How do I locate records of a murder victim?
I'm researching my grandmother's family. Her uncle was shot to death in an alleyway (supposedly by the jealous husband of a mistress). I can't find him in the Social Security Death Index, but he was born in 1918 and served in WW2 so he (logically) should be in there. I would use newspaper research, but none of my family knows where or even when the murder happened. Any tips on what I could do?
First, let me correct a miss-understanding about the Social Security Death Index. It does not include everyone who died post 1969. It only lists those whose deaths have been REPORTED. It does not include Rail Road employees, etc., so it is by no means a catch-all for deaths in the United States.
Without knowledge of a time frame or locality, its virtually impossible to find information on your granduncle's death. Believe me, someone knows something, you just haven't tapped the right source among your other relatives. If they aren't talking, your only hope is to work through the records in the places where your family members lived. That won't help if your uncle was a loner who had roamed far from home.
Once you can narrow the search down to a specific locality you have the following records available:
-- death certificate
-- coroner's report
-- criminal case against the perpetrator
-- newspaper write-ups following the death and during the trial
FOR FURTHER READING:
- SOCIAL SECURITY DEATH INDEX http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693
Which reads in part: "Description: The Death Master File (DMF) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) currently contains over 74 million records. The current update reflects the latest information provided by the SSA as of February 2005. The file is created from internal SSA records of deceased persons possessing social security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the SSA. Often this was done in connection with filing for death benefits by a family member, an attorney, a mortuary, etc. Each update of the DMF includes corrections to old data as well as additional names. [NOTE: If someone is missing from the list, it may be that the benefit was never requested, an error was made on the form requesting the benefit, or an error was made when entering the information into the
- A TRAGEDY IN NORBORNE, from Ancestry Magazine: May/June 2002 Vol.20 No.3,
Which reads in part: "There are always mysteries to solve when researching your family lines. I had a murder mystery to uncover. My search began with just a few statements. My grandmotherís sister was murdered while she was working in a hotel at the age of sixteen. The reason given for this murder was that she was the victim of a jealous rage. By the time the story got to me, we no longer knew who, when, or where this alleged murder occurred. Was it just a story or did it really happen?"
Happy family tree climbing!
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