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scribbler1382
01-11-2006, 08:13 PM
When do the feds get involved in serial killer cases? If all the killings are local (in the same city/state) would they get involved at all or would the local/city cops work the case?

DaveKuzminski
01-11-2006, 11:21 PM
Marty, they're already investigating you. ;)

Okay, jokes aside, the answer is it depends. The cases could all be in a single state, but still involve Federal jurisdiction if one occurs on a Federal reservation in that state. In other words, you don't have to cross state lines for Federal intervention. I believe you can also get Federal intervention if one of the victims falls into a special category, so it wouldn't even be necessary then for the cases to involve crossing state lines or occur on a Federal reservation.

alleycat
01-12-2006, 12:32 AM
I'm no expert but I think they can become involved merely if the local authorities request their help.

ac

scribbler1382
01-12-2006, 01:20 AM
Thanks, guys. Guess I should have been clearer. I've got a serial killer who has stayed within state boundaries and no crime has occurred on any Federal reservations. The locals haven't requested help, and for me to not have to do a huge rewrite, I don't WANT the feds involved. I'm just trying to determine if it's realistic to not involve them, that's all. The city is L.A. if that makes any difference.

ideagirl
01-12-2006, 08:01 AM
I've got a serial killer who has stayed within state boundaries and no crime has occurred on any Federal reservations. The locals haven't requested help, and for me to not have to do a huge rewrite, I don't WANT the feds involved. I'm just trying to determine if it's realistic to not involve them, that's all.

Yes, it's completely realistic. The feds don't have jurisdiction unless a federal crime has been committed (e.g. transporting the victim across state lines; killing someone on federal property, such as an army base, federal prison or national park, or on sovereign territory, i.e. a reservation; maybe using a machine gun in the murder would do it too, since federal law places serious restrictions on the use of machine guns). Murder (and other violent crimes) are violations of state law, so the default mode is for the feds not to become involved. Even serial killers who kill in several different states are going to go to trial in state courts--that might mean, say, ten trials in three different states. No matter how many states the murders were committed in, it's not going to get to federal court unless there's a federal law or constitutional question (e.g., right to a fair trial) involved.

As for the FBI becoming involved in the investigation, where there's no federal jurisdiction I think that such involvement would not happen unless local authorities requested help. That happens in complicated cases (e.g., serial killers) or crisis situations (e.g., major hostage takings--the local cops may not have anyone with experience in hostage negotiations), but it's up to the local authorities whether to call in the feds for help or not.

BradyH1861
01-12-2006, 08:18 AM
I have no real experience dealing with the FBI, but I have worked with the ATF. They have arson jurisdiction on Federal property. They have top notch investigators and also top lab access. Now, they have NO jurisdiction over a typical arson, just as the FBI has no jurisdiction over homicide. We can ask the ATF to assist us though, and they are usually more than willing if we have a tough nut to crack. (ie: serial arsonist) We can also ask their labs to analyze something for us without having to actually ask for agents to work with.

I took a graduate criminology class on serial murder. Our professor was a former homicide detective who helped catch the co-ed killer in Michigan during the 60s. Anyway, he told us the first day of class that the biggest myth about serial killers is that the FBI has jurisdiction. They have no jurisdiction over serial murder at all, unless, as noted, it occurs on Federal property. If a killer transports a victim across state lines, then they can get involved then as well. As has been pointed out. Typically they do not get involved unless asked, and they can either help with lab work/crime scene or actually assign agents, or both.

One thing to consider is that LAPD and the FBI have some bad blood that goes back at least a decade. They typically do not work and play well together. So to answer the question, if the locals do not want help, then the FBI will not get involved.

Brady

scribbler1382
01-12-2006, 09:32 AM
THAT'S what I was looking for! Thanks, everyone. And thanks for the extra tidbits, Brady. I love adding little stuff to enrich the story, like the bad blood issue.

You guys rock!

DaveKuzminski
01-13-2006, 12:18 AM
Hey, guys, tell me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Marty look like that photo on the Post Office wall? ;)

scribbler1382
01-14-2006, 05:18 AM
Only if your post office is in the Twilight Zone. :)