Why is it important for forensic scientists to have as much information as possible about the place where a possible drug substance was found?
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The crime scene examination and subsequent search should be done in a careful and methodical manner. After talking to the officer(s) who were the first ones on the scene and learning from them of any changes that might have been made to the scene since their arrival, such as turning lights on or off or opening doors or windows, start the examination by working your way into the body using great care to avoid disturbing or destroying any evidence as you do. Carefully observe the floor or ground surrounding the body. Look for items of evidence or of evidential value such as stains, marks, etc. Remember to look up too, every crime scene is 3 dimensional. Another technique to you assist in locating evidence is to shine a flashlight on the ground at an oblique angle. Yes, even in the daytime. Look at the items as they are located. Pay close attention to everything as you approach the body at this time, do not dismiss anything until its evidentuary value can be determined. Are there any footprints or drag marks? Is there anything on the floor or ground that may be stepped on or destroyed?
Only one investigator at a time should approach the body! Determine what, if anything, has been moved or altered by the suspect(s) or anyone else prior to your arrival. Has the body been moved? If so, by whom and for what reason?
Never move or alter the positioning of the body! Make close visual examinations of the body and the area immediately around it. Look between the arms and legs without moving them. Look at the arms, hands and fingers. Are there defense wounds? Is there anything under the nails that you can see at this time? If you can, try to determine the cause of death and the instrument or method used. Take careful notes of the external appearance of the body and the clothing or lack of clothing. Look at or for lividity, decomposition, direction of blood flow patterns, remember the law of gravity. Is the blood flow consistant with it? Make detailed notes.Describe the clothing, and especially the condition of the clothing. Do folds or rolls indicate the body had been dragged? If so, in what direction? Note those folds and rolls, diagram them then photograph them. They could assist you in determining the method of transportation or placement of the body at the location where it was found. There could be trace evidence in the folds and rolls too.
Describe the location and appearance of wounds, bruises, etc. Make careful and detailed observations. Describe not only what you see, but also what you do not see! Forget about what you think you see! If something is missing, note it. For example, if you observe an area on the wrist that is not tanned by the sun, note it. DO NOT state that a wristwatch is missing. What if the victim had an I.D. bracelet or sweatband on instead? Never ASSUME! Examine the scene for the presence and absense of blood. If any is located, note the amount, size and shape of the drops and degree of coagulation or separation of it. Photograph it using a scale and always taking the pictures from a 90 degree angle.
At this time, you should be making a sketch of the scene. It can be a rough, freehand sketch drawn on a blank piece of paper or in your notebook. You should include in the sketch things like the location of all doors, windows, furniture, the victim and anything else you feel it is necessary to document. A sketch should be made in all murder cases and any other case involving a death where there is any question of cause or at the discretion of the investigator. Measurements can then be made of the location to show the size of the area drawn, the width and height of doors, windows, tables, the bed or any other items needed. This will also geographically locate the victims body and items of evidence within the scene. If the investigator is reasonably sure this is not a natural death and he/she is going to proceed with the investigation as if it is a murder, then at a later date, a detailed formal diagram should be drawn using drafting tools, a scale and a uniform format. Photos of the scene can give a distorted view of the relationship of the body to other fixed objects due to camera angle, size of lense, lighting, etc. To accurately depict the scene it is possible to use photos in conjunction with the finished diagram. Something to keep in mind about the sketch is this, you should have enough information in it so you could give it to another investigator and that person would be able to complete a finished diagram without the need to revisit the scene.