One day, a long time ago, I began watching Forensic Files on Netflix. It started as a way to kill time, something in the background, but since it had 9 “collections” of up to 70 episodes each, it took quite a while to get through it.
The premise is each episode is a crime (usually murder, but not always), and how forensic and scientific evidence helped capture the guilty parties, sometimes after years of the case going cold.
After watching literally hundreds of episodes, I have learnt:
- Criminals are stupid. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising, you have to have some sort of defect to be a criminal (unless you have a pathological underpinning). But the number of times that they were oblivious to the evidence they left behind, be it fibers, blood, DNA or what have you. Clearly they haven’t thought about the investigation.
- Routine evidence trips up many if not most criminals. The number of times that shoes were the smoking gun, either by matching wear marks/characteristics to prints found at the scene, or invisible blood evidence is found. Note: If I ever kill someone, I will be sure to get rid of my shoes immediately, no matter how much I like them, and will miss them. Sheesh.
- If you are dumping a dead hooker in a remote location, and you are using your own vehicle, the next day, go get new tires. Trust me on this.
- Your clothes, and everything you wear, get rid of them. And for the love of God, do not burn them on your own property. You would be amazed at how difficult it is to eliminate evidence by burning it.
- Don’t brag about your crime. The number of stupid criminals who can’t keep their mouths shut is astounding. Seriously, this is tied to #1 above, but it can’t be said firmly enough, go radio silent.
- Don’t try to be smarter than the cops and investigators. Truly, one of the memorable episodes is a woman who was a lawyer who killed her husband in a hotel room, using a fire started by a smoldering cigarillo to hide the evidence. She was caught when a) the bedding was flame retardant, and the investigators couldn’t replicate the burn, and b) when they found shit-tons of accelerant in the remains, and c) the autopsy showed no smoke inhalation in the victim, indicating he was dead before the fire started. For fuck’s sake, he didn’t even smoke, so why the fuck did he have cigarillos?
There are many other potential flaws, but these sorts of blunders trip up criminals over and over and over again.
Each episode, 21 to 22 minutes, and as the series went on, the transition from crappy SD quality to HD quality video improved the format, but the common theme was the narrator, the topics, and the geeking out on the science.