According to Tad DiBiase, prosecutor and author of No Body Homicide Cases: A Practical Guide to Investigating, Prosecuting, and Winning Cases When the Victim is Missing, there are only two ways to prove that a “no body victim” is truly dead. (Page 19)
One way is via physical evidence. Tad offers the example of a crime scene revealing massive amounts of blood loss such that life could never be sustained.
But I ask, what else could we add? Perhaps- A car found submerged in deep water and mud without evidence of escape; Perhaps- Personal items or clothing remnants located at the top of a mountain; Perhaps– A body gone missing overboard on a cruise ship.
The second way to prove death in a no body case is the lack of evidence of life. What does this mean? No use of cell phones, social media, no use of bank accounts or credit cards, no known contact with family or friends. The absence of life can spell death (I’ll add the exception when the deceased “takes on another identity” unbeknownst to others.) Tad states, the more evidence of “lack of life” you can amass over time, the better it is to convince a jury. This also includes circumstantial evidence that major life events and appointments were missed and out of character for the victim. “Mom never would have missed the birth of a grandchild.” “Dad would not have missed his annual fishing trip with the guys.” “Grandma always attended every graduation in the family etc. “
Which circumstance above is easier to prove? I would guess that it depends upon the many variables in each individual case, the amount of time that has passed and what is revealed in each crime scene. Certainly, you may have more to work with concerning an active, social engaging person versus one who led a very sedentary life style. A person that has a very set routine and few visitors may be more challenging once all of the usual leads have been tapped. Victimology becomes very important- Defined by some as the study of victimization, including the relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system.
Cases That Prove Death Without a Body –
The Mystery of honeymooner George Smith from Greenwich, CT who disappeared on his honeymoon Cruise Ship in 2005. There remains many unanswered questions o this day. A wealthy family can “shake up the system”, spearhead legislation, demand accountability in the international cruise industry, can hire Dr. Henry C. Lee as an investigator. They can suspect that their former daughter in law might be complicit, BUT, all this cannot bring George back.
It appears he could not have survived if thrown overboard as suspected.
A local account can be read at Greenwich Magazine.
Jon Francis, “invincible solo mountain climber”of Stillwater, Minnesota,was one of those 20 something guys “who thought he could tackle the world.
From the Jon Francis Foundation:
“On Saturday morning, July 15, 2006, 24-year old Jon Francis, of Stillwater, Minnesota, climbed The Grand Mogul in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. He reached the summit but did not return. The official search, led by local law enforcement authorities, lasted for only 2 days and was unsuccessful in finding him.”
Again, as Tad postulated, because of the nature of Jon’s activity, we assume he is dead by virtue of not being able to survive a serious fall or rock slide.
For a more detailed account of his story, and a former Cue Center for the Missing Conference Presenter, Jon’s Father David Francis appeared in this moving blog-podcast showcase from July, 2012: “It’s Not What We Gather, but What We Scatter That Defines the Kind of Life You Have Lived.” (The Legacy of Jon Francis)
To learn about this tragic loss of life and the aftermath as told on “Shattered Lives”, please CLICK HERE
“Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.” Francois de La Rochefoucauld