Dressed to kill.
January 23, 2010 7:50 PM   Subscribe

CrimeFictionFilter: I'm writing this scene where a serial killer who has just been arrested (like, a day ago) has agreed to show the investigating detectives where he buried his other victims. They take him out there. What is he wearing? Is he handcuffed?

Does he have manacles on? Leg irons? That weird thing where the handcuffs are chained to a belt? I don't know anything about procedure in this case. Because it's a hilly wooded area, I have my detective remove the leg irons so the killer can navigate the rough terrain better. Is this plausible? Is he wearing that bright orange/red prison wear that I see on TV? Regular clothes? What is customary for serial killers to wear when they go out point out where their victims are buried? What kind of security is normal? How many regular cops would go with them? Would they bring cadaver dogs out there? Thanks in advance to anyone who might know.
posted by Sully to Law & Government (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I've seen footage of this actual event on TV the prisoner is generally dressed in prison clothes (bright orange or plain old denim colored) and has only his hands cuffed, generally in front. There are also about a dozen officers around him and the area, so he's not going anywhere.
posted by sanka at 8:03 PM on January 23, 2010

From my husband, a police officer: If he's already been booked into jail, he'll have the jail uniform on (which varies by jurisdiction), and he'll most likely be wearing handcuffs attached to a belly chain. He probably won't be wearing leg irons if they're walking a long distance or over rough terrain, but there will be plenty of armed officers around him to make sure he doesn't get a chance to make a run for it.
posted by amyms at 8:10 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, and yes they will bring a cadaver dog with them if one is available (not all jurisdictions have their own cadaver dogs). If one isn't available, they will probably go out without one and call one in from an outside agency later if the situation warrants it.
posted by amyms at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2010

Additional information: If the killer points to a spot and says "There, that's where I buried her/him" the area will be taped off with crime scene tape, and the exact spot will be marked (most commonly with a flag marker) and an officer will be assigned to guard the area.

If it's a major city with a huge police department, they will then call in their CSI team, or the equivalent (not all jurisdictions use the "CSI" acronym). If it's a small department, they will call in the state crime lab or the state bureau of investigation to either take over or to work in conjunction with the local police.
posted by amyms at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2010

if your guy is in north fla, he is wearing black and white horizontal stripes, with a matching cap. stripes about 2-3 inches wide, just like in "O Brother Where Art Thou." out here they have them in orange (or sky blue unis with orange vests) only when they're picking up trash. if they're mowing, roofing or doing other maintenance, (or wilderness guiding) they're in stripes.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2010

This situation happened with Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer - since this was a pretty high-profile case, there might be some descriptive information in news articles or true crime books about how it was handled.
posted by illenion at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2010

I'd be inclined to have him wear a radio beacon kind of thing, like they use to track wild animals. Maybe also a shock collar similar to what's used for training dogs.
posted by yesster at 9:13 PM on January 23, 2010

Audio description of Hans Reiser leading the police to the body of his victim: "He was handcuffed to his lawyer for security purposes, he was surrounded by armed guards ..."
posted by zippy at 9:34 PM on January 23, 2010

Hmm, sounds like a good way to plot an escape: Have a team of snipers waiting where you left the body.
posted by delmoi at 4:11 AM on January 24, 2010

How many regular cops would go with them?

Let's say your killer buried his victims outside of the city or general area in which he was arrested. That means the arresting agents will call or otherwise notify the officers within the local jurisdiction for additional support, and some of those guys will show up, too. This would be especially true if the killer was picked up by a federal agency, like the FBI.

For example, if the killer is arrested in City A, but buried the body in City B, some of City B's cops would attend the search, provide security or just be a visible presence. Some may even be there because there's nothing else happening of interest.

If City B is actually some kind of rural, unincorporated area, it would be the county sheriff, state patrol or even a park ranger of some sort.

This kind of set-up, with multiple agencies with differing agendas and local knowledge, could be good fodder for additional dramatic heft. City B cops don't like City A cops. State patrol is clueless. The park ranger guy knows the area like the back of his hand. Etc, etc.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:04 AM on January 24, 2010

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