Finding a dead body

The old man in the New York Yankees baseball hat goes for a walk every day at the same time. He leaves his house a little after 8 in the morning, walks for about 30 minutes and finishes up in front of the small café where he grabs a coffee and a bagel. When he’s done eating and catching up on the morning news, he heads back home. He says the walk is his way of keeping trim, but he really goes because it reminds him of the walks he used to take with his wife before she died.

He used to surprise his wife with a white dandelion for her blow and make a wish. On this day though, he’s in for a surprise. When he rounds a curve in the wooded trail, he sees something out of place in the bushes. When he investigates closer, he finds a body. He checks for a pulse but finds none. He’s shaken but thinks to pull out his phone and call 911.

Book ’em Danno

This is how most crime stories start on TV. Prompt the start of the Law and Order “dun dun dun dun daaaaaa” theme song. You can hear the opening introduction in your head.

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

However, the truth tends to be a little more complicated. 

My local tv news station reported this week on an unidentified body that had been found in the woods. The body had been there for several months and was severely decomposed. The coroner had started an autopsy in hopes of determining how the person had died and whether any foul play was involved. They were using dental records to try to identify the person but had come up with nothing.

In the movies and on television, the police would have the DNA results back in a few hours. They would have the person identified and would be sitting down with the next of kin by noon the next day. They would follow-up with a few more questions to friends and family members of the deceased. They would start to zero in on a person-of-interest within a day or two and would be making an arrest before the week was out.

Complicated Forensics

Oh, if life was only like television. Unfortunately, life is much more complicated and messier. It rarely works that easy. The science is much more complicated than the Cracker Box chemistry we see on television. It takes good old time and discipline. Forensic Science draws from a number of scientific branches, including physics, chemistry, and biology, with its focus being on the recognition, identification, and evaluation of physical evidence. Forensic scientists run fingerprint test, DNA analysis, and pathology reports to determine the cause of death.

Speed is important, but it rarely matches the crazy, haphazard deadlines made up by Hollywood. If that weren’t enough, the Justice System needs better answers than the prosecution relying on “gut feeling” about a person’s guilt or innocence.

Yes, real life is slower, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. It slows us down sometimes to make sure we get things right, that we even enjoy the ride. Yes, that can be a good thing!

TV crime does keep us entertained though. I guess that’s saying something.

14 thoughts on “Finding a dead body

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  1. I knew a veterinarian that couldn’t watch Emergency Vets and the only legal show my husband could watch was Ally McBeal as reality is different from TV. I remember my husband was trying a case with a young associate and as they were sleeping 2 hours a night the associate said, “This is nothing like TV!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think that even though crime shows aren’t “real” I think they are a good way to discourage criminals that perhaps aren’t so bright. With the threat of getting caught so easily looming over them… they may think twice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only see those criminal psychology shows unless my wife watches them. I don’t recall that one . . . but I’m usually watching them with my hands over my eyes. I can’t bare to watch, but I still like a good story, so I usually stick around. Meanwhile, she’s all in. In a future life, I’m convinced that she’ll be a detective or police officer or one of those criminal psychologists. Not me!!!! Thanks for reading.

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