the OC Investigation, or deputy appointed by them?

  • attend the briefing of the pathologist by the OC Investigation, and contribute as required,
  • ensure the Police photographer takes appropriate and sufficient photographs of the body before clothing is removed, again after the body is disrobed, and during the post-mortem examination. The pathologist will direct the photographer
  • preserve evidence from the body
  • record, label and secure all samples and exhibits associated with the body,
  • arrange for fingerprints and palm prints to be taken, if required