Identifying Evidence in Infant Deaths

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-16-04-59Evidence 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.

  • Evidence

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.

Collecting Evidence

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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Death Investigation is all we do !  Many training agencies are well rounded and can fulfill the training needs in nearly every category of public policing and investigation.  At DITA we concentrate on death investigation and everything surrounding those investigations.  By becoming hyper-focused in this field we are better able to provide  intense and  specific training you and your investigators need.




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About the Author
Darren is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and criminal investigations. He currently serves as an investigator for the Crawford County Missouri coroner’s office. He holds credentials as an instructor for the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served as president of the Missouri Medical Examiners and Coroners Association, and is certified and credentialed in numerous fields of investigation. He holds the position of lead instructor and facilitator for the Coroner Talk™ community as he speaks and writes in the area of death investigation and scene management.

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