Sunday, March 29, 2009
An Eye Witness Case Study
This is not necessarily a composite success but an answer to a question I received recently about eye witnesses. It's true that some eye witness accounts can be skewed and unrelieable but there are many things to help people lock in a memory.
I was asked to work with a victim who had been attacked. She was living in an apartment alone and was probably being cased by a sexual predator.
He had taken off the screen windows of her apartment and forced open a sliding window. He confronted her while she lay in bed and commanded her to "Shut up and roll over." while he brandished a crowbar. She screamed where upon he hit her on the head with the crowbar and fled after doing so.
The detective on the case had got leads on a possible suspect and arranged for the victim to look at a photo line-up. This included a photo of the suspect that was on file from a mug shot taken a month after the incident. She was not able to pick him out of the line-up.
The detective, undaunted found out there was an earlier booking photo of the suspect closer to the time of the incident. A month of starchy jail food had not been able to have their affect on his facial features yet.
He showed a line-up of photos with this image and she was able to pick him out from the group of six photos and then later was able to do the same with a stand-up line-up in jail.
A detective's perseverence was able to convict this suspect and give the victim a little peace of mind.
I don't know how I would be able to remember a face in the middle of the night, awakened from sleep, in the dark with someone ordering me with the threat of a crowbar but I think she did pretty well remembering his thin eye brows, average nose and prominent chin. His eyes are a little bigger in the composite probably because of his state of excitement during the incident.