K9's Ability To Work a Car Trail, after 14 Inches of Flooding Rains
Our Unit contacted Richmond Police Department in Virginia, to offer K9 search support for a case involving a homicide that occurred as a result of a moving vehicle. A drug deal had gone bad and the victim was pulled to her death attempting to hang onto the steering wheel while the driver and passenger sped off.
Arrangements were made to search the following day, however the remnants of Hurricane Gaston entered the area, which ultimately dumped 15 inches of rain on the Richmond area in the course of several hours, flooding major roads, and buildings. The search was rescheduled for the next day. Amid much doubt whether any scent would still be available after such a deluge, LE officers were willing to allow the team to "give it a shot". They had nothing to go on, and admittedly were impressed with our "let's try it" attitude. Scent pads were generated and prepared from the deceased victim's clothing. This was a case of using secondary scent, as witnesses did tell LE there was a physical struggle and the victim had leaned well into the car across the driver where the struggle began. We suspected there would be a strong possibility of either the driver's scent, or the passenger's scent being present on the victim's shirt sleeves. Since the victim had expired at the scene, the decision was made to start at this location so that the dogs would "eliminate" her scent from scent inventory and take the secondary scent available (perpetrator's). We explained that we would only know which scent we were on, if LE had a confirmed address of the victim. In that, if the dogs went to the victim's home, we could conclude they were running on victim scent. If this were the case, we would then command the dogs, to "find the other one". (another form of secondary scent trailing). With this, dogs will eliminate the first scent, and take the next available which should be the suspect(s). Once the scent pads were complete the Team was taken to the PLS where the homicide occurred.
The team prepared by starting K9 Jack, the GSP, at the exact location where the victim expired. Jack had no problem starting the trail, and trailed looping throughout this area. He did not trail to the victim's home, which was in this area. K-9 Jack's track was confirmed immediately by LE as being the area the car was seen prior to the homicide, as this was a known drug dealing area. Two additional dogs ran in the same area, duplicating some of the first K9's track. All dogs wanted to continue the track onto the main highway. LE advised us that we were moving to another location to determine if this scent the dogs were on was present in a particular area.
None of the handlers had further information but proceeded to the new location. K9 Patton, a Bloodhound was scented and took a trail immediately, trailing to an apartment complex and going to a particular door, around the back, and into the parking lot. Patton then exited the apartment complex and was trailing towards the main road. He was pulled there, and another Bloodhound was started in the general area where Patton had started. This Bloodhound duplicated the exact run, and exit, and was pulled. A third Bloodhound was started in the parking lot and also duplicated the trail. All dogs were stopped by LE from searching further in this area. Investigators informed us that we had successfully tracked in the apartment complex and parking lot to the last known address of someone who was a suspect in the case.
We now had further confirmation that the dogs were running off the suspect's scent. The team was moved again and requested to drop dogs in various places within the city to see if we could get positives, or negatives. This was done several times throughout the search. The scent trails led to the main highway, and dogs were pulled from further searching.
Investigators informed us that they needed to investigate further based on the dogs tracks. Several weeks later we received notification that an arrest had been made, and were further informed that the perpetrator had verified all the dogs tracks and areas he had been in just prior to the incident, including his exit. The Car Trails were documented as being correct.
Ultimately, a Second Degree Murder conviction was returned on the suspect in this case.