5th Edition

Practical Homicide Investigation
Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, Fifth Edition

  • This format is currently out of stock.
ISBN 9781482235074
Published May 12, 2015 by CRC Press
1296 Pages 917 Color Illustrations

USD $150.00

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Book Description

Renowned for being THE definitive resource for homicide investigators, Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques details the recognized protocols used by investigative divisions of major police departments throughout the world. The text is used in most police academies, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Now in its fifth edition, the book begins with a comprehensive discussion of homicide crime scenes and moves chronologically from initial police notification, the correct police response that follows, and the subsequent steps necessary to conduct an intelligent investigation. It then delves into the more technical aspects of homicide investigation, augmented with numerous pictures and full-color illustrations that involve pertinent case histories.

This latest edition includes three new chapters along with fully revised chapters with new case histories and techniques that reflect the latest forensic methods and modern investigative procedures.

Highlights of the Fifth Edition Include:

  • Newly revised "Homicide Investigator’s Checklist"
  • A new chapter on the latest DNA technology
  • A rewritten chapter on equivocal death investigations that includes staged crime scenes
  • Additional information on modes of death
  • Fully updated chapters on death notifications, sex-related homicide, management for police administrators, suicide investigation, and narcotics-related and homosexually based homicides
  • Over 920 photos and illustrations, 250 new photographs, and several new case histories

Eminent author, lecturer, consultant, and expert witness Vernon J. Geberth incorporates his more than four and a half decades of real-world law enforcement experience in this quintessential reference. This classic and must-have resource provides the most vital information needed by detectives and police investigators responsible for cases in violent and sudden death.

Remember: do it right the first time. You only get one chance.
—Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S., Homicide and Forensic Consultant, Author of Practical Homicide Investigation, and Series Editor of The Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations

Table of Contents

The Homicide Crime Scene
The Five Components of Practical Homicide Investigation
The Crime Scene
The Preliminary Investigation at the Primary Crime Scene
Equivocal Death Investigations
Most Common Errors or Missteps in Death Investigations
Selected Reading
First Officer's Duties: General
Notification of a Possible Homicide: The Official Notification to the Police
First Notification of Homicide Received in Person by Patrol Officer
First Officer's Duties on Arrival at the Scene
The First Officer Initiates the Homicide Investigation
Dealing with Emergencies at the Scene
Selected Reading
First Officer's Duties: Specific
The Suspect in Custody
Transporting the Suspect
Examination of the Suspect for Evidence
The Dying Declaration
The Victim Removed to the Hospital
The Victim Pronounced DOA at the Hospital
The Officer's Duties at the Hospital
The Victim Confirmed DOA at the Scene
Handling Witnesses at the Scene
Additional Officers at the Scene
Handling News Media Personnel at the Scene
The Documentation of Events by the First Officer
The Changing Sequence of Command
Patrol Officer's Checklist
The Preliminary Investigation at the Scene: The Detectives
Initial Receipt of Information
Arrival at the Scene
Preliminary Steps to Be Taken by Detectives upon Arrival—Checklist
Describing the Scene
Implementing Crime Scene Procedures
Direction of Uniformed Personnel at the Scene
The Teamwork Approach
Directing the Investigation at the Scene
Duties of the Detective Supervisor on Arrival at the Scene
Preliminary Interview of the First Officer
Interview of Ambulance Personnel
Handling Curious Onlookers
Handling Witnesses at the Scene
The Canvass
The Preliminary Medical Examination at the Scene
Special Procedure to Follow in Specific Cases
Selected Reading
Specific Investigative Duties at the Scene
The Suspect in Custody
Interview and Interrogation of the Suspect in Custody
Examination of a Suspect for Evidence
Evaluation of the Suspect’s Demeanor and Mental Capacity
Homicide Calls and Statement Analysis
Obtaining a Dying Declaration
Handling Buried-Body Cases
The Investigative Checklist
Selected Readings
The Crime Scene Photographs
The Value of Crime Scene Photographs
Crime Scene Photography and the Investigator
Admissibility of Photographic Evidence
Photographing the Homicide Crime Scene
Type of Film
Recommended Crime Scene Photographs
Practical Application of Crime Scene Photography
Digital Video Recording
Selected Reading
The Crime Scene Sketch
The Sketch
Preparing the Crime Scene Sketch
Utilizing Aerial Photographs for Mapping Outdoor Crime Scenes
The Total Station Crime Scene Reconstruction Program
The Homicide Crime Scene Search
Legal Considerations
Physical Evidence
The Concept of Linkage
Methods of Crime Scene Search
Formulating the Search
The Homicide Kit
The Search
Examination of the Body at the Scene
Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Documenting Bloodstain Patterns
Release of the Body
The Scene
Physical Examination of a Suspect in Custody
Release of the Scene
Crime Scene Process Protective Equipment and Clothing
Crime Scene Protocol for Protection from Airborne Pathogens and Other Biohazards
Exposure of First Responders
Exposure to Blood-Borne Diseases
Infection Control Techniques
Selected Readings
Estimating Time of Death
The Process of Dying
Body Changes after Death
External Agents of Change
Information Derived from the Scene
Selected Reading
The Identity of the Deceased; Resources for Missing and Unidentified Persons Cases
The Identification
Mass Fatality Events
The Iceman Case
The Teeth
The Bones
Forensic Art
Resources for Missing and Unidentified Persons Cases
Selected Readings
Death Notifications: The Surviving Family as Secondary Victims
Psychological Reactions to Death
The Normal Grieving Process
The Stages of Grief
Psychological Reactions to Murder
Psychological Reactions to Murdered Children
Psychological Reactions to the Murder of Police Officers
Notifications of Death by the Homicide Detective
Recommendations and Guidelines for Proper Death Notifications to Surviving Family Members
Providing Information to the Surviving Family
Guiding the Surviving Family through the Criminal Justice System
Selected Reading
Modes of Death
Gunshot Wounds
Cutting Wounds
Stabbing Wounds
Blunt Force Injuries
Deaths by Asphyxia
Deaths by Fire
Deaths Caused by Injection
Sexual Asphyxia: The Phenomenon of Autoerotic Fatalities
Selected Reading
Suicide Investigation
Suicide Risk Factors
Depression: A Clinical Perspective
Other Motives for Suicide
The Investigation
Staging a Scene
Investigative Considerations
Chemical Suicides in Automobiles
Bizarre Suicides
Equivocal Death Investigations
Motives and Intent
Suicide Notes
Background Information
Psychological Autopsy
Final Exit Suicide Investigations
Seven Major Mistakes in the Investigation of Suicide
Suicide Investigation Checklist Protocol
Selected Reading
The Investigation of Sex-Related Homicides
The Crime Scene Investigation
Human Sexuality and Sexual Deviance
Paraphilic Disorders
Determining Motivation
Significance of Fantasy in Sex-Related Incidents
Technology and the Sex Offender
The Identification of the Victim
Modus Operandi and Signature
Organized and Disorganized Offenders
Four Classifications of Sex-Related Homicides
Interpersonal Violence-Oriented Disputes and Assaults
Rape- and/or Sodomy-Oriented Assault
Deviant-Oriented Assault—”The Lust Murder
The Serial Murder
Selected Readings
Homosexual Homicides
Homosexual Relationships
Homosexual Lifestyles: Investigative Considerations
Interpersonal Violence-Oriented Disputes and Assaults
Murders Involving Forced Anal Rape and/or Sodomy
Lust Murders and Other Acts of Sexual Perversion
Homosexual Serial Murders
Investigative Assessment and Analysis of Case History
Investigative Significance
Psychological Considerations
Robbery-Homicide of Homosexuals
Homophobic Assault and "Gay-Bashing" Incidents
Selected Readings
Forensic Application of DNA Analysis: Introduction
An Introduction to Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)
Cells: Structure and Molecular Biology
Structure and Function of DNA
Techniques and Procedures in Forensic DNA Analysis
Techniques and Procedures in Forensic DNA Analysis
Admissibility of DNA Evidence
Laboratory Accreditation
Relatedness Testing
Familial DNA Analysis
Touch DNA
Ancestry Determination
Forensic DNA Case Studies
Collection of Evidence
Procedures for Collection of Evidence
General Types of Evidence
Classifications of Physical Evidence
Collection of Specific Types of Evidence
Selected Readings
The Autopsy
The Medical Examiner/Coroner
Investigation of Death
Purpose of the Autopsy
The Medicolegal Autopsy
Human Anatomy
Selected Reading
The News Media in Homicide Investigations
The Changing Media Dynamic in the New Millennium
Establishing a News Media Policy
Homicide News Release Policy
Offering Rewards
Handling the News Media at the Scene
Preparing the News Release
Selected Reading
Identification of Suspects
Bite-Mark Identification
Latent Prints on Human Skin
Polygraph Examinations
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
Homicides Involving Theft of a Fetus
ViCAP, and Statewide and Regional Information Systems
Selected Reading
Investigative Assessment: Criminal Personality Profiling
Early History of Profiling
Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP)
The Application of Abnormal Psychology
Criminal Personality Profile
The Investigative Approach to Profiling
Investigative Assessment: The Profiling Process
Clinical Considerations and Descriptions of Behavior
Crime Scene and Profile: Characteristics of Organized and Disorganized Murderers
The Organized Offender
The Disorganized Offender
Criminal Personality Profiling: The Signature Aspect in Criminal Investigation
Geographic Profiling
A Psychology of Evil
Interview Strategies and Techniques for Dealing with a Serial Killer
Selected Reading
Equivocal Death Investigation
Initiating the Investigation
Case 1: An Equivocal Death and Staged Crime Scene—Making a Homicide Appear to Be a Suicide
Case 2: An Equivocal Death Investigation with Staged Crime Scene Death Classified as Undetermined Manner
Case 3: An Equivocal Death Analysis—Homicide or Suicide?
Case 4: A Staged Crime Scene—Homicide or Suicide?
Selected Reading
Narcotics-Related Homicides
The Drug-Related Murder: The Investigative Dilemma
The Drug-Related Murder and the Investigative Reality
The Three-Phase Strategy
Selected Reading
Practical Homicide Investigation: Supervision and Management of the Homicide Investigation
Management Policy
Police Department Policy
Criminal Investigation Management
Supervisor's Homicide Checklist
Providing for the Effective Documentation of Events
Conducting the Investigative Conference
Investigation of Police-Related Shootings (Officer Involved Shooting/Use of Deadly Force Incidents)
Apprehension of Homicide Fugitives
Planning the Apprehension
Cold Case Investigations
Appendix—Supervision and Management: How to Be an Effective Homicide Commander

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Vernon J. Geberth


"Geberth has succeeded in the impossible. … Practical Homicide Investigation, Fifth Edition, explains every aspect of a homicide investigation, with an easily understood, how-to approach from a professional who has been there. In my opinion, it is essential that the professional involved with the investigation and prosecution of a homicide have a copy…. This is the most outstanding and comprehensive encyclopedia on the tactics, procedures, and forensic techniques of homicide investigations."
—Philip G. Schnelwar, Attorney at Law, White Plains, New York

"This book leaves no question that now more than ever, a homicide investigation must be based on a mix of the practical and the scientific. In fact, the new chapters and revised materials, along with the descriptive photos in this text … will place this edition in the category of a police text classic, an authoritative standard on the subject, and make this book the most complete homicide textbook available on the market today."
—Pierce R. Brooks (Deceased), from the Book's Foreword, Writing about the Previous Edition

"One of the most difficult aspects of homicide investigation…is to keep current and up-to-date with techniques, laws and procedures. Vernon Geberth continues to update and review critical matters…relating to the ever-changing world of homicide investigation. If you do not keep up to date with the latest techniques and investigative practices as Vernon explains them, you will wish you had when you are confronted with them on the witness stand at trial. I have prosecuted murder cases for over thirty years in New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado. This book and its accompanying Field Guide are used by me and our local investigators constantly."
—James Yontz, Deputy District Attorney, Pueblo, Colorado, USA

"Vernon Geberth, a retired NYC homicide detective, is a prominent forensic consultant and the recognized clearinghouse for all things related to death investigations. The 1st edition had become a veritable bible for investigators, so I could just imagine what a 5th edition offered. I couldn’t wait to see it. At a crime scene, investigators should observe, describe, record anything they find, and use proper procedures to collect the evidence. This book goes over every known scenario: inside, outside, typical, atypical, straightforward, ambiguous, staged…you name it. In short, this book is impressive. Geberth leaves no stone unturned. I pride myself on my collection of unusual suicide cases, but he includes some in this book that riveted me."
Psychology Today’s "Shadow Boxing" blog June 2015, Katherine Ramsland. Katherine Ramsland, PhD, an expert on murder and serial crime, teaches forensic psychology and has published 46 books.

"This newly published 5th edition of Practical Homicide Investigation is 1226 pages in length, and … is a collaboration of information made possible by the author, who has dedicated his life to providing the most up to date reference tool to homicide and death investigators and prosecutors throughout the country. This behemoth of a text continues that legacy …which make this latest edition a valuable tool for any investigator charged with the ‘profound duty and awesome responsibility,’ of conducting a homicide or death investigation."
—Detective Mark J. Czworniak (retired), Chicago Police Department, Area North - Homicide Sex Crimes Unit

"This edition not only provides the scientific basis for homicide investigation, it also describes in intimate detail the procedures and techniques necessary for a comprehensive and successful investigation. The text is replete with photographs, drawings and illustrations ... including multiple case examples that are very clearly written and pertinent to the science as well as the practical procedures of homicide investigation. This is the most complete text available on the subject ... I highly recommend it to any officer involved in homicide investigation as well as forensic scientists."
—Ronald Turco, Past President, American Academy of Psychoanalysis and The American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians, Former Reserve Police Officer of 30 years

"This is a must-have reference for all homicide detectives. This comprehensive opus is nothing less than a masterpiece. The amount of information packed into 1200 pages is astonishing …truly a wonderful resource for all persons investigating and seeking to gain an understanding of every aspect of homicide. No question this text is the gold standard in the field. Truly a remarkable resource."
—Donna Pedergast, First Assistant District Attorney, Michigan Attorney General’s Office

"Geberth, the world-wide expert on homicide investigation, is the real thing. His chapter on DNA is one of the most readable and comprehensive treatments on the subject. His expertise and clarity make this a must read. All of the twenty-four chapters have been excellently written and revised to make this textbook the continued recognized ‘Bible of Homicide Investigation’ for all members of the criminal justice and legal system."
—Edwin T. Dreher, Deputy Chief (Retired), Office of the Chief of Detectives, New York City Police Department

"The best book on death investigations just got better. I love the new book … it has been significantly expanded and goes into even greater detail than Geberth’s previous editions. The use of case studies to explain the importance of the different steps is magnificent. The information has been updated to acknowledge the increased role technology plays in death investigations. This is the ultimate manual for death investigations; every homicide investigator should own a copy and use it like a physician’s desk reference."
—Larry Hallmark, Detective Lieutenant, Grapevine Texas Police Department

"Practical Homicide Investigation, Fifth Edition, will be your one-stop shopping resource for successful death investigations. The updates and additions are massive … the incorporation of today’s forensic and technological advances will keep you on the cutting edge of death investigations."
—Larry Thomas, Assistant Director, Kansas Bureau of Investigation (Ret.), BTK Serial Killer Task Force Supervisor

"Once again, Vernon Geberth has set a new standard for learned treatises in homicide investigation … (the) Fifth Edition is thoughtful, provocative and, most of all, provides an expert guide for the men and women of our police forces."
—Charles S. DeAngelo, Esq., Attorney-at-Law

"Practical Homicide Investigation, Fifth Edition contains just about everything there is to know about death investigations and is a must read for anyone that investigates deaths and homicides."
—Heath Taylor, Sheriff, Russell County, Alabama

"[With] the first edition to this textbook … and each successive edition, Practical Homicide Investigation has exemplified the most comprehensive and up-to-date compilation of homicide and death investigative knowledge available. This fifth edition is similarly an unsurpassed reference."
—Joseph A. Bobak IV, Ph.D., Professor of Criminology and Forensic Investigation, Mount Aloysius College

"This intelligent, all-encompassing book is a veritable encyclopedia for successful homicide investigations."
—Marvin Skeen, Chief Criminal Investigator, Office of Attorney General of Washington

"Vernon Geberth’s Practical Homicide Investigation, Fifth Edition leverages his 46 years of experience with that of many colleagues to put everything you need to know about murder investigation in one place—at your fingertips."
—Pete Gagliardi, Author, The 13 Critical Tasks: An Inside-out Approach to Solving More Gun Crime, www.triplebarrelstrategies .com

"This comprehensive book is a must-have item for every detective and investigator to use as a guide and reference. Vernon’s Fifth Edition successfully ties together the old-fashioned principles of good investigative police work with the latest advances of forensic science and technology."
—Tom Jordan, Judge, District Court, Center Hall, Pennsylvania

"Practical Homicide Investigation is to the police profession what the Physicians’ Desk Reference is to the medical profession. In the Preface Geberth writes, ‘A homicide investigator is street smart and book wise.’ This Fifth edition is a one of a kind source that provides professionals the ‘street smart’ with ‘book wise’ in a very practical way."
—Anthony D. Magnetto, Police Commissioner (ret), City of Troy, NY Police Dept.