Posted by: nancycurteman | December 26, 2018

What do Crime Scene Investigators do?

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Crime scene investigators have specific procedures they follow to collect and preserve physical evidence while preserving the integrity of a homicide crime scene. Their report must include a scientific assessment of physical evidence and witness statements. Mystery writers need to understand these procedures if they want to write realistic and believable crime scene investigator chapters in their novels. Here is a summary of  sequential procedures common in most crime scene investigations:

  • On arrival at the scene the investigator introduces herself and identifies her role to any other officials who have arrived at the scene before her.
  • Her next job is to establish crime scene physical boundaries and protect the area and any evidence from contamination by people, animals or weather.
  • She must ensure that the Medical Examiner confirms the individual is dead.
  • The investigator needs to confer with other agency representatives who may be at the scene such as fire, EMT,law enforcement.
  • Next is a walk through the scene to view the body and identify, photograph and collect evidence.
  • To safeguard against allegations of tampering, theft or planting of evidence the investigator must see that all evidence is labelled and preserved in proper containers.
  • Document, document., document. Record time and place of collection of evidence and witness interviews and by whom. In addition, written description of the scene must be generated to include blood and body fluid evidence such as blood spatter, scene environment including odors and temperature.
  • An investigator must make an effort to determine where the death of the victim took place. Did it happen at a location other than the crime scene? For example, were there “drag marks?”
  • As indicated above, the investigator must ensure that witnesses are interviewed and their information documented.
  • Conduct a body examination prior to moving it. Include clothing, position, physical characteristics, scars, tattoos. Look for trace evidence such as hair or fibers.
  • Identification of the victim may be as simple as checking his wallet or as complex as reviewing fingerprints, dental records or DNA.
  • Finally, the investigator must debrief with crime scene personnel in order to assign post-scene responsibilities, share investigative data and ensure that all evidence, equipment and personnel are removed from the scene.

These are the basic tasks of a crime scene investigator. As an author you may elaborate on as many as you need or simply reference them. The important thing is that you know them because they will certainly enable you to enrich your story.

More Tips:

Crime Scene Investigation Strategies For the Mystery Writer
Add a Twist to Your Mystery: Stage Your Crime Scenes


  1. I have always enjoyed Nancy’s use of animals in her writing.


    • Animals can certainly play significant roles in a mystery story.


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