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Murder or Suicide

I was called on a Friday afternoon. A person was found with his throat cut in an apartment in Belltown, the area between downtown Seattle and the Space Needle.

I responded to the scene along with other Homicide personnel.

When I arrived, I walked to the second-floor unit. A patrol sergeant met me.

“The victim was found in his apartment,” the sergeant said. “He’s dead on the bed. His thoat’s been cut.”

I walked to the open door, guarded by patrol officers. The floor was saturated with blood. The victim lay on a bed in the studio unit, a towel wrapped around his throat, obviously dead.

I looked at the floor in the hallway.

“Why isn’t there blood in the hall?” I asked. If someone killed this man, causing so much bloodshed in the apartment, it should have been tracked into the hall.

There was a laundry basket just inside the door. I saw towels in the basket. Atop one of the towels, there was low-velocity blood spatter. Low-velocity spatter is caused by gravity alone. When there is no movement, the pattern of the spatter is stellate with points in all directions. That’s what I saw on a towel atop the towel in the laundry basket. If the victim had been in a struggle, one would expect a different pattern. That’s not what I saw.

It looked to me as though the victim had been stationary and had bent down to get a towel after cutting his throat.

There was no motion evident in the spatter. He wasn’t fighting for his life.

“This is a suicide,” I said.

The only problem with that thesis is there was no knife in the apartment.

Moments later, that issue was solved when patrol officers found the knife used on the sidewalk outside his window. The victim cut his own throat, bent down to pick up a towel from the laundry basket, put it over his throat, and then threw the knife out the window.

Elementary, my dear Watson.

I cleared the scene only to be called to another murder moments later near the Pike Place Market.

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University of Idaho Murders

My two cents.
I’ve done a couple of podcasts about the quadruple murders in Moscow, Idaho.
I don’t have access to the case file or the evidence, but as I watch this investigation unfold, I’m alarmed by a couple of things.
First, the Moscow Police have released way too much information in this case. They tell family members who immediately jump in front of cameras to describe what they’ve been told. These are rookie mistakes by an agency over their heads in this investigation.
Secondly, they called in the FBI.
Despite what the FBI wants everyone to believe, and I have a lot of friends who are or where FBI agents, they are not experts in murder investigations. They’ve read many books about it, and television shows make them out to be, but they investigate almost no murders unless they happen on federal property or an Indian reservation. They produce profiles. Historically, these have been wrong as much as they’ve been right.
A profile is just something to consider. The problem is those small departments with little or no experience in cases like these treat it as the gospel—a grave mistake.
Hopefully, they will have found DNA on the scene from the suspect. If so, the mistakes they’ve committed thus far will be mitigated.
We can only hope.
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