Friday, August 8, 2008

On the Trail of a Killer

A man who lived alone is the victim of a brutal stabbing. It took a few days before he was found. You have part of the picture . . . and the smell.

The passionate anger associated with this type of murder indicates the victim probably knew the killer—and probably knew them well.

You should have seen my husband's face when I told him I'd spent the morning helping to track a killer. If he were an electronic device, he would've begun to collapse because he almost came unplugged.

For heaven's sake. I was standing right in front of him, not a ding or dent to be seen. Truth is, I was more exhausted from the hour commute than from watching Georgia do her bloodhound thing. And to think, he wants me to take a weapons class? Hmmm . . .

But when I told him the murder had happened about eighteen months ago? He relaxed . . . a little.

I spent the day with some of Lakewood Colorado's finest. Detectives of the Major Crimes/Domestic Violence Unit. Because the day was filled with information, I'm breaking it down a bit to keep my posts shorter.

Georgia is actually a "county mounty" because of her special skills. She's a cadaver dog. Her Jefferson County Sheriff's Department handler has been doing this kind of thing for a long time. Although it probably wasn't the first four-foot drop he took to try and find evidence, I was content to watch from the street. A four-foot drop down meant a four-foot leap up. Not a pretty picture.

The reason for the search was to look for any evidence left by the killer fleeing the crime scene. Natural escape routes don't usually include leaping over backyard fences. Easier, faster options are more routinely used. Joining the search team of Al and Georgia was a cold case detective, the original lead detective, a third detective, their sergeant, and a uniformed patrolman (to add credibility should they have to go marching through someone's yard) and of course, the tag-along day-wrecker (moi) who was trying hard not to get in the way or be too mouthy with her thoughts and questions. Both of which would've immediately pegged me as someone who watches entirely too much TV.

Georgia was able to get a scent over a thirty-foot swath. Even more impressive, these dogs have been known to get a scent up to five years after the fact. Their wonderful, floppy ears act as scent-funnels. The way this particular bloodhound has been trained to alert is to simply lie down.

Unfortunately, if there's additional evidence out there, it's still waiting to be found. Georgia didn't alert. But a lot of speculative area has been eliminated. This murder stands a good chance of resulting in an arrest because these guys aren't giving up any time soon.

Random Impressions:

Some cases get to be more personal than others. This particular murder represents the first one this detective worked as lead. She'd done plenty of others, but this one . . . well, you get the idea. I can imagine the questions and self-doubt this professional has endured. And the simple answer is . . . these things happen. Way too often.

Detectives, as cynical as their jobs must make them, are also among the most optimistic people on earth. They have to have a strong belief that something is gonna break their way. They'll get lucky. Someone will talk. A piece of evidence will surface. The killer will screw up—and they'll be there when it happens.

The thought struck me that the blood these human beings deal with isn't on television or a movie screen or in the pages of a book. It's for real. It's huge. I think it must be redder and smellier and more significant than anything I can imagine.

Still reading Deadly Beautiful.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I am hoping you give us more information. This subject is so interesting to me.

  2. Glad you're enjoying this little segment, Sharon. I'm working on the next post. There will be three of four total.

  3. Okay, you've got my attention!

    Good stuff.

    "other" Peg

  4. Great post, Peg. You're right. We do get close to our cases. It's very easy to develop the feeling that we're there to provide a final word for the victim.

  5. What a wonderful blog you have here! I read your post three times before I could stop myself. Interesting and instructive stuff.

    I came across your site looking for blogs about writing, and believe me, it is the first blog that I've ever taken notes on!

  6. Wow, Peggy, Lee and "VWriter", you're making me get all puffy.


    And thanks.