Investigations: Investigating Rape Crimes, Part 4 of 5

The first two articles of this series on investigating rape discussed legal definitions, the importance of care in handling the initial contact with a rape victim, identification and collection of rape evidence, the medical examination and the various uses of DNA evidence. In the third article, I introduced a fictional sexual-assault case based on an actual incident to demonstrate the practical application of previously discussed theory.

This fourth installment continues to follow fictional detectives Anthony Capriati (aka the Cisco Kid) and Shirley Bascomb as they investigate the rape of a bank manager named Marie Delaney.

To review the previous articles in this series, visit

The Essential Facts

On the third level of the bank s parking garage, an assailant struck Delaney in the back of the head while she looked for her car keys. He dragged her down the parking garage stairwell and onto a partially enclosed landing, where he first forced her to fellate him and then sodomized her. He repeatedly stuck her with a knife handle, fracturing her jaw and damaging her right eye so severely it had to be surgically removed. He took her purse and told her he knew where she lived. Delaney dragged herself up the stairwell; an insurance employee who worked in the building found her near her car and called the police. The dispatcher interpreted the call as a sick/cared for, and the responding officer, Jenkins, went to the wrong parking garage. An ambulance transported Delaney to the hospital before the police arrived on scene.

Jenkins found the right garage, interviewed the insurance employee, left the crime scene and went to the hospital. When he couldn t interview the victim, he returned to the scene and called his sergeant, who notified the detective bureau. Detectives Capriati and Paul Amaral responded, arriving one hour and 19 minutes after the initial call. They sealed off the garage and called in the department s leading forensic specialist, Detective Bascomb. She responded to the scene in the evidence van, where another evidence technician, Detective Newcomb, soon joined her. A third detective of the Evidentiary Services Division, Stan Lucas, was sent to the hospital to begin the process of securing evidence from the victim.

At the crime scene, Capriati and Bascomb found the following:

  • A bloodstained shirt the insurance employee had used to provide first aid to the victim;
  • Palm prints on the hood of the victim s car;
  • Blood droplets and scuff marks on the cement floor leading from the victim s car to the stairwell and down the cement steps to the landing;
  • A partial sneaker print in the blood and dirt on the landing;
  • A blood-splatter trail continuing at intervals down the stairs to the first floor landing and petering out at a door leading outside of the garage; and
  • A half-full paper soda cup with a straw sticking out of the lid at the bottom of the stairwell.

Investigative Analysis

Was the crime scene properly protected? How will the fact that Jenkins left the crime scene affect the case? Will evidence subsequently recovered be allowed in court?

Jenkins made a mistake by not staying on scene, thereby compromising the integrity of the crime-scene evidence. However, what claim does the defense have in prosecution that uses evidence from the crime scene against a defendant? The exclusionary rule doesn t apply here. The only affirmative defense is that from the time of the rape until Jenkins returned from the hospital and secured the scene, someone other than the defendant passed through the crime scene, and the evidence the police collected was derived from someone other than the defendant. However, of the evidentiary items listed above, only the sneaker print and soda cup could arguably have been left by another person between the time of the rape and the securing of the crime scene.

The straw sticking out of the soda cup lid may contain enough saliva to extract a DNA sample and create a profile typing, and the cup might have fingerprints. If this were the only evidence linking a defendant to the crime scene, defense motions to suppress would be vigorous. However, an oft-quoted definition of evidence is whatever a judge will allow the jury to hear. In my experience, the court will take a totality-of-circumstance view of whether crime-scene evidence was so tainted it s inadmissible and allow the jury to hear both sides of the issue from witnesses for the defense and prosecution. So, Jenkins report must detail specifically how much time elapsed from when he left the crime scene and returned. The insurance employee s statement should include his recollection of the appearance of the garage when he found the victim, such as pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the condition of the area around where the victim lay. The detectives should do a time and activity study for at least 10 days, recording the use of the stairs and stairwell landing where the rape occurred.

Remember: The crime scene includes all areas where people connected with a crime perpetrators, victims, witnesses moved. This includes the area the participant(s) moved through in order to commit the crime, while committing the crime and in exiting the scene. So, in our case, the person of the victim is a second crime scene.

At the Hospital

Lucas had a great deal of experience in the forensic aspects of rape investigation, and upon arriving at the hospital was pleased to see that Judy Benson, a nurse trained in rape-case forensic-evidence collection, was assigned to Delaney s case. Delaney s fractured jaw and scheduled surgery to remove her right eye complicated evidence collection. However, Benson was able to swab Delaney s mouth, take an anal smear, secure a sample of her pubic hair and scrape under her fingernails. Benson helped Lucas separate Delaney s clothing and properly package it as evidence for the state forensic crime lab.

Photographs of injuries to rape victims are critical. Delaney was conscious but sedated, and Benson assisted Lucas by positioning Delaney so he could take 35mm photographs and a video recording of Delaney s severe face injuries and the numerous bruises, abrasions and scrapes to her legs, elbows, arms and lower torso. Benson provided a continuous verbal commentary while Lucas videotaped.

Back at the Crime Scene

Capriati assigned Amaral to find the insurance employee Jenkins had allowed to leave the scene and bring him to the station to give a written statement. Meanwhile, Bascomb and Newcomb busily processed the crime scene. Like Lucas at the hospital, they took crime scene photographs and then made a video recording with Bascomb narrating and Newcomb working the camera. They drew a rough crime-scene sketch and also generated a computer-enhanced sketch with laser technology that calculated distances between evidentiary items with scientific precision. The detectives collected blood at the scene in an eyedropper and photographed, videotaped and lifted the palm prints on the hood of the victim s car. They labeled and packaged the soda cup and protruding straw as well as the shirt used to provide first aid to the victim. The sneaker print in the blood and dirt in the landing where the rape took place was visible to the eye without enhancement by powders or chemicals. After photographing and videotaping the print, Bascomb decided to take the entire cement block in a 4' square to preserve the sneaker impression for lab analysis. This required protecting the print with vinyl plastic while city workers jackhammered the cement block for hours before finally freeing it. Meanwhile, Newcomb worked on the blood-splatter trail.

Across the Street

The Cisco Kid couldn t stand the noise from the jackhammers any longer. He walked down the stairwell to the bottom floor and out the exit to the street, taking the same route as the rapist. He d assigned patrol units to record license-plate numbers in a four-block radius and search for the victim s purse. However, he knew searching trash bins and the like for a purse was a thankless task and wanted to take a crack at it.

By now it was almost 2300 hrs, but it was Friday night and the city was alive with the usual bar hoppers, conventioneers, streetwalkers and drug dealers. Capriati stood on the sidewalk and looked both ways on Asylum Street. The street was steeply graded to the right and ran downhill to the left. Directly across the street was the Hartford Civic Center and above it the parking garage Jenkins had mistakenly responded to.

Capriati tried to think like the rapist. He d want to quickly ditch the purse after taking the money and credit cards, Capriati decided. He looked across the street again to the wide glass double doors marking the side entrance into the civic center, which led to a huge foyer with small shops and food vendors situated in a large semi-circle. He remembered a men s room was situated directly to the right inside the foyer. Capriati knew where the purse was while still standing on the sidewalk. He crossed the street.

On the sidewalk by the civic center steps, a hot dog vendor was doing a brisk business from his illegal street cart. Four prostitutes, a civic center security guard and a traffic cop were busy eating hot dogs and laughing. They all stopped when they saw the Cisco Kid crossing the street dressed in his traditional black suit, black shirt, black tie, black shoes and black fedora with a black feather sticking out. Everyone in the city knew the Kid.

Capriati had known the hot dog vendor, Sammy the Snake, for 20 years. Two of the prostitutes were his paid informants, and he d bailed the other two out of several jams. The security guard was just a kid. When Capriati reached the hot dog stand, he tipped his hat to the ladies, said hello to Sammy the Snake and told the traffic cop to take a mope. Capriati addressed the group. A few hours ago a woman was raped in the garage across the street, and the guy took out one of her eyes with a knife. I m going into the civic center to look around the men s room. If anyone has any idea who might have done this, pay me a visit.

The civic center closed at 10 o clock, the security guard said.

I know, but you re going to let me in.

Inside the men s room, Capriati grabbed a couple of paper towels from the dispenser, lifted the lid of the metal wastebasket with the towels and saw a black purse with a strap among the trash. He closed the lid, pulled out his cell phone and asked Bascomb to walk across the street to process the scene.

The men s room door opened and in walked Candy, one of the prostitutes from the hot dog cart. She shrugged. I drew the short straw. You know a guy that goes by the name of Kong?

Sure, but he s in prison, Capriati said.

Candy smiled and moved closer. Then his twin brother left on a Greyhound Bus for South Carolina a couple of hours ago.

A ripple went though Capriati s body. Byron Jefferson, aka Kong, was a sadistic rapist he d sent to prison 10 years ago. If he was out, Capriati hadn t done his job. He should have known Kong was once again loose in his city.

This case will conclude in the next issue of Law Officer.


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