5 Common Clues Found At Crime Scenes

by Criminal Defence Blawg on June 26, 2012

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Below is a criminal blog post explaining 5 Common Clues Found At Crime Scenes.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Michael Melchiorre

Every crime scene is different. Some are chaotic and unsettling; others seem almost undisturbed. Regardless of the setting, every investigation begins with a thorough assessment of the evidence at hand. Clues that will eventually solve the crime range from the obvious to the almost invisible. Identifying and processing this evidence is the foundation of all forensic investigations. A crime is a puzzle; clues found at the scene are the source of its solution. There are five common types of clues that are typically found at crime scenes.

Clues From Observation

The first observations an investigator makes are the details of the setting. This initial observation indicates what type of crime has been committed. A broken window or jimmied lock is a clue to forced entry. Smashed furniture and scattered belongings are evidence of a fight or struggle. Emptied drawers, opened cabinets and overturned storage boxes point to a burglary. Other clues suggest what occurred immediately before the crime was committed. A dinner left on the stove, the last call on a cellphone or the time on a stopped clock becomes a starting point for an investigation.

Clues from Location

Photographs of a crime scene are routinely taken to establish exactly what is found, where it is located and how it is positioned. A weapon found outside a back door indicates the direction an assailant escaped. The position of a body is a clue to the events before the crime. Drops of blood form a pattern that becomes a trail. Clues taken from the location and position of evidence help reconstruct the crime scene.

Clues From Impressions

The most common clues a criminal leaves behind are his fingerprints. They are found on weapons, door knobs and even human skin. The fingerprint provides a positive identification, and it is crucial to an investigation. However, there are other important types of imprint clues. A perpetrator’s foot print narrows the field of suspects, and tire tracks help trace the type of vehicle involved. These types of clues can also determine if more than one suspect is involved in the crime.

Clues From Blood

A knife blade is often stained with the blood of both the victim and the perpetrator. Blood stains in a sink are clues to an effort to leave the scene without being noticed. Stained areas that were cleaned after the crime are exposed by a process involving the chemical luminol. Blood evidence is the most common physical clue found at violent crime scenes. It, too, can establish the presence of more than one individual at the scene.

Clues From Trace Evidence

The tiniest clues are difficult to collect, but they can be the most revealing. Fibers, hair and gunshot residue are the most common examples. Gunshot residue is a clue to the location of both victim and perpetrator in a shooting, and it helps frame the scenario of the crime. Fibers and hair are very important clues, as they are excellent sources of DNA. Of all the trace evidence, DNA is the most powerful; it establishes the identity of those on the crime scene beyond any shadow of doubt.

Every clue from a crime scene is vital, and each reveals information that another does not. A broken window suggests forced entry, but it does not always yield fingerprints. The location of a body indicates where a crime was committed, but it does not identify the vehicle driven by the murderer. Taken separately, clues are useful starting points. When they are all combined to complete the picture, the clues become the evidence that completes the puzzle and solves the crime.

Mitch Crawford is a criminal profiler and author at BecomeCareer.com, where he contributed the How Do I Become a Forensic Scientist guide.

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Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal law blogger at CriminalDefenceBlawg
Criminal Defence Blawg is a criminal law blog, sharing legal expertise and intelligence from the UK, US, Australia and beyond. Contributions from those who share great legal information. Want to get published? Contact us today.
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