By Kristin Lerstrom
MINUTES FROM TUESDAY, MAR 3, 2015, 6:30 PM at the Edina Art Center
Twin Cities Sisters in Crime
There were 23 in attendance.
AGENDA ITEMS: Introductions; Upcoming Events; Author Spotlight – Kristi Belcamino, Blessed Are Those Who Weep; Guest Speaker – Sergeant Robert Dale, Criminal Investigations Division – Homicide Unit, Minneapolis Police Department
3 monthly meeting, Edina Art Center 6:30
3 Julie Kramer, Giese Mem. Library 7PM
5 Carl Brookins Bookmark in the Park 7:30, Granite City, SLP
7 Christine Husom, Snow Way Out, OUAC 12-2
7 Jess Lourey, Scout and Morgan Cambridge, MN 11:30
12-15 Left Coast Crime- Portland, OR
14 Authors Studio, Anthology interview with Colin Nelson at Edina Art Center
14 Midge Bubany, Silver Bones launch B&N Maple Grove 1-4
28 Bloomington Writers Festival & Book Fair
Kristi Belcamino reading from her novel, Blessed Are Those Who Weep, A Gabriella Giovanni Mystery (book 3 in the series)
San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbles onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor—a baby girl found crawling between the dead bodies of her family members. Reeling from the slaughter, Gabriella clings to the infant. When Social Services pries the little girl from her arms, the enormity of the tragedy hits home. Diving deep into a case that brings her buried past to the forefront, Gabriella is determined to hunt down the killer who left this helpless baby an orphan.
But one by one the clues all lead to a dead end, and Gabriella’s obsession with finding justice pulls her into a dark, tortuous spiral that is set to destroy everything she loves …
Sergeant Robert Dale of the Minneapolis Police Department talked about the real world of homicide.
Discussion focused on crime scene response and procedures, clues to look for, and interesting homicide cases. Sergeant Dale’s background includes: Minneapolis Police Department; Violent Criminal Investigations Division-Homicide Unit; BA in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Masters Degree from the University of St. Thomas; Minneapolis Police patrol officer from 1997-2007; sex crimes investigator (sergeant) from 2007-2008; homicide investigator (sergeant) from 2008 to present.
If you have an idea for a great guest speaker, email Rhonda Gilliland at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sergeant Robert Dale did an excellent job laying out how the police, crime scene unit and medical examiner approach and work a crime scene.
He is a homicide investigator, but also investigates officer involved shootings, suspicious deaths (i.e. the death of a baby, or suspected suicide), critical incidents like a person dying in police custody…
When he is on call, and the phone rings at 3:00am in the morning – He has 3 questions he wants answered – Is the person dead? Were there any witnesses? and Did the crime take place inside or outside?
The answers to the above questions tell him if he has time to take a shower and get ready to report to the scene. Under most circumstances he does, knowing that each team is performing its role in the intricate process of investigating a murder. The patrol officers secure the scene and witnesses, the crime scene unit documents, tags, and collects evidence, and the victim’s body is governed by the Hennepin County Corners office and the on-scene medical examiner. There is timing and a rhythm to an investigators arrival on the scene.
When the homicide investigators arrive, they are usually briefed by the supervising patrol officer. The officer will share all available information regarding witnesses, weapons found, information specific to the crime scene, and whether anyone has been hospitalized.
Homicide investigators work in pairs and will generally split up. One investigator is in charge of the scene of the crime, and the other investigator will interview witnesses or suspects at their downtown Minneapolis headquarters.
Sergeant Dale usually stays at the crime scene. If the crime took place in a house, he will consider the whole house not just the room where the crime took place. He must consider who has standing before searching for or taking any evidence. If it is a scenario where it looks like a wife killed her husband. Even though she is a suspect – she has standing as the homeowner, and Sergeant Dale must get a warrant to search the house. An intruder in a home would not have standing.
Investigators must now also get warrants for cell phones. They are very interested in finding out the last person that the victim called/texted, and the last person to have called/texted the victim.
It was very interesting to learn that if investigators need a warrant between the hours of 1:00-5:00am, they will need to go to the home of the on call judge to have him/her issue the warrant. There is no such thing as a supervisor placing a call and having a warrant issued over the phone. They must write up an affidavit, stand before the judge, and make their case.
Sergeant Dale wants to be able to get down on his knees or squat to get really really close to the body. This is an important tool for him to be able to get to know the victim, and start to put together the pieces of who this person is and what happened to him/her.
He talked about a recent case in which the body had been bound and gagged, and wasn’t found for 4-5 days. The decomposition process was advanced, and they needed the help of homeland security and a partial fingerprint found at the scene to identify the body.
When they first start working a case, there are many time sensitive issues that need to be worked quickly like: getting a hold of any security footage that might regularly be erased, interviewing witnesses while their memories are still fresh, gathering DNA evidence…
Investigators usually put in a lot of overtime during the first 2 weeks of an investigation.
It is critical for investigators to determine a timeline for suspects in a murder case. He needs to determine what the person was or persons were doing before, during and after the crime.
He also talked about the seasons being a factor in the type of crime seen in Minnesota. In the winter, it is more stabbings. And in the summer, there is generally higher rate of murders and people use guns more frequently.
He also talked about a double homicide cold case that he will never let go, interrogation techniques, when investigations are assigned a prosecutor in Hennepin County, the enhanced Miranda given to juveniles, differences in procedures regarding whether a person is considered a witness or a suspect, under what conditions they might protect a witness, some information about how his court appearances generally go, the pressure investigators are under to solve high profile cases, jurisdiction, and the questions he tries to answer when investigating a case.
It was a very informative hour, and we are grateful to our reader, Kristi Belcamino, and our Guest Speaker, Sergeant Robert Dale.
TUESDAY, April 7, 6:30 – 8:00 PM at The Edina Art Center.
Author Spotlight: Doug Dorow reading from his untitled work-in-progress
Speaker: Joe Engesser (aka Jailer Joe) will be talking to us on the topic of humor in corrections. Joe has been a professional cartoonist and correctional deputy for over 20 years. He took a real interest in drawing at the age of 10 when he began copying the Peanuts characters. Joe earned an A.S. degree in graphic design and has had cartoons published in several national magazines and various other publications. A few years ago he combined his two careers to create a unique comic strip titled ‘Good Time Served’ for his sheriff’s department newsletter.
Thanks to all the Sisters and Brothers in Crime who make this an active, supportive group!