A recent vacation week took us to the beach and we were lucky enough to rent a cottage right on the ocean. What a pleasure to wake up to seagulls calling to each other as they found breakfast on the incoming surf at the edge of the broad expanse of sand. Morning coffee was extra special as we breathed in the sea air and planned the day ahead.
Aside from all the great sunsets, fabulous seafood restaurants, and much-needed relaxation, we found time to chat about fictional bodies and where to find them.
TV shows and movies feature their share of corpses that have washed up on the rocks lining the shores of lakes, bays, or oceans. Any crime scene at water’s edge has its own challenges for the CSI techs processing the area for evidence, and our vacation spot highlighted a few.
Consider footprints on the sand:
This print had been fully visible until a wave washed it partially into oblivion.
Sneaker treads next to the barefoot print, showed the traffic on the dry part of the beach just a few feet closer to the dune.
There was more than one kind of sneaker tread to be seen.
The sneaker and shoe companies have data bases going back several years indicating the treads and styles of the various shoes they have manufactured. A search warrant or a friendly conversation with the people at the companies will reveal specialty editions of their footwear and the year they were produced. Matching the footwear to the prints on the beach can narrow the suspect list – helpful if the culprit remained in the area and the sneaker was an unusual brand.
Consider the tire tracks:
A windy afternoon caused this tire tread to lose its definition.
This new tire tread was just ten feet away from the footprints.
Beach bikes were in use as well. I didn’t have a ruler with me, so Sheila donated her sandal. This gives you some perspective of the width of the tread, essential in determining the type of vehicles near the ‘scene of the crime.’
Tire companies have data bases as well, and make their information available to law enforcement officers when needed. CSI techs take photos of the various treads for later ID and if needed, make casts of the footwear prints. Read “Is that your footprint?” here.
All three vehicle treads were within 20 feet of each other, along with all the footwear prints seen here – and it wasn’t high season yet, when a greater variety of cars, dune buggies, bikes, and shoes would be around.
Any crime scene in such a well-traveled place means it will be tough to find the killer. Nature washes or blows away the evidence and the crime scene is compromised by all the foot and vehicle traffic.
Law enforcement officers have to hope for witnesses to the dastardly deed.
We turned our attention to the places to hide the body:
This lovely walkway leading from the cottage to the dunes gave access to an area that looked suitable for body stashing. Except that it wasn’t really all that great for anything covert. Three houses near ours had direct line of sight to that walkway, and all had overhead lights strung along their own paths to the beach.
Each of the other houses had three floors – ours was the smallest of the group. That meant that anyone looking out at the ocean could also see anyone dragging a body out to the beach grass next to/under the boards.
But, let’s say that nobody is looking out the window. While it is illegal to dig up the beach grass in the dunes because of erosion programs in most oceanside communities, a killer would have no such concerns. BUT, that Beach Grass (actual name is American Beach Grass) is tough. It’s meant to be, so that it holds the sand in place during stormy weather. It would not be practical or at all speedy to dig a hole in a grass-covered dune in order to hide the body.
Maybe that’s why so many bodies in the TV movies are dumped elsewhere and merely wash up on the beach. Then the writers don’t have to worry about how to hide the body at the scene of the crime.
Homeland Security has defined an “active shooter” as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place.
Most experts agree that there is no one simple solution to the level of violence being aimed at the schools by individual shooters in the USA right now, but most people agree that it has to stop.
While we, the parents and friends and neighbors of the children struck down since the beginning of 2018, as well as elected officials and law enforcement officers, wrangle over what the solution should be, take a look at the ‘stay-as-safe-as-possible’ methods the school children should practice, as suggested by Homeland Security:
Their plan is called: “Run, Hide, Fight,” and includes these strategies:
The ‘Fight’ part has to do with taking down the shooter, but no Elementary or Junior High student I know is capable of doing that, nor are 99% of the High School students or teachers I’ve met.
In many communities, fire drills must be performed twice a month to comply with City or State regulations. During these drills, children are escorted to the exits in an orderly manner – no running – and out designated exits to areas away from the building. Most schools have multiple exits and with several hundred people who must leave in under two minutes (State requirement for speedy evacuation) the teachers and administration take this responsibility seriously. At a well-run school, the end of day dismissal is conducted just as efficiently, but just to the outside door and sidewalks. The busses and cars are waiting at the curbs, and the walkers know where to go.
In the scenario of the active shooter, Homeland Security suggests that the children should always know two ways to get out of the building so they can get out as quickly as possible if needed. Children should leave behind their backpacks and just get out. So that any First Responders on the scene can sort out the good guys from the bad, the evacuating children should keep their hands in the air, leaving the cell phones in their pockets while exiting.
If the children are stuck in the building, they should hide – under desks if that’s the only shelter, or in closets – but, out of the line of sight of the classroom door. They should silence their cell phones, so as not to alert a shooter to the location of more targets.
Plus, if the children are lucky enough to be in a room that has moveable chairs or tables to jam under the doorknobs, they should do that. Please note: most classroom doors do not lock from the inside, and many don’t lock at all.
In this new reality, safety drills might include mock shooter scenarios where students try to remember how many shooters there are, their location, and even a description of their appearance – clothes, hair, shoes, etc. Every piece of accurate information helps in resolving the real-life incidents.
Many States around the country responded to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 by requiring their schools to increase school security and enact safety drills. In the wake of the Florida shooting (February, 2018) more States are responding to public pressure and taking the step to examine current safety standards and procedures throughout the districts.
Whatever your stance on how to solve this issue, our children should be safe at school. Period.
Please visit www.dhs.gov for more information about the Homeland Security policies and programs.
More than ever, it seems as if readers and professional writers that follow the Notebook most enjoy learning about the nuts and bolts of crime as well as the crime fighters that take care of the bad guys. It was fun to see that two of our (always taste-tested) recipes made the list this year as well.
Here are the Top Ten Fan Favorites for 2017, listed in reverse order. Click on the links to re-read the articles (or enjoy them for the first time) and let us know in the comments whether your faves made the list. Happy sleuthing, one and all. 🙂
And the most read new post of 2017?
1. “200 ways to die an unnatural death.” https://bit.ly/2jmDIeE
Take a look at “Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 2: Fun, facts, and a few dead bodies,” just released. Download to your e-reader and enjoy! 🙂
Happy New Year, everyone!