The Investigation of William McGuire's Murder

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On April 28, 2004, after closing on his dream house, William McGuire was brutally murdered. His body was severed into three pieces, placed into three matching Kenneth Cole suitcases and then dumped in the Chesapeake Bay. The investigation of his murder would span three years, involve two different investigative teams and end in the conviction of his wife, Melanie McGuire, based on circumstantial evidence (Glatt, 2008).

The discovery of this crime began as a fishing trip for Chris Henkle, Dee Connors and his two children Sam and Claire on May 5, 2004. While relocating the boat to find better fishing, Connor spotted a suitcase floating in the water. As young Sam opened the suitcase hoping it contained pirate’s treasure, he found its contents to be wrapped in black plastic trash bags. Upon opening the trash bags, Sam exposed two human legs. Shocked at what they had found, Henkle immediately contacted the police. After Master Officer John Runge of Virginia Beach’s Marine Patrol Unit took possession of the suitcase from Henkle and Connors, he looked inside and called his superior asking for a homicide detective. Virginia Beach Homicide Detective Janine Hall joined by senior technician of the Forensics Unit, Steve Stockman, and Dr. Turner Gray, Virginia Beach Medical Examiner, arrived at the scene. The suitcase was photographed, then the body parts were taken back to Dr. Gray’s office for an autopsy. Detective Hall took the Kenneth Cole suitcase to the Virginia Beach police headquarters for forensic examination after the legs were removed for autopsy. Forensic unit supervisor Beth Dunton and Steve Stockman then tested the suitcase for trace evidence. To test for fingerprints, the bags were hung in a cyanoacrylate chamber in which fume...

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...idence in the conviction of Melanie McGuire. According to Champod (2004), Beth Dunton may have skipped important steps necessary to collecting fingerprints from the trash bags. If fingerprints had been collected from the trash bags, this could have cleared Melanie or added to the mountain of evidence against her. According to Rossmo (2009), all of the circumstantial evidence gathered by investigators could have been declared coincidental. There was no “smoking gun” to convict Melanie. Despite possible errors, the investigative team was successful in remaining free of bias being that the evidence collected by two different investigative teams led to Melanie McGuire as the suspect and ultimately to her conviction. Human error is inevitable while conducting investigation, but ultimately a jury of peers found Melanie McGuire guilty of the alleged crimes (Glatt, 2008).

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