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What Would an "Investigation" Consist of?

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  • What Would an "Investigation" Consist of?

    I have often suggested that the police were not complete fools and would have investigated anybody who was "suspicious" or a "person of interest." Even though I do have to admit that given their manpower shortage and the lack of forensic tools back then it is pretty clear that any investigation would be rudimentary. Depending on circumstances and their level of suspicion I think it would include some or all of the following:

    1. general questioning;

    2. examination of their person and clothing;

    3. examination of contents of pockets;

    4. ask for an alibi which was then verified:

    5. examination of the individual's residence;

    6. question relatives, neighbors and co-workers.

    I wouldn't be surprised that if the individual could come up with a verified alibi for one of the murders that he was pretty much off the hook for all of them.

    Can you think of anything else the police could do in an investigation?

    It is pretty clear that there really were very few hurdles for a suspect to clear and anyone they questioned could have slipped through the cracks. It seems that all we are left with regarding a certain individual is that the police apparently were satisfied that he was not involved in the murders.

    c.d.

  • #2
    - They had the telegraph to communicate between forces to gather background on a suspect or to verify a statement.
    - They had medical expertise (rigor mortis, algor mortis, livor mortis), such as it was to assist in estimating a time of death.
    - Photography was in its infancy as a tool in recording the crime scene.
    - Prison records, arrest records, and ticket-of-leave records to consult.
    - They did use the press as a source for identifying witnesses.
    - House-to-house search, c/w statement taking from every lodger.
    - They used workhouse records, hospital admittance records, and common lodging-house records.
    - travel timetables; train & shipping, and underground.
    Regards, Jon S.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by c.d. View Post
      I have often suggested that the police were not complete fools and would have investigated anybody who was "suspicious" or a "person of interest." Even though I do have to admit that given their manpower shortage and the lack of forensic tools back then it is pretty clear that any investigation would be rudimentary. Depending on circumstances and their level of suspicion I think it would include some or all of the following:

      1. general questioning;

      2. examination of their person and clothing;

      3. examination of contents of pockets;

      4. ask for an alibi which was then verified:

      5. examination of the individual's residence;

      6. question relatives, neighbors and co-workers.

      I wouldn't be surprised that if the individual could come up with a verified alibi for one of the murders that he was pretty much off the hook for all of them.

      Can you think of anything else the police could do in an investigation?

      It is pretty clear that there really were very few hurdles for a suspect to clear and anyone they questioned could have slipped through the cracks. It seems that all we are left with regarding a certain individual is that the police apparently were satisfied that he was not involved in the murders.

      c.d.
      Since we even today go "Whaaaat?" when a family man with a steady work is revealed as a serial killer, one can only imagine how they would have coped - or totally failed to cope - with such a thing back then.

      I think the police were prejudiced in many a way, that they were the victims of influence from criminal anthropology, that they had very little or next to no insights into serial killing, that they were not aware of the concept of aggressive dismemberment and so on.

      I believe that voluntarily going to the police was something that could well prevent them taking any further interest in you, not least if you did it twice. Today, we know that such a thing is suicidal from an investigative viewpoint - but back then, it may well have been the reccommended approach, the thing to do. Meaning that doing wrong could have been considered doing right, so itīs perhaps completely wrong to criticize the victorians for it in retrospect!

      I am not after brandishing the police as incompetent - other than as a result of adhering to the general "insights" about the world that prevailed in victorian days. As I have said before, if we go as far back in history from victorian days as we ourselves are removed from that time, we arrive at a time where there were still witch processes going on in some European countries.

      Iīm sure there were vastly talented people within the police force (as well as dimwitted ones), but the truth of the matter is that if all you can learn about efficient policing from the sources available to you is of poor quality, then your talent wonīt take you very long.

      Some people have a hard time accepting that this may have been as I think, and some point blank refuse to do so. As far as Iīm concerned, that poses a potential obstacle to understanding the backdrop of the case.
      Last edited by Fisherman; 08-12-2018, 12:51 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        "I believe that voluntarily going to the police was something that could well prevent them taking any further interest in you, not least if you did it twice."

        Hello Fish,

        I agree that just like today serial killings are the hardest to solve as they lack the usual connection to the victim.

        As for an individual coming forward, even if we concur that it most likely caught the police off guard it had to have had limitations. In other words, if an individual came forward with his story and as he was talking a bloody knife and organs fell out of his pocket would the police have said well that is sort of suspicious but since he came forward voluntarily we will just ignore it. Of course not.

        c.d.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello Wick,

          Good post. Thanks for the specifics. I was just thinking of what they could have done in general and how it had its limitations meaning that the fact that an individual was cleared has to be taken with a grain (or grains) of salt.

          c.d.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by c.d. View Post
            "I believe that voluntarily going to the police was something that could well prevent them taking any further interest in you, not least if you did it twice."

            Hello Fish,

            I agree that just like today serial killings are the hardest to solve as they lack the usual connection to the victim.

            As for an individual coming forward, even if we concur that it most likely caught the police off guard it had to have had limitations. In other words, if an individual came forward with his story and as he was talking a bloody knife and organs fell out of his pocket would the police have said well that is sort of suspicious but since he came forward voluntarily we will just ignore it. Of course not.

            c.d.
            True enough! But if the knife and organs didnīt drop, then I am suggesting that the penny perhaps didnīt either.

            Itīs not a question of institutionalised idiocy, itīs a case of not having turned professionally cynical enough.
            Last edited by Fisherman; 08-12-2018, 01:14 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by c.d. View Post
              I have often suggested that the police were not complete fools and would have investigated anybody who was "suspicious" or a "person of interest." Even though I do have to admit that given their manpower shortage and the lack of forensic tools back then it is pretty clear that any investigation would be rudimentary. Depending on circumstances and their level of suspicion I think it would include some or all of the following:

              1. general questioning;

              2. examination of their person and clothing;

              3. examination of contents of pockets;

              4. ask for an alibi which was then verified:

              5. examination of the individual's residence;

              6. question relatives, neighbors and co-workers.

              I wouldn't be surprised that if the individual could come up with a verified alibi for one of the murders that he was pretty much off the hook for all of them.

              Can you think of anything else the police could do in an investigation?

              It is pretty clear that there really were very few hurdles for a suspect to clear and anyone they questioned could have slipped through the cracks. It seems that all we are left with regarding a certain individual is that the police apparently were satisfied that he was not involved in the murders.

              c.d.
              Hi c.d.,

              I think that the police back in those days could not catch the murderer if:
              - they didn't catch him in the act or getting away from the crime scene
              - he didn't leave anything at the crime scene that could be linked to him (mind you, I think there would have been a lot that he could leave that could not be linked to him)
              - they didn't find witnesses who could put the police on his track
              - the murderer didn't come forward and confess

              So, the best thing they had would be witnesses.

              All the best,
              Frank
              "You can rob me, you can starve me and you can beat me and you can kill me. Just don't bore me."
              Clint Eastwood as Gunny in "Heartbreak Ridge"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by c.d. View Post
                Hello Wick,

                Good post. Thanks for the specifics. I was just thinking of what they could have done in general and how it had its limitations meaning that the fact that an individual was cleared has to be taken with a grain (or grains) of salt.

                c.d.
                Hi c.d.

                I know my list was more general than personal, but you didn't leave much for anyone else I thought you nailed all the immediate details they would look for.
                Regards, Jon S.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What seems to have been overlooked in assessing what the police would do,is (1)What powers did the police have.
                  (2)What rights did the general populance have.

                  Police were guided,in the main, by the same rules and laws that exist today.One such is 'Reasonable cause'.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by harry View Post
                    What seems to have been overlooked in assessing what the police would do,is (1)What powers did the police have.
                    (2)What rights did the general populance have.

                    Police were guided,in the main, by the same rules and laws that exist today.One such is 'Reasonable cause'.
                    A constable could arrest anyone who he has "reasonable suspicion" to have committed a felony, murder comes under that category

                    www.trevormarriott.co.uk

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