Murders harder to solve

| 19/08/2009

(CNS): According to RCIPS statistics, there have been 31 murders in the Cayman Islands since January 2003 to date. Police say they have brought charges in 18 of these cases, several of which are currently awaiting trial. However, the number of unsolved murders is not necessarily a reflection on the capabilities of the RCIPS as research suggests that murders are becoming increasingly harder to solve despite the advances in forensic science and technology because of the nature of modern murder and the lack of willing witnesses.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Marlon Bodden explained that solving crime is assisted by science but the basics remain the same. “Although we have access to modern day methods of policing such as high tech forensic capabilities, people need to realise that these cannot replace traditional policing methods,” he said. “Most crimes are solved through traditional methods, i.e. talking to people, talking to witnesses and those who knew the victim, taking statements and piecing together the puzzle.”

This is where the RCIPS like many other police forces in the western world faces its most pressing problem — the combination of fewer and more reluctant witnesses. With a solve rate of just over 58%, the RCIPS murder detection rates compare relatively well to other jurisdictions but according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the nature of modern murder makes it harder for police to solve the crime. The main reason is the rise in drug and gang related killings, which are often impersonal and anonymous, and therefore harder to solve than killings among family members or friends. Accross the US murder detection solve rates have fallen from over 91% in the 1960s to around 60% at the end of last year.

CID Chief Inspector Peter Kennett told CNS that a major stumbling block for police in Cayman was the willingness of witnesses to come forward. When there is little forensic evidence to go on, and police say real life murder is not like CSI, police are entirely dependent on witnesses.  He noted that a number of murders which still remain unsolved in Cayman are likely to stay that way until those who saw what happened are willing to say what they saw and then be willing to testify to it in an open court.

Kennet gave an example of one case in West Bay in August 2007, where there was limited forensic evidence or apparent motive when the victim was shot and killed under the cover of darkness while alone. he said without an eye witness coming forward or the gun turning up, it is going to be a very difficult case to solve.

He sighted other unsolved cases in West Bay where police know that there were eye witnesses to the crime but who have refused to admit their knowledge and give statements. “There is little we can do in such circumstances other than hope the people involved change their minds," he added.

When 28 year old Omar Samuels was shot last month in the area of McField Lane, it is understood there were literally hundreds of people in the area but police have struggled to find willing witnesses.  Speaking at a recent police press conference following the killing of Samuels and then Marcus Ebanks in West Bay, Police Commissioner David Baines said in both cases people had not come forward.

“There are people who know and saw more than they are saying,” said Baines. “The police rely on the people to help. The community are the eyes and the evidence of the police.”

Despite the struggle, however, the RCIPS said that it does not give up on any murder or violent crime, and despite how cold the trail may be they continue to work on cases until some tiny piece of information leads them to the killers. Recently, the RCIPS gained a conviction in cold case rape where DNA evidence eventually helped catch the perpetrator who raped a female tourist back in 2002.

However, Bodden noted that while the RCIPS does have access to modern tools, which can as in this case, help police close a cold case, such tools cannot replace the traditional style, which really comes down to talking to people. “The two methods must work hand in hand. Assistance from the public is absolutely vital, we rely on it — it is our lifeblood,” he said.

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  1. "Concerned" says:

    CNS as a concerned member of the public, one would think that comments being made such as "11:46’s " were actually viewed before posting. 

    In response to "11:46" are you stating that the article "Murders Harder to Solve" is (BS) or the posting before yours was BS????

    • Anonymous says:

      Did the police use these words – Harder to solve despite the advances in forensic science and technology because of the nature ofmodern murder?  What is "modern"about masked men fatally shooting other men? Please clarify?

  2. Caymanite says:

    How exactly do you do a fire test on an illegal gun?

    If someone has a gun illegally they are hardly going to be walking around with it going "Hey I am carrying an illegal weapon, let me help the police"


    • anoin says:

      After it’s been confiscated at some point obviously.

      THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

      you compare it the bullets fired in crimes. I’m sure they must already do this.

      and Fingerprint every person coming into this country, period

      you may as well finger print everyone visitors, residents (expat and local)


    • Anonymous says:

      When they confiscate it you can link it back! THINK!

  3. Anonymous says:

    People need to be able speak out unanimously without fear of repercussion if there is going to be any stop to this madness

  4. Anonymous says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    I have an ideas that I hoped is taken seriously by the powers that be (if they even read CNS to find out what is really going on in Cayman)

    ALL GUNS (illegal and legal) should have a fire test done and the markings recorded. This way unresolved murders could be linked back to the gun.

    So this would mean that all illegal firearms confiscated would be forensically tested to see if they matched any unresolved murders.  Now, granted this wouldn’t help solve every murder as many guns would go undetected, but could at least help,.

    * Fingerprint every person coming into this country, period

    * Take DNA from every person who goes to Northward, period.


    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:
      "Baloney Ballistics
      Gun databases fail
      Brian Doherty | January 2009
      Seven years ago, New York started a database of "ballistic fingerprints" for all new handguns sold in the state. The bill’s backers sold it as a crime-solving device, arguing that the state would now have a sample of a spent shell and bullet for every new gun sold. This, they said, would help police connect future evidence from crime scenes to specific guns.
      Since then, the authorities have entered 200,000 newly purchased guns into the database and spent $1 million dollars a year on the system. Yet it hasn’t led to a single solved crime. The only other state with such a database, Maryland, can attribute at least one conviction to the system since it was created in 2000-more than zero, but few enough that the state’s own Police Forensics Division has suggested scrapping the program because of its demonstrated lack of benefits.
      This hasn’t come as a surprise to gun rights activists, who pointed to several potential problems when the databases were originally debated. Among them: The markings left by a gun are not guaranteed to be the same over the long term and can be deliberately changed with simple expedients such as filing inside the barrel; the vast majority of guns used in crimes are stolen or otherwise obtained in a black market, not used by their original legal owner; devoting so much record keeping to every gun sold guarantees wasted effort, since less than 1 percent of all guns sold will ever be used in a crime.
      In 2003 a report from the California Attorney General’s Office recommended against launching such a program because of its likely ineffectiveness in crime solving. And a March 2008 study from the National Research Council recommended against a national version of the New York and Maryland databases.
      In addition to noting the obvious ways in which such a program could be easily circumvented by criminals, the study said the theory behind the ballistics databases – that every gun marks shells and bullets in specific, stable, identifiable ways – has not been scientifically proven."
    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:
      Popular Mechanics magazine articles:
      The Truth About 4 Common Forensics Methods, By Brad Reagan, Published on: July 27, 2009: Read It Here
      CSI Myths: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics, By Brad Reagan Published in the August 2009 issue: Read It Here
    • Anonymous says:


      You can’t test fire an illegal firearm until it is found!!!

      All found firearms are test fired.

      All legal firearms are not test fired upon arrival in the country – the reason being is that the owners are law abiding citizens and have done nothing wrong. They could be test fired and then we have them on record but the likelihood of the law abiding using them is so slim that the extra expense probably doesn’t justify it. Because an expert has to come down to do it.

      If the firearms are stolen then they become illegally held by the perpetrator, having the ballistic test on record doesn’t help the police.

      If the firearm is used then all we have is that the once legal firearm has been used – it doesn’t help catch the perpetrator. 

      It would only really assist if  police had intelligence which stated that a named individual had possession of that firearm (which had found to have been used) and had used it. Then it gives them some insight into how to approach that individual.

      Every person that goes to Northward is DNA’d. In fact every arrested person is DNA’d – which is even better. 

      Fingerprinting everyone can be done but if they are entering the country for the first time then there won’t be a match to any local crime. I take it that you mean everyone is fingerprinted and the prints kept onfile. That is a human rights issue that Govt would have to address. Even countries that require prints on entry don’t keep them e.g the US. They search then discard. But keeping up with your train of logic why not fingerprint and DNA at birth???? Because it is unreasonable and not very nice, that is why only people that have fallen foul of the law are sampled.

      So hopefully you will rest better knowing that at least some of your suggestions are already being done.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Finally confirmation of what the general public has been aware of for years. There are several dozen murderers walking the streets of the Cayman Islands. Does this concern any normal thinking person…you bet.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The police alone cannot make a safer society…….we the people must do our part to police as well, in terms of helping and working with the police.  If criminals know that people are willing to talk and stand up for each other maybe then they will think twice before they commit crimes.  We need to stop being scared in this society we live in and in turn make the criminals be scared of us.

  8. Twyla M Vargas says:

    UNSOLVED MYSTERIES  Or Crimes what ever we may call it, yes has become a problem solving in Cayman.  However It is because we are having more of these crimes why it seems like they are becomming more difficuly to solve.  Take back in the day, between 1970 and 1990  we had many unsolved mysteries/crimes.   The fact is that these crimes  mystery/crimes were not solved because police then did not have the  means/foresnic capeabilities.  People back in the day would tell you what they saw, when they saw it and what colour it was.

    Now a day it is different, we have the scientific methods but we do not have the witnesses comming forward.  Some times good reasons, sometimes not.    What has happened is that people have become scared, and not mainly of the criminals, but of the police, and the reason for this is because of the different nationalities of police on the Island.  Cayman people will not talk to them, certain police, because they are too close kitted with their own country men.  Think what you may but I know what I am talking about..  I am out there listening, seeing and observing.   Another issue is that if you give some police information they do not act on the information you give them.  They toss it aside,and because of this when something goes every one is scrambling for the piece of paper.  I see the police has been stepping up on vigilent night duties, sparodic road blocks and searching  vehicles when necessary.  Very Good.   I was in a road block a week ago, and along side of me was another car.  The driver was frantic with a flashlight looking for something in his car, obviously could not find it, drove into the first drive way and turned back.  Police need to have them selves scattered for this, not all in one spot.  Correct.

    Now:  Police bashing, it causes stress and and lead to heart failure.  Tell them where they are going wrong, but lets see if we can do without pounding them on the talk shows.

    Walk good and be blessed.