I was thinking about Andrew Cunanan, the guy who murdered a bunch of people over a two week period. The FBI and police were closing in on him and he killed himself in a houseboat. They authorities later found him dead.
OK now the guy was never found guilty by a court of law but doesn’t someone somwhere along the line have to determain he was guilty. Let’s say I hated my wife and I saw Andrew Cunanan and I took his gun and shot her, then put it back and he took it.
OK it’s unlikely but the insurance companies and others pay out on these deaths so I’m sure they want to be sure.
What’s to stop cops or the FBI from just dumping all their hard to solve cases on a guy? Since insurance companies and such may have to pay out perhaps they would fight it. In that case, who has the final say in saying “this guy WAS IN FACT guilty,” when the killer is dead and their is no trial.
WAG: the police can still do matches–DNA samples, fingerprints, dental impressions, etc.–while the coroner has the body. They’d probably then obtain search warrants from the guy’s estate owners to get his belongings. Combine with circumstantial evidence, and you’d have your case.
As for why the FBI doesn’t dump all their hard-to-solve cases on the dead guy–well, call me naive, but I’d assume there’d have to be some sort of proof first.
I believe the procedure is for the police to close a case when they consider it solved not when a person is convicted. The police are not directly involved in convictions so they’ve passed it on to the next level. In some cases, as the OP’s described, a case may be solved but no court case will be occurring. Or a person that the police regard as the perpetrator may be found innocent in court - this does not force the police to reopen the investigation. I remember an LAPD spokesman being asked if they we’re going to reopen the investigation after O.J. Simpson was found not guilty and he said the case had been offically closed as solved and was not being reopened.
I have read, in police procedural fiction granted, that there is a difference between ‘closed’, ‘cleared’ and ‘solved’ that is important to Cops and Prosecutors.
That case is ‘closed’. Ask the higher ups why…
That case is ‘cleared’, there is no apparent chance of gathering more evidence, we’ve chased every lead. This case goes to the bottom of the stack, we’re not wasting more cop hours on it. Cold case crew might go over it again in a few years.
That case is ‘solved’, we submitted it to the DA/prosecutor, tried the suspect, and got a conviction.
Something like that. Vague memories from realistic fiction, but I hope you see my point. It’s about the words, PR, and the whole cop game.
A criminal case doesn’t automatically determine civil liability, as the civil suit against OJ Simpson showed.
If an insurance company refuses to pay on a policy, citing alleged criminal conduct, it may be possible for the claimant under the policy to challenge that refusal in civil court, depending on the nature of the claim and the terms of the policy. If there’s been no court decision on the criminal side, the issue is open to litigation.
If there has been a court decision on the criminal side, it may foreclose litigation, again depending on the terms of the policy and the nature of the case, but there may also be some room for a civil suit.
A police force publicly announcing that Dead Guy did the crime has no standing as a legal ruling. Their reasons for that conclusion could be brought forward in a civil suit, as evidence. It would then be up to the trier of fact to decide if they accept the police evidence and conclusion.
Isn’t it somewhat true that a case is considered “closed” once they get an indictment, because it’s next to impossible to try someone else for the crime even if the first person is found not guilty? Since the DA had evidence against the first defendant, it creates reasonable doubt against the second. As in:
Police: Here’s a bunch of evidence that X committed the crime.
DA: Great! This looks like enough to convict! Let’s prosecute X!
Jury: Not Guilty.
Police: Rats. Here’s evidence against Y.
DA: OK, I’ll prosecute Y!
Y’s defense attorney: Hey, let me go get all the evidence the DA used last year against X, and enter it as evidence that Y didn’t do it. Nice of the DA to collect & organize it all for me.
Jury: Wow, look at all that evidence that someone else committed the crime. Sure looks like reasonable doubt against Y. Not guilty.
Given that scenario, it makes no sense for police to continue an investigation once they’ve lost a prosecution against their first suspect, since there’s no way to get a conviction against another one.
I think a bigger problem is that the police and DA tend to become fixated on the first suspect. If a suspect is acquitted of a crime, the law-enforcement guys tend to assume that he really was guilty, but “got away with it.” The possibility that he really was innocent, and some other guy did it, isn’t taken seriously. In most cases, they never even bother to try to make a case against someone else.