clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Unknown

It's a small town in Northern Michigan (not the U.P yet) and a snow shoe hiker reports a body.

The body is a male in his early 40's. He's wearing a sport coat, open shirt, t-shirt, wool trousers, worn loafers, socks with a hole in the left toe, and boxers.

The contents of his pockets are in the picture. No ID, keys, wallet, pen, ticket stubs, tissue, or money.

He's been in the woods three or four days. There are no tracks around him to indicate his point of origin. He's on a trail best reached on foot along the easement of a powerline. The nearest road is two and a half miles back alone the line easement.

That's our set-up.

A week later and there is no missing person match, no prints on file, no identifying marks, no laundry tags, and no one looking for a dead guy.

The flask has a good single malt half-consumed. The pipe has tobacco. The jackknife is a commercial item available at any decent hardware store, outfitter's, or sporting goods store. The jacket label is from a select number of stores - all national chains.

Now what ?

How did the fellow die ? Strangled. Ligature. Some evidence of struggle under the snow.

Our protagonist is a loaner. He's on loan from the F.B.I to the State Police technical services unit (training and support of local jurisdictions in technical aspects of evidence preservation and collection). The county called for help because of the snow-covered crime scene. Our guy shows up. He doesn't have the CSI hi-tech crime tools.

He does however have an intimate acquaintance with crime. He's spent twenty years overseas training various national police forces as part of the "show the flag" diplomacy effort.

He's not superman. He's just a back woods cop with a decidedly difficult backwoods murder.

An outsider with an outsider's eye and an outsider's murder in backwoods Michigan.

What makes him different from everyone else we know ? That's the part I'm working on now. I've got a decent victim. I've got a tough crime scene. I've got the cast of the protagonist.

What makes him distinctive and why do we care ?

Working on it. The character is more important than the murder. The character is harder to solve than the murder.

Can't let this one get away.

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