THE REAL VICTIM IS THE MISSING CHILD
In a criminal investigation, knowledge of the victim is essential. A physical description is not enough. Her personality, her habits, other interests, her family background and her friendships allow a better understanding of the conditions in which the crime was committed. Knowing about her actions and her movements before her disappearance or her death also helps to determine the motive for the crime. The work is made easier when it’s about an adult person with real life experience. When the victim is a child, the information becomes more piecemeal, and it’s not easy to define a still evolving personality. All the information about her comes from her parents, her family, their friends, employees, neighbours and sometimes educators. It’s not her actions that speak for her, but other people.
According to statistics, including Great Britain, parents and close relatives are involved in the majority of cases of missing children. Certainly that does not constitute proof. A common sense rule, however, says doubt their word, without this meaning that they are to be considered as suspects. The information they provide must be cross-checked against other witness statements, in order to evaluate their veracity and credibility. The public in general, deeply touched by the misfortune that has befallen the family – they can all easily imagine the anxiety and pain that a mother or a father must feel in such a situation – take their side right away. The investigator, however, cannot lose sight of his objectives. He has to devote all his efforts to the discovery of the truth in order to bring justice to the only true victim: the child.
DISAPPEARANCE AND CRIME
In disappearance cases, the first hypothesis to be considered is that of a voluntary departure. An appeal for witnesses, accompanied by a detailed description, is then issued. Searches are organised immediately, mobilising all the available resources: police forces, civil population, sniffer dogs, announcements in the media… In parallel, the investigator must not rule out the possibility of a crime. The three basic questions to which he must find answers are as follows: what happened? where did it happen? why?
Every place likely to be the crime scene, is gone over with a fine-tooth comb. Searches and inspections are undertaken to gather evidence. Meanwhile, family background, relationship with the parents, neighbours. friends, school mates and teachers are the object of an extensive investigation. The victim’s personality too: her habits, the games she went in for, illnesses she suffered from, all information about her might turn out to be important later on. The objective of these investigations is to make sure that the child has not been abused either physically or emotionally and that he led a normal, happy life.
WHO IS MADELEINE BETH McCANN?
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