Scientific Investigative Techniques in Arson Investigation
You are the supervisor for the Beatts City Arson Squad. It is 3:00 a.m., and the temperature is below freezing. Your unit is called to a suspicious fire scene. Your team consists of you and 3 others. Upon arrival, you discover that the fire is at the Novandon Discount Department Store. There are 6,000 of these stores in the United States, and they are very successful. This store is two stories high and has a customer elevator in the front of the store and a freight elevator in the rear.
The battalion fire chief reported to you that the crowd of onlookers braving the cold to watch the fire contains about 100 people. In addition, the battalion chief provides you with 3 plastic gas containers (3 gallons each), the type used for putting gas in lawn mowers. They all have residual amounts of what smells like gasoline in them. The spouts are attached, and the caps are off of all three cans. One of your investigators takes them as evidence.
The battalion chief related that the fire had 3 points of origin. One point of origin is upstairs in the rear warehouse section, one in the upstairs ladies’ clothing department, and one downstairs in the side entrance of the store where the outdoor and garden section is located. It is clearly an arson fire. The battalion chief tells you that the fire will be under control in about 45 minutes, and he will release the scene shortly after that. You are aware, from local media sources, that this chain of stores has had employee relationship problems—specifically with gender inequality—and recently laid off 18 women for complaining.
Prepare a report on the details of the Novandon Discount Department Store arson fire. You should include the processing of evidence provided in the scenario and the processing of evidence found at the points of origin of the fire. This includes how and why you recorded the artifacts and the scene. You should include safety equipment and precautions you took during processing.
Explain your probable cause for getting a warrant for the scene.
- Address the following:
- What are 2 actions that can be taken pertaining to the crowd of onlookers that might help you identify the offender(s)? Explain.
- What are 2 areas you would check to ensure the scene can be searched safely? Explain.
- What personnel records and other business papers should you subpoena from the Novandon Discount Department Store? Explain why.
- What are 3 artifacts of a fire that would indicate the heat of the fire and points of origin? Explain.
- What are 2 elements of evidence you would expect to find in the scene? Explain.
- How would you collect them for evidence? Explain in detail.
- What is 1 method for search, other than visual, you would use to identify the presence of an accelerant? Explain the process.
- What are 2 items of equipment that will be absolutely necessary to conduct the crime scene search? Explain.
- Promulgate a theory, based on facts and not on emotions, on the circumstances surrounding this arson investigation. Be as creative as necessary, but support all statements accordingly.
- Be sure to reference all sources using APA style.