After a homicide occurs when and who notifies the family?
A homicide detective will make every effort is notify the family within 24-48hrs once the victim and the next of kin are identified. Please understand that delays may sometimes occur.  Detectives meet with the family of the victim to provide them with information and to give the family an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.  Our detectives are sensitive to the needs of victims’ families and will make themselves available any time the family needs to speak to them.  If you are unable to reach a detective, you can always contact the victim-witness resource officers who work closely with the detectives and advocate for surviving families by calling the homicide unit’s main number: 617-343-4470.

How many detectives work on each homicide case?
There are 2-3 detectives assigned to each squad and a supervisor. However, a supervisor and/or the Commander of the Homicide Unit will assign additional personnel as needed.

Can I see a homicide detective if I come by the Boston Police Department without an appointment.
It is recommended, that anyone wishing to speak to a detective about a particular case should call and make an appointment.  Our detectives work rotating shifts and often are out of the office working ongoing investigations, conducting interviews, or involved in court proceedings.  If you have information critical to the investigation of a case, please notify the investigator(s) you are in contact with directly.  If you are unable to reach them, please contact the victim-witness resource officers or another member of the Homicide Unit at 617-343-4470.

How does a family get informed about the status of an investigation?
The detectives that are assigned to the case are responsible for the investigation and will keep the family informed of the status and/or progress of any new developments.  There will be circumstances and detailed information that the detectives will not be able to share because it could comprise the investigation.   If an investigator cannot contact you in a timely manner he/she may have a victim-witness resource officer contact you until they are able to speak to you directly.

When can victim’s belongings be turned over to a family member after a homicide?
During a homicide investigation, most items and vehicles seized will be held until further investigation.  The Medical Examiner’s office is responsible for the property of the deceased person.  Unless such property is required as evidence it will be delivered to the next of kin per the discretion of the Medical Examiners.  If the property is deemed as evidence it will be held for homicide investigators and the District Attorney’s Office’s until there is a final disposition in the case in a criminal proceeding.

Does a family have access to police reports?
Due to the significance and circumstances surrounding homicide cases only the initial police report which contains limited information may be available to surviving families if necessary, (i.e. funeral/burial and insurance requirements).

How does an unsolved case become a “cold” case?
All cases are worked by the original assigned detective(s) for a period of up to (10) ten years.  If all leads have been exhausted and no additional lead(s) are known the case can be transition for further review by the “Cold” case investigators.

Can a reward be offered in my loved one’s case?
The Boston Police Department Crimestopper’s Program offers a reward of up to $1000.00 leading to the arrest and conviction of a person responsible for the homicide.  Please contact the Crimestopper’s Unit at 1-800-494-TIPS (8477)

How does media attention affect a homicide cases?
It is highly recommended that any information that the family wishes to share with the media should focus on what the victim’s loss means to the surviving members and should not be about the investigation.  Media attention can result in positive developments to a case.  However, the release of information can also significantly damage or hamper the investigation.

What can/does the Boston Police Department do to make witnesses feel comfortable about coming forward with information?  How can/do investigators protect witnesses?  Can a witness’s identity be protected?  How often do suspects threaten witnesses?
This is a case by case situation.  We make every attempt to protect critical witnesses in a case by not using their identity.  However, when the case goes to trial the witness’s identity may be divulged and we do not encounter suspects threatening witnesses often; if this happens, steps are taken to protect the witness and a suspect can be charged with intimidation of a witness.

How often is the family of the murder victim in danger?
This is very uncommon.  If this happens, steps are taken to protect the family.

How will I know when I need to be in court for any hearings involving my loved one’s case?
If/when an arrest is made an investigator along with a victim-witness resource officer from the homicide unit and/or Suffolk County District Attorney’s office victim-witness advocate assigned to your loved one’s case will notify you of any court proceedings for which you need to be present.

PLEASE NOTEThe answers to the above questions are general in nature and may vary depending on the nature of the case.