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Effect of the Valentine’s Day Massacre on Crime Scene Investigations
This paper will analyze how the Valentine’s Day Massacre changed the way crime scene investigation is conducted. A synopsis of the crime will be given along with a brief projection of the future due to the use of ballistics. It will also talk about how things were different before and after this case. Although this case was never solved, it has made forensics a different entity. Finally, the paper will discuss how Col. Calvin Goddard changed history forever when he introduced the idea of looking at how shooting a gun leaves markings.
Since the dawn of time, people have been committing crimes and others have been trying to figure out why. Science and analysis have evolved just as quickly as crime has. It is essential that we keep discovering more things and finding new ways to convict people of the crimes they commit because people are always seeking new ways to commit crimes without being caught. Without the attempted murder of Francisca Rojas and the murder of her two sons, the use of fingerprinting probably wouldn’t be available, or at least as popular, to criminologists and the case probably would have gone down as another cold case. The case of the Valentine’s Day Massacre is no different. The massacre led to the exposure of gun to crime matching which ultimately allowed us to identify who commits certain crimes.
Before the 1920s, people were getting by with life. There was still the enjoyment of drinking and “living their best lives”. The industrial revolution was happening, railroads and people were focusing on whether or not to free the slaves. Guns were often used in war (the Civil War) and it wasn’t really necessary to determine who was shooting. The goal was to hold your own. Either win for the Confederates or win for the Yankees. Women were working in factories; the men were off fighting. Who had time to analyze who was shooting what? However, the 1920s led to a revolution of crime that was like no other. With the prohibition of alcohol and other “fun” things that are common practice now, people had to find ways to get what they wanted without getting caught.
During the 1920s, Chicago was filled with crime. During this time, gangs ran the streets and did whatever they wanted. Bootlegging was in high demand, gangsters were robbing banks. Crime was prevalent and it was getting progressively difficult to determine culprits. Mobsters like Jack McGurn, The Genna Brothers, and Al Capone were walking around wreaking havoc on the town. With such skill running around, someone had to do something about solving crimes. Something was about to change the United States forever and possibly even the world.
Soon after, around the 1930s, the population of Chicago reached 3 million people. As bootlegging popularity rose, so did the popularity of mobsters. “Gangsters Al Capone and John Dillinger grabbed headlines, but the real power lay with the city’s political “machine,” a system of patronage that controlled city politics for the better part of a century” (Editors, 2010). Illegal activity was everywhere. There were people committing crimes both inside and outside of political buildings. There were so many people, that of course competition rose, and people began stepping on the toes of others.
On Valentine’s Day (February 14), 1929 in Chicago, a group of five men, members of George Moran’s gang, attempted to steal a whiskey shipment that was supposed to be delivered to Al Capone, an influential gangster of the time (Inglis-Arkell, 2014). The men were soon attacked by four men dressed in police uniforms. They were shot and killed on the scene. It was alleged that the police were involved. “The killings testified to the intensity of gangland warfare for the control of the trade in illicit liquor during Prohibition” (St Valentines 2018). Although this crime wasn’t solved, one thing that came out of it is the analysis of weapons used and found at crime scenes. Without this crime, there would be no recognition for Col. Calvin Goddard. “Spurred on by the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, wealthy Chicagoans hired Col. Calvin Goddard, a pioneer of forensic ballistics, to help solve the crime. Goddard successfully matched the bullets found at the scene to two Tommy guns confiscated from one of Capone’s killers, in one of the earliest uses of ballistics evidence in American history. Police across the country now had a new investigative tool that has since become standard practice” (Schwartz, 2018). Crime analysis was changed forever. Col. Goddard’s theory that bullets are similar to fingerprints in the way that small marks are left on the bullet after the gun is fired is important today.
Currently, cases are being solved all over the world and we still use the idea of analyzing gunshots. Here is a case which is current and was affected by this case. “Within about 48 hours of arresting Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. for a double murder on December 17, Phoenix police used ballistic evidence to tie the 35-year-old man to seven additional killings” (Givens, 2018). The Valentines case was a building block for what was to come. Just like in anything in life, there has to be a sacrifice in order for things to move ahead. The sacrifice in this case was the lives of the people who died.
Conclusions and Future Study
The discovery of the connection between the marks left on weapons and their ties to crime scenes has positively impacted the way that we analyze crimes. With this addition in our arsenal, we are now able to more effectively solve crimes that might not have been solved without the use of analysis of weapons. Although this case has yet to be solved, we are now one step ahead due to the advances we have made in determining who has committed a crime. As previously mentioned, without the advancement of this idea and technology, we would not have been able to determine that Mr. Cooksey also committed seven other crimes than the one he was convicted of. It is possible that many serial killers would not have been convicted of all of the crimes they committed without this ideology that a gun could leave certain markings on the bullets it fired. I believe that the future of ballistics can only go up from here. With the advancement of technology, we are already able to match DNA and strings of fabrics, so I know that the possibilities are endless. Soon we will be able to go back in time and solve cases like the Valentine’s Day Massacre which so greatly impacted our knowledge of different approaches. Hopefully we won’t abuse this technology, but will allow it to lessen the human error that causes people to lose cases.
- Editors, H. (2010, March 04). Chicago. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/us-states/chicago
- Givens, A. (2018, January 26). Ballistics Imaging Helped Phoenix Police Solve 9 Fatal Shootings. Why Don’t More Departments Make Better Use of It? Retrieved from https://www.thetrace.org/rounds/nibin-ballistics-imaging-phoenix-police/
- Inglis-Arkell, E. (2014, October 17). 10 Murderers Who Changed How We Investigate Murder. Retrieved from https://io9.gizmodo.com/10-murderers-who-changed-how-we-investigate-murder-1647407108
- Schwartz, A. B. (2018, February 16). How the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Changed Gun Laws. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/opinion/how-the-st-valentines-day-massacre-changed-gun-laws.html
- St Valentine’s day massacre. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.), The Hutchinson unabridged encyclopedia with atlas and weather guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.fgcu.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/heliconhe/st_valentine_s_day_massacre/0?institutionId=4789
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