Visiting Crime Scenes

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
38,617
Location
HM The Tower of London
I was thinking about this thread recently when driving round my home town, thinking there's a murder site, and there, and there... :(

There aren't that many but I seem to know them.

Anyway, some years ago a book came out about murders in my county. I bought it and enjoyed it and someone close to me liked it too.
We 'spotted' some of the murder sites that were accessible, purely in a local history interest way, of course. ;)

The book was lost somewhere along the line, possibly in the pocket of that dear person, who has since died. I've often thought about getting another copy. Today I picked one up for 50p. Happy days! :D
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
You probably pass murder sites all the time, 152 murderers are in the files of the website British Murders for 2013 so far, the 2012 figure being 616.
Not all are reported by the national media,which tends to focus on serial killers, the elderly and young children and the phenomen known as missing white woman.
Most seem to involve drink/drug fuelled arguments that get out of hand,with tragically,jealous exes being a significant number,some are very strange,like the man murdered for not saying goodbye after borrowing a cigarette lighter(?).
On average it certainly means more than 1 person is murdered every day in Britain, chilling enough,although not a huge number in a population of nearly 70 million.
Another site Murderpedia lists murders by country,worth a look, and you may agree with me that in this respect,the USA and Britain are world leaders.
 

ChrisBoardman

Justified & Ancient
Joined
May 17, 2011
Messages
1,266
smokehead said:
Another site Murderpedia lists murders by country,worth a look, and you may agree with me that in this respect,the USA and Britain are world leaders.

I don't think it's so much about UK/USA being world leaders in murder, I think it's more about the culture of reporting murder to the police, and the police making info public.

Muslim countries have 'honour killings' which don't get reported. Maybe in some countries the media don't like to cover it or maybe the police may not make statistics public.
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
I bow to your greater knowledge, I was all set to post musings on the homicidal nature of our respective societies and implying our dog eat dog culture was a contributing factor.
I will insist we lead the world in serial murder, although there are some south Americans that have a phenomenal number of victims.
All the Best.
 

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
48,153
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
smokehead said:
...although there are some south Americans that have a phenomenal number of victims.

...and Russians.
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
And Russians, now they are bloody nutters.
My point being hardly worth making,but they are just the figures for the last couple of years, and I've read about a couple of murders pretty close to my own adress.
It is peculiar in some ways how the media focus on this case,rather than that one, perhaps it represents a kind of responsibility on their part, despite their sensationalism for ratings, if they reported every murder in the same way,it could easily provoke a moral panic, people thinking we are all homicidal maniacs, the consequence of which would probably be more murders. :cry:
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
38,617
Location
HM The Tower of London
That's the nub of it - we hear about crime mainly through the media. They select juicy stories and ignore the less salacious ones.

On R4 recently I heard some senior journalist talking on this subject and recalling a summer where there were about 5 sensational murders, all unrelated, one after another.

He made the point that while one or two would nicely fill up the silly season, five was too many, as the public would be scared out of their wits!
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
7,168
Location
Midwich
escargot1 said:
...On R4 recently I heard some senior journalist talking on this subject and recalling a summer where there were about 5 sensational murders, all unrelated, one after another.

He made the point that while one or two would nicely fill up the silly season, five was too many, as the public would be scared out of their wits!

To be honest, I can't really believe that (I mean, I believe you heard it - but I don't believe it's true).

Firstly, I don't think that any of the rags are going to pass up on a non run of the mill murder - especially if they think they can steal a scoop from under the noses of the other rags.

Secondly, it kind of suggests that there's a central sorting office for news where editors and journalists from competing newspapers and agencies all get together and agree on what's good for the public. (Like they're really concerned.)

Thirdly, half the newspapers in this country would be like a rat up a pipe if they thought they could fashion a moral panic out of a random statistical spike.

If one particular story takes the limelight at the expense of others then I strongly suspect that it has much more to do with the relative volume of salaciousness that can be squeezed out of it than it does with journalists worrying about scaring the public.

(The very idea. Just looking at those last few words makes me realise how ridiculous the concept is. I mean, Swine Flu anyone?)
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
38,617
Location
HM The Tower of London
His point was that people expect a mixture of stories, as if that's how 'news' really happens, whereas what is presented to us as 'news' is indeed sifted and carefully chosen before it ever reaches us. So a load of unrelated murder stories might, instead of being scarily titillating, come across as a sign of a complete social breakdown. No newspaper would take that risk, not because they care, but because in the long run it would be bad for circulation.

If instead there'd been loads of dog attacks, say, then the rags could connect them all and run a nice healthy moral panic. Outraged readers could write in or vote on the hotline with suggestions for curbing this new social evil - much more satisfying. ;)
 

CarlosTheDJ

Antediluvian
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
7,010
Location
Pebble Mill
You also have to remember that the media get their info from the emergency services press offices, who may not release everything in it's entirety straight away.

There is an element of "stage-managing" at that end as well.
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
38,617
Location
HM The Tower of London
That's true. The police and media, especially the press, have a long-established and not always ethical relationship. ;)
 

CarlosTheDJ

Antediluvian
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
7,010
Location
Pebble Mill
escargot1 said:
That's true. The police and media, especially the press, have a long-established and not always ethical relationship. ;)

Allegedly. 8)
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
7,168
Location
Midwich
escargot1 said:
His point was that people expect a mixture of stories, as if that's how 'news' really happens, whereas what is presented to us as 'news' is indeed sifted and carefully chosen before it ever reaches us...

I get that each individual agency does this, and does so with an eye on what every other agency is doing also - and I get the point Carlos is making, too - I just find it hard to believe that anyone in the business of selling the news will sit on a story (at least for any length of time) if it pushes all the right buttons, or even that it's that controllable, especially in the internet age.

I mean, yes, there are plenty of murders which take place in mundane and depressingly familiar circumstances which hardly break the surface - however slow a news day it is - precisely because they are mundane and depressingly familiar. But can anyone think of a headline worthy murder that didn't eventually make the headlines? (And I mean headline worthy in the sense of sensational; you'd assume that most murders are headline worthy to those affected). That's not a rhetorical question, by the way - I am actually quite interested in this now. I'm also aware that there's a potential contradiction going on there (ie does anyone know about something we weren't told about) but I'm writing it on the assumption that all such stories enter the public domain somehow.

On a positive note regarding this subject: I read a review of a book not long ago which suggested that the modern fascination for murder is in inverse proportion - historically speaking - to the likelihood of us being murdered: that is - we're now fascinated by murder because it's a lot rarer than it used to be. I suspect that this is somewhat dependant on where you live and also, being a historical overview, won't always reflect the more immediate realities of spikes in the trend. However, above and beyond the fairly self-evident truth that you are highly unlikely to be murdered, it appears that, statistically speaking, someone in the UK, Europe or the US is actually much less likely to be murdered than many of those who trod the same streets in the past. I can't remember the name of the book - but it'll come to me; there were some pretty shocking statistics regarding medieval Oxford - Morse would have been run off his feet.
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
7,168
Location
Midwich
Here we go:

Take homicide. Using old court and county records in England, scholars calculate that rates have plummeted by a factor of 10, 50 and, in some cases, 100—for example, from 110 homicides per 100,000 people per year in 14th-century Oxford...

(Lewis......LEWIS!!!)

...to fewer than one homicide per 100,000 in mid-20th-century London. Similar patterns have been documented in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The longer-term trend is even more dramatic, Pinker told me in an interview: “Violent deaths of all kinds have declined, from around 500 per 100,000 people per year in prestate societies to around 50 in the Middle Ages, to around six to eight today worldwide, and fewer than one in most of Europe.” What about gun-toting Americans and our inordinate rate of homicides (currently around five per 100,000 per year) compared with other Western democracies? In 2005, Pinker computes, just eight tenths of 1 percent of all Americans died of domestic homicides and in two foreign wars combined.

From Michael Shermer's review of Steven Pinker's, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined - in Scientific American. (Here.)
 

Quake42

Warrior Princess
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Messages
9,317
I mean, yes, there are plenty of murders which take place in mundane and depressingly familiar circumstances which hardly break the surface - however slow a news day it is - precisely because they are mundane and depressingly familiar. But can anyone think of a headline worthy murder that didn't eventually make the headlines? (And I mean headline worthy in the sense of sensational; you'd assume that most murders are headline worthy to those affected).

If by "headline" murders we mean, as suggested earlier in the thread. those involving one or more of the following:

* Two or more deaths of involving victims who are unrelated to the suspected perpetrator
* A stranger killing of a very young or very elderly victim
* An attractive, young and most likely middle class female victim

then no. However it is surprising how many child murders, for example, do not receive national attention: typically when the victim is male and/or in their teens and/or has a troubled background of some sort.

The media has a clear vision of the type of murders that interest readers/viewers and very often fails to cover those that fall outside of the categories above. I don't however, believe this qualifies as a conspiracy.

So a load of unrelated murder stories might, instead of being scarily titillating, come across as a sign of a complete social breakdown. No newspaper would take that risk

I'm not sure I buy that. I remember quite a lot of media fuss a few years ago following a number of unrelated murders which took place in (I think) Glasgow over a bank holiday weekend.
 

ChrisBoardman

Justified & Ancient
Joined
May 17, 2011
Messages
1,266
What I hate is when a front page newspaper article starts... "Mr Bloggs cut off his wife's head and buried her in the garden" and then it says "a court heard".

So it's basically an accusation not a fact.
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
If anybody watches BBC news 24, if I say phone hacking, perhaps like me,people will think of poor Milly Dowler ironing.
BBC reporter Tim Howard was told off by a member of the search teams in Maccynleth looking for April Jones after he tried yet again to get someone to say that she was most likely dead.
I noticed ages ago that only certain murders made the national news, because I used to read the news by region on teletext (insomnia makes you do the oddest things)
I'm not prepared to concede yet the possibility of a moral panic, but I do agree that news is tailored to a criteria of public interest and most likely ratings potential.
If you hear on the news a teenager has been stabbed in the London area,what colour do you think they are? I'm not being racist,quite the opposite, and asking the question again,why this murder and not that one?
I'm prepared to believe Ken Clarke stumbled over his words when he suggested some rapes are less serious than others, from the point of view of the victim every murder is serious!
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
38,617
Location
HM The Tower of London
why this murder and not that one?

Depends. For one thing, certain murders are more important because certain people are more important. Some murder victims appear more newsworthy than others, because they're white, female, young, rich, 'respectable' or just pretty.

(I could go on but we've covered all this many times, for example in the Madeleine McCann thread.)

Other victims have different attributes. They're non-white, poor, sex workers, male, physically unprepossessing, elderly, whatever - and whether or not their murders are seen in the national news depends on other criteria such as the method of the killing (stabbing, shooting, devil dogs) or the notoriety of the killer (serial killers, drive-by shooters).

If the victim isn't worth working up a story about the media look at the killer and the method, and if they're mundane - drunks fighting or 'domestics', say - it's a non-runner, at least in national media terms.
(Unless it can be linked to other similar crimes, in which a lucrative moral panic can be created.)

As an example, Harold Shipman was interesting to the national media only because he killed so many people. If he'd murdered only a few elderly widows he wouldn't have made the national news for so long. Even now, if his name comes up it's in the context of 'Britain's Most Prolific Serial Killer', rather than as the murderer of people's mothers and grans.

Bet you wish you hadn't asked! ;)
 

liveinabin

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Oct 19, 2001
Messages
1,920
I think I have mentioned it here before but I read a while ago about a young boy who went missing a year to the day after Madeline McCann.

He was about the same age and went missing from his home street. Never seen or heard from again. I have never heard the case reported but then the boy was from a poor area, and most likely just not as interesting a story as a missing middle class girl. I think I heard the programme that 'Scarg referred to and they said that missing children only hit the headlines when they are photogenic, white and middle class.

I live in Ipswich and I remember the reports of the first women who were missing that ended up being found murdered. There was little national media attention until it proved there was a serial killer on the loose.


EDIT: here is a link to the case of missing boy Daniel Entwistle that I mentioned above. link

long url tidied up - stu
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
I'm always glad I asked, I believe in many voices ,many answers, being suspicious of absolute certainties and the people who maintain them.
There is a grey area even in the death of a human being at the hands of another, war,self defence,accidental death, and imho,where persistent abuse can be proved,any woman who sticks a carving knife somehwere where their abuser would'nt like it up 'em should be cheerfully sent on their way to freedom by a judge.
Thanks to Liveinabin for providing a clear, albeit sombre example of what is being discussed.
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
7,168
Location
Midwich
liveinabin1 said:
I think I have mentioned it here before but I read a while ago about a young boy who went missing a year to the day after Madeline McCann.

He was about the same age and went missing from his home street. Never seen or heard from again. I have never heard the case reported but then the boy was from a poor area, and most likely just not as interesting a story as a missing middle class girl. I think I heard the programme that 'Scarg referred to and they said that missing children only hit the headlines when they are photogenic, white and middle class...

Without wishing to deny that there may be some truth in the conclusion, I have to say that I'm not sure that the basic premise of this example is entirely accurate.

The case was reported in the national papers at the time, and has been resuscitated occasionally since. For example: Guardian report here, Sun report here, Telegraph here, Mail here. (There are some anomalies in the article dating, as there often are, but it's clear when you read them that all the reports are contemporary with the incident.)

It's certainly had absolutely nothing like the ongoing coverage that the Madeleine McCann enquiry has - but it seems to me that the latter case is an exception (by a very long margin), rather than the rule, and that therefore you have to be careful when drawing comparisons. I'd go as far as to say that coverage of the McCann case is so outside the norm that any comparison with another case is always going to say more about the former than the latter and therefore not much use if you are trying to establish what any norm might be.

(I suspect that there are a couple of main reasons as to why the national coverage has been cooler over Daniel Entwistle's disappearance: one - the main one - being that the parents aren't as media savvy as the McCanns; the second, that the authorities have always had a strong suspicion that the missing boy drowned.)
 

liveinabin

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Oct 19, 2001
Messages
1,920
You are right Spook, we cannot draw conclusions from just two cases. But just speaking for me personally I can name, without thinking too hard, 4 girls that have gone missing and there has been large amounts of media coverage, but only one boy.
Now it may be that more girls go missing, but I do think there is a media bias towards photogenic white girls.
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
Missing white woman syndrome on wiki is worth a read and is relevant to this discussion.
I think an important angle in the Madeliene McCann case was the parents going to dinner, inviting righteous fury of the 'what sort of parent leaves their kids alone while they have dinner?' etc.
In that case,checking on the kids every 15 minutes is a Goldilocks time, every 5 minutes seems unbelievable,and every half hour seems too long,whereas every 15 minutes sounds about right.
My own worthless theory is that they simply overmedicated Madeliene,to get her to sleep,or she had some sort of reaction to it,and the rest is a cover up.
I think there does have to be an angle, the news will get on your last nerve about it, BBC news being particularly prone to recycling the same news over and over, one example being the day it seemed to consist of the Philpotts crying and the battered face of assaulted pensioner Emma Winfield coming up every 5 minutes.
 

ChrisBoardman

Justified & Ancient
Joined
May 17, 2011
Messages
1,266
I think the reason that some cases make the news more is because someone is missing rather than found murdered.

Cases like Maddie, Sarah Payne and Holly and Jessica..... at first they were officially missing. So while there is still hope, the police ask for the nations help.
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
It's common enough for dogs to unearth bodies that have been hidden, and I know the police use anniversaries to publicise an unsolved case again in the hope of jogging someones memory.
Michael Bilton's book on the Yorkshire ripper investigation,Evil Beyond Belief is a good example of a major investigation in the days before computers and DNA samples.
Watching the telly makes people think murders are solved by two detectives, we know the reality is very different,and the sheer amount of paperwork generated in the ripper case was staggering.
In April Jones case, the reason the police were reluctant to involve the help of the locals in search teams is because there was a risk that potentially vital forensic evidence could be destroyed.
Forensic officers will crawl across a site doing a fingertip search for evidence,
well meaning looky loo's could easily tread something in or carry something away with them that could be vital.
Then of course,there are those phone calls by aggrieved people,alleging their partner is the murderer.............. :D
 

Cherrybomb

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 26, 2009
Messages
1,297
Location
Sitting on the roof, at dusk.
I find that when there's a panto style "baddie" for everyone to BooHissBoo at, then the news goes nuts too. For example, poor Joanna Yeates, killed in her own home, they trot the odd ball land lord, Chris Jefferies out & the amount of people I heard at the time betting that it was him. The media seem to need the pretty white princess as well as the big bad man (guilty or not) in their stories :?

Or is it just me??
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
I think he got a substantial amount in compensation,not that it's much consolation in a trial by media.
Unless you have the murder book,or have the trial transcript,opinions are just that,opinions, interesting sometimes,but worthless in securing a safe conviction.
I wouldn't defend the murderer John Cannan,but after he was taken into police custody,his criminal record was published in a Sunday tabloid.
It's this contempt for sub judice that makes the media industry so dangerous.
The wiki page on miscarriages of justice is a lengthy read when it comes to the UK, I'm conflicted on whether it is an indictment or a commendation of our criminal justice system.
I'm always concerned when it comes to murders that have a massive media profile, the pressure on the police to get a 'result' must be intense.
What still riles me :x is the arrest of supposed 'anarchists' prior to the wedding of William and Catherine, I heard last week they were compensated for this, which is the local police commissioner fearing losing their job over any incident during the wedding and covering themselves by arresting potential troublemakers,the taxpayer having to fork out for compensation,but hey! they get to keep their job!
Security of position,career advancement and self interest,the absolute bane of Britain from the management sector.
 

ChrisBoardman

Justified & Ancient
Joined
May 17, 2011
Messages
1,266
I saw the ITV real crime episode about John Cannan and his likely involvement in the Suzy Lamplugh murder, the coincidences are remarkable. Given he is doing life for another murder, then those coincidences would be enough to convince anyone he is guilty.

The evidence against Levi Bellfield in the Millie Dowler murder would not normally be enough for a conviction, but given he is serving life w/o parole for 2 other murders then we are all convinced he did it.
 

smokehead

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
633
Was that the Mr Kipper thing? I really should keep books,but I always think with the internet it's all on there, although increasingly I find websites are quoting 'extracts' and if you want to read more ,you have to buy the book! :roll:
From memory,a witness at the house for sale described someone matching Cannans description, but I missed the ITV doc, I would like to find out more about this.
Bellfield, other than the news I haven't read up on, obviously he deserves to be in prison for life,but it must be a concern that potentially another murderer may be walking about free.
 
Top