August 4th, 2012


Police procedure when a body is found

I have some very detailed questions about police procedure when investigating a death.  I’ve tried Googling variations on “police procedure murder investigation” and “police procedure body found”, but everything I’m getting is either too general or too specific on details I don’t care about.  I’ve been searching for a while now, and I’ve reached my limit on pictures of wounds and dead bodies.  I’m also not prepared to read all 600+ pages of the police procedure manuals that keep turning up in my searches, especially since I’m not sure they would answer my questions.

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It’s a fantasy story, set in America.  I wouldn’t call it urban fantasy, since the setting is rural, but it is set in 2012.  The main character’s house is way back in the woods, with the nearest neighbor about a mile away.  I never specify a city or state in the story, but let’s call it Virginia because that’s where I live.

- How long would it take for someone to say that the body parts had been chewed on?  I don’t care how long it would take to make an official determination, but would it be relatively easy to preliminarily identify bite marks right off the bat?
- How long would the initial crime scene exam take?  All day?  How long would her backyard be off limits?
- How many people would be on site the first day?  Would there still be officers on site the next day?  If so, how many?  When I ask how many people, I’m looking for generalities: less than 5, 5 - 10, billions and billions....
- Who would do the investigation?  Local police?  State police?  Sheriff’s deputies?  Someone else?
- Who would interview the property owner and/or who would be in charge of the investigation?  I’m looking for an actual title: lieutenant, detective...?
- Would they assume she had done it, because it was on her property?  How high would she be on the suspect list?  She’s relatively well known in the community and has lived there for many years.
- Would they let her stay by herself in the house the first night?  Subsequent nights?  Would they want her to call a friend, or would an officer have to stay with her?

For a short story, this thing sure is generating a lot of questions.  Thanks in advance!