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Collin123
03-18-2014, 03:01 PM
In an open murder investigation, if the cops are withholding information (murder details, M.O. type stuff) from the media in regard to serial killings, would those details be given to the victims families? If not, how long would those details be kept secret (years later if still unsolved?)?

Do cops/coroner often leak those kinds of details to the press and if caught, are there legal ramifications?

lbender
03-18-2014, 07:41 PM
Not in that field, but I know enough to know that victim's families may be suspects. That would be one reason not to give certain details to them. Another might be to avoid causing them additional pain. If one's close relative is dead, that's bad enough. Do you really need to know the details of how they were tortured beforehand?

So, for your first question, I would doubt the families would be given any details beyond what was necessary.

ironmikezero
03-18-2014, 08:53 PM
Details are typically withheld to protect the integrity of the investigation and any evidence, test the credibility of witnesses, garner intelligence, and in many cases spare certain parties undue
stress.

It may be determined that further withholding is strategically and/or tactically sound under the circumstances. Some details may become public at the time of trial - some may not. The court can always seal the record if deemed warranted.

cornflake
03-18-2014, 09:44 PM
In an open murder investigation, if the cops are withholding information (murder details, M.O. type stuff) from the media in regard to serial killings, would those details be given to the victims families? If not, how long would those details be kept secret (years later if still unsolved?)?

Do cops/coroner often leak those kinds of details to the press and if caught, are there legal ramifications?

No, details withheld for investigative purposes are withheld. They're not given to families, lord knows. Yes, if unsolved, they're withheld in perpetuity. The only place/time they'd come out would be at trial or in documents released likely in relation to a trial.

Leaking can have a slew of consequences from firing to prosecution, yeah, depending.

MDSchafer
03-19-2014, 01:19 AM
Former cops and court reporter here, so not quite first hand knowledge.

Typically police officers give information out while keeping the details vague. If they think someone was a serial killer victim they'll probably tell the family that, but they're not going to share specifics. They're not going to give away anything that could compromise their investigation. Also, it changes if the someone in the family or close to the family is suspected.

As far as who would give the information? In a small county/small town that sees four or six murders a year the sheriff or the chief will probably talk with the family personally, if not them it would be their second in command. In a major police department the information will probably come from the lead investigator. In larger cities I have also seen victim advocates get involved, and sometimes they are told certain information that they will relate to the family.

It's been my experience that the closer to the murder timewise the less the family wants to know. This is generally speaking, but if someone is murdered in a robbery and the suspect is in custody the family doesn't seem to know an awful lot, and seems to learn most of their information at a trial. In my experience the more time that passes between the murder and the arrest the more the family wants to know. Typically the longer the case goes unsolved the more the family will know/discover/infer/be told.

Collin123
03-24-2014, 01:28 PM
Thanks everyone! Great info and much appreciated!