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Mystery: January 11, 2023 Issue [#11752]

 This week: Caught on video
  Edited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Quote for the week:
"Mystery spread its cloak across the sky.
We lost our way.
Shadows fell from trees.
They knew why."

~From "House of Four Doors" by the Moody Blues

Word from our sponsor

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Letter from the editor

In today's world, video cameras are everywhere. Video recordings impact many aspects of modern life, including criminal investigations.

Most of us carry a video recorder with us at all times, inside our cellular phones. Recordings made by citizens have become important evidence in many criminal cases. While eyewitness testimony is known to be unreliable, it is harder to argue with evidence that is caught on camera. Video recordings can be tampered with, but experts can usually at least determine that it has been altered in some way.

Surveillance video has become an important part of security and crime prevention both for businesses and private citizens. While some surveillance video is not of high quality, even the poorer quality video can give some evidence, such as the time a crime was committed. One person I know was able to identify vandals who had repeatedly destroyed property in his yard by using motion activated trail cameras that are usually used for observing wildlife.

The man accused of the recent murders in Moscow, Idaho was first identified because his car showed up on security footage of the neighborhood where the crime happened.

Video recordings were also instrumental in identifying the person who was eventually convicted of the RJR murders which happened in Mandan, North Dakota on April 1, 2019. In this case, four employees of a property management company were killed early in the morning before other employees arrived at work. Security footage of the building was focused mainly on the entrances, so it only showed the perpetrator entering and leaving. He was wearing a ski mask which hid his face, and the video did not show any record of where he went after leaving the building. However, investigators pieced together security video from surrounding properties, and were eventually able to trace the suspect walking to a vehicle in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant a mile away. The license plate of the vehicle was not readable on the video, but they were able to use other security video from the area to observe the same vehicle driving to a small town about 40 miles north of the murder scene. A deputy sheriff in that town knew the suspect well and was able to tentatively identify the vehicle based on rust patterns and other markings. He was also able to recognize the suspect on the video based on his distinctive way of walking. While DNA and other forensic evidence were necessary to convict the suspect, law enforcement might not have had any idea where to start looking without the video clues.

Criminals might attempt to disable security cameras by spray painting the lens, physically destroying the camera, or using a magnet or other means to disrupt the electronics. The RJR murderer actually attempted to fool investigators by changing to a different jacket and ski mask somewhere off camera before walking to his vehicle, but he was still recognized by his height and distinctive walk.

Something to try: Write a mystery story that involves security cameras or other video evidence.

Editor's Picks

Gilbert's Ghost  (ASR)
A mysterious disappearance, a lost love, a haunted lake
#2277486 by Graywriter

The Not-So-Hidden Truth  (E)
A woman is keeping a secret from her partner and will go to any length to keep it hidden
#2283737 by IAmMeadowRayne

STEAM RISING: more precious than gold  (18+)
Elements of Steampunk: Everyone wants this new discovery. They will do anything.
#2250368 by dogpack:saving 4 premium: DWG

Fry 'em Up  (13+)
For the Bard's Hall Cop Shop Mystery
#2280384 by Blueyez ৎ୭

Kidnapped  (18+)
Writer's cramp
#2277348 by Odessa Molinari

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