Wichita Falls Crime scene Investigators had five Homicide cases so far in 2010. The first homicide was on February fourth when the body of a man was found along River Road on the city's northeast side. On March 20th, a man surrendered to Police after they say he shot and killed another man early that morning on Scott Street. Just a month later, Ross Muehlberger went on the shooting rampage in the falls. Tim Donley was shot and killed at Toby's Bar. Several days later, a woman was arrested for running over a man with her car. In late July, a family fight landed one brother in jail for the murder of another.
The cold hard reality of the deaths and the steps it takes to find a killer is dramatized all the time on TV on the CBS hit shows CSI, CSI: New York and CSI: Miami.
The WFPD ID-Techs are the real life CSI, Investigators say it is nothing like television. "They're very good, they're all certified as expert witnesses," said Sgt. Bill Henning with the Wichita Falls Police Department. "They all can do what any other lab in the state can do they process the crime scene, they process fingerprints off evidence we need," he said. "At the crime scene, they analyze it and see if we can get a suspect... They collect and document physical evidence at the scene,they will go room by room taking pictures and then you'll see them come back out and you will see them with the video camera and they videotape the crime scene," explained Henning.
Henning says the evidence is crucial. "Its everything. If they don't collect the evidence correctly, we don't have a case," he said. Once the evidence has been documented and collected, it leaves the county to be processed. "Most departments, 99% of them do not have their own crime labs the cost prohibit it," said Henning.
Like most other departments, the WFPD relies on a vast network of State and Federal labs to process the evidence. DNA evidence goes to the DPS lab in Garland. Ballistics, heads to Austin for processing. Drugs head West to Abilene where they are analyzed. The Secret Service in Irving steps in to comb through cell phones. "They can pull the texts up even though they have (supposedly) been deleted," said Henning. Bodies are shipped to Tarrant County for autopsy.
The processing can take quite a bit of time. "It takes sometimes 3-6 weeks sometimes just to get the first results back on the autopsy, toxicology takes 10-12 weeks," said Henning. That heavy work load sometimes strains the system; Frustrating victims, families and sometimes even the investigators. "A lot of people will wonder why we are still working on their case. Each officer right now probably has 15-20 cases on their desk and all we work is shootings, stabbings, robberies, murders, unattended deaths, but they're waiting for test results. They've moved on to about 3 other cases, but they are still waiting for the test results to come back... We're still waiting for one lab that happened last October.
The wait time sometimes delays the legal process. "Sometimes it may delay an arrest, but then again you want it done correctly and you don't want to rush them. Then again, we're in line with all the other departments," said Henning.
Still, the investigators say they are ready and waiting for anything that may come, whenever it comes. "We had a murder very first of the year, 2years ago on Jan 1st, everybody responded and we worked 18 hours on that call so these guys are dedicated," Henning recalled.