New England Crime Bake
This past weekend I attended the annual New England Crime Bake in Massachusetts, a conference for crime-fiction writers and readers. There were a few takeaways that true crime authors may find helpful (I’ll spare you the details about decomposition stages).
Many crime authors need to know about forensics, which is why a forensic investigator was such a valuable asset to the conference. Here are some random, yet important, notes that I took during the session:
When a crime scene has a body on it, it is referred to as a death scene. No one can interact with the body except the lead investigator. The first to arrive on scene is fire, EMT, and police. Then comes the lead investigator with support, working from the the perimeter in, and she/he makes all decisions on the scene, period. When the body is ready to go to the morgue, the coroner or medical examiner picks it up. Once at the morgue, the remains are refrigerated to stop decomposition. Evidence is later retrieved from forensics after the autopsy.
Legal searches can’t violate a person’s right to privacy. One must possess probable cause with which to obtain a search warrant. If there is no probably cause or time to obtain a search warrant, an exception to the search warrant rule is enacted. Legal search exceptions include consent, plain view, execution of an arrest warrant, prevention of evidence destruction, and ensuring the safety of others.
There are three types of evidence that may be accepted at a trial: testimonial, physical (DNA and blood), and documentation. There are also two categories of evidence: direct (eyewitness, weapon) and circumstantial (appearance of the death scene, testimony suggesting a connection or link with the crime).
When asked about diving into the research for his books, author Walter Mosley said, “I hate research.” I’ve heard this from true crime authors too, as well as authors who haven’t published, or even begun drafting, their books because they’re stuck in the research process.
Think of your published book as a house. To first start building (writing), you need a solid foundation (research). This requires looking at the tiny details that make up the big picture. It can be overwhelming, but a book packed with research will be greatly appreciated by readers.
If you’re stuck with your research, reaching dead-ends, or want to just focus on writing, I can help. I have a MS in crime and justice studies and have experience with true crime research.