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Quickbread
03-26-2014, 01:22 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping for some advice on my MC's death situation.

My MC falls down the stairs in front of her husband, and it's uncertain whether he pushed her. He himself doesn't remember because he's been drinking.

She breaks her neck, but I don't want her to totally die at the scene because I don't want the house to become a major crime scene. So I have the EMTs coming to whisk her off on the premise that she's still got a pulse. Is this medically feasible?

After the fall, I want to have a minimal investigation that comes up dry. This is a very small town in Wisconsin during the early 1980s, and the MC's husband is best friends with the local officer (who can be town, county or whatever position would be most convenient for helping the husband avoid charges.) I'm wondering how such an investigation would work, who would lead it, and how it would conclude. Would it be the coroner? A sheriff? Is it possible to not get state police or out-of-town investigators involved in a death? I'm not writing a murder mystery or traditional thriller, so my goal is having the least amount of investigation possible that would be believable.

My scenario may be totally off-base, but in my draft I've got:
- The coroner as the person to determine whether there's cause for a police investigation.
- He interviews the witnesses, who don't give him much to go on.
- The site doesn't reveal any clues, nor does her body.
- He reluctantly concludes there's no evidence to even begin an investigation.
- He rules the cause of death an accident after several days of looking and questioning.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

NeuroGlide
03-26-2014, 02:15 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping for some advice on my MC's death situation.

My MC falls down the stairs in front of her husband, and it's uncertain whether he pushed her. He himself doesn't remember because he's been drinking.

She breaks her neck, but I don't want her to totally die at the scene because I don't want the house to become a major crime scene. So I have the EMTs coming to whisk her off on the premise that she's still got a pulse. Is this medically feasible?

After the fall, I want to have a minimal investigation that comes up dry. This is a very small town in Wisconsin during the early 1980s, and the MC's husband is best friends with the local officer (who can be town, county or whatever position would be most convenient for helping the husband avoid charges.) I'm wondering how such an investigation would work, who would lead it, and how it would conclude. Would it be the coroner? A sheriff? Is it possible to not get state police or out-of-town investigators involved in a death? I'm not writing a murder mystery or traditional thriller, so my goal is having the least amount of investigation possible that would be believable.

My scenario may be totally off-base, but in my draft I've got:
- The coroner as the person to determine whether there's cause for a police investigation.
- He interviews the witnesses, who don't give him much to go on.
- The site doesn't reveal any clues, nor does her body.
- He reluctantly concludes there's no evidence to even begin an investigation.
- He rules the cause of death an accident after several days of looking and questioning.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Christopher Reeves survived a broken neck, she can long enough to get to the hospital, but the stairs will be the crime scene regardless of where she died. Unless there's some evidence of them fighting, assumption of innocence holds, he walks.

valerielynn
03-26-2014, 05:58 AM
It is possible to survive a broken neck. But I must say that the stairs are going to be a crime scene no matter if she lives or dies because someone falling down the stairs is suspicious.

Quickbread
03-26-2014, 07:05 PM
That's great news about the broken neck. Thanks for that.

And it's fine if the staircase becomes a crime scene for a while. I just want to know how the investigation would take place in a small town. Who would investigate, what would be the pecking order, and how far up the chain of police would it absolutely need to go?

I was hoping for a coroner's inquest instead of a police investigation, but perhaps that's off base?

ironmikezero
03-26-2014, 09:33 PM
It'll depend upon the jurisdiction, but the first responding LE agency usually maintains investigative responsibility.

Is your coroner a medical examiner (many are not - merely elected or appointed officials)? Will there be an autopsy? An inquest can be a matter of established jurisdictional protocol.

Absent a COD finding that clearly points to homicide (suspicious but inconclusive) coupled with a lack of any physical or self incriminating (statements) evidence, it's very likely the ensuing investigation would not proceed beyond the most basic process and the case subsequently closed as an accidental death. It can always be reopened should any new evidence come to light.

Quickbread
03-27-2014, 06:28 AM
So is it possible that the first responding LE agency would be a county deputy, who happens to be a close friend of the suspect?

Can you explain how an inquest would be decided on? I don't know if the coroner's a medical examiner. He can be if needed.

I don't think there will be an autopsy since the cause of death is pretty obvious. There were two witnesses, one at the top of the stairs (potentially aggressor) and one at the bottom, a 5-year-old child.

So who would be the person to decide the death was an accident? The first responder, in this case, a county deputy? Or would they have to call a superior in?

Quickbread
03-27-2014, 07:42 AM
Just wanted to post that I found all the answers to my questions here (http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lc/publications/sb/sb_2004_08.pdf).

Thanks everyone for your help. I really appreciate it.