The Menendez Brothers Cracking the Case

In March 1990, Erik and Lyle Menendez were arrested for the murder of their parents, Kitty and Jos Menendez.  They were showing signs of being sociopaths before the murders even happened.  After graduating from high school in 1988, the two began stealing from their friends parents they stole in excess of 100,000 (CI, 1).  Their parents had threatened to cut Erik and Lyle out of their will because of their behavior.   The day before the murders, the entire family went shark fishing at the Marina del Ray to try to relieve the tension.  Obviously, the trip did not benefit anyone.  Erik and Lyle still carried out the heinous crime the next evening on August 20, 1989 (CI, 1).  It was not until March 20, 1996 that they were convicted of first-degree murder.

Criminal investigators use a variety of scientific techniques in their casework.  Ballistics examines bullet size.  The Menendez brothers used 12-gauge Mossberg shotguns with ball-bearing sized pellets (CI, 2). From there, Detectives Les Zoeller and Tim Linehan determined that the gun receipt had a forged signature of their friend, Donovan Goodreau.  His alibi checked out that he was working in New York City at the time. Also, his signature did not match the one on the receipt. In addition, the store location address was wrong. This was evidence against the Menendez brothers (CI, 2).  In addition to handwriting analysis, investigators conducted many interviews. In October 1989, Erik confessed to his psychotherapist in a private session that him and his brother killed their parents.  His psychotherapist did not turn them in to the police, but made tape recordings of all of their sessions that were later collected as evidence (CI, 4).

Forensic analysts can now solve crimes based on the bloodstain pattern.  It determines the physical mechanism by which that bloodstain was created (Martin, 2).  For instance, blood splatters when an assailant hits a victim with great force and speed.  A blood pool suggests that a person is still alive.  A blood smear means that a bloody object was pressed against the surface of the other.  Investigators can track blood trails to determine where an incident took place (Platt, 85).

With the case of the Menendez brothers, it took seven months for investigators to find evidence against them.  From there, it was six years before Erik and Lyle Menendez were convicted of first-degree murder. They are still in prison today serving two life sentences.  The fact that Erik and Lyle Menendez had criminal records before the murders took place only aided in their guilt.


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