Forensic Studies 008: Robert Roseon August 9, 2011 in Forensic Studies, Serial Killers by Michelle Plummer
Robert Rose was a serial killer that used the signature of strangulation. There are two crime scenes under investigation that have the same method of murder which links to one killer. The first scene was of Luis Garcia murdered in his apartment, found by Marguerite, the sister of the victim, used the neighbors phone to call authorities to report the death of Luis Garcia. She stumbled upon the body after entering the residence as she was checking on the victim for coming in from a vacation. After the first call, another call came in from a male that turned out to be Luis Garcia’s son. Luis was married to Marguerite’s sister, Isabel Rodriguez.
The front door was partially open and the front door behind it unlocked as well. These doors are always closed and locked. As the two individuals entered the home, the room was in shambles with Luis Garcia lying on his back on the living room floor with a cord tied tightly around Luis’s neck seeming to be dead. This is when the phone calls began.
Ramsland (n.d.) reports that it seemed that the apartment had been burglarized by the way the contents were scattered all over, but this was actually the signs of the massive struggle that took place which appeared to be fierce due to the spattering of blood in various places, and the fresh bruises on the victim’s face. Luis Garcia’s body lay near a daybed in the living room, his head nearly underneath.
It seemed as if the killer had intended only to burglarize the place, not to commit murder but murder was committed with the murder weapon being a cord of a clock radio used for strangulation. With the doors being locked, there was a question of how the killer entered the residence. The rear west window was partially open, with the screen removed and placed inside seemed to be the entry point of the killer. This can be proven more by the folding knife lying on top of one, with the blade exposed, which suggests that it may have been used to pry off the screen. This is the first place fingerprints would be traced.
The scene looked as if there was a burglary with the burglar being interrupted because a television and VCR had been removed from a shelf and left on the floor, the door of a cabinet in the living room was open with a jewelry box sat open on a love seat, dresser drawers had been pulled in the bedroom, a knocked around coin holder, several empty hangers that items of clothing had been taken, and blood drops on the sink. These are more places to look for fingerprints that may be left at the scene. Also, the blood in the sink could be matched with some of the blood spatter within the residence. The detectives were pretty confident that the suspect had left his blood inside this location. This certainly is a type of evidence that would solve a case.
First the scene was photographed by the digital forensics team to capture the evidence in its original state. After a walk-through to see the layout of the scene, a pair of latent print specialists went through the apartment to find and lift fingerprints. Some of the prints that were left would be smudged or partial and others would be clear. There was hope that the intruder had come without gloves and had touched something in such a way that he would have left clear prints from more than one finger. There were around 30 liftable fingerprints that were carefully packed for analysis.
Ramsland (2001) explains that this has been the best evidence for the identification of an offender, for about a century now. An individual’s fingertips are covered with ridges and valleys, some of which make continuous lines, some of which stop, some of which divide, and some of which make other kinds of formations like arches, pockets and dots. These patterns are classified into four basic groups, with subgroups, making eight overall pattern types. Comparisons are made by finding a similarity on several points between the lifted print and those taken from a person. The more points of similarity there are the better, but only one dissimilar point is sufficient to negate a match between the known and questioned samples.
Ridged skin leaves impressions thanks to tiny sweat glands hidden within. Touching any surface transfers the perspiration present in the ridge and valley patterns, leaving an impression. A person might even touch something that clings to the skin, such as cooking spray or ink, and thereby leave an impression that can be lifted for a latent print with fine, gray-black dusting powder, applied with a soft brush; this technique is still practiced today. Besides powder, there are other methods, such as the use of chemicals, for surfaces like paper and cardboard. Then digital imaging was developed, along with Superglue fuming.
At the Garcia scene, many items had the potential for prints, and the technicians collected quite a few, but only seven were of sufficient quality to put through the AFIS system so the investigative team thought to look for other print types of evidence such as shoe prints. SID technicians could go through Luis Garcia’s apartment in the hope of finding a usable shoe impression, but they can’t be associated with a specific individual unless there’s a unique bottom of the sole that matches the bottom of the shoe of the suspect in question.
Klann and Pape (n.d) reports the finding of the knife and the shoeprints, left as the intruder left the scene. This gave the investigative team the idea to look for the shoe prints. 40 Blood samples were collected near the victim, from the furniture, items in the drawers, the hallway wall, and especially the bathroom sink. Blanton (n.d) reports, by examining saliva, semen, and even teardrops, analysts can tell the blood type of the victim and the offender. One most important piece of evidence was the electrical cord from the clock radio that had been wrapped around the victim’s neck, which could provide DNA from sweat on the killer’s hands.
The samples from the window, the drawer, and the jewelry box were tested for DNA left by the killer. This was more helpful than the lifted finger prints being they belonged to the victim and other family members. Without a suspect, the DNA samples are meaningless because there is no one to compare or match them up to.
Nine days after Luis’s murder, Willie Nichols was found dead by ligature strangulation. Because Nichols was a drug user, this was the suspected reason for his death (Jaramillo, D.). The scene was dusted for prints and again there was no clear print, but a liquor bottle did have a print that was able to be lifted. These two scenes processed by different detectives, so the notion that they were related. Keppel (1997) reports that these murders involve progression and escalation from the radio cord to the belt used to kill Nichols.
Nichols ATM card was missing but was used later the day he was murdered. Video cameras from the ATM machine allowed detectives to retrieve a picture to clearly see the slender man using the card and walking away. This didn’t yield his identity, but it gave them a way to find out if someone else could tell them who he was. Photos were released and posted around the city which paid off weeks later. The offender was spotted in a park and a witness called him in.
The man was apprehended and was identified as Robert Rose who was a convicted killer currently on parole for a 1989 manslaughter case. In that case, that had occurred in, which had happened during a burglary. In fact, there was a warrant on him for violating parole, and he had a long history of crimes such as burglary, theft, trespass, and extortion. He’d been sentenced to thirteen years but had been released after serving eight. They took his fingerprints and sent them to the Latent Print Section of the crime lab, requesting a comparison.
Rose’s blood was compared to the bloodstains they’d collected from the Garcia crime scene making Rose as a possible donor. On February 3, 1999, Deputy DA David Brougham filed murder charges with special circumstances, which meant the possibility of the death penalty. Rose decided to skip the trial and plead guilty to both murders. He received two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Pure and simple, his motive for both appeared to be money.
Keppel, Robert D. Signature Killers. New York: Pocket, 1997.”Investigation of the Serial Offender: Linking Cases through Modus Operandi and Signature,” in Serial Offenders: Current Thoughts, Recent Findings, edited by Louis B. Schlesinger, Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000.
Ramsland, Katherine. The Forensic Science of CSI. New York: Berkeley, 2001.
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