Criminal Justice Paper on Death Investigations

Death Investigations

Question 1

Understanding the four categories of death is essential for any criminal investigator. It helps to identify the type of death at a crime scene. There are four categories of death. To some extent, the categories are similar, but again they have differences.

Natural death occurs when the body stops functioning on its own. This death can result from medical factors like terminal illness among other natural causes. Accidental death is death that comes in an unexpected way that is not natural, murder or suicide. Sometimes, it can be referred to as manslaughter- involuntary murder resulting from acts of violence or death my misadventure-death caused by engaging in mortal danger risks. Suicide happens when a person deliberately takes their life. In most cases, it results from extreme emotional distress that results from severe depression. Lastly, homicide involves taking a person’s life in a planned and executed murder (Gilbert, 2010).

Question 2

Teen homicide in Chicago

A 17-year-old boy had fatally shot another tender in South Chicago on June 12, 2012. The boy was charged with murder. Keon Tolliver was charged on June 13 as an adult for shooting Romelo Golden (17 years old). The case prosecutor, Bob Groebner said that Golden was approached by the defendant while standing in front of the 8900 block of South Brandon Avenue. According to the prosecutor, the deceased, of the 8800 block of South Burley Avenue was shot by Keon in the other thigh, neck, arm and the forehead. According to the police, the deceased was taken to John H. Stroger Hospital at 10.39, and he was pronounced dead upon arrival (Hanzlick, 2007).

I suggest the death investigators collect any weapons that are found at the scene and they also take finger prints on the weapons. They will later determine whether the weapons were used to aid the death of the deceased or it resulted from a different means. Collecting information of the psychological well-being of the deceased is also important in suicide cases

Question 3

Death cases require the investigators to find answers to the victim’s family. Unlike other cases, it requires adherence to strict guidelines. Clues that identify particular types of death must be searched by investigators. A collection of evidence must be done carefully to help in the conviction of suspects and murders in cases of homicide.

Question 4

Preliminary death investigations are done to gather evidence that will help end a case by identifying the type of death and identifying the criminals involved in the case. The investigations follow a well-spelt procedure.

Identify and introduce self and role- the investigator establishes formal contact with other representatives from official agencies. He builds rapport and determines the safety of the scene. The introduction helps to develop a collaborative investigative effort. The investigator should carry identification should authority question them. It is also crucial to establish the safety of the scene before entering.

Ensure safety and security of the scene

Any physical or environmental threats to the investigator must be removed to ensure safe conduction of investigations. The investigating staff must use protective devices to prevent any injury. The investigator might also endeavor to protect the evidence against any form of contamination or even loss. Scenes that prove to have potential hazards that can tamper with the evidence necessitate the removal of the body before investigations can go on.

Confirm death

Before initiating death investigations, appropriate personnel must determine if the person is dead. Confirmation of death helps in determining jurisdictional duties.

Scene briefing

This step allows for the exchange of factual and initial factual information. The investigator should locate a staging area and document the location of the scene. He should gather preliminary details to aid the determination of the nature and scope of the investigation. Lastly, he should confirm accounts given by eye witnesses. The investigator conducts a walk through the scene and takes note of any evidence.

An example of a preliminary investigation that was carried out successfully is that of the death of Robin William. The deceased is believed to have committed suicide as a result of asphyxia since he was hanging. According to the investigation, the 63-year-old man had a pocket knife and a closed blade that was found close to his body, additionally, the deceased had superficial cuts on his left wrist (Prahlow, 2012).

Question 5


As rigor passes, the skin of the abdomen turns green. The rest of the body becomes discolored. Methane gas forms that cause swelling of the body. Bacteria inhabit the body. After death, the bacteria proliferate. Only warm and cold weather retards their growth.

Algor Mortis

When a person dies, the body temperatures cool to the room temperature from a normal internal temperature of 98.6F. This decrease is known as algor mortis. This process helps in determining formulas that could predict the consistency of the body (Prahlow, 2012).

Rigor Mortis

This is a condition where body muscles initially become flaccid after death. After 1 to 3 hours, the joints freeze and become rigid.  Rigor mortis increases in warmer temperatures and retards in cooler ones.




Hanzlick, R. (2007). Death investigation: Systems and procedures. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Prahlow, J. A., & Byard, R. W. (2012). Atlas of forensic pathology. New York: Springer.

Gilbert, J. N. (2010). Criminal investigation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.