Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Crime Scene Investigation

It's been barely two weeks since the bound and bludgeoned bodies of Brenda Groene, 40, Mark McKenzie, 37, and 13-year-old Slade Groene were found in their Wolf Lodge Bay home a few miles east of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The apparent abduction of Shasta Groene, 8, and Dylan Groene, 9, adds to the mystery. Yet according to an article in today's The Spokesman Review, family members are already expressing some frustration that these crimes have not been solved.

Investigators from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department, the Idaho State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be understanding and forgive family members' frutstrations. Investigators know that while major crimes sometimes appear to be solved as a result of "one big break", that break often results from painstaking, meticulous, systematic, and often mundane investigative practices that acquire, collate, and analyze hundreds or thousands of bits of information. The "one big break" that appears to solve a case has a parallel in the theater: Often an actor becomes an "overnight success" only after years of developing his craft.

We who are not investigators must remember that the importance or significance of some piece of information or some item may not be immediately apparent. Its value may not be revealed until later in the investigation.

For readers interested in getting a better basic understanding about the complexities of real criminal investigations (as opposed to fictionalized television programs), see

Crime Scene Investigation - A Guide for Law Enforcement

Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator

The first "bible" of homicide investigation was Homicide Investigation: Practical Information for Coroners, Police Officers, and Other Investigators by LeMoyne Snyder. The current reference book of choice is Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, Third Edition edited by Vernon J. Geberth.

Reading any of these references won't make us investigators, won't make our uninformed theories of what happened any more valid. What they will do is give us a better appreciation of the effort that goes into investigations and a better understanding of why these crimes may not be solved as quickly as the ones in fictionalized television mysteries and cop shows.


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