Suicide or Homicide? Exercise prepares response team for deadly scenarios

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • OSI Public Affairs

While Office of Special Investigations Special Agents hope for the best, they prepare for the worst.  

The all too real possibility of OSI SAs encountering a crime scene death was the scenario presented to members of OSI Detachment 223, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and others, during a specially devised exercise on base, April 30, 2021.

SA Kevin Sucher, Det. 223 Superintendent and Unit Training Manager, coordinated with the 2nd Field Investigations Squadron Forensic Science Consultants. They were represented on location and assisted in setting up an outdoor death scene to test the response and crime scene processing capabilities of the special agents, without them knowing when they’d be called or the nature of the scene.

“Coordination with the Forensic Science Consultants was paramount,” SA Sucher said. “They added key insight and details only experience and specialized training can provide. They were able to exploit the environmental challenge and teach all of us new triangular methodology.”

The exercise began with an early morning call to the on-call duty agent, which triggered the response. Agents coordinated with one another, developed a game plan to have some agents respond immediately, while follow-on agents grabbed the large crime scene kits from the detachment, and went into action.

The crime scene was a suspected suicide, made to look initially like it may be a homicide, based upon the evidence at the scene. The agents provided the proper notifications/coordination, conducted field interviews to gather information, performed crime scene photography/sketching, processed considerations for a vehicle on scene (to include possible forensics), and the processing of a dead body and firearm.

According to the FSC feedback at the scene, the team did extremely well.

With minimal leadership guidance/interaction, the team assigned roles which were properly executed, they had excellent communication, and even picked up on some considerations the FSC didn’t expect them to catch.

“Since the purpose of the exercise was to improve, SA Sucher said, “some minor improvement areas were identified to ensure we are most prepared for this and other crime scene scenarios in the future.”

It was a valuable learning experience for the participants.

“I knew going into this exercise I would make mistakes or not know what to do since I haven’t participated in a death investigation,” said rookie SA Destiny Flores. “Going through the process and being the lead agent ensured that I learned all the steps that needed to be done. Most of all, I learned not to hesitate and trust my instincts.”

“I learned a lot of the steps needed before and after canvassing the crime scene as well as steps Security Forces can take before OSI arrives that will help the beginning of their investigation,” said 325th Security Forces Squadron Investigator Miranda Mills.

What was the outcome of the five-hour exercise?

Based on the analysis of the crime scene and the information obtained through interviews conducted on scene and remotely, via exercise injects, the response team determined this was a suicide.