Spirit of the Badge

Dream Work
Many years ago, I was investigating the death of a twenty-two-year-old male. The victim lived with his parents, though he was home alone when the accident occurred. His mother returned home to find her son dead in the dining room, with a .22 caliber rifle near his body.

While conducting my investigation, I eliminated homicide as the cause of death. However, I didn’t think it was a suicide either. Not having much confidence in our Detective Bureau at the time, I did not request a detective right away. I felt the detective would write it off as a suicide. Yet, I could not figure out how his death had happened.

This case bothered me. It kept me awake. I lay in bed thinking about it. I could not let this nice family believe their son had deliberately killed himself. Finally, one night, I fell into a restless sleep. In my dreams, I reviewed my interview notes and revisited the scene. I analyzed and assessed the information I had over and over again in my mind--even though I was in a dream-like state. Suddenly I awakened. I knew what had happened.

When I went to work the next day, my shift sergeant suggested I talk to a detective, just to protect myself from legal responsibility. I chose the detective I had the most confidence in and told him what I believed happened. After I told him my theory, I went to the autopsy while he went back to the scene to check it out.

I believed that the victim, while his mother was gone, started cleaning his .22 caliber rifle. One of his brothers told me the weapon occasionally jammed, and a round could be left in the gun. The dining room had a wooden circular chandelier.

I believe the victim held the weapon up to the light from the chandelier to check the barrel for cleanliness. He probably held the feeder latch open with his thumb. Then, he accidentally struck the chandelier with the butt of the rifle, his finger slipped off the latch, and the latch fell shut. With a jammed round left in the weapon, the weapon went off and struck the victim in the heart.

The detective confirmed this theory by locating an indentation in the wooden chandelier. It matched the edge of the butt of the gun. There was also some varnish on the butt of the gun from the wood of the chandelier. As confirmed in the autopsy, the angle of the wound through the heart was the exact angle that proved my theory. I solved the mystery while I was asleep.

 

Angels are messengers, but sometimes we misunderstand their language.
-- Linda Solegato