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35th  Anniversary of  Practical Homicide Investigation®

Practical Homicide Investigation:  Tactics,
Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, 5th Edition

Author: Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S., B.B.A., FBINA
Fellow, American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Lieutenant Commander (Retired), New York City Police Department
Series Editor Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations


"Remember:  Do it right the first time. You only get one chance."
  -- Vernon J. Geberth, 1980

Renowned for being THE definitive resource for homicide investigators, Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques details the recognized protocols used by investigative divisions of major police departments throughout the world. The text is used in most police academies, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Now in its fifth edition, the book begins with a comprehensive discussion of homicide crime scenes and moves chronologically from initial police notification, the correct police response that follows, and the subsequent steps necessary to conduct an intelligent investigation. It then delves into the more technical aspects of homicide investigation, augmented with numerous pictures and full-color illustrations that involve pertinent case histories.

This latest edition includes three new chapters along with fully revised chapters with new case histories and techniques that reflect the latest forensic methods and modern investigative procedures.

All illustrations are presented in full color, including new medical-legal drawings for instruction and courtroom testimony.

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What's New in the 5th Edition

  • Presents essential procedures, combines detailed techniques with instructive case studies, and outlines the foundation on which to build a solid case.
  • Contains updated checklists to reflect changes in the new edition of Practical Homicide Investigation Checklists and Field Guide
  • Supplies new information on DNA, staged crime scenes, death notifications, suicide, and sex- and narcotics-related homicides
  • Discusses management for police administrators
  • Includes more than 250 new photographs, as well as depictions of wound structures and new medical legal art drawings
  • Newly revised "Homicide Investigator’s Checklist"
  • A new chapter on the latest DNA technology
  • A rewritten chapter on equivocal death investigations that includes staged crime scenes
  • Additional information on modes of death
  • Fully updated chapters on death notifications, sex-related homicide, management for police administrators, suicide investigation, and narcotics-related and homosexually based homicides
  • Over 920 photos and illustrations, 250 new photographs, and several new case histories


Eminent author, lecturer, consultant, and expert witness Vernon J. Geberth incorporates his more than four and a half decades of real-world law enforcement experience in this quintessential reference. This classic and must-have resource provides the most vital information needed by detectives and police investigators responsible for cases in violent and sudden death.

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  • Homicide Investigators
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Crime scene investigators
  • Medical Investigators
  • Police academies
  • Medical examiners
  • Coroners
  • Prosecutors
  • Forensic psychiatrists
  • Criminal psychologists
  • Students of criminalistics
  • Lawyers
Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques, Fifth Edition is the flagship book in a series of professional texts within the Practical Aspect of Criminal and Forensic Investigations Series, which Vernon Geberth developed to provide investigators with specific resources, written by expert practitioners, which would promote and facilitate investigations.

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Publication and Pricing

For bulk orders, call P.H.I. Distribution at (845) 429-0205
Multiple copies of The Book or the Field Guide are available at a special discounted price for law enforcement personnel.

Purchase directly from CRC Press and save 20% using Promo Code CWM17 at checkout

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Textbook Contents
The Homicide Crime Scene
The Five Components of Practical Homicide Investigation
The Crime Scene
The Preliminary Investigation at the Primary Crime Scene
Equivocal Death Investigations
Most Common Errors or Missteps in Death Investigations
Selected ReadingThe Staged Crime Scene

First Officer's Duties: General

Notification of a Possible Homicide: the Official Notification to the Police
First Notification of Homicide Received in Person by Patrol Officer
First Officer's Duties on Arrival at the Scene
The First Officer Initiates the Homicide Investigation
Dealing with Emergencies at the Scene Conclusion
Selected Reading

First Officer's Duties: Specific

The Suspect in Custody
Transporting the Suspect
Examination of the Suspect for Evidence
The Dying Declaration
The Victim Removed to the Hospital
The Victim Pronounced DOA at the Hospital
The Officer's Duties at the Hospital
The Victim Confirmed DOA at the Scene
Handling Witnesses at the Scene
Additional Officers at the Scene
Handling News Media Personnel at the Scene
The Documentation of Events by the First Officer
The Changing Sequence of Command
Patrol Officer's Checklist

The Preliminary Investigation at the Scene:
Initial Receipt of Information
Arrival at the Scene
Preliminary Steps to Be Taken by Detectives upon Arrival - Checklist
Describing the Scene
Implementing Crime Scene Procedures
Direction of Uniformed Personnel at the Scene
The Teamwork Approach
Directing the Investigation at the Scene
Duties of the Detective Supervisor on Arrival at the Scene
Preliminary Interview of the First Officer
Interview of Ambulance Personnel
Handling Curious Onlookers
Handling Witnesses at the Scene
The Canvass
The Preliminary Medical Examination at the Scene
Special Procedure to Follow in Specific Cases
Selected Reading

Specific Investigative Duties at the Scene
The Suspect in Custody
Interview and Interrogation of the Suspect in Custody
Examination of a Suspect for Evidence
Evaluation of the Suspect's Demeanor and Mental Capacity
Homicide Calls and Statement Analysis

Obtaining a Dying Declaration
Handling Buried-Body Cases
The Investigative Checklist
Selected Reading

The Crime Scene Photographs
The Value of Crime Scene Photographs
Crime Scene Photography and the Investigator
Admissibility of Photographic Evidence
Photographing the Homicide Crime Scene
Type of Film
Recommended Crime Scene Photographs
Practical Application of Crime Scene Photography
Digital Video Recording
Selected Reading

The Crime Scene Sketch
The Sketch
Preparing the Crime Scene Sketch
Utilizing Aerial Photographs for Mapping Outdoor Crime Scenes
The Total Station Crime Scene Reconstruction Program

The Homicide Crime Scene Search
Legal Considerations
Physical Evidence
The Concept of Linkage
Methods of Crime Scene Search
Formulating the Search
The Homicide Kit
The Search
Examination of the Body at the Scene
Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Documenting Bloodstain Patterns
Release of the Body
The Scene
Physical Examination of a Suspect in Custody
Release of the Scene
Crime Scene Process Protective Equipment and Clothing
Crime Scene Protocol for Protection from Airborne Pathogens and Other Biohazards
Exposure of First Responders
Exposure to Blood-Borne Diseases
Infection Control Techniques
Universal Precautions
Selected Reading

Estimating Time of Death
The Process of Dying
Body Changes after Death
External Agents of Change Insects
Information Derived from the Scene
Selected Reading

The Identity of the Deceased; Resources for Missing and Unidentified Persons Cases
The Identification
Mass Fatality Events
The Iceman Case
The Teeth
The Bones
Forensic Art
Resources for Missing and Unidentified Persons Cases
Selected Reading

Death Notifications: The Surviving Family as Secondary Victims

Psychological Reactions to Death
The Normal Grieving Process
The Stages of Grief
Psychological Reactions to Murder
Psychological Reactions to Murdered Children
Psychological Reactions to the Murder of Police Officers
Notifications of Death by the Homicide Detective
Recommendations and Guidelines for Proper Death Notifications to Surviving Family Members
Providing Information to the Surviving Family
Guiding the Surviving Family through the Criminal Justice System
Selected Reading

Modes of Death
Gunshot Wounds
Cutting Wounds
Stabbing Wounds
Blunt Force Injuries
Deaths by Asphyxia
Deaths by Fire
Deaths Caused by Injection
Sexual Asphyxia: The Phenomenon of Autoerotic Fatalities
Selected Reading

Suicide Investigation
Suicide Risk Factors
Depression: A Clinical Perspective
Other Motives for Suicide
The Investigation
Staging a Scene
Investigative Considerations
Chemical Suicides in Automobiles
Bizarre Suicides
Equivocal Death Investigations
Motives and Intent
Suicide Notes
Background Information
Psychological Autopsy
Final Exit Suicide Investigations
Seven Major Mistakes in the Investigation of Suicide
Suicide Investigation Checklist Protocol
Selected Reading

The Investigation of Sex-Related Homicides

The Crime Scene Investigation
Human Sexuality and Sexual Deviance
Paraphilic Disorders
Determining Motivation
Significance of Fantasy in Sex-Related Incidents
Technology and the Sex Offender
The Identification of the Victim
Modus Operandi and Signature
Organized and Disorganized Offenders
Four Classifications of Sex-Related Homicides
Interpersonal Violence-Oriented Disputes and Assaults
Rape- and/or Sodomy-Oriented Assault
Deviant-Oriented Assault - the Lust Murder
The Serial Murder
Selected Reading

Homosexual Homicides
Homosexual Relationships
Homosexual Lifestyles - Investigative Considerations
Interpersonal Violence-Oriented Disputes and Assaults
Murders Involving Forced Anal Rape and/or Sodomy
Lust Murders and Other Acts of Sexual Perversion
Homosexual Serial Murders
Investigative Assessment and Analysis of Case History
Investigative Significance
Psychological Considerations
Robbery/Homicide of Homosexuals
Homophobic Assault and "Gay-Bashing" Incidents Conclusion References
Selected Reading

Forensic Application of DNA Analysis: Introduction
Introduction to Deoxyribonucleic Acid - DNA
Cells: Structure and Molecular Biology
Structure and Function of DNA
Techniques and Procedures in Forensic DNA Analysis
Admissibility of DNA Evidence
Laboratory Accreditation
Relatedness Testing
Familial DNA Analysis
Touch DNA
Ancestry Determination
Forensic DNA Case Studies

Collection of Evidence
Procedures for Collection of Evidence
General Types of Evidence
Classifications of Physical Evidence
Collection of Specific Types of Evidence
Selected Reading

The Autopsy
The Medical Examiner/Coroner
Investigation of Death
Purpose of the Autopsy
The Medicolegal Autopsy
Human Anatomy
Selected Reading

The News Media in Homicide Investigations
The Changing Media Dynamic in the New Millennium
Establishing a News Media Policy
Homicide News Release Policy
Offering Rewards
Handling the News Media at the Scene
Preparing the News Release
Selected Reading

Identification of Suspects
Bite-Mark Identification
Latent Prints on Human Skin
Polygraph Examinations
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP)
Homicides Involving Theft of a Fetus
VICAP, Statewide and Regional Information Systems
Selected Reading

Investigative Assessment: Criminal Personality Profiling
Early History of Profiling
Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP)
Application of Abnormal Psychology
Criminal Personality Profile
The Investigative Approach to Profiling
Investigative Assessment - The Profiling Process
Clinical Considerations and Descriptions of Behavior
Crime Scene and Profile: Characteristics of Organized and Disorganized Murderers
The Organized Offender
The Disorganized Offender
General Behavior Characteristics
Criminal Personality Profiling - The Signature Aspect in Criminal
Geographic Profiling
A Psychology of Evil
Interview Strategies and Techniques for Dealing with a Serial Killer
Selected Reading

Equivocal Death Investigation
Initiating the Investigation
Case Number 1: An Equivocal Death and Staged Crime Scene - Making a Homicide Appear to Be a Suicide
Case Number 2: An Equivocal Death Investigation with Staged Crime Scene
Death Classified as Undetermined Manner
Case Number 3: An Equivocal Death - Homicide or Suicide?
Case Number 4: A Staged Crime - Homicide or Suicide?
Selected Reading

Narcotic-Related Homicides

The Drug-Related Murder: The Investigative Dilemma
The Drug-Related Murder and the Investigative Reality
The Three-Phase Strategy

Practical Homicide Investigation: Supervision and Management of the Homicide Investigation
Management Policy
Police Department Policy
Criminal Investigation Management
Supervisor's Homicide Checklist
Providing for the Effective Documentation of Events
Conducting the Investigative Conference
Investigation of Police-Related Shootings (OIS/Use of Deadly Force Incidents) Protocol1
Apprehension of Homicide Fugitives
Planning the Apprehension
Cold Case Investigations
Appendix—Supervision and Management: How to Be an Effective Homicide Commander

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