Crime Scene Analysis Case Study

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[. . .] Through this strategy, police were able to obtain leads, although some were not valuable, the police identified three leads from different places, which connected to the case.

After identification of the suspects, police used surveillance, which helped in the collection of Scott's cigarettes for DNA evaluation (Schroeder and Whiter, 2009). Police followed this strategy and applied it on the other potential suspect, Frederick Johnson. In another incidence of surveillance, police recognized the vehicle, which witnesses had seen speeding around the scene of the crime. On a traffic stop, police recognized Scott Jones as the driver, and the other occupant was Frederick James Johnson. Further checks suggest that the two had prior cases of delinquent behaviors, which the police used at their advantage.

Interviews with Witnesses

The first witness in this case was Ashley's mother. Apparently, the two had problems, but after making up, they spend the night of 11/2/00 talking. The mother, however, realized that Ashley was not home in the morning of 11/3/00. This interview led to the identification of other witness, Heather Thomas, Ashley's best friend. Mrs. Smith, Ashley's mother strongly believed that this friend would offer substantial help in the ongoing investigations (VCUIR, 2000). Mrs. Smith identified other witnesses, such as Patrick O'Donnell, Jason Adams, Robert More' and "Gabe." Mrs. Smith revealed that Ashley Smith was behaving badly, and she restricted her from using the phone.

During Heather's interview, Heather broke into tears even before she was told that her friend was found dead. During the second interview, she cried but could not offer a reason for this behavior. Apparently, it was postulated that the two liked the same person, but Heather denied being jealous of her friend. Mrs. Smith had identified "Jay" and the police wanted to know whether Heather Thomas knew this person. Heather Thomas, had some information on the person, and she provided helpful information to the ongoing case. Subsequent interviews in the victim's school did not offer helpful information, as they were central to rumors (VCUIR, 2000).

Jason Phelps, who was the boyfriend to Ashley, voluntarily appeared in the police station. He takes the polygraph examination and offers to help the police with the investigations. Jason kept on stating that he did not take part in Ashley's death. At some point, Jason could not take it, and opted to go home. However, he signed consent for a search at his home. On the other hand, Ashley's psychotherapist reveals that Ashley was impulsive, "fighter," had anger management problem, poor relationship with father and had a learning disability. A third interview with Heather Thomas did not lead to anything substantial.

Summary of Findings

Interviewing witnesses is a crucial factor in homicide investigations. In prior cases, studies have suggested that some witnesses, through the information they offer, turn out to be potential suspects. This case presents officials with proficient interviewing skills, primarily due to the substantial leads they got from a single interview (Miller, 2003). As required by law, the witnesses, even those that could be potential suspects offered information voluntarily (Walton, 2013). This was the case of Jason, and Heather Thomas. In this context, Jason contributed in adding evidence, although his lacked a link to the crime, Heather Thomas gave names, for instance, "Jay" who later turned out as the prime suspect, and Mrs. Smith also gave names, such as Heather Thomas, who contributed to the investigation (VCUIR, 2000).

Interrogation of Suspects

Confession of Scott Jones

The interrogation of Scott Jones followed a deceptive approach, in that, he was not aware of Johnson's involvement. The case did opted not to advise him that he was a prime suspect, rather the case suggested that he was assisting, by providing information he might have heard concerning the case. The office was monitoring the interrogation, and subsequently recording the information (Constanzo and Leo, 2007). After a series of questions, it is apparent that the case applied the tactic of investigating in the process of interviewing. This is evident in the situation where the suspect goes deep and suggests that Ashley had stabs on the stomach while this was not public.

On the other hand, it is evident that although the suspect claims his mother told him, an interview with the mother suggests otherwise. The case also applies the confrontation approach in some instances. For example, the case suggests that samples of blood from him and his Ford were in for trace evidence. On hearing this, Scott Jones offers to tell the whole truth, although he had earlier denied having the victim on his vehicle, he later confirms that Ashley had been in his Ford, but not the night before she died. Owing to this confrontation, Jones later suggested that Johnson, his friend, might have taken part in the murder (Constanzo and Leo, 2007).

This is contradictory, because, earlier on, one can see Scott Jones protecting his friend suggesting he was quiet, and avoided getting into trouble. During the second interrogation, Scott Jones suggested that whatever he had said earlier was the truth. However, after a series of questions, he offers contradicting statements (Walton, 2013). Again, one can see the case utilizing deception, in that, Scott Jones becomes curious to know what information Frederick Johnson had given. Therefore, the case suggested that everything was consistent, but the roles, as suggested by Frederick, lacked consistency.

In this context, the case suggested that Scoot Jones did the stabbing, and not as suggested by Scott Jones. Owing to this, Jones contradicted himself even more, and even admitted having choked Ashley Smith. Frederick Johnson failed to offer information, but the case had a warrant on him (VCUIR, 2000). However, the case referred when interrogating Scott Jones, which helped in the collection of valuable information concerning the case. Although this is the case, the case made him aware of the charge of murder, which made him astonished, especially when the case stated the victim's name.

Constitutional Challenges

Similar to other case, investigators in the provided case study faced substantial challenges revolving around the constitution (VCUIR, 2000). These challenges result because of the rights of the person, whether accused or not. In this case, Frederick Johnson seems to have understood his rights, and that is why he failed to cooperate with the police. For instance, Frederick Johnson suggested that he wanted to speak to his lawyer first; therefore, the case was hard to progress (VCUIR, 2000). This posed a challenge to the investigators who attempted to connect whatever information he had, to the information offered by Scott Jones. On the other hand, the defense wanted to suppress evidence collected, such as DNA, and the knife; suggesting that they did not follow the constitution. This again, would pose substantial challenges to the investigators, primarily because they were the only piece of evidences they had.

Application of Theory in Practice

The case presented is a typical example of how students can use theory in practice. In the case, one can see the systematic flow of activities, similar to what is in theory. The case begins with the police receiving crucial information, respond to the information and start the investigation. The events, as they pass, are in reference to what students know in theory, but the case provides a practical case, which student can emulate in future cases. Apparently, the first officer on the crime scene surveys the scene, protects the scene and report to the supervisor (VCUIR, 2000).

The scene is full of experts ranging from patrol officers, to forensic experts. Every activity follows a systematic approach, with every professional handling their own role. Afterwards, there is a search of potential evidence, after the collection of DNA samples from the victim (VCUIR, 2000). Later on, police still visit the scene of the crime to check on potential leads. In addition, police hold interviews with friends, family and acquaintances of the victim in an aim to establish the root, or the potential suspects (Miller, 2003).

The interview strategy provides leads to valuable information. Police offer rewards on information that could lead to arrest of suspects. This works, and they land on potential suspects. Afterwards, the police hold surveillance of the suspects to get hold of their DNA sample, which works, and links them to the crime. Interrogations continue, and police apply their skills, which makes one of the suspects confess. Owing to this, it is apparent that the case study provides an application of theory into practice. A closer look at this analysis reveals that the police comply with the investigation protocol, and theory to apply knowledge in practice (Miller, 2003).


Costanzo, M., & Leo, R.A. (2007). Research and expert testimony on interrogations and confessions. In M. Costanzo, D. Krauss, & K. Pezdek (Eds.), Expert psychological testimony for the courts (pp. 69-98).Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Miller, T.M. (2003). Crime scene investigation.Raton, FL: CRC Press. Retrieved from

Schroeder, D., & White, M. (2009). Exploring the Use of DNA Evidence in Homicide

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Cite This Case Study:

APA Format

Crime Scene Analysis.  (2014, February 28).  Retrieved February 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Crime Scene Analysis."  28 February 2014.  Web.  20 February 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Crime Scene Analysis."  February 28, 2014.  Accessed February 20, 2019.