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About the same weight as a large male human.

About the same weight as a large male human.

Some years ago, when my wife Carolyn and I lived in the woods in Virginia, we came home one day to find an adult male deer with full antler rack lying dead on the side of our driveway. I called every state and local authority I could think of, but the answer was always the same: If the carcass wasn’t on state or county land, it was my responsibility to dispose of it.

So I called my friend Hank who, in addition to being a physics teacher and musician, happens to be handy at all sorts of things, and together we attached a metal chain around the buck’s neck and dragged it off into the deep woods, where nature could take its course.

Why am I relating this?

Because as Carolyn, who is an attorney, observed this extended process, she declared, “If you guys were trying to dispose of a human body, you are leaving so much evidence the police would solve this case in about ten minutes.”

And she was right. This buck weighed just about what an adult male human would weigh. In addition to a blood trail, and whichever neighbors might have spotted us, we left a path of trampled grass, broken twigs and disturbed leaves all the way to the chosen natural burial site.

This memory came back to me as I was reading about the murder of semipro football player Odin Lloyd, allegedly by his erstwhile friend Aaron Hernandez, lately tight end for the New England Patriots. If the charge is valid, Hernandez didn’t do a very good job of hiding the body, nor of getting rid of security surveillance recordings around his house, a cell phone and other potentially incriminating evidence.

Which in turn brings to mind the murders of JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado, in 1996 and Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in 2007. JonBenet’s parents, John and Patricia, were widely believed to have committed the murder and just barely escaped a grand jury indictment. American college student Amanda Knox and her new Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were charged, convicted and imprisoned for Kercher’s murder. Four years later, the conviction was overturned on appeal, but now the Italian supreme court has ordered a new trial. In both cases, John Douglas and I declared with certainty that those individuals had nothing to do with the crimes.

Both my deer story and the Hernandez investigation reveal a basic truth about evidence and criminal behavior: If you’re not experienced and criminally sophisticated, it is well nigh impossible to pull off an untraceable murder unless you happen to have an overwhelming volume of luck.

Amanda and Raffaele could no more erase their DNA evidence at the blood-soaked Kercher crime scene than Hank and I could erase our trail through the woods. John and Patsy Ramsey could no more have staged their daughter’s crime scene to look like a break-in than Hernandez allegedly could have erased Lloyd’s image from surveillance recordings. And there are numerous other examples, some of them enumerated in our recent book Law & Disorder and previous works.

So the lesson is: If you think you can commit the “perfect crime” without any prior experience, you almost assuredly cannot. And if you think someone else has committed what he or she thought would be the perfect crime without any prior experience, they almost assuredly have not.

7 Responses to The Weight of the Evidence

  1. […] the ransom note had been written by Patsy Ramsey; however, a number of other experts – including John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker – rejected the idea that John and Patsy Ramsey had been party to the murder. Other nods […]

  2. DoUKnowTheLord says:

    And yet a deer skeleton looks nothing like a human does it John? Do we not teach if a body is hard to discover the person finding it is a suspect? VSP suck and Lt. Joe Rader ran for his reasons and I am going to give that family what was not ever going to be, justice and answers because they do not hide from me and get away with that murder.

    John that is what he said he thought it was a deer, no he made a lot of mistakes and it is me that seeks them out not the FBI. They blame some black man who does not exist! Look at, I am surprised you are not aware of it. That is injustice, Metallica obstructing justice! No more John

  3. Tom Mininger says:

    I’ve visited online hate communities against the Ramseys and Amanda Knox.

    They are toxic feedback loops where the members outdo each other with greater and greater claims, which are all accepted by the community with gusto.

    The same thing happens with hate communities against political figures like Clinton, W Bush (who are actually good friends), and now Obama.

    Two Knox hate sites are Perugia Murder File (pmf) and True Justice for Meredith Kercher (tjmk). pmf members have competed to see who can come up with the most insulting captions for pictures of Amanda or her family.

    tjmk is loaded with anonymous posters who know nothing about forensic science yet speak with “authority” and recycle erroneous evidence claims over and over again. One was Ergon the astrologer and self-proclaimed prophet.

    These people care nothing about Meredith Kercher or what happens to the real killer Guede. And Raffaele is always the collateral damage of their obsession with the witch Amanda.

    The anti-Ramsey clan keeps telling us the intruder theory has been blown away with their bogus evidence, and hey, the foreign male DNA on two separate articles of clothing, well just ignore that, it’s not important.

    The “Statement Analysis” is the worst. It’s like the bite mark evidence of a few decades back, and the repressed “memories” of what your parents did to you.

    The lead detective Steve Thomas was obsessed with promoting a crime theory for years that was impossible based on the coroner’s findings.

    FBI violent crimes investigator Steve Moore has a layman friendly article that debunks the most common myths that Amanda’s detractors keep recycling: http://www.gmancasefile.com/1/post/2013/04/mr-hollands-opus.html

    Has Mr. Douglas ever considered witch-hunter profiling? I think society needs to address these hysterical episodes that plaque our history, our present, and our foreseeable future. Why is misogyny so ingrained, why do so many people enjoy a good Roman Holiday, why does third party punishment so frequently go haywire and turn into a mindless mob? The internet makes being an anonymous member of a mob easier than ever.

    • Very trenchant comments, Tom, and we agree with you about Steve Moore, who actually took classes with John Douglas at Quantico. You’ve effectively summed up the entire root of the issue.

      • DoUKnowTheLord says:

        Then I want to see Knox take a FBI administered Polygraph because they did it and I know it because her behavior. Put it to Mr. Olshaker, what is she going to say, no? Then she did it, if says yes lets see, but you all are not looking at the behavior. The omtivation is that book, and she took Manson internationalization. Fact is her behavior is very telling and she should be approached with my solution. I say she did it, you all say no. Let us take to the lab, here not in Italy, we see they suck here the FBI would have her.

    • DoUKnowTheLord says:

      That’s key a good Catholic Holiday it reminds me of the Agony in the Garden. The kiss they shared that was used to display the cold nature they had. The truth is they are killers they blamed a black man too and that stuck, why did the court release them? Give her the polygraph!

    • whosear says:

      When the video of the Ramsey crime scene was released, I could see the basement scene, including the window w/spider webs. Then I discovered that it was a funnel web, not a net one. funnel webs are easy to disturb w/o breaking apart as they can expand and contract (try pushing on the fibers of any spider web and there is elasticity. Given the state of the windows and a determined predictor, entry into the Ramsey house was not difficult.

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