2:30 am, shots ring out on
the 1500 block of
I received a phone call at 3:00am to help assist with the investigation. At approximately 6:00am, the male subject surrenders and is taken into custody. It is now my job to figure out what happened. While the crime scene technicians are meticulously processing the crime scene, I begin interviewing witnesses. An interview is a technique of questioning that elicits information from witnesses about a crime (Leo, 2008). I interview the female (we will call her Ann) who had been held hostage. She explains to me that the male (we will call Mike) subject and the deceased female had been arguing all day. She further explains that Mike became physically violent towards her. Ann claimed that the victim told Mike that she was going to call the police. Ann further stated that Mike replied by saying, "If you call the police I am going to shoot you." Ann called the police and was subsequently killed. I spoke to other patrons of the motel who were able to establish credibility to Ann's statement. They confirmed that they heard the victim and the male subject (Mike) arguing for a better part of the day. When all of the witnesses were asked why they didn't call the police when they heard the arguing, many stated, "I assumed someone else would." This is known as the bystander effect where people are less likely to help in an emergency when other bystanders are present (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, p. 247). In this case, it was a busy hotel where roughly 100 guests were staying.
I spoke with my crime scene technicians who advised me that they had located a loaded .45 automatic handgun behind the door in room 104. They further explained that the caliber matched the shell casing that lie next to the body. Between the witness statements and the evidence, I was confident in Mike's guilt, and I was ready to start my investigative interview (Kassin et al., 2010). It has been my experience in conducting interviews that the suspects often times want to tell their stories. I am not sure if it is to brag or to get the guilt off of their chest. Since I want to hear their stories I conduct what is known as a cognitive interview, which is a form of an investigative interview (Fisher, Geiselman, & Raymond, 1987). This allows me to ask open ended and non-leading questions to gather information. It also allows for detailed notes and to go back and clear things up (Schneider et al., 2012).
During the interview with Mike, he explained everything. He explained how he had been drinking all day and that "his old lady" had been harassing him. He said they had been fighting constantly for the past week because she though he was cheating on her. Mike further explained that he killed her because he was on probation for a drug charge and he didn't want to go back to jail for domestic assault which would violate his probation. Which promptly made me ask, "so, you kill her?" to which his only reply was, "I guess I didn't think it through." While this is a tragic set of circumstances it just goes to show that criminals are not very smart. If I would have used a different interview method, Mike may have shut down and refused to answer any questions. An example of a bad interview method would be to just ask yes and no questions. This allows the suspect to give limited detail and often makes them feel as if you are blaming them.
Leo, R. A. (2008). Police interrogation and American justice.
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J.
A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied
social psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd