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pangalactic
01-11-2011, 01:56 AM
Here's one for you.

My MC is going to be stumbling upon a dead body on the beach. Obviously, being the conscientious person that she is, she'll be phoning the Police.

It's quite a simple question really, though I'd guess the answer is a little more complex; what happens next? I've only ever dealt with the Police when we've pulled up shoplifters at work, so I've no idea what would go on if I phoned them and said I'd found a body that had obviously been beaten around the head with a rock. So... any clues?

I should add that I'm in the UK - specifically England - and that the story will be very specifically set there. While answers from international perspectives will certainly be of use, I'd appreciate it if any UK people with a clue about this could speak up.

Thank you!

shaldna
01-11-2011, 02:57 AM
She will be interviewed by the police, and she will have to detail exactly how she found the body, what she was doing at teh time, where she was going etc. She will give a statement, leave her details, and, depending on the exact circumstances, she may be required later on, but that's unliklely. They will keep her info on record though.

and then that's more or less it for her, unless there are any reasons to keep tabs on her - like, if she knew the victim, or she had a history of violence etc

pangalactic
01-11-2011, 03:01 AM
and then that's more or less it for her, unless there are any reasons to keep tabs on her - like, if she knew the victim, or she had a history of violence etc

Excellent, that's what I wanted to hear. This is a ghost story, not a police procedural, but I didn't want to just ignore the procedure if there was any o be ignored.

Thanks!

shaldna
01-11-2011, 03:04 AM
She might be called on later to verify things, but more often than not that would be the end of it for her.

pangalactic
01-11-2011, 03:10 AM
Excellent, thanks. Time to stop putting off writing this scene then!

RJK
01-11-2011, 09:24 PM
If she touched the body or anything in the immediate area, the police will need to fingerprint her, to eliminate her prints from any latent prints they find. A detail many writers leave out.

pangalactic
01-11-2011, 09:52 PM
If she touched the body or anything in the immediate area, the police will need to fingerprint her, to eliminate her prints from any latent prints they find. A detail many writers leave out.

I'm pleased to say I hadn't left that out :-) However, while we're on the subject, would that tend to be done at the scene or would she need to be taken to the nearest station?

PinkAmy
01-11-2011, 10:22 PM
My coworkers kids found a body in the woods about 30 years ago. The body was in a state of decompensation and the kids weren't suspects (I think they were 7 and 9). The police questioned them at the scene, camera crews came and the kids were interviewed on tv, much to their mother's chagrin (she was working at the time and her mom was watching the kids and didn't call her).

Stijn Hommes
01-12-2011, 03:47 AM
There is no particular need to take your witness to a police station to print them. As long as they have the proper materials and a flat surface, they can do it at the scene.

GregS
01-13-2011, 03:55 AM
One nice bit of detail, that almost everyone gets wrong, is that they are very likely to be sequestered into the back of a squad car during the times they are not directly engaged with an officer (and sometimes even when they are).

GradyHendrix
01-13-2011, 04:04 AM
I actually found a dead body once. It was all a pretty laid back affair. I called the cops, they came, brought a coroner with them. Everyone stood around for a while. I stood over on the side. The coroner was really excited that it was so hot and the body was so decomposed that its skin had "cooked" and was coming off his leg "like chicken." A cop took a statement from me standing about 10 feet from the body and that was it.

Most of the time the activity consisted of cops saying to each other, "Do you know this guy?" "Yeah, isn't that Carl, Rita's husband?" "No, I think it's that guy who's always at the Walgreens. Doesn't Danny know who he is?" "I don't think so. But Kate's always running in these guys. Call her."

I was actually surprised that it was so relaxed. Of course, it was Florida, but still...

Zelenka
01-13-2011, 09:41 AM
I wasn't fingerprinted when I found a body at the foot of my parents' stairs on Christmas Day a few years ago and I'd touched the body and her cellphone (it had been below freezing so we weren't sure if she was dead or just really cold, so I'd checked for a pulse etc). I was interviewed in the back of the police car while the police also questioned all the neighbours in the area / building as to whether or not they'd seen anything. I made a statement, (which usually includes your occupation and date and place of birth), and I had to sign an evidence form for both the cellphone and the blanket we'd used to cover her (as once again, we weren't entirely sure if she was dead at first and so thought it best to err on the side of caution and try to keep her warm until a medical person said otherwise).

In that case though there were no suspicious circumstances, which may have had a bearing on it. The area around our building was sealed off for about three or four hours until they moved the body. We had about half a dozen to ten uniformed officers and two or three CID turned up, which I remember thinking was quite a lot for one body.

That was in Scotland, so again may be slightly different.

cryaegm
01-13-2011, 02:35 PM
Here's one for you.

My MC is going to be stumbling upon a dead body on the beach. Obviously, being the conscientious person that she is, she'll be phoning the Police.

Thank you!
Well, damn.

Mine doesn't even do that. She just stares at it and has an undying urge to touch the dead body's lips (and to poke the other dead bodies).

I personally don't have any experience with finding dead bodies, except for dead animals, but...that's something you're not looking for. :D

I could always ask my cousin how it goes down. He's a cop. I'm sure he'd have a lot of information on this kind of procedure (not like anyone else here doesn't. :D; Just saying).

Stewart
01-13-2011, 10:55 PM
Police look for any evidence, take photos and and stuff, but when that is done the body is covered (or hidden from view in some way--I once saw what happens when a person gets hit by a fast train--there were bits strewn all down the tracks, each carefully covered with a yellow tarp, including one bit about the size of a bowling ball), then there can be a very loooong wait for the coroner to arrive. Body stays put, usually, unless there is a risk of losing it some way (rising tide, in your case?) I've seen this happen a few times and it makes sense. Only the coroner deals with the corpse directly, if possible, eventually makes his or her own notes, photos, etc., places the corpse into a body bag and carts it off to the morgue for autopsy, cold storage or to be claimed by next of kin.
(As a finale, in the train incident mentioned above, the final act was the arrival of fire department, to hose down the tracks--there are also professional cleaning agencies for such things--must be gruesome work.)

pangalactic
01-13-2011, 11:05 PM
Thanks everybody. I think I've got enough to be going on with here! It's only a very brief scene but I wanted it to ring as true as possible. Plus researching this was an excuse to put off writing it ;-)

Thanks again, and the info about being sequestered into the back of the car is very useful. That'll have to be changed once the rewrite happens.

thothguard51
01-13-2011, 11:15 PM
Speaking of finding dead bodies..,

Peter Fonda found one the other day. There was a car on the side of the road with a body slumped over the steering wheel and he stopped and then called it in to 911. The cops took his statement and its reported the victim took his own life and had been dead in the car for about 3 days. No one else stopped to check on the car along side the road with a man slumped over the wheel, but Fonda did.

For Fonda, the case is closed, unless...

shaldna
01-14-2011, 02:32 AM
Speaking of finding dead bodies..,

Peter Fonda found one the other day. There was a car on the side of the road with a body slumped over the steering wheel and he stopped and then called it in to 911. The cops took his statement and its reported the victim took his own life and had been dead in the car for about 3 days. No one else stopped to check on the car along side the road with a man slumped over the wheel, but Fonda did.

For Fonda, the case is closed, unless...

This is sad, but really doesn't surprise me. A couple of years ago my then partner attacked me, I screamed and screamed, managed to call the police, there was alot of shouting and crying, and bearing in mind that on a quiet day you can hear next door's TV through the walls, I thought someone, ANYONE would have heard and come to help, or at least phoned the police.

The next day my next door neighbour complained about the noise, to which she got a blank stare and 'So you heard me screaming for help then?'

cryaegm
01-14-2011, 10:00 AM
Speaking of finding dead bodies..,

Peter Fonda found one the other day. There was a car on the side of the road with a body slumped over the steering wheel and he stopped and then called it in to 911. The cops took his statement and its reported the victim took his own life and had been dead in the car for about 3 days. No one else stopped to check on the car along side the road with a man slumped over the wheel, but Fonda did.

For Fonda, the case is closed, unless...
Outside of Cleveland, Ohio, people were calling in about a dead body on the side of the road. Police checked it out, dismissed it as a deer. More people kept calling in about it, though.

It was actually a dead HUMAN body, who was just tossed on the side of the road, and it was a woman who was kidnapped a few months (I think) before.

lexxi
01-15-2011, 12:27 AM
we weren't sure if she was dead or just really cold, so I'd checked for a pulse etc). ...we weren't entirely sure if she was dead at first and so thought it best to err on the side of caution and try to keep her warm until a medical person said otherwise.


Police look for any evidence, take photos and and stuff, but when that is done the body is covered (or hidden from view in some way


So what if the person who calls the police isn't sure whether the person is dead or not?


Paramedics will come and try to revive, which might destroy evidence?

Shakesbear
01-15-2011, 03:05 AM
The police might put a tent up over the body. They may also want a DNA sample from the person who found the body if s/he touched the body. Another consideration is were the tide is - coming in or going out. I don't think coroners in the UK attend death/murder scenes.

chevbrock
01-15-2011, 02:40 PM
To answer Lexxi, when I found a relative passed on a few years ago, I rang 000, and the operator asked me to check a few things - was she still breathing, can you call her and wake her, that sort of thing. They still sent an ambulance to confirm that she was completely dead.

I also know a paramedic, and this seems to be pretty much the norm - in Australia, at least.