Monday, November 5, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: What do Frozen Turkeys have to Do with Missing Persons?

I was reading through some posts concerning the Madeleine McCann case and there was much speculation on where little Maddie’s body could have been hidden, kept from decomposing, transported, and disposed of, should the parents be involved in her disappearance. Meanwhile, Stacy Peterson, the fourth wife of a police officer, has gone missing in Illinois and her friends and neighbors are combing the area for her body and police are dredging local ponds. If her husband killed her, where would he be likely to put her body?

It is an unpleasant, if not horrifying thought, to imagine someone handling a corpse, especially one that might be a child, one’s own child. What kind of mind can deal with disposing of a body, especially the body of a person who is an intimate part of your life? What happens in the brain that would allow someone to do some of the things we have seen before like dismembering a body or carrying it about it in stages of decomposition? The concept is so foreign to many people that they dismiss certain scenarios as impossible because they cannot conceive of doing such things themselves. They are unfamiliar with how another who is perhaps narcissistic or psychopathic and also possibly desperate can actually do pretty gruesome stuff with a person they once supposedly loved or cared for. Yet, the reality is that some people can indeed do such things.

For this very reason, an investigator cannot rule out bizarre possibilities when trying to locate a missing person. Many factors might play into what was done with a body. First of all, how the person was killed may affect choices. Is there a need to mask the cause of death or to destroy particular evidence of the implement of death? Is there a need to cover up prior physical or sexual abuse issues or drug issues? Any evidence the killer feels might identify him as the offender might cause the killer to destroy the body or parts of the body or work harder to make sure the body is never found.

If the killer is not afraid of being linked to the crime by relationship, location, or evidence, the body may easy to find, lying on the side of the road in plain view or left at the scene of the crime, perhaps in the victim’s apartment.

So, when a missing person is suspected of being dead, the detective must thoroughly investigate the victim’s life and those people involved in it. The answer to where the body lies may be within the details of the victim’s life and relationships.

Stacy Peterson’s body is likely going to be as hard to find as Lisa Stebic’s. Stebic’s husband says he sympathizes with Stacy’s husband because he knows how it feels to have a wife go missing and everyone suspects the husband had something to do with it. My guess is he can relate how nerve-racking it is to hope the searches never come near where one put the body.

So someone wrote that they wondered whether Madeleine’s body could be stored in a freezer. Many bodies have been kept that way but it usually requires a stand-alone freezer (one of those big storage types) and not a side-by-side in the kitchen (unless one is dismembering the body as well). If there was not one in any of the resort apartments (and it does seem unlikely that type of freezer would be present), her body would have had to be stored in a private home. The next question might be how long it would take a body to unfreeze. I looked up turkeys and some of the big one’s take four days! I find that rather interesting in the sense of possible DNA in the McCann’s hire vehicle meaning a frozen body transported to another location shouldn’t unfreeze in that short a time to leave DNA and hair. I don’t find myself particular convinced of the freezer theory because of lack of freezer space available in the resort rental units and the theoretical DNA in the hire car.

So, if the McCann’s were involved and there was really DNA in the hire car, I would lean more toward the possibility her body was in a shallow grave in a drive sandy area and moved when it was feared the searches would locate the body. The decomposition would likely, in that climate, to cause mummification, a drying of the body, making it less difficult to move, but not making it impossible for evidence of that move to be left behind by stressed out and panicked participants.

If it turns out the McCanns had zero to do with the crime, the body is either on private property of a pedophile (which would tend to eliminate Murat) or, the body is in the ocean and will never be found.

It will be interesting to see if Maddie is ever found what methodology the guilty party or parties used to prevent discovery of a body and any evidence.

BTW, for those of you who think Lisa Stebic, Stacy Peterson, Natalee Holloway, and Madeleine McCann are really alive, I applaud your sense of hope. I am a lot more cynical, and though there is occasionally a miracle or surprise ending, chances of anyone of these four missing persons showing up alive is near zero. The two married women had children they loved and husbands they were afraid of. This equation usually means the disappearance of the wife is the result of a husband offing her. And Natalee and Madeleine were both blonde, but sex rings can find lots of blondes without resorting to high profile kidnappings that might expose them. Natalee and Madeleine have almost zero chance of being found alive.

Let’s just hope, then, that we can at least find out what happened to them and see that justice is served.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


preraphazon said...

I assume that if there is a convenient body of water around, that is where the body is going. I mean, if the killer has so much as turned on Law and Order, he knows water is the best bet for disposing of evidence. So I assume McCann's daughter is in the ocean, of course.

And I assume if a police officer disposes of a body, he does it in water as well since he certainly knows what to do and ought to know he will be a suspect. Since the brotherhood of police is such a strong one and also because officers may have links to the other side of crime due to the nature of their work, I always consider the possibility that it was a hired murder or a favor called in as well, though being police, they must also know how quick a person would be to roll over on them if necessary. But then they also know it will be that person's word against theirs, an officer of the law.

And of course, you also have to allow for the possibility that the kind of killer you have, who also happens to be a cop, is the type of killer who thinks they're too smart to get caught and wouldn't mind representing themselves in court and may use his affiliation to get inside info on the investigation. He may be confident he's untouchable that he's gone to no more trouble than to bury the body in his back yard. A fair number of people who seek a power position so that they may abuse it make it into law enforcement, despite efforts to screen them out.

Now, I can't imagine why anyone would freeze a body unless they had other uses for it, unless they were simply throwing it in the trash for disposal a small unnoticeable bit at a time to get rid of it.

Right now I'm laughting a little considering that this may be the closest a profiler's forum comes to posting a seasonal holiday message! I may skip the turkey this year.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ms Brown

Don't you think they could have thrown Maddie's body in one of the giant garbage bins available in many Spanish and Portuguese tourist towns? Remember how long it took to find Lori Hacking's body in the landfill? (And many people were indeed looking for it there.) I have wondered if the fact that nobody is looking for poor Maddie in a landfill is due to knowledge or oversight.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...


Yes, I would think a killer who is a cop of many years knows the best ways to keep evidence from coming back on him. However, sometimes the arrogance of killers makes them stupid...thank God.

Sorry to ruin your turkey dinner! ::laughs::Being a vegetarian, doesn't much bother me!


Good point about the trash bins. Yes, it is entirely possible she was overlooked in a landfill. I would have to believe though, that the police looked there sooner than later. IF the parents are not involved, I would think the chances of Maddie ending up in a trash bin would be greater than if they were involved. This would relate to the issue of how worried the killer is concerning evidence linking to him or her. If it were an unknown pedophile, he may not much care, thinking he is not likely to be a suspect anyhow. But, if the McCanns were involved, they would be pretty paranoid about Maddie's body being found and probably work harder to make sure it wasn't. Also, parents would have a harder time throwing their child in the trash. There are some weird "rules" of the mind that tend to prevent some things from happening. This is why I tend to also lean against dropping her in the ocean or cremation. Parents, even screwed up ones, tend to want to bury their child; it is easier to wrap her up and gently set her in a grave. Then, one has done the "right" thing ::heh:: and the chapter is closed properly. Some people wonder why the McCanns would do so much "searching" if they were involved and, again, this would be to prove to themselves that they are good parents and care about Madeleine. Strange, but true. This does not apply to the Susan Smiths of the world who purposely kill their children because they are in the way; then they could care less because they never gave a damn in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer. :-)

OT, what do you think happened to Natalee Holloway?

Anonymous said...


In a documentory "Madeleine, Anatomy of a Mystery", a portuguese journalist, Sandra Felgueiras shows a reconstruction of the scene crime and also how and where the forensic evidences were collected:
Can you watch it and tell us what do you think about the DNA results the Police has revealed so far?

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

Those links don't work.
As to Natalee, Joran is guilty as hell and I wouldn't be surprised if the body of Natalee is buried on his father's property. Daddy wouldn't allow the search and, let me tell you, if my son were being viewed all over the world as a killer, the police would be welcome to bring a goddamn backhoe onto the property and dig up every living inch.

If you go to my Pat Brown site, I have an article on their where I go through Joran's interview sentence by sentence. I tell you, the guy is a piece of work.

Anonymous said...

I put new links for the videos at the bottom.

In the documentary Madeleine anatomy of a mystery of the Portuguese television RTP, it is shown a crime scene reconstruction and how the evidences were collected. They also talk about the first results that were obtained. It is said that samples of blood collected in the trunk of the car rented by the McCanns 25 days after her disappearance have a positive match with Madeleine McCann's DNA: 15 DNA markers were detected among 19. Since the 4 missing markers were said to be degraded, they conclude that it is not excluded that it is the DNA of Madeleine McCann. What I dont understand is that the journalist said that this evidence is not enough to prove that the body of Madeleine McCann was in the trunk of the car. What do you think?

See the english video (crime scene reconstruction) at:
and portuguese videos (crime scene reconstruction and discussion about DNA):

josiepublic said...

Thanks for your educational and informative site. I admire your ability to remain detached (not unfeeling) for myself that turning point came when I saw a video on youtube where Mr McCann describes Madeleine as "her" before he hurriedly changes his description to "our daughter". Having been addressed as "her" "she" and "you" with similar expression it brought memories of my own childhood clearly into focus and I can no longer think unbiased thoughts about the McCanns. My deepest wish however is that the parents will be found to be only guilty of neglect but my instincts tell me that its unlikely. Best wishes to you and all those who seek justice for others.

Anonymous said...

About Joran there is also no prove.
for murder.
Also wierd ..there was no supervision and the students could be drinking the whole day..probaly coke to..
I also think she died maybe he hidden her corps.
A 17 year old boy who must be smarter than the whole team of investigations.
Beth stepped on the plane went direct to Van der sloot?
Strange..Joran took money from Beth...Why should she give money to someone who tell lies or murdered her child?
So he could run and kill again?
Also a media murder.
International high profile..

I remember cases of murdered baby`s probaly the mother seems to keep the pregnancy hidden to several times even..
They had their children in a suitcase for the barn or even in the house.

The mccann didn look for theirself, later on they claimed to look in bins etc .
I do think Maddie or Natalee never will be found.
I do not hope that kind or story will inspirate others..