Writing Crime – Identifying The Victim

Making Your Crime Fiction Realistic (3)Back in February, after the crime scene, (discussed HERE, HERE and HERE) where we had found our murdered victim, we had a post-mortem, (discussed HERE) but we hadn’t yet identified our victim. So, we’re going to look at identifying the victim, where this isn’t a straight-forward thing to do.

You may go into a situation where you know straight away who the deceased is. It may be the spouse in their own home or another family member after a domestic situation. It may be an incident in a pub and there are plenty of witnesses there to tell you who the victim is. But, what if it isn’t a situation like this and your body is slightly different?

Your body could have massive trauma to their face, or have been submerged in water, they could have been injured by fire (not completely), another disfigurement, or be completely headless! Or, they could be fully intact and you have found them in an isolated spot and simply need to find out who they are. What do you do?

You will initially start with your local Missing Persons Database, going on the information you have before you, the height, build, hair colour/length, ethnicity, estimated age and any identifying marks you can see. (If you have this information from the body.) Then as you see from the post-mortem post, tests are conducted there that will provide you with more help; DNA, fingerprints, body mapping for further identifying marks which include surgical scars and tattoos. Surgical implants of any description will be found during a PM as well and these can help with their own ID on them, and an odontologist will take impressions of their teeth (if they have them). All this will help you with the Missing persons database.

fingerprint-255900_1280But, what if the attending officer at the original missing person report didn’t take a toothbrush or hairbrush so you have no DNA to match against and your body is facially disfigured, the fingerprints aren’t on the police system, what then, are you stuck?

No. Then you go to facial reconstruction and artists impressions.

If you still get no match when using these methods by searching the missing person database both locally and nationally then you put your images out on the media to see if anyone recognises your victim because the identity of your victim is the first and most important place to start in your murder investigation.

I hope this was helpful and interesting.

Let me know if you want anything specific covering in this Writing Crime series. You can go back and find all previous topics Here.

8 thoughts on “Writing Crime – Identifying The Victim

  1. I really, really enjoy these posts Rebecca. I have a question about the dental records – we are often told in the media these are used but how do you know where to find them – I understand that a child living with an adult will know who their dentist is but I’m fairly sure my OH has no idea. Are all local dentists checked out?

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