Friday, May 8, 2009
Photo--a Key Piece of Evidence by Chester Campbell
Lee Lofland has a fascinating puzzle on his Graveyard Shift blog today. He has a photo of two keys found on a “person of interest” in the case of a half-billion dollars worth of paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The theft occurred March 18, 1990. We’re talking Obama bailout cash here, folks. Half a billion bucks.
The museum’s director of security brought the photo to Lee and asked that he see if any of his blog readers recognized the type of key. In 19 years, neither the FBI nor the Boston police have come up with evidence proving who did the deed.
I reminds me somewhat of Morgan Mandel’s post the other day about looking at a picture and trying to tell where you are. Photos can play a vital role in solving mysteries. Maybe Lee’s “key piece of evidence” will lead investigators to the fate of the expensive paintings by such artists as Rembrandt and Manet.
I featured photos for evidence in one of my mysteries when my PI Greg McKenzie used his miniature camera to photograph guest checks in a restaurant where he and Jill were investigating the theft of cash by waiters and waitresses. They used the photos the next morning to compare what the patrons received with what the waiters turned in.
Probably the most frequent use of photos in criminal cases today are those that come from tapes in surveillance cameras. Mystery writers find them handy for identifying suspects and capturing the bad guys doing bad things. Candid shots are sometimes used to show a person was in a place where he claimed not to have been.
Photos found on mantels and other places around a home provide clues to family members and friends of a deceased. Have you ever used photos as a key piece of evidence in a mystery? Can you think of a book where a picture sealed a suspect’s fate?