Imagine a crime scene where someone has been poisoned. What are a few of the methods and techniques used by detectives to evaluate the scene?What is “nothing-buttery”? Give an example.Imagine...

Imagine a crime scene where someone has been poisoned. What are a few of the methods and techniques used by detectives to evaluate the scene?

What is “nothing-buttery”? Give an example.
Imagine a crime scene where someone has been poisoned. State of a few different types of explanations the police detectives may be interested in. At least one of them should involve a physical/scientific explanation, and another involving personal motive (ie. not something you can study in repeatable experiment).

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boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

First of all let me address the concept of “nothing-buttery” which you mention in the detail section of your question.  This is a philosophy of removing God, spirituality, miracles and so forth, and viewing the world only in terms of reality, nature and science.

While it is true that crime scene analysis employs the scientific method and objective evaluation of evidence, there is also a less-than-scientific approach that allows a seasoned detective to get an idea from components of the scene, the life style and even likely emotions of the victim.  There may be indicators of the activity and intent of the perpetrator.  So crime scene analysis does not rely entirely on the “nothing-buttery” philosophy.

In terms of a crime scene, it is necessary for the detective to seek evidence and then have that evidence tested in a scientifically provable and reproducible manner.  Such analysis would apply to fingerprints and DNA.

In addition to collecting hard evidence and application of solid scientific principles, the detective might also engage in more speculative analysis.  Such analysis might include, for instance, an assessment of emotions going on during the crime based on the degree of scene disruption from a fight, or a pattern of excessive wounds on the body and therefore overkill, or evaluation of personal effects at the scene to establish the life style and personality of the victim.

Thus, detectives might arrive at conclusions about the crime using the applications of life experience and common sense, an not always rely on the scientific method, per se.

A newer field of crime and crime scene analysis relies on a mixture of science, psychology, crime investigation experience and life experience and common sense.  It is called behavioral analysis.  Experts in this field (most notably the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, VA) are adept at gleaning information about a perpetrator from analysis of the scene and the nature of the crime itself.

The scene of poisoning may harbor evidence of the source of poisoning (e.g. a glass with poison residue and fingerprints).  There may be an indication of the manor of death (natural, accident, homicide or suicide) such as a suicide note.  A poisoning scene that could indicate accidental death would be a body found in a known drug “shooting gallery” with a needle still stuck in the arm.

In summary, death scene analysis requires overall assessment of circumstances based on survey of the scene by an experienced and world-wise detective.  Theories are then solidified and supported or perhaps later changed after careful collection of evidence and scientific examination thereof.

In the case of homicide, the ultimate task of detectives and crime scene scientists is presentation of his information to a jury so they can decide on the guilt or innocence of the defendant.