Are Crime Victims Beneath the Law? Part 5
At the Crime Scene
When I first started to write this story as I mentioned earlier the entire country if not the world was being given a step by step journey through and a tour of a crime scene as “the trial of the century” was taking place in Los Angeles.
As we witnessed this trial unfolding before our eyes we had all become arm chair experts in the tedious steps taken to preserve the evidence at a scene of a crime by the police. Since that time several popular television programs have been aired concerning crime scene investigations. Like in the popular TV shows which have been patterned after actual crime scenes the techniques of evidence gathering and forensic science had never before been displayed to the public as it was during that trial. The very graphic and gruesome details have been forever recorded upon our minds.
When a terrible crime such as murder has been committed everything at, near or around the place where the crime occurred or where the body or bodies were found become numbered and carefully recorded, especially the victims. To those of us that have lost a loved one or loved ones to murder they are relegated to the status of inanimate objects at a crime scene and it seems they are viewed merely in that context rather than they are cherished loved ones who are gone forever, stolen away. Again trying to put some kind of perspective on this I wrote the following poem in October 2000 after hearing from another mother in our support group no one wants to be a member of “Parents of Murdered Children” tell me about how coldly and simply as a matter of fact she was told of the murder of her son while at work. She was so stunned and devastated by the phone call she couldn’t remember even the name of the person who called. I dedicated this poem to her. I called this poem “did you think” directed to members of law enforcement assigned the grisly task of investigation at a crime scene.
“Did you think?”
Dear Mr. Police Officer, Ms. Police Woman or Coroner another night of violence, another victim, another body, now you must perform one more horrible task.
Your last duty before your watch ends is to notify the victim’s family, the father, mother or children. But before you do you must pause and did you think? While yourself you must ask?
Here before me lies John or Jane Doe, a person I never knew, how special they are or how much they are loved, how will I ever explain such a horrible loss to any that they loved they have been dealt life’s cruelest blow?
Lord, please give me strength, compassion like that which was written in King David’s Psalm. With wisdom surpassing King Solomon as I ponder my John or Jane Doe being much more than that, they are someone’s loving brother, or sister, daughter, son, father or mom.
Rather than to just make a telephone call when all they will remember they heard was a strange, cold uncaring voice on the phone.
You owe it to them that you will soon let know this day your loved one was murdered, I share this loss with you and you are not alone, as you blindly try to get by and survive and get through.
I hope you are aware I cared as any human should, I performed my horrible duty feeling sympathy as though John or Jane Doe could have been one of my loved one’s or someone I once knew.
Fortunately, from my perspective on the night our son was murdered my wife or I did not have to see our son at the scene of the crime. Our last memory of him was that of a young man coming home from work, showering and then going out to a party. When he left home he was happy. We were spared seeing his young and athletic body lying in his own blood, riddled with bullets. We did not have to witness the valiant but futile attempts made by his friends and the paramedics to revive him.
His mother or I did not have to witness him lying there lifeless. He was no longer able to be the loving, caring son he had been just a few scant hours before. Our son was now dead, a corpse, he was now an object of evidence at a crime scene. Pictures were taken of him as they are of all victims of a violent and brutal crime.
Police, coroners and other crime scene investigators in going about their assigned duties were now forced to walk around or over our son’s body as though it too was an inanimate object of evidence. The pictures taken of him and later shown to the jury during graphic and detailed examination and cross examination that took place while the trial occurred were of course horribly gruesome.
While it is vitally essential that every effort is made by the crime scene investigator’s and the detectives assigned to the case to gather every bit or shred of evidence possible the dignity of the victim’s must also be a major consideration. The media in its effort to report to the public must take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of those who survive the victims.
Statements of what actually occurred, insensitivity towards the surviving family members or friends by discussing or showing in graphic detail photos of the victims should only be done if by so doing will assist the authorities in solving the case and bringing the murderer to justice.
To me I did not want to see any of the crime scene photos of our son because I have a very vivid and active imagination and would have remembered or had those images forever branded in my memory rather than remembering him as the fun loving and wonderful son he was.
No son, I do not want to remember you as a victim. Instead I want to remember you as the baby I once held in my arms, the little boy I played ball with, the teenager I taught how to drive. I want to only remember you as the young man and whole person I as your Dad diligently endeavored to teach love and respect to all others, as did your Mother. I want to remember your mischievous grin not a pained expression displayed on a police or coroner’s photo taken at “the crime scene.”
Next: Unanticipated aspects of murder.