We’ve had more snow in the northeast in the last few weeks than I’ve seen for years. But the white terror isn’t just slamming into the NYC and Boston areas. With record breaking storms half the size of the country, is it any wonder that nightmares featuring plots of old Sy-Fy movies, with giant blankets of permanent snow covering the earth, keep us awake at night?
In our suburban neighborhood, there is too much snow on the sidewalks and in the driveways for even enterprising middle school kids-with-shovels-saving-for-cars to keep up with.
Snowdrifts are everywhere.
The plows clear the streets, but they shove the stuff off to the side of the road – it doesn’t magically disappear.
Cars in driveways and on the street get blocked in as those same plows drive by. After everybody gets sick of moving the snow out of the driveways, off the curbs and sidewalks, and out of the intersections, dump trucks transport the mess to empty parking lots and city parks.
The piles in those lots reach ten to fifteen feet high and twenty feet across.
Guess what? Those piles ain’t gonna melt ‘til May.
I drove past one of those snow-crammed parking lots today and thought, ”Good place to stash a body or two.”
Think about it. The snow isn’t moved once the mini-mountain is created. Nature takes care of the melting, but not for months. A body could be left at night while the snow removal crews are home sleeping. It would be easy to hide a corpse with a few shovels full of snow, and then the next day tons more would be unloaded on top of the inconspicuous lump. Who would see it?
Of course, when the warm sun finally uncovers the evidence, the crime will be exposed, but until then, the murderer is in the clear. But, only until then. The body will be beautifully preserved – as if it’s been waiting in the deep freezer – and the crime techs can go to work.
Has it ever happened?
Unfortunately, after a period of freezing weather, bodies are discovered in the snow and not because of foul play. People who are not used to physical activity can keel over while shoveling snow and if they live alone, might not be discovered until someone happens to pass by on the street. Homeless people unwilling to seek shelter, can freeze to death in unprotected alleyways.
And then, there are the murders:
In January, 2014, in Michigan, a guy was found dead next to his car, most likely clubbed to death. Apparently, after the deed was done, snow fell and covered the body for several hours. The killer didn’t have months to plot his escape, but the snowfall did help. The police are still investigating.
In early February, 2014, a woman in Clymer, Pennsylvania, was found dead in the snow outside her house, under suspicious circumstances. If anybody saw or heard anything, please contact the authorities mentioned in the article that follows.
In the two murder cases, falling snow covered up the killer’s getaway tracks, but there is plenty of evidence left at the scene for the investigators to check. Murderers always leave something behind. Always.
*Kerrian is a fictional character, but the deaths mentioned in this post are fact.
Photo by Patti Phillips
Dogs in law enforcement are just plain cool. Their natural ability to hunt and snuffle out the evidence is essential in many areas of crime fighting and we have to give them and their handlers lots of thanks and respect. Certain breeds are especially suited for the sometimes athletic assignments, but all the ones chosen to serve are intelligent, easily trained and loyal to their masters.
Most dogs in K9 units are trained in specific tasks, so in general, dogs that search for bodies (cadaver dogs) or are employed in Search and Rescue for missing persons, would not also be used in narcotics recovery. These talented noses are trained to sort out the target odor even when hidden in the middle of greasy fast food, or in smelly basements.
Meet four of the breeds most often used in police work:
The Belgian Malinois is known for its endurance and ability to stick with a task until completed. They are used in some areas to detect narcotics for the police, but can also help with Search and Rescue operations. Malinois are intelligent and like to stay active. They are sometimes mistaken for German Shepherds because of their coloring, but they are actually quicker and more agile. They have a lighter bone structure, and are thinner through the chest and trunk.
Bloodhounds are large hounds that have been used for centuries to hunt, but also to track human beings. They have incredible endurance and are popular with law enforcement because of the accuracy of their noses. So accurate, in fact, that evidence tracked by a bloodhound has been accepted in courts of law. (A bloodhound won the Hound group at the Westminster Dog Show, February 2014.)
The German Shepherd has been used by so many law enforcement groups, both civilian and military, that is regularly called a police dog. They are known to be fearless and have strong, muscular bodies. They have worked in all areas of evidence collection and recovery, but just happen to have a nasty growl that can come in handy when a suspect is hesitant about following directions.
According to the American Kennel Club, Labs have been the most popular dog in the United States for the last twenty years, largely because of their family friendly attitude and their ability to be easily trained. They are sometimes used for narcotics, explosives and evidence detection, as well as for Search and Rescue functions.
My dog, Hammett, is an Irish Setter. He’s smarter than some people I know, and we love him to death, but he could never work in law enforcement. His nose has been spoiled by bits of lamb and treats he manages to trick us into giving him. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Patti Phillips – Belgian Malinois
American Kennel Club – Bloodhound, German Shepherd, Lab
Wikipedia – Irish Setter
We love to watch the Winter Olympics. Our family is full of expert skiers, so the downhill races are always a ‘must see’ for us. I could go on and on about the best kind of snow, the best temperatures, the gotta-have-it clothing and equipment, but that’s for another forum.
Why is the 2014 Olympics at Sochi a topic for Kerrian’s Notebook? Ever since I found out that Interpol (the international police organization) is being paid $20 million dollars to oversee some of the security for the event, that’s why. My cop radar went up and I thought: Interpol? Murder? Terrorism? Nope. Turns out that Interpol will investigate the possibility of athletes taking illegal drugs, any suspected match-fixing, as well as attempts to bribe the officials. The International Olympic Committee is concerned about the integrity of the Games and Interpol, which gathers reports from national police forces around the world, will be on top of any hints of wrongdoing in those areas.
So, who is taking care of the security for the athletes? The Russian security forces, with some help from the competing countries. They are in full view and quite comforting to people nervous about attacks from terrorist cells. The host country always has primary responsibility for security, but each participating country provides some additional support. The United States teams will be accompanied to each of the venues by diplomatic security personnel. I just heard that there will be two U.S. ships in the Black Sea during the Games, should they be needed.
Many families of competitors are staying home because of fear that security will be less than hoped for outside the Olympic venue and some of the countries are telling their athletes to stay away from downtown Sochi. The USA team has been advised not to wear their uniforms outside the Village, for fear of being targeted by terrorists. But the perimeter of the Olympic Village where the majority of the athletes stay is guarded by a combined police/army/agents presence of about 100,000.
The high profile crimes are pretty much covered by the agencies overseeing the Games, but it’s the petty crimes that are most likely to be forgotten about by visitors and athletes alike. Large crowds all over the world are targets for pickpockets, and it just takes a slight adjustment in the daily routine to keep theft from happening. Simple steps to take:
1. Try to wear jackets with zipper pockets and keep your valuables safely zipped out of sight.
2. 2. Don’t put your wallet in your back pocket.
3. 3. Gals, don’t carry a pocketbook.
4. 4. Don’t flash your room keys. They usually identify what hotel you’re staying in along with the room number.
5. 5. Travel in twos or more.
6. 6. Don’t flash wads of cash.
7. 7. Stay sober.
Most of the competing athletes have already been at the site for a week or two, prepping and training and getting used to the venue. The body needs to adjust to food and weather differences before major competitions and this is also the time when problems with the snow and ice surfaces can be detected and corrected.
The opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held on February 7th even though competition actually begins on the 6th. There’s a nine hour time difference between the USA east coast and Sochi, so many of the events will be broadcast-delayed in order to satisfy the viewing audience.
For additional information about security and safety at the Games, see:
*Kerrian is a fictional character, but the Olympics and security measures being taken are fact.