Evidence in infant and child death cases is many times very different than in older children and adult deaths, infants die differently than adults, in most cases; so the evidence surrounding their death will be different. Understanding what is potential evidence is critical as well as knowing how and what to collect. Remember – If you think it might be evidence or lead you to a reason for the death – take it, you can always give it back.
Personal Property v. Evidence
- Personal Property
Is property on or near the body that belongs to the baby (or decedent) and can be returned to next-of-kin.
Is any material that may contribute to the cause and manner of death and is considered important in supporting facts of the case. What is determined evidence depends on the type and manner of death being investigated.
Chain of Custody
Every item secured from the scene, whether it is personal property or evidence to be processed – must be accounted for at every moment while in the custody of the investigative agency. Until such time that it is returned to family or destroyed following court order when the evidence is no longer needed. Use a property log and insure that every person handling or receiving the item(s) signs for it and can testify as to its integrity or secured storage.
Photograph – EVERYTHING FIRST !
Be sure that you have photographed and documented in your notes, anything you might be taking as evidence. Its placement will become critical in your final report.If the items had been moved by police, EMS, or family document the place you found it and note the move is you know it.
Every item and material of evidence collected; must be identified, collect, and stored using proper methods. Different evidence has different containers it is important to store and transport correctly.Not doing so can cause evidence to become contaminated, chain of custody to be broken, or samples to be degraded beyond use
Some Evidence in Infants Deaths to Consider
- Bedding, Bed, and Sleeping area
- Any OTC or Rx Medications for baby – Or in baby area
- Bottles – those with milk and those in sink or floor empty
- Baby food – or whatever the child has been eating
- Diapers – toxicology testing
- Clothing – recent, might have changed child after finding
- Items used as weapons
- Anything that looks like it could be involved- in and around the infant area – you can always give it back later
These topics and more are discussed in this weeks episode.
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