‘Criminals one step ahead’
...using fire to destroy evidence
Jensen LaVende email@example.com
CRIMINALS may be considered “stupid” because they break the law but they have a better understanding of the criminal justice system and are proving it in the way they conduct their business.
Criminologist Renee Cummings in response to questions e-mailed to her on Friday said the criminals understand what type of resources that the police are working with and are keeping two steps ahead of them.
Cummings was responding to questions specifically on killings where the victims were burnt, in some cases beyond recognition after the killing.
“Criminals have a better understanding of the criminal justice system than most and they also have a comprehensive understanding of what resources the police and forensics are working with. They study the limitations of the system and that always keeps them two steps ahead of law enforcement” Cummings said.
On March 1, cousins Jerome and Dale Ramsahai, suffered an agonising death when they were burnt in the trunk of Jerome’s Nissan Tiida car at the Heights of Guanapo, Arima. The duo’s charred remains were unidentifiable and DNA testing at a foreign laboratory confirmed their identities after three weeks.
An autopsy performed by Dr Easlyn McDonald-Burris said the men suffered “full body burns” and died in the fire. No motive has been put forward to date. Jerome, 27, was a bank loans manager at Scotiabank Ltd, while Dale, 28, was an information technology coordinator with Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries. Both men lived at Seuradge Trace, Debe. So far no one has been arrested for their deaths.
In a telephone interview with the Express on Friday pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov said the burning of the bodies is one sure way of destroying any possible evidence.
Alexandrov said DNA is very fragile and cannot stand temperature above 2000 degrees Celsius.
Cummings said: “Perpetrators understand that clues left at a crime scene could construct a picture of an offender from his or her modus operandi. So they try to cover their tracks. The crime scene tells a story, it contains details, messages, character sketches and plots that must be weaved together by homicide investigators.”
On August 3 two burnt bodies, still unidentified were found near the Forres Park landfill at Claxton Bay. The burnt remains were found along a gravel track, opposite the landfill — about 100 feet off the Tortuga Main Road. Two spent shells were found near the corpses.
Homicide officers told the Express the burning of the bodies makes their work more difficult. They said the investigations into the four deaths are ongoing and did not want to divulge how far the investigation has reached or whether they have hit a snag in the investigations.
Alexandrov said the use of fire during and after the killings originated in Soweto, South Africa. The burning of the bodies resembles that of “necklacing”, a type of execution where tyres soaked in gasoline are placed over the victims head and chest and set ablaze.
“The burning of the tyres is like napalm, the napalm as well as tyres can develop really high temperatures. The burning rubber could burn a whole in a body in seconds” Alexandrov said.
Cummings said: “Burning the body undermines evidence recovery and often makes it difficult to detect trace evidence, foreign hairs, fibres, biological fluids, and any trauma or noticeable wounds. Therefore, disposing of a body by fire, after murder, is not uncommon if the objective is destroying evidence or to make a body unrecognisable. “
Asked if the variance of necklacing was a “growing trend” among killers, Cummings said no, adding that the youth homicides is the only “growing trend” as far as crime, specifically murders are concerned.
She said there has been a lot more “claim to fame” killings among young men whose only claim to fame is their ability to be violent.
“An anaemic juvenile justice system has allowed youth violence to spiral into a nationwide crisis. Youth violence is fluid and complex and a comprehensive approach to the magnitude of youth violence is lacking. Young people now have huge criminal portfolios. Youth homicide (young men 17-34) continues to spiral out of control and crime is fast becoming a claim to fame for young men 17-21” Cummings said.