Scientific Investigative Techniques in Arson Investigation
You as the supervisor for the city arson squad. At 11:00 p.m., you leave the city for the suburbs to a large dairy farm on a suspicious fire call. Upon your arrival, you note the cows are all milling about in an adjacent pasture. The battalion fire chief reports the presence of over 200 cows in the pasture next to the barn when his fire department personnel arrived. The farm has been burned to the ground, and a huge explosion was reported by neighbors. The dairy barn has two stories. The ground story is for the cows locked in stanchions, and the second floor is hay storage. A silo is attached that was about one-third filled with grain at the time of the fire.
You have Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive (ATF) agents for support. They have conducted a sweep of the entire scene and found no evidence of explosives. Because of the explosion, there is a concern of arson for which you have a search warrant. While inspecting the scene, one of your arson scene investigators finds a butane torch artifact that is very charred about 100 feet from the base of the silo in the field where the cows are. You learn from the detective that the farmer has just lost his government subsidy for corn production in the ethanol program, and he is financially struggling.
- Concerning the violent explosion reported by numerous witnesses and the fact that no explosive residue was found by the ATF, consider the structure and its uses; identify 2 other sources for the explosion that may have caused the fire.
- What issues regarding the livestock support the theory of arson?
- Explain how the butane torch could have gotten into the field where the cows were.
- What is your theory on the explosion and the motive for arson?