When someone dies under unexplained or unexpected circumstances, families can feel fraught with anger and frustration. How could such a thing have happened? When will those responsible be brought to account? While patience may feel like a resource that is impossible to muster at this difficult time, the work of the death investigator is critical to the conviction of the guilty and the protection of the innocent. For true justice to be served, the truth must be brought to light.
With that in mind, today we are going to look at what the death investigation process involves—because understanding what is happening and why can take some of that distinctly painful bite out of the process. If you are facing such a challenging reality as you read this, hopefully our guide will provide at least a little vital peace of mind.
How a Death Investigator Serves the Bereaved
All too often, when someone dies, the circumstances surrounding the tragedy remain unpleasantly murky. Was it an unfortunate workplace accident or a dreadful case of negligence? What it a wrongful death or a homicide? An accidental overdose or a suicide? These harrowing questions can have dramatic implications for survivors, ranging from whether criminal proceedings might follow to whether a much-needed life insurance policy will pay out.
It is the role of the death investigator to reveal critical facts so that every question mark can be eliminated. At various stages of the the death investigation process, this mantle may be carried by a coroner or medical examiner, a law enforcement officer or agent, or a private investigator tasked with following clues that would otherwise be left to go cold.
It is important to know that, no matter the conclusions drawn as the investigatory process unfolds, there are always options available to continue pursuit of the truth. The first step, however, is to allow the coroner or medical examiner to do their work—so what exactly does that entail.
The First Stages of the Death Investigation Process
When somebody dies in a way that is unexplained, unexpected, violent, or due to an potentially infectious disease or pathogen, the very first action taken is to investigate the death scene, and this responsibility falls primarily upon the local coroner’s or medical examiner’s office.
A coroner or medical examiner will make an assessment as to whether police should be involved—if they aren’t already—and will document the scene, taking photographs and gathering evidence. They may also be the ones who track down next of kin to inform them of what has happened. Once this stage of the investigation reaches the appropriate point, they will arrange the removal of the body.
If it is considered pertinent, the coroner or medical examiner will conduct an examination of the body and potentially also order a post-mortem. A certified forensic pathologist will conduct the post-mortem exam, and may send samples to a lab for analysis in order to reveal more about the cause of death.
Once the coroner or medical examiner is ready to draw a conclusion on the manner of death, they will issue a death certificate. From there, if foul play is suspected, police or federal investigators will continue to investigate circumstances surrounding the death in order to build a case for prosecution and bring potential perpetrators to justice.
As the Death Investigation Process Progresses
If no crime is detected and nothing about the death warrants further investigative intervention by the state, the case of your loved one will be officially closed. If the police investigation evolves into a homicide, negligence, or wrongful death investigation, resources will be applied based on the scope and nature of the crime—hopefully moving towards resolution and the desperately needed answers that survivors are bound to be waiting for.
Unfortunately, at times, those left behind after a death are left feeling underserved by the authorities, dissatisfied with a coroner’s conclusion, or infuriated when the police seem to move onto other cases. If this is your reality, an independent death investigator from a private investigations firm can be the best candidate to pick up pursuit of the facts and right any wrongs that may have occurred along the way.
When investigating a death of any kind, a private investigator from Lauth Investigations International will comb through every piece of information available and roll out every resource in their toolkit to bring to light what others have missed. National licensure means that we can hunt through information databases on a par with those used by law enforcement—gaining insights that would never be available to survivors seeking answers alone.
By reexamining witnesses, analyzing evidence afresh, and pursuing new physical and digital leads, we can continue to fight for justice on your behalf, whether other avenues are exhausted or ongoing. If your loved one’s case remains open with the police, a private investigator can enter into collaboration with the authorities, bringing fresh eyes and enthusiasm to the search. So, if you require assistance with a death investigation, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our dedicated team are waiting for your call and can give no-commitment guidance on your options. Get in contact today to learn more about how we can help.
As if enduring the loss of a loved one wasn’t bad enough, families across America are grappling with a worryingly dark trend in unsolved homicides. Recent investigative journalism has revealed that murders are going unsolved at a historic pace—with the clearance rate of solved cases falling to its lowest point in more than half a century. It’s no surprise that the bereaved are increasingly turning to the skills of an independent unsolved homicide investigator in order to find much-needed closure.
In recent years, the volume of homicides for which the murderers are held accountable has fallen so sharply that almost half of perpetrators are never brought to justice. Making these numbers even more grim is the reality that police are far less likely to solve a homicide when the victim is Black or Hispanic. For those whose loved ones fall on the wrong side of the statistics, enlisting the help of a private investigator with specialized skill in unsolved homicide investigations can be the best way to reclaim empowerment. So let’s look at how a PI can assist in bringing the most heinous among criminals to justice.
Evidence and Intelligence Gathering: The Private Investigator’s Calling Card
An unsolved homicide investigator’s central focus is always the gathering of intelligence. Where the focus of police investigations would be on proving a crime—and may have been victim to limited resources—the private investigator can cast a far wider net on behalf of their clients, continuing to fact seek until every stone has been overturned.
In the case of unsolved homicides, intelligence gathering can become more challenging over time as perpetrators cover their tracks, evidence disappears, and leads dry up. However, in the digital era, almost every occurrence leaves a trail, and with the right skills and resources, that trail can be rediscovered long after it was laid.
A fully licensed unsolved homicide investigator has the power to delve into many of the same databases used by law enforcement agencies, canvas the area around crime scenes, request CCTV footage, reexamine witnesses, and even follow leads over state lines or international borders if required. Going further, they will have expert knowledge of legal obligations, enabling them to ensure that all fresh evidence gathered is done so legally and will serve as admissible evidence when the truth finally comes to light.
A Private Investigator Knows That Stories Change Over Time
The indelible virtual footprints that may be uncovered through digital forensics tell an irrefutable truth, but the word of human beings can be more tricky to pin down. Private investigators specializing in unsolved homicides are highly trained professionals with the capacity to analyze witness statements, cross-reference time-lines, and assess validity in the context of each individual’s background and connection to the case.
Whether unintentional or malicious, the stories of witnesses, friends, and family members often shift over time as new details are remembered or the right questions are asked. The police rarely have the time to conduct follow up interviews, but an unsolved homicide investigator can return to a powerful asset in the field of crime solving—the memory of those present at the time. Even a small clue can repaint the framing of events leading up to a homicide. Every detail counts.
Shedding Fresh Light on Unsolved Homicides
Just as two people looking at the same picture will interpret it differently, the more pairs of eyes that review a case, the higher the probability that a vital puzzle piece will be uncovered. A private investigator—unfettered by time targets or policy pressures—can consider the case in a more measured way, with the interest of their clients held front and center. This is what allows the unsolved homicide investigator to bring cases to conclusion that the police may allow to grow cold.
Turn to a seasoned private investigator with the licensure and skillset required to hold the most dangerous criminals to account. Many of the investigators at Lauth Investigations International have a background in law enforcement, allowing them to see each case from the perspective of every party involved. We can cooperate and coordinate with police investigators, or pick up where they left off. Whichever role we fulfill, our duty is always to you, to the truth, and to justice. If you require assistance with an unsolved homicide, reach out to the Lauth team today for a no-commitment consultation and a chance at closure previously denied.
When faced with thoughts of the loss of a loved one, we’d all hope that their cause of death would be fully understood and investigated if the need ever arose. It is the role of the Coroner or Medical Examiner’s office—and potentially law enforcement, too—to uncover the facts when the manner of a death is not immediately apparent. But what can the bereaved do if their gut tells them that the facts haven’t been illuminated? In these unwelcome situations, a suspicious death investigator can be the ally required to turn the search lights back on, and reveal what remains unseen.
A death investigation is a vital process, because what appears to be apparent suicide may in fact be a natural death, and what appears to be unsuspicious may actually be criminal. For those left behind, a lingering question mark can be a brutal burden to bear. Survivors can raise and pursue their concerns with the authorities and will hopefully get authentic answers quickly, but a private investigator with extensive experience in conducting death investigations provides opportunity for those who feel powerless to reclaim some control over the journey of loss.
The Navigation of a Death Investigation
When someone dies under suspicious or simply obscure circumstances, it’s vital to know that the jurisdiction of the coroner begins before they are even alerted. It is essential that concerned parties engage in following the letter of the law—as knowingly failing to notify the coroner or enforcement agency of a death that later warrants an investigation is a punishable infraction. However, while those tasked with the investigation carry out their work, turning to other sources of support and initiating an independent suspicious death investigation is a ready option to anyone feeling let down by the usual channels.
All too often, misidentified or unresolved cases of accident, wrongful death, suicide, or homicide are left languishing in a pile of papers as family and friends remain stuck in limbo. When the coroner’s verdict doesn’t sit right or the police fall short on the resources necessary to find the truths you seek, it is reassuring to know that a private investigator’s duty is to you above all else—they only stop digging when you tell them to, and they’ll enlist every investigative resource in their toolkit to uncover new leads and gather fresh evidence.
How a Private Investigator Takes Action in a Death Investigation
The role of a private investigator and the police in the case of suspicious death investigations is different in some ways, however in others it is very much aligned. Licenced private investigators have access to many of the same resources and information databases that law enforcement do. Meanwhile, in certain instances, their capacity extends further—as they follow trails of evidence over state lines where police jurisdiction might end, or continue to comb for leads when the authorities’ resources would be pulled towards other cases.
At times, private investigators may work alongside or collaborate with the authorities, doubling down on the effort to bring the facts to light. At others, they pick up where a traditional investigation left off, ensuring that loved ones achieve the sense of justice and truth that they deserve. Armed with forensic skills, surveillance tools, honed interpersonal expertise, and the capacity to perform background checks—among an array of other resources—the PI often finds crucial threads to pull upon that the coroner or police missed.
Suspicious death investigators from Lauth Investigations International draw on more than 30 years experience in a broad array of investigatory capacities, including finding missing persons, resolving unsolved homicides, and revealing concealed crimes. We understand fully the impact that these types of cases can have on those whose life they touch, and approach every case with compassion and dedication. If your instincts are telling you that all is not right and you would like assistance in a death investigation, our impassioned team of private investigators is here to help. You can connect with us at any time for a no-obligation consultation, so reach out today and discover more about how we can serve you in this difficult time.
Private investigators are invaluable to bringing crucial context to many matters of private citizens every day. However, one of the ways private investigators can have a huge impact is by serving as a second pair of eyes in both death investigations and unsolved homicides. Families of subjects in unsolved death investigations often go years without closure in their loved ones’ cases. Hiring a private investigator in a death investigation can provide the answers necessary to attain justice.
Whether it’s an unsolved homicide, or a death investigation, it’s always worth it to get more than one set of eyes on any case. Any human investigator is susceptible to tunnel vision or bias, but private investigators have an edge over law enforcement. One of the top reasons law enforcement may be unable to uncover answers in a homicide or death investigation is the lack of attention they are able to give each case. The average police department investigator can have as many as 30 cases on their desk at any given time, which means their total attention must be divided 30 times. The average private investigator handles between 3-4 cases at any given time, meaning each case gets the attention it deserves. This means a private investigator looking into a death investigation—even years after the fact—may see something that the original investigator did not observe.
A typical detractor in unsolved homicides or death investigations is time itself. The more time passes between a death and the onset of the investigation, the more time there is for witnesses to disappear, evidence to erode, and valuable leads to be lost to the tick of the clock. The same machinations that allow a caseload to hinder investigations are the same that allow bureaucracy to drive a wedge further between an investigator and the truth. Law enforcement officers who investigate death investigations are subject to a chain of command and red tape designed to protect the public at large. However, private investigators are not subject to that same chain of command. Most private investigators are either self-employed or only answer to one other supervisor above them, depending on the structure of their firm. This means that most private investigators are given a degree of autonomy unlike anything present in law enforcement. Private investigators can pursue leads and courses of action within a death investigation without having to fight the red tape.
Lauth Investigations International is passionate about applying their intelligence-gathering disciplines to unsolved homicides and death investigations. Our comprehensive field investigations and thorough reports can give families closure and answer long-pondered questions as to the fate of their loved ones. We have a 90% success rate across all of our casework, and carry a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. For more information, please visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.
An unsolved homicide investigation demands multi-disciplined, seasoned investigators who are prepared to turn over every rock in search of answers to bring closure to that victim’s family. However, for a plethora of reasons, homicide investigations can go cold. Once all leads are exhausted, law enforcement, with a heavy heart, packs away the files and relocates them to a warehouse populated by hundreds of other cold cases from the jurisdiction. To prevent their loved one’s case from gathering dust on a shelf, many families opt to have an independent private investigator conduct an unsolved homicide investigation in order to get the due-diligence and clarity their family deserves.
There are many reasons why local law enforcement may be unable to close an unsolved homicide investigation. While none of them are comforting to a victim’s family, there are very real issues that can hamper an unsolved homicide investigation from the very beginning.
Lack of experience
It’s not uncommon in “sleepy” counties or jurisdictions for law enforcement to be unprepared for the complexities of a homicide investigation. These are the communities you think of from a more innocent time—when people didn’t lock their doors and violent crime was nonexistent. Put simply, law enforcement trained and conditioned within certain jurisdictions may lack the diverse experience to properly conduct an unsolved homicide investigation.
Lack of resources
In the same vein as insufficient experience, if a particular jurisdiction lacks resources vital to an unsolved homicide investigation, the chances of closing the case are limited. Resources can indicate many things such as labor power of officers and other law enforcement personnel, necessary scientific equipment or professionals, and the proper administrative support network to keep the entire process moving.
Even the most proficient and equipped law enforcement departments can expect to run into roadblocks during an unsolved homicide investigation when caseloads for homicide detective exceed reasonable expectations. In cities and municipalities where the homicide rate is high, a single homicide detective might be carrying as many as 30 cases at a time. This forces the detective to significantly divide their attention equally (or otherwise) across their caseload. As a result, evidence and witnesses disappear, and the quality of leads diminishes significantly with the passage of time.
Law enforcement personnel must adhere to their jurisdiction—meaning that their powers of investigation and arrest only extend to the boundaries of their jurisdiction. The higher level the investigating agency, the wider their jurisdiction. If a person commits murder, then promptly leaves the state, it complicates the search for authorities. In the most egregious cases, individuals might commit violence or murder and then flee the country beyond the reach of local police.
In the interest of ensuring their loved one’s case gets the attention it deserves, families of homicide victims commonly retain a private investigator in order to get a second pair of eyes on the case. Calling in a private investigator to work simultaneously with law enforcement in an unsolved homicide investigation ensures that there is no stone left unturned in the search for truth. The best results occur when police and private investigators work in tandem—police investigating the leads that are most appropriate to their skillsets and resources while private investigators pick up any slack. Private investigators typically only work on between 3-4 cases at a time. Through their licensure by the state, they have access to research databases on par with that of law enforcement in order to conduct background checks, witness location, and field investigations. Their autonomy is only limited by the states in which they are licensed. Private investigators who are licensed nationwide have the ability to follow a lead wherever it takes them—even if that lead goes out of the state where the homicide occurred. This means fewer dropped leads and an increased chance of success in bringing closure to a grieving family.
If your family needs help with an unsolved homicide investigation, reach out to Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100 for a free consultation. Our team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement, and we carry a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Call today or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com
The Office of Justice Programs estimates the first 48 hours after your child goes missing are the most crucial in the timeline of any investigation. During these moments, your instinct might be to go find the child yourself or help conduct searches; however, as a parent or guardian of a missing child, your information is the most crucial. A 1982 congressional mandate requires law enforcement to immediately take a report following the disappearance of a child under the age of 18. However, recent reports estimate the excess of some 800,000 missing persons cases reported every year, 85-90% of those cases are individuals under the age of 18. What this statistic tells us is law enforcement, in most parts of the country, are overwhelmed by a caseload (with some departments averaging over 40 cases per investigator) leaving your missing child as a file amidst a stack of equally devastating missing child cases. As law enforcement agencies across the country remain stretched, missing child cases—especially ones where the child appears to have run away—are not always the first priority, as investigators attempt to perform a triage regarding which case requires their attention the most. Private investigators only average between three and four cases at any given time, meaning your child’s case will be at the top of their list of priorities. During the crucial FIRST 48 hours, having a private investigator treat your case as a priority can be the difference between acquiring invaluable information and losing a lead.
Constitutional Red Tape
One of the glowing advantages of hiring a private investigator to find your missing child or teen is the fact PIs possess far more autonomy than the average law enforcement officer or investigator. For instance, when a suspect has been identified, law enforcement often must secure a warrant for them to be tracked as the investigation unfolds. Paperwork and bureaucracy within the chain of command can cause the wheels of justice to turn slowly in regards to local or state law enforcement. Not only are PI’s not required to file this sort of paperwork, but they can also do so without the supervision of a governing law enforcement administration, so the case progression is not stalled for lack of warrant or administration approval.
The Binds of Jurisdiction
With a private investigator conducting an independent, concurrent investigation, there will never be any issues of jurisdiction when pursuing leads. Say your family lives in Indiana, but while on an out-of-state family vacation, your child goes missing in a crowd. As missing and abducted children across state or even international borders, local law enforcement exponentially lose power to follow leads maybe illuminating the child’s whereabouts. It is also not uncommon for two or more law enforcement agencies to enter a tug of war when it comes to who has jurisdiction over a particular case based on the specific circumstances. This can lead to the loss of leads or time as agencies hash out the details. Private investigators are never bound by jurisdictional bureaucracy. They can travel between states following the trail of a missing child, all without having to file any paperwork or obtain special permissions from superiors.
While law enforcement may have a wealth of experience and exclusive tools at their disposal, it’s important to remember that these civil servants are often overwhelmed with an immense case-load and can only do so much when it comes to the constitutional and jurisdictional boundaries they cannot cross. Private investigators have the expertise and similar tools of law enforcement, while also having the time to treat your case as a top priority.
Carie McMichael is the Communications and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, writing about investigative topics such as missing persons and corporate investigations. For more information on missing persons topics, please visit our website.