“The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic.”
― G.K. Chesterton.
From the onset of the beginning of time, some things have existed that no man no matter your culture, your belief system or your race can escape; the establishment of what we as men call and refer to as the law. The law was the very first thing we saw in action when we regard the story of Adam and Eve.
As always men have a knack of finding a way to reinvent the rules of nature and twisting it against its original purpose. And so we regard Adam and Eve as the first to break the law but we genuinely see the embodiment of a crime in the act of Cain killing Abel; Cain undoubtedly would be defined as a criminal and would most definitely be charged with murder, but how he got away with murder?
That’s for another day. We’ve seen too much evil in this world that men decided in themselves to reinvent, an idea that they knew was an original concept; guardian angels. Now, that’s just the concept but know that they are guardians meant to protect, and so men saw it fit to also raise a system that would uphold and defend the law.
For that need, law enforcement agencies came into being and were birthed. A law enforcement agency (LEA) is an agency that enforces the law as its name suggests.
Now in our part of the world, we see the police and in some extreme cases the militia and the Marine Corps. I have heard in various narratives by Ghanaians who had encounters with enforcement agencies referring to some of them as the BNI and Buffalo unit which is a part of the national police as a whole. There is also the Ghana Police Service and the Narcotics Control Board, our native seekers of justice.
However, in the United States and other nations, we see the Police, Private Investigators (PIs), the FBI, the CIA, the SWAT, the Army, the Marine, the Air Force and so many more. When you watch movies like ‘Angel Has Fallen’, ‘Whitehouse Down’, ‘James Bond’, ‘Johnny English’, there is the mention of the Pentagon, Secret Service, MI6, 007 and so many more. The government even goes to lengths to use deadly prisoners as Mercenary Units sometimes as seen in the movie ‘Suicide Squad’.
Now to use evil to deal with evil has never sat well with a lot of people because sometimes the evil you’re trying to harness to achieve the desired effect can get out of control and let the mission go sideways. Think about it, imagine trying to use the Joker and Harley Quinn to capture another criminal.
No matter what precaution you take, something is bound to go wrong. But of course, these two characters aren’t real so the conversation is hypothetical. The truth is, it is even a surprise that the things that happen in these high powered countries happen under the noses of all these apparent agencies. But as Chesterton said, the criminal is only the creative artist.
There isn’t a dispute when it comes to how much technology has been a huge help to these agencies over the years to stop crime and facilitate the capture of criminals. The history of crimes committed in the world would make your heart wrench and stomach churn.
The worse thing is how some of the perpetrators got away with the crime when everything pointed to the fact that they actually were behind them but there just wasn’t enough conclusive evidence to put them behind bars. The introduction of new DNA tools and tech has provided a huge helping hand in dealing with crime and even going the extra effort of solving ‘cold cases’ that went unsolved in their days and catching the culprit.
A cold case is a crime or an accident that has not yet been fully solved and is not the subject of a recent criminal investigation, but for which new information could emerge from new witness testimony, re-examined archives, new or retained material evidence, as well as fresh activities of the suspect.
The sad aspect of a cold case is that sometimes there has to be a fall guy who is completely innocent but fits the profile for the killer and to give the people around a false sense of revenge and achievement, they make them a victim.
Back then when you were subjected to a death penalty where you would either be burnt alive or hung or beheaded, it made matters worse because if the truth eventually came out and the right person was caught, the government and the people would have to live with the fact that they took an innocent man’s life.
Now, there is a shot at redemption as most crimes earn you a life sentence and so there are cases that the innocent is redeemed after several years, sometimes half a century or more. This is due when the cases are reopened and based on new evidence discovered would be used to vindicate them.
The West Memphis Three are Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. They were three boys from West Memphis, Arkansas, aged between 16 and 18, who in 1993 were arrested and convicted for the murder and sexual mutilation of three eight-year-old boys—Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers.
Due to the apparent acts of mutilation, it was accused that what had taken place was, in fact, a satanic ritual—human sacrifices. The pressure on the police to solve the heinous crime was huge, which, combined with the town having a history of supposed witchcraft and satanic practices, left a community shattered and in terrifying fear.
Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin were picked up as they were known friends and were into what a lot of alienated teenagers were into heavy metal, wearing black, being left alone, and doing their own thing.
What came next was 18+ years of incarceration as they fought to prove their innocence. They were finally released in 2011, with a plea that was accepted. But oh, for all those lost years behind bars.
Within the last 30 years, DNA technology and tools have been improved to help solve other cases, especially where DNA is primary evidence and one tool that has done served us best is the DNA copying system. What you may stumble upon in the crime scene might be minute or a shred but would become enough for tests and sampling once it is copied. These have opened up avenues to be able to determine certain features of the perpetrator and can help in profiling suspects.
In 1984, Melanie Road, 17, was murdered and her murderer who wasn’t captured till nearly 30 years later was discovered because of DNA swab samples that were taken from the crime scene and kept. The young lass was stabbed 26 times through her clothing and then raped. Such a gory way for an underage girl to be mutilated by another human being. 71 blood spots were taken at the scene by the officers and kept over the years.
You see, the world is not a Rubik’s cube, it is a sphere and there’s a saying that is very popular with people; what goes around comes around ‘Karma never really misses a payday’. In 2014, Hampton who was responsible for the murder had a daughter who was 41 years old and at that, time was arrested following a domestic incident with her partner in which a necklace was broken. Police protocol for domestic violence meant she was cautioned and her DNA taken, then uploaded to the national database.
Now, there was no match from the database at the time, mainly because Hampton had not been arrested for any crime. Scientific advances, however, meant that familial DNA links could be identified, a breakthrough that proved crucial in solving Melanie’s murder.
The following year, the familial DNA testing for Melanie’s murder was re-run and a match was found with Hampton’s daughter. Knowing that it wasn’t her and the love that exists between a parent and a child, the man owned up and had his DNA tested and when both were compared it was a match from the scenes 30 years ago.
Have you ever heard the name ‘Jack the Ripper’? He or she was never caught and killed 5 female prostitutes in his wake as a serial killer in the year 1888. Up till now, there hasn’t been anything or anyone who has been able to clear the air about the murders in that year, the murders of the women were never solved and the tale of Jack spreads on, You see crime isn’t something that will go away and to be honest, humanity keeps turning up the heat when it comes to the kind of crimes that have to be dealt with.
Now, people don’t even try to mask themselves when they are committing a crime; talk about the gunman who opened fire in a church or the one who started shooting people up in Las Vegas or the ‘terrorist’ who killed almost a 100 people.
The origin is the evil within man, and no amount of technology that we have or will create will ever be able to deal with that, but for the safety of others, to uphold the law and seek justice for all and sundry, the law enforcement agencies exist.