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This week on the writer's detective bureau, new year's day, 2022 finding last wills and historical questions by two different listeners named Amy I'm, Adam Richardson. And this is the writer's detective bureau. Well happy new year to you. Today is January 1st, 2022 as I record this, and this is episode number 115 of the writer's detective bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction.
And this week I'm answering questions about finding last wills for a homicide investigation and two different Amy's each have historical police questions. One about a murder in 1912, and the other, a character in a romance that works for the NIPT in the late 1980s, early 1990s in real quick. Huge, thanks to my Patrion patrons for sticking with me these last few months,
especially my gold shield patrons Debra Dunbar from Debra Dunbar com CC Jameson from CC jameson.com. Larry Keeton Vicki Tharp Vicki Tharp dot com. Larry darter, Natalie Barrelli Craig Kingsman of Craig Kingsman dot com. Lynn Vitale, Marco Carocari of Marco Carocari dot com. Rob Kerns of night's fall, press.com Mariah stone of Mariah stone.com and Aurora Jacobson for their support along with my Silver Cufflink and Coffee Club patrons,
you can find links to all of the patrons supporting this episode in the show notes at writers, detective.com forward slash one 15. And to learn more about using Patrion to grow your author business, or to support the show, check out writers, detective.com forward slash Patreon, P a T R E O N. Is it just me or did December, 2021 seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye?
It started out with me studying intently for the FAA part 1 0 7 exam, which is the exam for commercial drone pilots, or more accurately, a remote pilot certificate. I studied for weeks and it's a proctored exam at a testing facility where you're being monitored by a dozen different cameras to make sure you aren't cheating. And I somehow managed to pull off a 98% passing score.
What's funny though, is that I've never flown a drone or a UAS unmanned aerial system in my life. So why did I go through all that? Because my department like hundreds, if not thousands of agencies around the world are in the process of adding UASs drones into our toolbox. And I've been tapped by my department's administration to become one of the first remote pilots.
As we build out this program and know Mr. Orwell, this is not about some high altitude surveillance platform. That's what my helicopters for in all seriousness, these drones are going to be used for very specific purposes, like being sent into a building ahead of the SWAT team on high risk calls, like armed barricaded subjects or for aerial crime scene photography, which admittedly we already do in the helicopter.
So the probably take that away from us to a certain extent, but Hey, it will be great for detectives to have a drone pilot in their unit that can just pull out a drone from the trunk of their detective ride and get photos without having to call out the helicopter and wait and all that kind of stuff. And then we'll also use it for searching areas for lost,
missing, or at-risk folks. So even though I haven't flown one yet, I am excited to get started and have a hand in steering how my department deploys them in the field. Now for the Christmas holiday, I went up to Northern California to visit family and attend some pretty fun events, like seeing the band of thievery corporation, going to at 49ers football game and going to see Metallica play.
Once again, in celebration of their 40th anniversary, I wore a mask at all those events. I have my booster shot and I had my required proof of vaccination to get into the shows December 20th, after all of that was the one day where we had nothing on the agenda, my brother and I, but my brother tested positive for COVID. I didn't an in-home test with him and I was negative,
but that nothing on the agenda day became my first day of quarantine. I did three tests on the 21st that to drive a clinic to rapid in one PCR, all of those showed negative. I went to another drive up clinic on the 24th and Christmas Eve for an identical round of testing, the two rapid and one PCR, which to this day, as I record this on the 1st of January,
I still don't have any of those results. I don't have the two rapid results or the PCR test because why would timely COVID testing be a priority? Right? Anyway, when I left the testing center, I drove home to quarantine back down south in my own space and wait for the results. Fortunately, my wife hunkered down with her best friend elsewhere to make sure that she didn't get it,
but when no results came in on the 27th, I went to my own local clinic and did an in-home test as well. And as you can probably hear my voice, both showed positive for COVID. Fortunately for me, having had my booster in November, just prior to 20 books, Vegas, that conference, I ended up having zero symptoms and I'm pretty sure it's because the booster helped me not have any symptoms.
I mean, I can hear my voice a little bit, but that's about the only thing I've had. No fever, no aches, pains, sweats, sore throat, any of the other stuff that my brother had other than a lack of willpower to do anything. But I think that's just what we do between Christmas and new year, right? So tomorrow,
the 2nd of January will be my first day out of porn teens since December 20th. And you know, I'm going to celebrate it by kicking off cohort 22 dash one of the writer's detective school. Then I will be BSN with my buddy Patrick O'Donnell on the cops and writers podcast. He hasn't shared any kind of agenda with me other than to pour an adult beverage and just talk.
So we'll see how that goes. But with my Christmas and end of 2021 being spent in quarantine, I'm feeling pretty energized about the new year. The quarantine also gave me quite a bit of time to think and plan for the new year. And I'm not a big fan of resolutions. I always jokingly say my resolution is not to come up with one,
but I am committing to doubling down on the podcast for 2022. So enough of me talking about me, let's get some questions answered. Jesse Nori sent in this question regarding the will of a murder victim. Hi Adam, I have a question about wills. A man is murdered in a parking lot. His next of kin is a cousin in another state.
Who's never even met the guy. The police want to know the contents of his will. If he had one, could the cousin give verbal permission over the phone to search the man's house for it, or would they need a warrant? And I suppose once they're in the house looking for a piece of paper that says last will and Testament w if they find a piece of paper that say a love letter from another suspect in the case,
would that be admissible? Now, let's say they search the house. No Willis found would they then call around law offices to find the will. And somehow they find the lawyer who has the will and is it's executor. Would that lawyer then just email a copy to the police or would they need another warrant for that? Appreciate it. Looking for reasons to delay the police,
finding the contents of the will. All right. So we've got two things going on here. The first of which is the search of the decedent's home, right? Even if the cousin granted access to the residents, the police would likely get a search warrant anyway, because it's cleaner in the long run. When the murder investigation goes to court, the police don't really know what they're going to find.
And having a warrant ensures that any evidence they encounter can be seized without delay or worry of its admissibility. Being challenged as detectives writing search warrants is just part of our daily life. It's our bread and butter. It's what we do. So it's no big thing to get a warrant to search the home of a murder victim. Now, as for the will and finding the contents,
wills are public documents that are filed with the court in that county, the actual court and name of the office that handles the filings really varies from state to state here in California. It's the court clerk of the superior court that handles probate records in Pennsylvania. For instance, it's the county register of wills and clerk of orphans court. So if I were you Jesse,
I would Google the terms probate county and the state. Your story is set within that court clerk or registrar is where your detectives are going to go to get a copy of the will. I should mention that you ought to include a reason for the detectives to go looking for the will in the first place. Something that would prompt them to think the will is germane to their investigation,
like a motive, because searching for a will, doesn't normally rank very high on the task list for a murder investigation, unless there's a significant reason for it. So how do we delay the detectives and finding it? I would suggest having the will be filed in another county, perhaps the will was filed when the decedent lived elsewhere, years or decades earlier,
or if you want the will to be a recent one. And part of some sort of fiduciary elder abuse case, maybe the fraudster behind the scheme files the will and another county, and falsely showed the decedent living in that county in order to file it there, you can get creative on how the detectives subsequently learn where the will was filed, but by moving it out of that county,
it creates a little bit of a delay. And whether it be the diligent work of a detective combing through past residences of the decedent, or like as far as records go or determining that they lived in another county or an overly helpful court clerk that does her own sleuthing amongst her network of fellow court clerks across the state. Now, I mean, for that latter scenario,
having spent some time dealing with courts, clerks, offices throughout California, I can say that it would be rather unlikely unless there's a real motivation for the clerk to want to help out because the court clerk's office can be a bit like the department of motor vehicles when it comes to civil service customer service. So thanks so much for the question, Jesse, I hope this points you in the right direction.
Our next question comes from Amy Renshaw, who writes, I'm working on a novel where a murder takes place in a large department store in 1912 with the shopping area near the crime scene, be off limits to shoppers and employees. If so for how long or would it be business as usual after the body was removed? Thanks so much. Ooh, interesting question,
Amy and a great setting for it too. I can immediately imagine it happening on the floor of Macy's or Selfridges or B Altman in 1912, huh? This predates my law enforcement experience by a good 80 plus years or so, but let me give it a shot. I'd imagine the police would like modern day shut down the entire store and control access to it until they are finished with their investigation.
Given the era, there would be a much greater emphasis on firsthand accounts of what a witness or witnesses saw compared to any kind of scientific evidence like we do now. Now that said to put things in perspective on December 21st, 1911, the Illinois state Supreme court upheld the admissibility of fingerprint evidence as a reliable form of, so you might have an attempt at getting fingerprints from the decedent and the area around the crime scene.
Although I don't know enough about the methods they would have used back then, other than black ink and a white piece of cardstock to take the deceased's fingerprints. And that would likely have been done at a morgue or a hospital, not at the scene. So it's possible that they were using clear cellophane tape and some sort of graphite powder to try to dust from prints at the scene.
So to answer your question, Amy, I'd hazard a guess that the store would only be closed long enough to sketch and photograph the scene, interview witnesses and haul away the body as well as take any prints that they may have had. And speaking of photographing the scene, Kodak introduced the V PK or vest pocket Kodak camera in April, 1912 and its predecessor, the number zero folding pocket Kodak was sold between 1902 and 1906.
So cameras were definitely a possibility for being in an investigator's kit and to put the forensic science stuff into a little bit more perspective. It was only in 1910 when Edmund lowcard created the first crime lab in Leon, France, France. If the name lowcard rings a bell, it's, he's the namesake behind low cards exchange principle, which is the theory that every contact leaves a trace.
So I wouldn't expect there to be much forensic science in that murder investigation, but may be some fingerprints and some photography back then. It was likely you were dealing with a coroner who may or may not have a physician involved in the determination of manner and cause of death, unless your story's set in either Massachusetts or New York city. I will link to a pretty interesting white paper on the historical development of forensic pathology in the United States in the show notes,
which you'll be able to find by going to writers, detective.com forward slash 1, 1 5. So thanks for the question, Amy. I hope this helps. And speaking of Amy's Amy Lee harden of Amy Lee, hardened.com writes, hello, I'm writing a romantic suspense novel set in the late 1980s, early 1990s in New York city. My hero is an NYP D police Sergeant. I'd like to get as many details of his job,
correct as possible. But most of my research is turning up modern day and YPD procedures. Do you have any recommendations for researching and adding authenticity to an almost historical setting? I love the podcast. Thanks for taking the time to provide such great content, New York, New York, the city, so nice. They named it twice trivial fact in 1994, then police commissioner William Bratton changed the NYP D patrol uniform shirts from powder blue to Navy blue.
Why to present a more professional appearance, which is press release, ease for hiding the coffee and donut stains. Seriously. Another trivial fact, the big apple is my birthplace, but I was already in California by the time your story takes place. So I'm going to refer you to a couple of useful white papers. I stumbled across the first is actually a grant funded report by the us department of justice called the bad cops,
a study of career ending misconduct among New York city police officers, crazy title it's long, but it is a fascinating historical read. And definitely does not pull any punches for you though. Amy, I would start with page 130 of the PDF, which talks about how the 1980s were a period of rebuilding and growth for the NYP D in comparison to the 1970s.
And actually on page one, 17 is the start of the history lesson that leads up to the 1980s and 1990s. And it's definitely worth reading to understand the backstory of what your Sargent character lived through as a police officer to get to the late eighties, early nineties in the NYP D. So it start with that one to get the flavor of the era that you're writing about with the NYP D next is the current NYP D civilian employee reference manual.
I will link to both of these in the show notes, but the reason why I'm putting this current civilian manual in your research list is because it offers a really succinct breakdown of how the MYP is organized, what each branch of the department is responsible for and a historical timeline of significant events within the department. You don't really find this kind of stuff in a police officer manual because they cover all of this stuff in training,
but this is the manual for new civilians and they've made it really easy to digest. And if that isn't enough research material for you, I will also include a link to the NYP D historical and current research library webpage at the John Jay college of criminal justice at the city university of New York. It has recommended reading lists for the history of the MVPD links to policy and procedure manuals.
Although unfortunately not in the area you're writing about and a ton of other NYP related research materials. So thank you so much for the question, Amy. I hope this helps. Thanks so much for listening this week. This show as always is powered by your questions. Seriously, I need your questions. Send them to me by going to writers, detective.com forward slash podcast.
Thanks again for listening. Have a very happy new year and write well.