Inside the homicide investigation

Investigating a murder is nowhere near what you see on television, local RCMP Corporal tells us

  • Mar. 18, 2013 7:00 p.m.

Cpl. Chris Newel

With the recent homicide in Kimberley, I thought it would be a good opportunity to give you an idea of what takes place. TV is nowhere near reality.

On Friday afternoon (March 8) RCMP received a phone call that caused them to check the house in Marysville. Once inside they found a deceased male, which they deemed suspicious.

The officers had medical personnel confirm he was deceased.

The officers backed out of the house and began initiating additional resources. The house became a crime scene; it was secured and for the next four days guarded 24 hours a day by a police officer. Everybody who had entered the house has to make very thorough notes about what they observed, their entry and egress along with anything they may have disturbed. This is very important.

The major crime team was called in; they arrived late Friday night.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday morning a briefing was held; over 20 officers participated. This is when the investigation really picks up speed. Everyone who had been involved in the investigation to this point explained what he or she has done. This is all documented and as a result a number of tasks are identified. The investigation began with approximately twelve full time investigators. Two of those members have the sole job of correlating information as it was received. They are the file coordinators. A primary investigator is assigned; he/she is an experienced member of the team who leads the investigation, monitoring the progress, assigning tasks and dealing with issues that arise.

Whenever a building belongs to or is occupied by another person especially if it’s the suspect, a search warrant is required. Two officers began drafting a warrant. A number of other officers begin following up on tips, conducting neighbourhood inquiries, doing background checks, talking to potential witnesses or people who had contact prior to the incident.

The next of kin needs to be notified. In this case, two issues arose which made this difficult. Because officers were only in the residence for a few minutes and not being familiar with the deceased we could not say positively it was him. In addition we could not go into the house and check things such as address books and mail in an attempt to locate a relative. Police cannot start asking around for fear of the word getting back to the family before it’s been official. Ironically the next of kin was located though Internet searches.

Once the search warrant is obtained, which was early Saturday afternoon, officers can enter the house. Only those required are allowed in. This is not TV where the crime scene is littered with investigators, guys dusting for fingerprints and others taking pictures. This is limited to forensic examiners and a scene officer who assists. They conduct a very methodical detailed examination of the house. This took three days. Remember the scene security? That officer is still out front and he must maintain a log of everybody who enters and when they depart.

In the midst of this a second scene was identified. This meant getting another officer to guard that until an examination could be conducted. Another search warrant is obtained

Follow-up carries on for the day; a second briefing is held at 8 p.m., Saturday night. Again each investigator goes over what they did. As a result more tasks are generated. Each time an investigator learns about another person or business that may have information, it becomes a task. An officer is assigned to follow that up; the list grows at each briefing.

Digital recordings were done with a large number of witnesses. Investigators are then tasked with drafting a summary of that interview. A witness is anybody who has information about the people involved or the incident. Some witnesses are interviewed two or three times. This is because during the course of interviewing somebody else, new information is gained that was not known during the first interview. Unlike TV a mere chat with a witness is not sufficient.

As the night wore on, investigators began to call it a night. The first left around 10 p.m., the latest worked until 2 a.m. This does not include scene security that continues on. The day for most stretched to well over 14 hours.

See Part 2 of Behind The Scenes in Tuesday’s Townsman.