TV shows have gone quite a long way in unintentionally deceiving views that crime, investigation, and punishment are some how more glorious, and work at extreme levels of sophistications and speed, while in reality it’s much different. We have to laugh when watching CSI at times; Horatio will threaten the bad guy with DNA; ever-cool, the red-headed detective will drop cool conversation with a murderer:
Horatio: “We’ll be seeing you tomorrow when we knock on your door with the arrest warrant.”
Suspect: “With what evidence? You don’t have nothing on me. Nothing. No witness, no body, no proof! I’ll never see you again.”
Horatio: Oh, I’ll see you. You just may not see me coming. We had your ex-wife exhumed and sent DNA,
yours, to the lab last night. Like I said, see you tomorrow…Mr. Jones. “
In reality, DNA results take weeks, and often months, to come back from a lab; and no, most city police departments and investigative services don’t have the capabilities, or the personnel, to run “in-house” DNA tests as depicted by many shows.
In the non-TV world, investigations are painstakingly planned, processed, and documented with taped conversations, video interviews, research using both on- and off-line sources, phone calls, and a plethora of similar tactics. Investigations, especially those done by private firms like MSI, must be comprehensive and exhaustive in their research and investigation, leaving no room for conjecture, or guess work as many cases end in a court of law.
Usually, one or two small clues will solve the entire case…
Yesterday marked the execution of John Allen Muhammad, also known as the DC Sniper. In the event that you do not recall the circumstances, Muhammad, and his protégé, Lee Malvo, terrorized Washington Beltway commuters, shooting them from hidden locations, that included the trunk of their car. The targets were seemingly random, but investigators surmised that the crimes were committed to eventually cover one murder: Muhammad’s estranged wife. Prior to their arrest, ten people had been murdered and three were wounded. Ten other victims have also been linked to the pair.
The investigation was publicly headed by the Montgomery County Police Department and its Police Chief, Charles Moose. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI, the Secret Service, the Virginia Department of Transportation and police departments in other jurisdictions where shootings took place, provided assistance in the investigation.
Although they did not know it at the time, police units had stopped Malvo and Muhammad on numerous occasions; although questioned, the pair were let go every time because there were no obvious links to the sniper case. To the public, the investigation seemed like it was going nowhere, and although the task force was chasing down various leads and eyewitness accounts, as often happens, the suspects provided the clue that blew the case wide open.
During a phone call, Muhammad linked himself to murder that took place in Montgomery, AL. Although skeptical, the FBI sent a team to investigate, finding that there had been a murder as Muhammad had stated. Clues at the crime scene linked Malvo to the crime, Malvo was linked to Muhammad, and eventually a vehicle. The vehicle was spotted at a roadside park, and the suspects were arrested.
In a matter of moments, the terror ended…from a lead that was, at best, unlikely. Yet, the thorough investigative techniques won out in the end.
MSI is a full-service private investigative service based in Chicago. We investigate cases on a national basis. If you are in need of our services, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-404-7400.