I’ve always been fascinated by true crime stories. I get this from my dad. We watched America’s Most Wanted every Saturday night when I was a kid. I thank AMW for making me incredibly paranoid. I also thank AMW for helping my already overprotective parents become even more so – there always seemed to be an episode about some missing college student whenever it was time for me to return to university.
Dad also liked watching Forensic Files, and I quickly became fascinated by forensics. I’ve already read several books on the subject. I just love the idea that it’s virtually impossible for a perpetrator to commit a crime without leaving some evidence, no matter how minute that evidence may be. Besides Forensic Files, I really enjoy Dateline mysteries and 48 Hours. Snapped and Deadly Women are really good too. I can’t handle Hollywood versions of forensic shows and avoid them. Shows like CSI are total liars – if you work with forensics, you’re in a lab, not out in the field solving crimes. This is why I’m not a forensic scientist. I can’t stand being in a lab.
Watching these shows from a young age taught me how to think like a detective. When I was in sixth grade, a police officer came to speak to our class about being a detective. He told us the story of a man who murdered his mother at his home and then tried to clean up the crime scene. He had cleaned the carpet immaculately so that when the detectives showed up at his home, they wouldn’t find anything suspicious. “But our detectives found a way to link him to the crime,” the police officer asked us. “Do you know how?”
I remember thinking to myself, how would the detectives know this man murdered his mother? Did they spray Luminol to show all the blood? Then the answer hit me. I raised my hand. I guess I was the only one to raise my hand, because the police officer called on me, smiling. “The man did not clean the pad underneath the carpet,” I said. “So that pad would have been bloody.” I remember the police officer’s smile disappearing. He looked at me, stunned. “That’s right,” he said. “Have you heard this story before?” “No,” I answered truthfully. My classmates turned around and gave me wary glances, while my teacher made a joke about my being a killer.
Unfortunately, you can’t be a homicide detective unless you are a police officer, and I never wanted to be a police officer. You have to be brave to be a police officer, and I’m not brave. I like going to work knowing there’s not a chance of being shot at. And I think I’m way too sensitive to deal with seeing dead bodies and with the rest of the tough emotions that come from working homicide cases.
I suppose all the morbid crime shows I watch will have to be an outlet for any latent detective skills I may possess.