“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” –fortune cookie saying

smith-corona typewriter

MurderCon is an annual training event put on by the Writers’ Police Academy, and 2020 marks the 12th anniversary of the conference. Workshops taught by experts, combined with hands-on learning, are the draw of this special event for writers. I’ve heard about this conference for years, but because of the expenses involved (travel + lodging + fee), I had constantly put off attending it. Due to the pandemic, though, a virtual conference emerged, so I was finally able to participate in two days of in-depth training provided by homicide investigators. There was so much information packed into such a short period of time that it would be impossible for me to summarize everything. I still have pages upon pages of notes to sort through! Nevertheless, I’ve decided to provide some broad sweeping facts as a taste of the invaluable information that’s provided during the event:

steam clock face

Time of death

  • It’s not possible to determine the exact time, but only a time range
  • There’s reliance on forensic entomology (go, bugs!) to determine the timing
  • Three mortises can appear after death: rigor mortis (stiffening of body); livor mortis (settling of blood); and algor mortis (cooling of body)

Evidence and Rights

  • Fourth Amendment rights/ an expectation of privacy exists for citizens, so a formal process must be undertaken (e.g. warrant) before a search or seizure of property
  • Levels of evidence can span from nothing to suspicion to probable cause (leading to an arrest or warrant) to beyond a reasonable doubt (this evidence can also include confessions)
  • A key difference between a subpoena and a warrant is that a subpoena concerns data and documents
  • Technology evidence and information must also take into account privacy concerns (think: search warrant); everything techie from cell phones to computers to Bluetooth devices fit into this category
fingerprint ridges

Methods of evidence identification

  • Not only are there latent fingerprint examiners but there are also footwear examiners
  • Shoe identification involves uncovering the pattern, size, wear, and random individual characteristics displayed in footwear
  • Databases are available for identifying footwear, fingerprints, and DNA

I was so grateful for a chance to listen to experts, better understand investigative processes, and hear about real-life cases!

Wordless Wednesday: Red Dragonfly
Wordless Wednesday: Anemone


  1. That’s wonderful and so informative! :)

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