WHAT ANNIE TILLERY KNOWS ABOUT FORENSIC SCIENCE
In “Girl with Pencil, Drawing”, a fire does extensive damage to the brownstone building where one of the main characters is hiding some important information that becomes important in solving the murder of John DiCristiani. The fire is set as a diversionary tactic, and is an essential catalyst toward exposing the story’s most fascinating surprises. The fire is proven to be arson. Lt. Red, Aunt Jill’s NYPD colleague explains how the police identify the elements of the crime of arson.
HOW DO CRIME INVESTIGATORS SUSPECT A FIRE TO BE THE CRIME OF ARSON?
Fires in commercial establishments are always suspect, because of the insurance money involved.
When the fire marshal discovers another crime at the scene of the fire, it is possible that fire was set to cover the crime. It can be an efficient way to dispose of a murder victim.
When several fires exhibiting the same pattern or M.O. (modus operandi) occur in an area, investigators examine links between the cases to see if serial crimes are being committed.
The evidence uncovered that indicates arson include:
1. The presence of accelerants like gasoline, which leave a residue on the debris resulting from a fire. This residue can be chemically analyzed and identified with a high degree of validity.
2. The use of ignition devices such as frayed electric wires, or smoldering cigarettes.
3. Remnants of materials used to start a fire which have been left at the scene, such as gas cans and flammable materials.