A plastic container stuffed with body parts was found in Miami, Florida late yesterday afternoon. The container was discovered by two fishermen fishing in a canal. This is the third such discovery in the South Florida metro area since late October.
Does South Florida have a new serial killer on its hands?
As a criminal defense lawyer, I think this is a very real question that police need to start considering. Not to make corny references to Showtime's hit series "Dexter," which I love by the way, but it seems like a new body is washing up every few weeks around here!
The first discovery was made in Deerfield Beach, Florida on October 26 when the decomposing remains of Doris Lopez, 48, were found stuffed in a container left in her car.
The second discovery was made in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 6 when a concrete laden container was found floating in a canal behind a residential area. When a homeowner secured the container for removal, a look inside revealed the existence of mutilated, decapitated white male.
The third discovery was made a few weeks later, on November 15, when a human skull was found in a container lodged on the banks of a Dania Beach, Florida canal. Subsequent DNA analysis has shown that this head belonged to the decapitated body found on November 6.
Now we have a third gruesome discovery.
Do these bodies have something in common? Did Doris Lopez, the decapitated white male, and the new body all have a common connection? Were they related? Were they business partners? Were they lovers?
Does this case relate to drug dealing? Or is this a true serial killer case?
On a professional level, I find these types of cases to be extremely interesting because my work as a criminal defense lawyer focuses very heavily on solving crime. When I represent someone who has been arrested, I have the duty of double checking the work of police investigators to make sure it was done correctly, thoroughly, honestly, and without bias.
As a criminal defense lawyer, my job focuses on correcting the errors commonly made by police investigators. As much as they hate to hear this or even consider that they could be wrong, police investigators are notorious for blundering even simple investigations.
Regardless, the discovery of yet another container with body parts is clearly a matter of tremendous significance for our community.
In my last entry, I suggested that law enforcement should cross reference tides and water currents in the canals with the known resting points of the various containers. This way, police investigators may be able to reverse extrapolate the dumping point of the bodies. Knowing where the bodies/containers were dumped may provide police with invaluable clues.
The same type of investigation may prove to be helpful here, since yesterday's container with body parts was also found in a canal.
If police investigators have not done so already, they should also try to locate the manufacturer of the various containers and see if any clues may be discovered by determining who manufactured the container, who they were originally sold to, what they were used for, whether they have been resold, and if so, to whom?
While I would expect containers to be sold over and over again with little or no paper trails, police investigators may get lucky and learn something about their case simply by doing this type of research.
In my experience as a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, I have seen countless cases cracked by diligent police work that reveals the missteps of a sloppy criminal. You would be amazed to see how so many cases are cracked when police take the time to research the nooks and crannies of a case and discover that the person responsible made one or two sloppy decisions that led police right to him/her.
For instance, research into the origin of these containers may lead investigators to the killer's place of work, his/her residence, or to accomplices that are all too willing to cooperate with police.
Moreover, police should determine whether or not the containers have a common connection. Are they identical in size, shape, and color? Do they have common markings? Are they some sort of specialized container?
For instance, are they specially designed to store chemicals? If so, would a chemical analysis of the container's inner walls reveal the presence of a common chemical residue?
If a common chemical residue was found, police investigators may be able to research the container's origin by tracing the origin of the chemical residue. While many people may not know this, chemicals are manufactured at specific plants by specific companies, much like any other product in this country. Some chemicals have a "chemical fingerprint" that makes them unique and which may lead police investigators to a specific manufacturer.
By identifying a chemical residue in the container, if that is even possible, police investigators may also be able to trace the history of the container. This may be especially true if a chemical analysis reveals the presence of a very unusual or uncommon type of chemical.
If an unusual or uncommon type of chemical is identified, further research may identify specific companies that use the chemical, specific companies that sell the chemical, and specific companies that manufacture the chemical.
While chemical use, sale, and manufacture is a huge industry in this company, police may still get lucky and their search may be narrowed down to only a handful of companies, some of which are likely present here in South Florida.
Maybe the killer works at one of these companies. Maybe one of the victims has a connection or association to one of these companies.
The possibilities are endless.
To crack complicated cases like these, police need to get creative and must work very hard, giving tremendous attention to detail. My work as a criminal defense lawyer has taught me to approach my cases with a very intense emphasis on attention to detail. By looking in places where other people do not normally go, a criminal lawyer has the possibility of finding that one piece of evidence that can crack a case wide open and straighten out previous misconceptions about what happened or who is responsible.
Ultimately, I hope justice is served in the end and the truth about these killings comes to light.