The “Maze” of Crime Scene Investigation According to Pete Valentin

The maze of Longleat House
The maze of Longleat House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“They want to have answers … This is a difficult one….” Dr. Henry C. Lee

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” 

 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is at the crossroads in which ideas intersect with perseverance that things get done. However, when it comes to solving crimes, whether determining a suicide, homicide or accidental death, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and if there is one important message from our guest, Peter Valentin, a forensic scientist, former Connecticut State Police detective, crime scene investigator, and professor at the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science, is that “slow and steady” generally wins the race.”

Never before in the history of civilization has life been so complex, so multi-layered, and fraught with policies, procedures, bureaucracies, legal considerations and ways in which the solving of a case can go wrong.  Citizens are given a steady stream of media messages that justice and answers should be quick and “figured out before the next commercial,” but not so in real life. The secret is to combine the best of both worlds; combining old fashioned detective, tried and true, methods with “science and gadgetry” as appropriate.

“Shattered Lives”  interviewed Pete Valentin for a second time, learning still more about the intricacies involved in crime scene investigation. Join us for this fascinating show!

Listen to the Podcast

  • Intimate Partner Violence PSA by Amy Robinson

    Peter Valentin
    Peter Valentin
  • Introduction to our guest, Peter Valentin
  • What is a prerequisite skill prior to getting to the “nitty-gritty” investigation?
  • Thought processes…the many aspects – detective work, scientific work and thinking beyond the obvious
  • Delilah asks about why many investigators rush to judgment by ruling a case a suicide versus a homicide and how can we prevent it?
  • Looking beyond the information and the source…
  • The importance of credible information and not taking short cuts…
  • There should be one standard of investigation and family involvement
  • The beginnings of an A to Z thorough investigation…
  • The first person on the scene….
  • Preservation of the crimes scene versus saving of a life…Which is more important?
  • What to know about witnesses and securing the scene….
  • People who make the discovery,  their recall and manipulation of the scene
  • Delilah on the interpretation of evidence and transfer… So many steps by so many people…
  • “After the emergency is over, I must leave…”
  • Search warrants- Carte blanche?
  • Documentation process- What’s involved?
  • Photography and videotaping…
  • Delilah asks about cold cases and the importance of preserving evidence…
  • DNA preservation…. What enhances, what destroys?
  • Ladyjustice asks if there is a benchmark or time period to be considered “Cold?”
  • Ladyjustice brings up the issue of backlogs and Pete’s strategies to deal with it…
  • Becoming smarter…. and collaborating…
  • The problem with integration and interpretation…
  • Advocacy- Sometimes less is more….
  • Doing tests- The best way to educate about the limitations of forensic science is ____?
  • Example – The Casey Anthony Trial and Duct Tape…
  • DNA and its probative value…
  • Ladyjustice asks about what crime victims can do to move a cold case along?
  • Questioning everything you believe on the “second look” – fact versus opinions
  • Less than forthcoming witnesses and attitudes over time….
  • Pete’s parting messages re the nature of Crime Scene Investigation….
  • Closing Intimate Partner Violence PSA by Amy Robinson

Questions for the Audience

  • How many sub-specialties are needed to be a competent crime scene analyst?
  • What is the difference between bringing your experience to the scene and “creating a bias?”
  • What is the hierarchy of assumptions as to the possible manner of death – Homicide, suicide or accidental death?
  • What is the important distinction between a county coroner and a forensic examiner?
  • Do you secure the scene or document as your first steps?
  • What is the responsibility of first responders initially re “transient evidence?”
  • What’s involved in a walk through?
  • What’s Pete’s opinion regarding narrated videotaping?
  • In the matter of cold cases, what’s the most important factor?
  • How long can preserved evidence last?
  • What is Pete’s definition of a “Cold Case?”
  • What’s the real issue with evidence and backlog?
  • What’s the threshold for solvability re crime scene examiners?
  • How do you manage the expectations of juries?

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.

 The “Maze” of Crime Scene Investigation According to Pete Valentin

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