Monday, 28 November 2011

The Population of Sacramento was Murdered Last Year!

The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) has released the 2011 Global Study on Homicide.

It is 127 pages long and full of frightening statistics.

Worldwide the UNODC estimates 468,000 homicides in 2010. Tough number to wrap your head around.

Think of it this way…

That is about the population of Sacramento, California – the entire population gone in one year.

That means, worldwide, the global average is 6.9 murders per 100,000 people.

And where are they occurring? Africa alone accounts for over one third (36%), the Americas another 31% and Asia grabs 27%. Europe only claims 5% and 1% in Oceania.

But one must adjust for population. Africa still tops out at 17 per 100,000 and the Americas 16 per 100,000. That is over double the world average. Asia, for their large 27% of the murders are actually below average at 3 murders per 100,000.

The good news…

The rates have actually declined in Asia, Europe and North America.

The bad news…

Rates are skyrocketing in other places like Central America and the Caribbean.

And the loser is…

Honduras currently holds the infamous distinction of being the most violent country in the world with 82.1 murders per 100,000. For our Asian, European and Oceania friends, that means a visit to Honduras would mean increasing the likelihood of being murdered by twenty-seven times.

I guess we won’t be seeing that on the tourism posters any time soon.

Stay tuned for more interesting facts about the state of crime in the world and your back yard.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Reality of CSI

The scene is too familiar.

The crime scene is fresh, blood still dripping from the victim. The hotel room is scoured by the CSI technicians while they continue their witty banter, looking incredibly sexy in their CSI t-shirts. Sunglasses come off at the precise moment. Little flashlights pick out the smallest piece of evidence.

There are always hair samples, skin samples, sweat, semen, saliva from cigarette butts and wine glasses.

The place is just lousy with DNA, fingerprints and fibers…but not many actual police detectives, just lab rats scurrying around the room.

And of course, every piece of evidence has been collected, catalogued, processed and compared to existing databases before the end of the second round of commercials by these superhuman (and did I mention sexy) denizens of the laboratory.

In two days, the killer is caught, confesses because of the overwhelming forensic evidence and before the credits roll, it’s orange jumpsuit, don’t drop the soap in the shower, meet your cell mate Billy Bob, time

Flash to real life and you are sitting in the jury box listening to the defense mention that there is no forensic evidence proving that his client was even at the murder scene.

Obviously innocent. I mean, there is ALWAYS forensic evidence at the scene, right?

Reality check.

Since the arrival of TV shows like CSI, police are often accused of not doing their job properly if they don’t come up with boxfuls of forensic evidence from crime scenes. However, the reality is that there is often very little forensic evidence. And since most victims know their killers (and often live with them), of course they find evidence of the suspected killer at the crime scene. However, it is rare they can say “when” the forensic sample was left. It is not often they find a particular dust on a strand of hair from a particular farm that the killer visited hours before the murder.

As for DNA, with backed up labs and the lengthy processing, the results usually take weeks or months, not hours.

Authors, screenwriters, etc. (I raise a guilty hand) have to keep the story moving and can’t let a little realty get in the way. But, if you find yourself on a jury or just discussing a prominent case in the news, remember that television (regardless the increase in “Reality” TV) is just entertainment.

More crimes are solved by the hard work, brain power and the dedication of the police than by the work done in the lab.

DNA might ensure a conviction but remember the police still need to sleuth out whose DNA needs to be tested.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Boys and Their Dolls

In the debate on whether boys should be allowed to play with dolls, I have to come out in the Against column when the boy is Anatoly Moskvin.

Last week, Russian police finally solved the "numerous blasphemous acts against the graves and the dead bodies" around Nizhny Novgorod, a large city about 250 miles east of Moscow. Graves had been dug up and bodies removed for the past two years.

When police searched the apartment of Anatoly Moskvin, they found the mummified corpses and skeletons of 29 women that Moskvin had dug up and transported home. The bodies of the women (all between 15 to 25 years old when they died) were dressed as dolls.

Police video of the apartment make it look like an episode of Hoarders with dolls, clothes, newspapers, and corpses all over the cramped apartment.

Moskvin, described by neighbors as a genius, speaks 13 languages, has published several academic books (including histories of cemeteries in Russia) and is a well-known historian specializing in Celtic studies. In newspaper articles promoting his books, Moskvin had stated that he has visited 752 cemeteries in Russia.

Some of the corpses had items put in the rib cage including one “doll” that would play a children’s song when you touched its stomach. Another was dressed up like a teddy bear.

Authorities now face the task of determining the identity of the corpses, not even knowing if each corpse is complete or if Moskvin mixed and matched parts.

Moskvin faces charges of desecrating dead bodies and their burial sites. He could face up to three months in jail or a year of correctional labor.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Serial Killer Hides Behind Pseudonym

The issues regarding convicted serial killer Charles Kembo continue to mount up.

Let’s start with some of the facts about Kembo, the serial killer.

A refugee from Malawi, Kembo lived in Richmond, British Columbia. Sorry to say, another Canadian serial killer. In this case, a killer for profit.

Kembo killed his wife, Margaret, in October 2002. At least, that is when she went missing. Her body was never found.

Then, after taking out an $800,000 insurance policy on his business partner, Arden Samuel, Kembo strangled him in November 2003. He also cut off his penis and stuffed it in his pocket, leaving racist notes to try and turn the investigation toward a racially motivated crime.

The body of Kembo’s former girlfriend, Siu Yin Ma, was discovered in November 2004, eight months before he murdered his 21-year-old stepdaughter, Rita Yeung, in July 2005.

The murders were part of an elaborate plan to steal identities and set up false bank accounts for fraudulent schemes. Kembo’s trial began in January of 2010 and he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail without parole in June 2010.

Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story for this serial killer.

Now there is Kembo the author.

Kembo, who had various identities while not in jail, continues to hide behind at least one further identity…children’s author J. D. Bauer, according to The Province. Bauer’s book, about superhero kids who help save the planet’s water supply, is still available on Amazon. The book became available at the same time that Kembo began his murder trial.

There is also a Facebook page for SuperKidds that lists the author as a 41-year-old female who enjoys “spending time outside writing new chapters to my adventure series”. I guess the exercise yard qualifies as outdoors.

As someone who has considered using a pen name (until my ego wouldn’t let someone else get credit for my work), I can’t argue against using an alter ego for your writing.

Does he have the right to sell his book under a pseudonym?

Of course. Kembo is not profiting from his crimes, the book has nothing to do with his murders.

Do we have the right to be pissed off about it?

You bet.

And we can do the same thing that we do when we are upset about any other company. Boycott and get the word out through social media.

He only profits if anyone buys the book. Don't support him and make sure everyone else knows not to buy the book!