Former medical examiner speaks about Lester St. Massacre - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Former medical examiner speaks about Lester St. Massacre

O.C. Smith was Shelby County Medical Examiner when eight people died in the Shannon Street Siege back in 1983.

He said it is always important to look for unusual signatures in a crime scene.

In the Lester Street case: the children, unexpected targets.

"If that's the case, then you're trying to see if the person is trying to send a message or could they have a signature are there signs of torture," Smith said.

Smith said certain cultures and gangs leave specific signatures but that establishing time of death comes first. Then, trace evidence reveals volumes.

"The examination begins at the crime scene because it is absolutely critical for the medical examiner to be on scene as soon as law enforcement declares it safe," Smith said.

He called the crucial evidence moments frozen in time.

"Things that can tell you what happened just as if you're looking at a movie one still frame at a time," Smith said.

That includes footprints, cigarette butts or other evidence left behind.

"Look at the movement of the individuals.  If knives are involved, it wouldn't be unusual for a assailant to cut themselves and leave their own DNA, but you have to be able to find that pattern," Smith said.

On Lester Street, we know at least one knife and at least one gun were used in the crime. Smith said that could indicate how many suspects were on scene.

"Of course, people can carry two guns as well," Smith said.

But, he said with six victims all discovered in one room, it could take weeks to process all the evidence.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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