When I arrived at the grizzly crime scene at the Capri Apartments at 2130 Portage Avenue yesterday it was clear, even to the untrained eye, that some significant bloodletting had occurred at this location.
The crime scene told a story. This normally peaceful neighbourhood was the scene of extreme violence perpetrated by a suspect (s) who used an edged weapon or some type of blunt object. That much was obvious.
What is not so obvious is the story the frightful amount of blood present at the scene can tell us.
While I don’t pretend to be a blood pattern expert, I have read dozens of blood pattern experts reports and have had occasion to work with blood pattern experts during several murder investigations that involved extreme levels of violence.
Homicide Investigators have to be alert to the story a bloody crime scene tells. That story can be used to scrutinize witness and suspect accounts as the investigation evolves. If the story told by the blood spatter doesn’t agree with the story advanced by witnesses and suspects, investigators know they have to dig deeper in their search for the truth. A crime scene never lies while the same can’t be said for witnesses and suspects in murder cases.
Blood spatter can generally be grouped into the following categories;
- High Velocity Spatter
- Medium Velocity Spatter
- Low Velocity Spatter
- Blood Pools
High velocity spatter is normally associated with the use of firearms but can also be caused by the use weapons, like a baseball bat, if a suspect uses an extreme amount of force. High velocity spatter often presents itself as a fine mist or spray of tiny droplets on a wall or some other surface.
Medium velocity spatter can be caused by a blunt object, a beating with a fist or a stabbing with an edged weapon. In these types of attacks arteries can be lacerated or damaged causing blood to spurt as adrenaline fuelled conflict causes the heart to pump faster. These injuries can cause a significant amount of “projected blood” which forms a large and distinctive pattern. Investigators often refer to these blood patterns as “gushers.”
Low velocity spatter is usually caused by dripping blood. This type of spatter occurs after a victim sustained an injury and walks around. The blood droplets caused by this type of spatter are normally larger than medium or high velocity spatter.
Blood pools are often found at crime scenes and are indicative of a victim being stationary for a some time.
Blood spatter in this photograph is indicative of a medium velocity spatter with an arterial bleed of some type. This evidence can help investigators put the pieces of the puzzle together. Information gleaned from this evidence can tell us where the victim was standing and provides insight into the dynamics of the violent confrontation.
Note the blood spatter by marker number five. This blood spatter is consistent with low velocity spatter and is indicative of the victim standing by the door to the apartment building. The blood on the door is commonly called “cast off” blood and likely came from the victims hands after they were in contact with his wound. The blood smears by marker #2 may indicate the victim may have fallen, was in a struggle or was having difficulty standing on his feet after being mortally wounded.
The blood spatter evidence depicted by marker #6 is commonly called “blood transfer.” This evidence is indicative of the victim standing by the door and attempting to gain entry into the apartment building.
Among other things, blood spatter evidence can tell us the true nature of the force used during a violent confrontation. It can also tell us where a violent confrontation started and ultimately finished. This evidence can be extremely important to a murder investigation when suspects and witnesses refuse to cooperate or are deceptive with Police.
Although labor intensive for crime scene investigators, a bloody crime scene exponentially increases the solvability of a Homicide case. In cases with grotesque amounts of blood-letting it’s virtually impossible for murder suspects to escape the crime scene without having been significantly contaminated with the victim’s blood. That blood transfer ultimately provides prosecutors with irrefutable DNA evidence that can seal a violent offenders fate.
The blood spatter evidence noted at the Capri Apartments tells us a frightening story. It’s a story about conflict, loss of control and extreme violence. A story that’s told far to often in a City that’s struggling to establish a new identity.
As the first 48 winds down and Homicide Investigators put the finishing touches on another senseless killing, the conversation almost always comes down to assessments of the kind of people who commit these types of crimes. It’s ironic that hardened Homicide Detectives almost always arrive at the same conclusion. A conclusion that comes back to blood.
“How could someone commit such a crime?”
In the street cops over simplified and slightly skewed view of the world, the consensus usually is, “It all comes down to bad DNA.”