Anatomy of death investigations: A qualitative evaluation of investigative methods

Christina Witt

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

251 Downloads (Pure)


This study explores effective processes and procedures of homicide investigation to achieve increased homicide solution. Homicide investigations do not operate in isolation, therefore the changing nature of law enforcement’s external environment such as crime trends, community support, technology, and the law, were central components to the analysis. Based on contingency theory, police agencies must be agile and adaptable within their dynamic environments to be effective. The Delphi method was used to conduct the analysis by building consensus on what constitutes an effective model for homicide investigations. A panel of criminal justice subject matter experts were selected among internal and external stakeholder groups to complete three survey rounds.
The study explored consideration of clearance rate and conviction rate, procedural success, police legitimacy and credibility, examination into Calgary Police Service homicide processes and procedures such as the homicide unit mandate, overtime procedures, case review, and the cold case unit. Three key concepts emerged for achieving effective homicide investigations: (a) the importance of a definition for the measurement of successful homicide investigations; (b) community support of the police agency; and (c) identification of effective organisational methods of homicide investigations. Based on these findings, a model of best practices of homicide investigations was developed, combining overlapping aspects from the three key concepts.
This study contributes to the limited literature on homicide investigative processes and procedures based on consensus of what constitutes an effective method of homicide investigation to achieve increased homicide clearance without jeopardising the integrity of the investigation.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Prunckun, Henry, Principal Supervisor
  • Corbo Crehan, Anna, Co-Supervisor
Award date19 Apr 2018
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2018


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