I assume many people are like me in that they reflect every so often on a “famous first� from their past. I would also assume that these scenarios most likely involve a first day of school, a first kiss, or a first plane ride. For me, I often find myself thinking back to my first homicide. The first homicide I worked rather—I didn’t kill anyone.

Here’s the scenario:

A woman returned to her apartment with a male acquaintance and found her female roommate collapsed in the floor of their living room. Upon noticing a large amount of blood on the body and on the floor, she called 911 and her acquaintance fled the scene. After the responding officers and paramedics recognized what appeared to be stab wounds to the body, homicide detectives, crime scene technicians, and myself were called to the scene.

When dispatch called me, the only detail I got besides the address was that the death appeared to be a homicide. As such, my nerves had little to do with the magnitude of the violent incident that had taken place and everything to do with an instant fear of looking like an idiot. I had worked homicide scenes with other investigators and medical examiners before as part of my training, but this scene was to be my first “solo� effort. Formal training had concluded the week before which signified the beginning of informal training. Informal training in this field is concluded upon death or retirement.

To prepare myself—and distract myself from my nerves—I spent the entire drive to the scene going over the protocols for investigating a homicide step-by-step. I tried to recall every “What to do� and “What not to do� I had ever heard. I even formed a mental picture of the scene in my head as I went through various stages of the scene investigation. The fact that I was a rookie was no excuse to show up and look like a rookie.

By the time I arrived, I had mentally prepared myself and even had a plan of attack. I was going to show up feeling confident but not over-confident and use the opportunity to show everyone, including myself, that I knew what I was doing. In spite of what little genuine confidence I was able to muster en route, I was still very much relieved when I arrived and saw that my senior investigator was already there.

Initially, I didn’t question why he was there. As it turned out, the dispatcher had mistakenly notified him first. I was just glad to have him standing over my shoulder one more time. I walked up and stood by politely as he casually visited with the homicide detectives. After a few minutes, one of the detectives said, “Ready when you are.�

I turned to my supervisor expecting him to respond as he normally did—with some smart-ass remark that only a seasoned veteran can get away with. These remarks were typically one-liners like “I guess it’s not going to examine itself� or “If you’re waiting on me to be ready, we may as well go home.� For anyone unfamiliar with him or his line of work, it would certainly appear that he had a genuine disdain for his job.

On this occasion, however, he used a line I hadn’t heard yet.

“Don’t look at me. This one’s all yours.�


2 Responses to “”

  1. 1 Terri Poposky
    February 4, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading about your work experiences. They are interesting and well-written. I am looking forward to more. Your page is saved in my favorites list.

  2. February 12, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    “everything to do with an instant fear of looking like an idiot”: Now THIS I can totally relate to! In fact, it is my main “mea culpa” or maybe I should say my “modus operandi” actually (impressed? yah, me too. I looked those up on the net!). Anyways, all I’m saying is I know just what you mean.

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