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Green River Killer Investigation

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1270
  • Category: Victim

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The Green River Killer (GRK) was a serial killer in the 1980’s who obtained many victims in the Seattle, Washington area. Since the 1980’s the technology used in criminal investigations have improved tremendously in efforts to aid investigators in their investigations. Some technology advances are in the field of forensic science the study of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and how DNA analysis can tell from what substance(s) a person died from and can link a victim to a killer or a killer to a victim. Also advancement in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) allowed the comparison of thousands of 10-print fingerprints in the system in less than 30 minutes. Another advancement would be in the Forensic Entomology and how insects can help determine the time of death of the victim and if the victim’s body had been moved from a previous location.

The first crime scene where multiple bodies were found was when investigators found Marcia Faye Chapman, Cynthia Hinds, and Opal Charmaine Mills in the Green River in 1982. Evidence was being collected at the crime scene by the first responding officers Dave Reichert and Sue Peters; Reichert was obtaining photographs of the riverbank while Peters recorded the procedures. “Reichert half slid down the bank-it was very steep, at least a seventy-degree angle” (Rule 20). As a result of Reichert’s recklessness he possibly contaminated the crime scene and both Reichert and Peter’s failed to continue taking pictures of the area where the third body was found on the river bank resulting in missing evidence of the crime scene. With missing evidence the task force assigned to the case will have trouble determining where the body was moved from because the microscopic evidence that would have been captured with pictures are now gone. According the our text Criminal Investigation in chapter nine it states “Thoroughly photograph everything before moving or touching the bodies”. Even though Reichert and Peter’s waited for the medical examiner to provide permission before moving the body they failed to examine nearby surrounding for footprints or other evidence that could help the investigation.

Furthermore “Kraske noticed that someone had mixed up the tags that noted the sequential extraction identification” (Rule 22). As a result all evidence collected at the Green River was incorrectly tagged which could result in all further records to be faulty and lead to unusable evidence. So Major Dick Kraske ordered a slowdown until all evidence tags were corrected. Although this was a smart choice on his part to keep further evidence from being miss handled this should not have happened in the first place. Kraske tried to prevent further chaos by enforcing a silent radio in hopes to keep all media away until their work was finished at the crime scene.

Now that the bodies were removed from the crime scene and sent to the coroner’s office they must now discover who the victims were. Since decomposition already started on all of the bodies the skin surrounding the fingers began to become loose so pathologist began to sever the skin starting from then wrist to slip their hand into like a glove so identification could be made through finger ink prints. As a result Marcia Faye Chapman was identified, as for the other two bodies facial sketches were made and published and soon the families of the victims were able to identify the two unknown bodies as Opal Charmaine and Cynthia Hinds. Identifying the dead bodies and finding the serial killer may have been easier if they had a technique available to them called genetic fingerprinting. In nineteen eighty-seven a geneticist by the name of Alex Jefferys of Leicester University discovered that DNA found in the chromosomes are unique to each person and can be charted as series of bands; also the test was effective on dried blood that was five years old and on semen that was three years old (Rule 295).

The second crime scene is on October 12, 1984 when a man hunting for chanterelle and morel mushrooms off Highway 140 eight miles east of Enumclaw, came across a skull and widely scattered bones this is an area known as the Green River Killer’s body sites (Rule 242). Once the task force got to the location they began searching for evidence in the large open field by walking in a shoulder to shoulder method scanning for evidence. While others began to shake dirt hoping to find traces of evidence or clues that the killer may have left behind. Since the investigators came across a skull they began to use forensic odontology to help identify the victim through dental records and found out the victim was Mary Bello. The investigators did make a mistake by wrongfully taking a person off the possible victims list without probable evidence knowing she is alive or not. In 1984 a man riding his three-wheeler near the old Star Lake gravel pit got off his bike and walked into the woods to find a new area to ride and to his horror saw what appeared to be a human skull (Rule 247). This victim would be identified in two year as Gail Matthews due to facial reconstruction since they did not have her dental files on record for forensic odontology.

In search of more bones investigators began searching in the old Star Lake gravel pit and confirmed another victim known as Carrie Rois. There was a third body dumping site the killer liked to use was on Bull Mountain Road near the Tigard/Tualatin area in Oregon this dumping ground would be hold of four more victims. A dozer operator looked idly at the dirt he turned over and took a sharp breath after discovering what looked like human bones (Rule 263). In 1984 Denise Darcel was discovered from identification of her bones since her skull showed signs of brain surgery. What had intrigued investigators is that they could only find half of her bones, the other half would not be found till five years later near Seattle. Another victim would be found and was Shirley Marie Sherrill who was not discovered for two or three years later and it took investigators a week after discovery to identify her form the little remains they had. The other two victims found at this dumping ground were unable to be identified. Once Gary Ridgway was caught he struck a deal with the investigators that he would not be sentenced to death if he confesses to all the murders he did. Ridgeway also told in detail how he murdered his victims and the reasoning behind his method of killing.

In conclusion the Green River Task Force preformed their job to the best of their abilities and resulted in the arrest of Gary Ridgeway known as the Green River Killer. Even though the police officers may have had unfortunate occurrences while handling or getting evidence, they are only human and sometimes police officers make mistakes or have unfortunate happenings. The Green River Task Force would have had an easier time with some of the evidence if they had some of the technology available to them like we do today, such as Forensic Entomology, Forensic science in DNA analysis, and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. However it would not change the outcome of the case since the Green River Killer was caught.

Work Cited

Rule, Ann. Green River Running Red. New York: Pocket Star Books, 2004. Print. Swanson, Charles R., Neil C. Chamelin, Leonard Territo, and Robert W. Taylor. “Injury and Death Investigation.” Criminal Investigation. 11th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.

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