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 htem 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
Every week there are new stories in the news about teenagers who have either run away or been kidnapped. When parents see these tragedies play out through media coverage, there’s usually one common thread running through their minds, “This could not happen to my child.” Despite statistics on the demographics most often affected by missing or runaway teens, no family is immune. Parents of a missing child or teen will most certainly have never found themselves in these frightful circumstances before and be at a loss for how to proceed. In addition to filing a report with police, the parents might also consider hiring a private investigator to conduct an independent, concurrent investigation. Finding missing teens is not always the speciality of an individual law enforcement agency, which means your child could fall through the cracks. Finding missing teens is not easy, especially when they do not want to be found. That’s why many families rely on the independent tenacity of private investigators to find their missing teens. Should you hire a private investigator to locate your missing or runaway child?
An Overwhelming Task
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.