The Two Day Rule
Following are several paragraphs from Chapter Seven-“The Exes” in the first draft of the Murder in a Small Town: The Tragic Death of Stacey Burns” book. As mentioned numerous times, this narrative is incomplete, simply because the ending of the real story has not yet been told. Please note the last two sentences, written over five years ago. At that time, it appeared that the focus was on one person. One has to wonder if that focus still exists. Now, some have told me that I should not be so critical of the police investigation. However, if that same first two days focus remains in place after eight and a half years, one also must wonder if perhaps it might be adjusted to include other possibilities.
Here are the three paragraphs from page 59 of Murder in a Small Town . . .
“The first two days are critical in a murder investigation.” Sergeant Steven Rowland, the original lead detective in the Stacey Burns investigation, ascribes to this concept with the proviso that it sometimes can stretch into a longer time period. He says that every case has its variations and sometimes what appears at the outset to be a straightforward, well-defined investigative plan can be derailed by the first few interviews. Within a short time, investigators in the Stacey Burns case uncovered a set of unexpected complications which extended the “first two days” concept considerably.
There will be some who argue with the viewpoint that a homicide case, if not solved in the first few days, will evolve into a lengthy investigation with frustratingly slow progress; however, the logic of it is inescapable. An entire litany of aspects of an investigation that can be compromised as time passes exists. It is a litany that carries a substantial degree of sadness along with it. Most of that sadness is caused by human nature and the relative importance placed on events that are in the here and now versus events that are disappearing in the rear view mirror of life.
Witnesses may have their memories of events skewed by publicity or the naturally human tendency to embellish what they observed or heard. Inevitably, as time passes, the opportunity to discuss the case with others presents the chance that perceptions of events may be colored by what a well-meaning friend or relative says. Even an internet blog, despite the well-established reality that the veracity of blogs is often suspect at the very least, can creep into the subconscious, casting an almost subliminal shading of doubt to what began as a certain truth. With human nature being what it is, investigators will (and should) emphasize expediency in the gathering of evidence and information early on. As Detective Rowland points out, it is not the arrest that is crucial in the first days following a serious crime but there should be a clear focus, preferably a strong suspect, established for the investigation in that time period.
So, there was no arrest in the first two days. Was there a “strong suspect” established in that time period? By the way, my intention is not to be critical of authorities, but rather to continue to call attention to the fact that this vicious killer is still walking around free.