Captain Melissa Hukill
The Delaware State Police Homicide Section is comprised of three distinct units; the Homicide Unit, the Forensic Firearms Services Unit and the Crime Lab. These units are staffed by civilian and sworn divisional employees with specialized training and advanced education allowing them to detect crimes, identify suspects and prosecute the offenders in Delaware courts.
Established in 1989, the Delaware State Police (DSP) Homicide Unit is comprised of seven sworn members and one civilian administrative assistant. The primary responsibilities of the Homicide Unit include the investigation of homicides, suspicious deaths, and missing persons in which the person is suspected to be deceased. The Homicide Unit also investigates officer involved uses of deadly force, attempted murders and selected assaults. In addition to new investigations, the Homicide Unit is responsible for investigating “cold case” homicides.
During 2016, the Homicide Unit investigated nineteen new cases. The unit provided investigative assistance to all DSP criminal troops and allied law enforcement agencies in numerous death and missing person investigations. Of the nineteen new cases investigated by unit members, fifteen were homicide investigations. Of the 2016 homicides, seven cases were cleared along with two homicides from the previous year. This does not account for two additional Murder 1st warrants for two suspects from earlier cases. The unit also investigated two police officer involved use of force cases and a death investigation. In addition, seven death investigations from previous years were adjudicated in the court system with findings of guilt or guilty pleas during 2016.
This year the Homicide Unit hosted the 21st Annual Homicide Conference in Dover. This annual event is recognized as one of the premiere conferences in the nation dealing with the investigation of suspicious deaths. Approximately 160 criminal investigators representing approximately fifty law enforcement agencies from the northeast region attended the conference. Topics included crime scene management, domestic related homicides and human decomposition, and child death investigations.
Within the DSP Homicide Section is the Forensic Firearms Services Unit (FFSU). The FFSU was created in November 2006 to assist all law enforcement agencies in Delaware with the investigation of gun related and other violent crimes by examining firearms and ballistic related evidence collected during criminal investigations.
During 2016, a total of 925 firearms related cases were submitted for evaluation. The FFSU provided forensic firearms services to thirty-one Delaware law enforcement agencies, as well as several federal and out of state law enforcement agencies. In addition to the submissions received by the FFSU, 285 IBIS/Brasstrax ballistic case matches were confirmed by the forensic firearms examiner. The examiner provided expert witness testimony regarding the results of the forensic ballistics examination and offered services such as firearm serial number restoration, gunshot residue testing, bullet trajectory work and tool mark examinations to Delaware investigative agencies.
Since its inception, the Delaware State Police Crime Lab has provided services for numerous local and municipal police departments, federal agencies and the Delaware State Police. Under the direction of Mrs. Julie Willey, the Crime Lab is staffed by three civilian employees. The lab is composed of units specializing in blood alcohol analysis, breath alcohol analysis, and hairs and fibers analysis.
Director Willey and forensic chemist Whitney Fitzwater conduct the alcohol analyses of all DUI/alcohol and DUI/drug cases (except fatal accidents) statewide. In 2016 they received 1,271 blood evidence kits for review and analyzed 1,406 samples for BAC. Forensic chemist Mrs. Cynthia McCarthy oversees the Breath Alcohol Program. The DSP Crime Lab is the sole state lab responsible for the calibration checks of the Intoxilyzer instruments utilized for breath alcohol analysis as well as the training of operators of the instrumentation. As a result of the statewide services provided by members of the Crime Lab, the staff received 2,290 subpoenas to appear in Delaware courts during 2016.
In addition to the above services provided by the Crime Lab, Director Willey also performs calibration checks of the Ionscan instrument maintained by the Delaware National Guard. The Ionscan is used to detect trace amounts of illegal drugs and explosives. As cost center manager, Director Willey also manages funds allocated for the purchase of supplies used by the Forensic Firearms Services Unit, the Homicide Unit, the Crime Lab and the three statewide DSP evidence detection units and crash reconstruction units. Director Willey also serves as the DSP forensic microscopist and conducts hair and fiber analysis upon request.
As we move into 2017, the members of the Delaware State Police Homicide Section remains committed to serving the residents and visitors of our state with the highest quality of service possible. Unit members look forward to meeting the new challenges in crime fighting through continued and specialized training as well as the utilization of the latest advanced technology in forensics.
- Information obtained from 2016 DSP Annual Report -