Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It Just Doesn't Work that Way in Real Life

Because I am trying to relax before falling asleep, these days I am trying to stay off away from FB and Twitter and email just before bedtime. So I am either reading a book or watching a fairly mindless bit of TV. One of the shows I have been watching lately is Death in Paradise. I like the show because it is lighthearted, not gruesome, and it takes place on a pretty Caribbean island which, actually, is the most important point to me.....aaahhhhh....

I liked the show a lot better in the first two seasons because Ben Miller, the fellow playing the British detective was in it.....and although his replacement is not so bad, I also don't feel the chemistry is as strong between him and the other characters. However, the crime solving a la Agatha Christie is still the same.

And, actually, this is the part of the show I like least. Mind you, in a filmy way, the show is actually displaying deductive criminal profiling - the only profiling I approve of - a method that relies totally on physical and behavioral evidence to solve the crime. So, while I SHOULD like watching how the crime is figured out, I am rather peeved that I rarely can actually solve the crimes! Is it that the detective is that much more brilliant than me or is it simply a fact that crimes aren't committed the way they go down on the show? I say it is the latter! So, in essence, when I look at the crime scene and try to understand it, it simply does not compute....because you won't find anything like it in reality.

The most untrue thing about the show is the level of planning and sophistication the killer always seems to have. The killers tend to have airtight alibis until the detective proves that the killer was so clever that he masterminded a way to appear to have an alibi when he didn't. Even the most unlikely killers - like 70-year-old women - plan amazingly intricate methods of carrying out their crimes. Brilliant! But hardly representing the majority of crimes out there.

In one of the shows, a retired woman wanted to knock off her rival at an adult community on the island so she managed to steal her adversary's medicine, get the staff to prepare two of the same curried chicken dish (the curry for hiding the taste of the meds), go into the woman's room again and explain to her (before she had touched the dish) that she had the wrong dish (both were conveniently covered) and exchanged the poisoned curry dish for a supposed fish dish. Then, after the victim had consumed the poisoned curry and keeled over, the killer reentered the room (having stolen the key earlier off the table) and switched the unpoisoned curry dish for the the plate the victim had consumed the food off of (leaving a plate which, when tested for poison, had none). Then, the killer put the empty bottle of pills next to the dead woman's bedside so it would look like suicide.

But, wait! In order to make sure everyone REALLY thought it was suicide, our elder killer had make it appear that the room was locked from the inside! So what she did was put the bolt on the door and then pull the door hard in order to cause damage in the bolt area where it is attached to the door frame. Then, she went out and locked the door with the key.

Of course, everything works so smoothly for the most part in this kind of extravagant planning on the show. When the victim doesn't show up for a date that evening, her fiancé goes to her apartment, knocks on the door, and when he gets no answer, instead of contacting the manager to have the door opened, he breaks it down and so it appears that he broke that bolt when he accessed the apartment. Brilliant! Then the killer, who is conveniently with the fiancé, slips the key back onto a table.

In real life, the spurned woman would simply have had to get over her wish to be with the man or, if she were really a psycho, she might hit the lady with a rock or with a car but she certainly wouldn't have carried out such a complicated crime. Killers just don't act the way they do in this show and that is why the evidence presented in the series often doesn't even make sense.

Of course, in each episode we also have really fantastic clues like rare beetles or videos with hidden clues in them or unusual weapons...in real life we get a dead guy that was shot with a .38 and no fingerprints.

Naturally, this IS television and fiction and it is just supposed to be a good story. But, as a profiler, I can't help being a wee bit frustrated that I can't solve the crime and it is only when the detective gets everyone together in the last minutes and explains how it all fits together, do I find out who did it.

I am sure I am not alone....there is some lawyer out there watching the show who is saying, "Aw, come on! You may have created a clever scenario and know who did it, but have you got any real proof? And if these killers were so clever to not leave any real proof, why the hell are they always confessing at the end?"

If only real life were like Death in Paradise....I could be solving a murder a week on some little island in the Caribbean. Only, if like Death in Paradise people keep getting murdered at such a high rate, I think there would be no one left on the island by the end of my first year of employment and I would be out of a job.

Yes, it is just a fun show but there is one downside that affects life badly. We have all heard of the CSI effect and how juries now expect there to be solid physical evidence at every scene, but we rarely talk about how we now experience overanalysis of every bit of information, bits that are, in fact, not necessarily proof of anything; detectives may do this and so may armchair detectives on the Internet. Theories can be created based on stuff that doesn't warrant such theories but because shows like this show how EVERY little thing means something and is connected to the homicide at hand, now we find people pulling puzzle pieces out of everywhere and trying to fit them into a puzzle they don't even belong in! A good portion of what is found at any scene has no connection to the crime, witness statements can be completely wrong, rumors about behaviors simply untrue, and making up theories to fit each piece of information into a crime analysis is unscientific and destructive. It is also a truism that the longer a case remains unsolved, the more people will "find" evidence and create even more elaborate theories for what happened.

Deductive criminal profiling is the scientific analysis of crime scene evidence. But, first, we better make sure that what we are looking at really IS evidence!

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

April 21, 2015

Harkening back to the writing styles and small town settings of earlier American authors – John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, and Carson McCullers - "Only the Truth" is a psychological mystery with as many twists as the country road leading to the humble home of Billy Ray Hutchins, a lonely uneducated man living in the hills of Arkansas. Life changes little for him from day to day until he brings home a young drifter he meets at the railroad tracks, the mysterious Charlene, whose last name he never asks. He becomes her Sweet Billy Ray and his love for Charlene is steady and uncomplicated until the sheriff shows up to take her away in handcuffs. With the only woman he has ever loved behind bars for the coldblooded murder of the old man across the road, a confused and devastated Billy Ray sets out on a quest to find the truth, only the truth, whether it leads him to be able to save his Charlene from a death sentence or it frees him from her spell. 


Anonymous said...

Ummm didnt she realize that the stomach contents would be a analysed and that some of the tabs would still be in the stomach and not completley dissolved ? Thats why killers dispose of bodies iimo so the body cant reveal the true crime

Pat Brown said...


The tablets belonged to the victim and the empty bottle was set next to the bed, so it was supposed to look like suicide. The stomach contents would simply show the victim had taken a lot of her own tablets..

But, yes, getting rid of a body so it is never found is one of the best ways to stay out of priison.

Anonymous said...

ty pat but if the tablets were dissolved first in the dinner or crushed finely so they would not be noticed by the victim then wouldnt that be suspicious cause it would take a while for the stomach to digest a whole tablet/s ? the tox would show a high rate of whatever for the drug but little in the stomach ? idk just curious not planning on poisioning anyone ty