Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can the news media ever learn?


Have you seen the news about the slaughtered swimsuit model, Jasmine Fiore? It is believed that her former husband, Ryan Jenkins, was the one who killed her. However, what is a bit more gruesome about this particular case is that Jenkins had obviously been a fan of CSI, and other similar shows. It seems that Jenkins believed that if you remove things like fingerprints and teeth, you can't figure out who a person is. Well, he was really, really wrong.

Tragically, Jasmine Fiore was found stuffed in a trunk with her teeth pulled out and her fingers cut off. While it is true that this makes it difficult for investigators to run fingerprints or dental records to ascertain an identity, it's not impossible. My degree is in criminal justice, and I have some minor knowledge of investigatory techniques. Fingerprints and dental lookups are not the only ways to identify a body, though they are arguably the easiest. What happened in this case is that the swimsuit model's breast implants had a unique serial number, and the police used this to track down her identity.

Excellent, right? The family can begin the process of grieving, and the investigation can begin. (Except for that tiny part about where her killer already hung himself.) My problem with the fact that the news media - including this blog you're reading right now - is reporting these details is the obvious: people are listening. This guy murdered this woman and then proceeded to disfigure her due to a heavy influence of Hollywood style CSI shows, believing he made the body untraceable. Now that there's a new method of tracking someone's identity, how long until bodies are just found chopped into little bits and pieces, or hacked up to look like some perverse version of a child's doll?

The media is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it can make smaller precincts aware of new methods in investigation. (No, they're not all linked up to some giant investigatory network in which the latest methods of ascertaining identity are immediately uploaded and reviewed. Typically they find out like everybody else does: news, articles, etc.) On the other, it can make potential offenders aware of new ways to occlude the identity of their victims, and thusly themselves. It's a precarious line, but I think we should err on the side of non-information.

How much do the people have a right to know, anyway? Let me know.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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