Sunday, February 26, 2012

Homicides and Writing

This week, Detective Sweet from the Homicide Unit of the Calgary Police Service  gave a talk "Dead Men Do Talk," which was about homicide investigation, to my writing group (ARWA). 

My stories to date have never included police, murders, or mysteries, so I wasn't sure if I would come away with anything useful for my writing.  However, I was certain I would have some interesting water cooler conversations following the workshop... and it didn't disappoint.

I've known for a long time that my cats would eat me if I had the misfortune of dying at home and not being found right away.  I once had a cat that would occasionally nip at my face while I was sleeping.  I'd swat him away and say: "No, I'm not dead.  Go away."  Now, thanks to Detective Sweet's presentation, I know what I'd look like after that happened.  (Pictures above are of the two cats who presently own me.  Yes, even in their cute little domesticated hearts live carnivorous beasts.)

Wow, what a presentation!  He did a fantastic job of presenting a disturbing and horrific topic in a way that was respectful, light when appropriate, and informative.  He threw out so many juicy details that I filled fifteen pages in my notebook.  Actually, all of the attendees seemed to have a curious detachment to the images we saw, which perhaps suggests writers are eager sponges who soak up all kinds of information in case we might need it some day. 

I have a lot to mull over after that talk, and I wonder if, after all these details have simmered in the back of my brain for a while, my next story will have something a little more sinister.  

A BAKER'S DOZEN: Little Things I Learned at "Dead Men Do Talk":
  1. People generally have misconceptions about what "murder" is.  Murder is violent, messy, smelly and sad.
  2. Homicide investigation is the search for truth.
  3. A DNA test could take 40 days (it is sent to Edmonton for testing).  DNA is not found in fecal matter or urine.
  4. Calgary may have had one serial killer, who was never caught.
  5. Most common method of homicide in Calgary is with a knife.
  6. Most homicides in Calgary happen in January and August, the least in June.
  7. Most homicides happen on Saturday, the least on Monday.
  8. Most homicides happen between 3-4am, the least between 5-6am.
  9. Psychic evidence happens a lot (in 1 of 5 cases).
  10. Body identification is rarely done by photo ID.
  11. Never underestimate threats and threatening phone calls.
  12. "Locard's Principle" is the theory of transfer.  (Professor Edmond Locard, 1877)
  13. Things don't happen as they do in CSI and other fictional crime shows on TV, which confuses families, jurors and other lay-people.


Mary M. Forbes said...

Sounds very interesting. Wish I could have been there.

Maggie Marlow said...

Thanks for the post. I am sorry I missed it.

patonlorraine said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for commenting! :)
Yes, Detective Sweet's talk was great.

patonlorraine said...

Hi Maggie,
I'm glad you enjoyed my little blurb on Detective Sweet's talk.
Thanks for commenting! :)